Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Happy New Year!

Like most of us, I set goals for the new year*.
It’s something I enjoy doing and I’m good at it as well. I devote a good amount of thought to my goals and put a lot of energy into planning and tracking. I generally do pretty well, achieving about 75% of what I set out to do in a given year.
Two things have occurred, however, to change how I set and plan my goals.
  • ONE: Early in the year I ran into some stumbling blocks. I won’t go into any detail about what occurred (some of you know what I’m talking about), but suffice to say that some significant changes came to pass after a period of upheaval and confusion. I let those circumstances throw me off track and hinder my progress. Once things settled down somewhat I began to reassess more than a few parts of my plan (okay, everything).
  • TWO: If I accept the premise that I’m accomplishing about 75% of my goals, what would happen if I were to set significantly higher goals? Would I still reach that 75% level? There’s only one way to find out...
I ultimately decided to reboot all my goals. The centerpiece is a comprehensive, detailed plan that takes me to the end of of 2017. It’s an ambitious set of objectives. Accomplishing all of them will drastically change my life. Accomplishing even 75% of my 2016_2017 goals will change my life as well, if only to a lesser degree. Just trying, even giving this plan a shot, changes me, in fact it already has to some extent… I have already upped my game in a variety of ways. Just creating this plan and believing I can get it all done was something of a breakthrough itself.
This set of goals is pretty comprehensive. It encompasses my writing career, some (sorely needed) home improvements, and fitness (mental as well as physical).
An important part of this initiative has been setting up systems for all of my goals (in business parlance, SOP or standard operating procedure). Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, is a proponent of of systems over goals. Same for one of my favorite writers, James Clear. While I think that Adams’ position is a bit extreme, I do agree agree that systems are of great importance.
My systems help me govern my day-to-day activities and following my standards consistently keep me on track and going in the right direction.
I have setup a tracking component as well. I developed a spreadsheet through which I can track daily activity relative to different goals… that way I will know whether I’m on actually on track or not. I will be able to see where I might be falling behind and make any necessary corrections. It’s important to note that tracking my activity takes mere minutes of time each day.
You may be thinking that all of his was a lot of work. It was, but I know that I am already (one month into a twenty-month plan) solidly on track to reaching some very ambitious goals.
To recap:
  • Set goals, not resolutions*.
  • Create systems designed to get you where you want to go.
  • Track your efforts, so you know where you stand.

*Please note that I set goals, not resolutions. I see goals as having plans and details behind them. Resolutions generally just very broad statements that don’t have any planning to back them up and are frequently abandoned by mid-February (or earlier).