Executive Spotlight: How To Set Realistic Goals And Deadlines During The Summer

Happy professional man writes down his goals at work
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During the summer, it can be difficult to set realistic goals and deadlines in the workplace when most employees, including upper management, use their PTO to travel, spend time with family, and take a much-needed vacation. So, how can leaders build practical strategies for prioritizing tasks, managing expectations, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance to ensure successful goal attainment amidst the unique dynamics of the summer season?

We recently asked our leading executives for their best tips on how to set realistic goals and deadlines during the summer.

Here are their responses...

Ana Smith, Leadership Development & Learning Strategist

Here are some tips on how to set realistic goals and deadlines during the summer:

  • Be specific. What exactly do you want to achieve? Instead of saying "I want to learn more," say "I want to read 10 books by the end of the summer."
  • Make them measurable. How will you know if you've achieved your goal? For example, if your goal is to read 10 books, you could track how many pages you read each day or week.
  • Make them achievable. Don't set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are too ambitious. Start with small, achievable goals and gradually increase them as you get closer to the end of the summer.
  • Set deadlines. Having deadlines will help you stay on track and avoid procrastination. When setting deadlines, be realistic and make sure you have enough time to complete your goals.
  • Break down large goals into smaller ones. If your goal is to learn a new language, you could break it down into smaller goals, such as learning 10 new words each week or being able to hold a simple conversation by the end of the summer.
  • Be flexible. Things don't always go according to plan, so it's important to be flexible with your goals and deadlines. If you have to miss a day or two of work, don't beat yourself up about it. Just pick up where you left off and keep moving forward.
  • Reward yourself. When you achieve a goal, be sure to reward yourself. This will help you stay motivated and on track.

Here are some examples of realistic goals and deadlines for the summer:

  • Read 10 books by the end of the summer.
  • Learn 10 new words in a new language each week.
  • Complete a summer internship.
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
  • Take a summer class.
  • Travel to a new place.
  • Write a short story or poem.
  • Learn how to cook a new dish.
  • Start a new hobby.

No matter what your goals are, setting realistic deadlines and sticking to them will help you make the most of your summer break.

Ana Smith helps people & organizations achieve their full talent potential by developing and co-creating people strategies and customized solutions, and turning them into impactful outcomes and collaborative relationships, using coaching as the "red thread."

Michael Willis, Sports Business Operations Executive

Setting/writing down goals, to-do list concept

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I love talking about how the NFL spends the summer season. A large chunk of the summer months in NFL football is known as the “dark period.” From right after the Super Bowl until the beginning of July, the NFL front office cannot communicate with the players, team staff, or game officials when they should be taking their time away from football.

1. Deep Planning

Following the Super Bowl, NFL league office executives, team owners, and select coaches meet as a competition committee to review the previous season. As a result of these meetings, new rules are born as part of player safety or ways to make the game more competitive and safer.

While working at the NFL, I have been trained to think and work as far into the future as possible. For example, the special events staff works on Super Bowls at least five years into the future. So, for me working in financial operations, budgets and other front office matters have been done for months. Game day staff have been hired for the upcoming season. I take my time off when pre-season is about to start (early August).

2. Execution and Forecasting

During the latter part of July and through August, I focus on setting up new files and Excel spreadsheets, getting ready for the kick-off.

My budget worksheets are set up for multiple years, so I begin to update the following year's budget with the information I know will change based on the already approved collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The deadline for the budget is late November.

3. In Closing – In football, the summer months are downtime mixed with energized excitement for kick-off.

  • Adapt and be flexible.
  • Prioritize and focus.
  • Getting ready to do what we all love.

Michael Willis has 18+ years of experience working with accounting & sports organizations and has managed P&Ls of $10M - $125M+ with budgets of $3M-$50M+. He worked for the NFL for 22 1/2 years, mainly with the game officials working on the financial/accounting side of the business.

Lisa Perry, Global Marketing Executive

Professional woman writes down her goalsImage from Bigstock

Summer is a time for relaxation and enjoyment, but it can also be a productive season for setting and achieving personal and professional goals. Whether you're a student, a working professional, or simply looking to make the most of your summer months, setting realistic goals and deadlines can help you stay focused and make meaningful progress.

Here are some tips I've used this summer to set achievable goals and establish effective deadlines to ensure a productive and fulfilling summer:

  1. Take Time to Reflect: As the summer kicked off, I took some time to reflect on my aspirations, considering both short and long-term goals, as well as my ongoing projects and commitments for the upcoming months. This type of reflection empowered me to look at meaningful and motivating goals aligned with my values and ambitions.
  2. Define Specific & Measurable Goals: At the end of summer, I want to reflect on my accomplishments. Clear, specific, and measurable targets are essential for tracking progress. For instance, my goal of staying physically active involves engaging in 15-20 minutes of physical activity at least four times a week.
  3. Set Realistic Goals: While I desire to be physically fit, I acknowledge the risk of frustration and burnout with unrealistic expectations. To ensure success, I consider all factors impacting my goals, including current circumstances, time availability, resources, and mood. I’d rather achieve several realistic goals than struggle with one overly ambitious one.
  4. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Steps: I take my goals and divide them into manageable, bite-sized tasks on a weekly or even daily basis. This approach makes my goals more manageable and enables effective progress tracking. With a clear roadmap, I can stay focused and motivated on my journey to success.
  5. Set Deadlines: Deadlines are a powerful motivator to keep me on track toward achieving my goals. However, I recognize the importance of setting realistic deadlines to ensure commitment and avoid overwhelming myself. Striking the right balance empowers me to stay focused and driven throughout my journey.
  6. Prioritize Wisely: With my kids off school and numerous activities during the summer, I ruthlessly prioritize goals that truly make a difference. I cherish the time spent with my family, so I avoid overcommitting myself and spreading myself too thin. Focusing on what truly matters allows me to balance productivity and enjoying precious moments with my loved ones.
  7. Be Flexible & Kind to Yourself: Life is full of surprises and unpredictability. Embrace flexibility and avoid self-criticism if you can’t achieve your weekly goals. The bigger picture is your accomplishment over three or four months. Don’t let a bad day deter you, and then give up on your goal altogether. Instead, refocus and continue moving forward. The key is to be proud of your overall progress, appreciating the journey rather than fixating on occasion setbacks.
  8. Celebrate Achievements: Above all, take the time to celebrate even the seemingly minor accomplishments. Each milestone represents progress, and celebrating them fuels motivation to achieve, pursue, and do more. Embrace the joy of your achievements, for it is the essence of personal growth and fulfillment.

Summer presents a unique opportunity to set and achieve meaningful goals that bring you one step closer to your dreams and aspirations.

Lisa Perry helps companies build leadership brands, driving loyal customers & delivering profitability. She does this through a process that builds brands consumers love. Her goal is to help companies develop, monetize, and grow their brands.

How do you set realistic goals and deadlines during the summer? Join the conversation inside Work It Daily's Executive Program.

Man on laptop enjoys summer while working full time

There you are: sitting on the beach, covered in sunscreen, reading your favorite book, drinking your favorite drink under the cool shade of an umbrella. Life doesn't get any better than this. Suddenly, a door slams, a phone rings, a printer turns on. You jolt back into consciousness. You're at work, sitting in your cubicle, without even a hint of sunshine streaming in from outside.

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