PROJECTDOITYOURSELF: GOAL-SETTING THAT WORKS
At the beginning of last year I wrote down a comprehensive list of goals that I wanted to accomplish and saved this to Evernote so that I could review it often.
I accomplished none of those goals and seldom referred to the list; yet, if you ask me whether I consider last year to have been a success I would say “Hell yes.” So what happened here? I found a better way of thinking about goal-setting and started using a better system…
GOAL-SETTING: CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS
Goal-setting has been lauded and it has been criticised. Some people love it – others hate it. I think goal-setting fails way too often and there are a few layers to this failure:
Have you ever accomplished something and then lost the drive to continue? Or failed miserably and started wondering why even bother?
You’re not alone.
Unfortunately goal setting is inherently constructed to judge you as a loser or a winner. Being the loser sucks. It demotivates you. It fuels that critical voice in your head. Being the winner is awesome – until it leaves you drifting along with those lost souls who now have no direction.
Although it’s technically and objectively important to judge your actions as successful or unsuccessful, this can become a heavy emotional burden.
What would happen if you changed your thinking towards goal-setting, seeing goals more as a target to aim for than a binary conclusion? What if you separate emotion from data and instead of judging your shortcomings you zero in on your progress?
There is just no way to know how your life will change in the next 3, 6, 9, or 12 months. Actual life-changing moments happen more frequently than you might imagine. It’s the main reason why I accomplished none of my ‘1st of January’ goals; my life moved in a different direction – one that I hadn’t accounted for at the beginning of the year.
We think we can predict or at least anticipate what the future will bring. We can’t, so we should stop trying.
What would happen if you acknowledged what you intuitively know about what you want to accomplish in the long-run but focused your efforts on the short-game?
The last problem is a systems problem. The amount of goal-setting frameworks at your disposal can be overwhelming and the need to align them all precisely is a painstaking process. Paired with this is the absence of a system that supports your progress along incremental steps.
What would happen if you decided on one framework, stuck with it for a while and then customised it to really suit your individual preferences?
PROJECTDOITYOURSELF is the name I have given to my current way of setting goals. It’s not unique – few things are. But for me and hundreds of others, it works like a bomb.
How does it work?
Simply; you set 3 Moves (goals) that you want to work towards in the next 28 days.
Let me expand on this.
One book that really changed my thinking on goal-setting is the 12 Week Year by Brian Moran. In it he advocates for setting goals that are 12 weeks into the future and then to further break it down from there.
I have found that a 90 day (12 week) big goal gives great context to the PROJECTDOITYOURSELF So this will be your starting point. To decide on the 1-3 context goals that you want to give attention to for the next 90 days.
Choosing can be hard. It’s supposed to be. Remember that the more your attention is spread across goals/tasks the more diluted it will be.
Once you have your context goal you come to the present day and ask yourself the following question, “Which 3 Moves will produce the biggest results in the next 28 days?”
Again, choosing only 3 is hard.
A Move is simply a goal that you will focus on every day, for 28 days. I liken it to chess in that you strategically move pieces around the board to ultimately defeat your opponent.
As a side note, the ratio here is 1:3. One context goal to 3 Moves.
Each Move has a few criteria:
It should leave you in a better position once completed.
It should require intentional effort and focus from you to execute it.
It should be specific.
So we have our context goal and our 3 Moves for the next 28 days. Now we break it down into daily actions. I stress the daily part here because you need to be working on your Moves every single day. (I realise the previous sentence could work in many different contexts :))
The question here is, “What does a daily, repeatable practice look like?” and I will get to an example in due course.
The success of PROJECTDOITYOURSELF will ride on your ability to sit down every day and review your progress.
You do this by asking yourself three questions:
Did I accomplish my daily practice?
What did I learn?
What can I do better?
And that is PROJECTDOITYOURSELF in its entirety. Once you have reached day 28 you re-assess your progress and confirm 3 new Moves for the next 28 days.
WHY DOES PROJECTDOITYOURSELF WORK?
Because it addresses all the objections I mentioned earlier. It changes the language around goal-setting to make it a more friendly and learning-focused process. It removes judgement. It works with time-frames that are short enough to predict but long enough to give time to do meaningful work. It’s an easy-to-use system that you can stick to and modify as needed.
Context goal: Make R5000 p/m from a new business
Move 1: Find a viable niche Daily action: Internet research for 2-3 hours
Move 2: Learn the basics of WordPress Daily action: Complete a tutorial
Move 3: Learn the basics of marketing Daily action: Read and digest 10 pages
Note: This would be a typical PROJECTDOITYOURSELF8 setup. An action done every day that can be repeated without much thought about what needs to be done. You can also have a few different configurations where the moves follow on each other sequentially to get you to a desired scenario by 28 days.
Context goal: Lose 8 kilograms
Move 1: Find and schedule a personal trainer. Daily action: Research and review personal trainers and then make contact.
Move 2: Find and schedule a an appointment with a dietician. Daily action: Research and review dietician and then make contact.
Move 3: Clean cupboards of all junk food. Daily action: Sort through all food and throw away/donate food that no longer align with goals.
In an ideal world, everything happens instantaneously. In the real world, you have to wait to get an appointment and manage your own schedule and responsibilities.
The above configuration does not involve a specific daily action that will be repeated for 28 days but you might find that getting everything done takes time. However, if you accomplished your Moves by the time you reach day 28, then the foundation has been firmly laid for you to move on to your next PROJECTDOITYOURSELF.
You might also find that completing all of the above only takes a week. What do you do then? You start over.PROJECTDOITYOURSELF is not bound to actual days of the week or month. It is based on stand-alone goals that you can rework at any time.