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Setting Goals for the New Year and Beyond

I've never been a big fan of "New Year's Resolutions" for the same reason most other folks are against them: they don't typically work. Why don't they work? Usually because people saw they vow to do certain things and that's where they stop: "I will lose 25 pounds," "I will read 50 books," "I will fix up my house," and "I'm going to restore that classic car I bought," are a few I've heard over the years. But none of those vows are accompanied with goals and a plan to reach them. And that's why they don't work.

Last year I came across a blog post from Randy Dyess entitled Setting Goals for the New Year. Randy is well known for authoring THE complete reference guide on Transact-SQL up to SQL Server 2000 and now works as a consultant and mentor for Solid Quality Learning. I had been subscribed to his blog for SQL Server related stuff, but I think this post may be the one I have found most valuable of all. Not coincidentally, there's where this blog post gets its title. Randy talks about building a five year-plan, setting goals, figuring out if there are intermediate goals, determining a plan, etc. This is the way to go. He cites a book which started him along those lines and then talks a bit about how following through works. For instance, if you set the goal to make X amount of money a year, you need to ask yourself the question, "How am I going to do this?" Just setting the goal out there doesn't help. There's got to be a way to accomplish the goal.

So that's what I've been doing as we approach the new year. I've basically categorized my goals into a few categories:
  • Personal
  • Professional
  • Ministry
  • Work
I've got sub-categories underneath each one. For instance, under Personal I've got goals like Family, Health and Fitness, and Home and Garden. I've listed my goals, what tasks it would take to accomplish the goals, and also, what some target dates to accomplish the goals are. Now some of these goals are pretty simple. For instance, under family I have a goal centered around my oldest son's birthday. The individual items looks like:
  • James' Birthday
    • Decide on Birthday Party Idea
      • Target Date: XXXXXX
    • Decide who will be invited
      • Target Date: XXXXXX
    • Send out Invites
      • Target Date: XXXXXX
    • Order Birthday Cake
      • Target Date: XXXXXX
    • Buy Presents
      • Target Date: XXXXXX
Am I being this granular on all my goals? No, because some of them I'm still working on defining. Is it overkill to spend so much on the goal of making sure my son has a wonderful birthday? When I put it like that, no, not at all, and that's how I'm approaching it. This year I'm making a concerted effort to better manage my work-life balance. That means considering the priority of things and giving them their due, not only in time, but also in planning and effort. And a child's birthday is a big deal to the child and needs that kind of prioritizing. As we get older we may want to forget our birthdays, but for a child a birthday is a magical "once in a lifetime event." (At least, that's how they look at them and how we looked at them when we were that age).

This is the first year I've gone to such an effort, but I think it's a good thing to do. It'll help me keep priorities in perspective, it'll certainly help me keep on track with my goals, and hopefully it'll mean I end up better managing my time. I juggle so many things (as many of us do) that time management is extremely crucial to my continued existence. :)

Technorati Tags: Life | Work | Overwork

K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.


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