As Dagny and I are starting our 2016 planning for Digital Ambit I am also thinking about all the personal goals I have set and where things went wrong. In both the business and personal goals the major problems I have are in measuring the results, staying on the bandwagon and not waiting for milestones to assess the status, and the big problem is simply execution. Execution can be difficult for seemingly easy goals if you're trying to change who you (or your business) fundamentally are.
There is an adage in business, I have heard attributed to Peter Drucker, that if you can't measure it, you can't manage it. If something you want to achieve isn't easily measured that doesn't mean you shouldn't try, but think of how you will define success and track your progress towards the goal. In the SMART method of goal setting, "Measureable" is the only letter everyone agrees on. In today's business world Data is King and in personal goal setting the Quantified Self movement is as well.
Waiting for Milestones
My family and I have spent many years studying Kempo at Potomac Kempo and my instructor there, Master Santillo will again be shaking his head at why people wait until New Year's to set resolutions. As he always pointed out, every day is the start of another year. We often wait until a new calendar or fiscal year, or the beginning of the calendar month, to set goals and review statuses. Some of that is unavoidable, however what is avoidable is waiting until the next milestone to assess results and restart if falling behind. If January 4th rolls around and you're resolutions are in shambles, just start another year and get going again.
Prioritizing and Executing
The real problem with New Year's resolutions is prioritizing and executing. I often tell my kids the Aristotle saying that you are what you repeatedly do. People and companies both set goals that go against who we are, or because we want to change who we currently are. Some of those changes are going against deeply ingrained ways of life and will take an immense amount of time and effort to change. If you find yourself not able to actually do the goals you have set, it may well be that's just not who you are. Changing who are you isn't impossible if who you are isn't who you want to be, but that's not a small task.
Who I Am vs. Who I Say I Am
If Aristotle's saying is correct and we are what we do, then there are ways to figure out exactly who we are. Spend a week tracking how you spend your time. I use Toggl to track my time. When I first started doing it I wasn't very happy with what I found. I was spending way too much time on "entertainment" activities, and the amount of time I was spending on the things that supposedly defined me, meant I wasn't who I said I was. Instead of being a civic minded, entrepreneur and generally healthy guy, I was a video game playing, procrastinating, occasionally exercising, hockey fanatic. In the end I have started measuring my time, using toggl, 24/7, so that I can periodically review if I am spending my time in the places I say I want to be spending my time. In short, I use it to see if I am who I say I am. I have used that data to alter a few key bad habits (or lessen how much time I spend on them) but primarily I have started describing myself differently to be more in-line with what the data says I truly am.
If you are pondering what your goals are for next year I hope my thoughts will encourage you to set measurable goals, do it now, review them often, and to use tools that are out there to figure out if you are who you want to be. If nothing else, maybe the Hawthorne effect will be beneficial in that you will change how you spend your time just by measuring it.
Happy New Year, every day is!
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