The other day a friend of mine asked how I keep track of goals. He said he’s been typing them into his phone, but then never has occasion to look at them again, so it’s hard to get anything done about them. I’ve spent a seemingly impossible amount of time learning how to set goals effectively, so it was really gratifying to have someone I care about and respect asking how I do it. To be real, most of the time that I’ve spent on goal setting has been invested in learning how to let go of my fear of failure, so that I was actually capable of setting legit goals. But, that’s probably a whole other blog post in and of itself, so for now I’ll just talk about the system that I use for setting and hopefully achieving my goals.
A few years ago I realized that all of my disparate goals were pulling me in a bunch of different directions and that I wasn’t being nearly as effective as I wanted to be (read more about that here). So I spent a bunch of time thinking about what I really wanted vs. what would just be nice, and worked hard at stating it in a way that was Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (the SMART criteria help in setting goals that are legit, and not wishy-washy). This One Goal is now tacked to my bedroom door (and has been for about 3 years) so I can see it every day and be reminded of what I’m working at.
Here it is:
This One Goal informs pretty much all of the goal setting that I do. If it’s not feeding into the One Goal, how important is it really?
The time-frame/deadline on the One Goal is the end of 2017, so in the meantime I make yearly goals every January. I write these out by hand and have them tacked underneath the One Goal. I also put them in a spreadsheet divided into 12 months so that I back time each sub-goal according to it’s deadline. For instance, if I want to run a Kickstarter campaign in May, then I’d better be researching the prices of materials in March, and making an appeal video in April. I learned this system from a friend of mine named Thomas Avendano, he manages a bunch of successful artists in the West Coast scene, and I really can’t thank him enough for showing it to me. It has totally taken my game to the next level.
Here’s what it looks like. You’ll see big goals in green, with smaller tasks leading up to them:
I use this template as a guide for writing out my monthly goals. Right now I have the monthly goals tacked up in my room as well, but I need to move them to the kitchen where I do most of my admin work, so I can reference them more easily. Nothing more annoying than having an hour free and not knowing what to do with it. Well, OK. Maybe that single mosquito trapped in your room at 3:00am when it’s too hot to sleep anyway is more annoying… But you get my drift.
Here’s my list of goals for May. It’s a doozy. Notice how many items are not crossed off, and today is the 25th. I try to only write things down as goals if they’re really really important (Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People talks about focussing exclusively on WIGs, or “Wildly Important Goals”). That way I’m not frustrated with myself when I have a ridiculous list like this and it doesn’t all get done. Next month I will attempt to be more reasonable about what I can actually accomplish, and what is actually key to moving forward. Although, to my credit, all of the Wildly Important stuff is pretty much done for May.
Finally, I also have a couple of other reminders tacked about my various spaces. The one I like the best is this:
All of this focus on goals is very future-oriented, and gets super heavy and draining when I take it too seriously. In the end, whether I hit the exact goal that I was aiming for isn’t as important as the fact that I was aiming (and not blundering about, or sitting on my couch eating Kraft Dinner in my pyjamas). Ultimately, it’s not so much about what I do, as how I do it. The. Most. Important. Thing. Is. To. Have. FUN. I forget that more easily and more often than I like, but it always feels good to come back to the light-hearted, playful approach to Life. When I come at things with a sense of the ridiculous they tend to go really well. When I approach them as an arduous obligation they tend not to.
So there it is. What do you think of the system? What ways have you found of helping yourself achieve what you want to?