I’m sharing my goal setting method for two reasons. First, to keep a personal record of how it evolves over time, and second, to provide a helpful option for anyone who’s looking. If this seems excessive, incomplete or unhelpful to you, disregard it…how’s that for disarming the productivity naysayers?
I’ve always been great at setting goals but average at reaching them. I wrote it off as the mark of a millennial, creative professional with a wandering mind and an extraordinary ability to waste time, but apparently, we’re not the only ones who struggle with this. Of all the people who make New Years Resolutions, only about 9.2% of those people feel like they successfully reach them. And while this might work for the general population, as an entrepreneur that works from home, it doesn’t work for me. My career and lifestyle are very much dependent on my ability to set and reach goals.
To say I’ve been intentional about finding a system that works for me like my life depended on it wouldn’t be totally false, albeit rather melodramatic.
My personality and bad habits jeopardize my professional autonomy on a daily basis. “No, journaling about personal growth, cleaning your coffee maker or calling your mom is not the best use of your time right now,” is an example of the kind of comment that I have to tell myself more often than I’d like to admit. The mentors in my life helped me come up with a simple question to ask when I’m monitoring my productivity: is this an RGA (revenue generating activity)? This question is perfect because the things that get me off track aren’t usually obvious time-wasters. It’s not like I’m reading Twilight or watching too many Panda videos on YouTube—I worked through that already, thank you.
So to combat my natural tendencies, I’ve had to be intentional about creating a system that maintains order in a lifestyle that offers none. Today, I’m sharing my method for setting yearly goals and, despite all odds, reaching them.
I start by choosing a word for the year. This word will encapsulate all of the goals, big or small, that I set during the year. This word is chosen after weeks of reflection and discussion about where my efforts should be focused. For example, in 2016, my word was health because I wanted to develop a healthier approach to the following six categories: mind, body, spirit, career, creativity, and relationships.
Then, before the first of every month, I create new goals for the upcoming month with my yearly focus (in this case, health) in mind. I choose to do monthly benchmarks because they’re less intimidating and more flexible. Setting goals for an entire year is a daunting task that often results in procrastination and an unhealthy stick-to-it-at-all-costs mentality. Plus, it leaves little room for adjustment, growth and flexibility.
My last step is to create a daily tracker for my new monthly goals. This is a concept I got from my favorite bullet journalist on Instagram, and it’s revolutionized the way I do goals. A lot of the tasks within this tracker trigger other actions that aren’t listed, so even though it doesn’t keep an ultra-detailed record of my days, it gets pretty darn close.
**Disclaimer: each of the tasks listed below has a story that I’d love to tell here, but it would take too long. If you’re curious about one, ask in the comments below. As a fellow human, I ask that you refrain from any uninformed judgements and/or hurtful comments. You’re the best.
As someone who gets easily distracted and lacks consistent discipline, this tracker enables me to break down my monthly goals into daily tasks and to see helpful patterns. If you’re thinking “Woah, that’s too much work,” trust me when I say that, if it were, I wouldn’t do it. I tell my husband all the time (and paraphrase Mr. Bill Gates) that my laziness translates as efficiency because I find the most creative ways to spend the least amount of time and energy as possible on things. Seriously, it takes me less than an hour every month to come up with new monthly goals and place them into the tracker, and the act of filling in the boxes each day only takes a couple of minutes.
If that isn’t efficient and effective goal management, then people, I don’t know what is. And if there’s one thing this 3rd wave coffee drinking, electropop loving, lazy millennial loves, it’s efficiency. It’s had such a positive impact on my personal and professional growth that I would encourage you to find something that works for you. You’d be surprised by the impact a simple system can have on your life…I know I was.