I was warned by my father when I turned 21 that, although it seemed like it took a long to reach 21, three blinks from now I’d be 40. Boy was he right! The older I get, the faster time seems to pass by.
We’re two-thirds of the way through January 2010 already and I’m just now getting to my first blog post of the year. Weeks ago, I was tagged by my friend, Tim Ford (twitter, blog), for a meme about my Goals and Theme Word for 2010. A good and timely reminder to set aside some time to think about what I’d like to accomplish in the coming twelve months, and to share that with the world. What better way to hold yourself accountable than to share it with, well, everyone?
The Value of Setting Goals
As you can probably imagine, the life I’ve chosen keeps me pretty busy. Running my own consulting business, living on a hobby farm with animals and a garden, raising four wonderful kids with my wife of twelve years, and volunteering for church and Boy Scout activities requires me to prioritize. I need to make sure that what I’m doing is important. That’s not to say that it’s all work and no play for me. No, leisure time with my family is important to me. So I make sure that I take the time to have fun.
This begs the question: how do you know what is important? We can go through life putting out the fires that pop up along the way, reacting to the pressing need of the moment. But that’s very reactionary. It’s not planned. And it doesn’t allow you to make sure you’re generally moving in the right direction because your vision is limited to one fire at a time.
To ensure that your overall direction is right, to know whether each of the fires puts before you will take you a step further in the direction you want to go, you must first define that direction. This is where goals come in.
Goals are set when there isn’t a fire immediately in front of us, when we have the time to think about what we want rather than what the pressing issue of the moment is asking of us. Goals give us a vision of the desired future. And with that vision in mind, we can evaluate each opportunity as it’s presented to us and compare it to that future-state that we’ve already defined. If the opportunity moves us a step closer to that future-state, we can embrace the opportunity, if it doesn’t we can take that into consideration as we evaluate what to do about it.
My Goals for 2010
I subscribe to the SMART goals theory. Each goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Essentially it boils down to “who does what by when” and in this case you are the “who”. This keeps us from creating fuzzy or indeterminate goals like “I’m going to blog more.” There is plenty of information online about SMART goals, just use your favorite search engine to find a plethora of information on the subject.
For the purposes of setting goals, I like to keep two broad categories in mind: the goals that pertain to my business and career and those that involve my home life.
My Professional Goals
Over the next twelve months (ok, 11.3 months), I’d like to accomplish the following things:
- Write a business plan for a new venture I’m considering. For several years now, I had an idea for a new and complementary business but I haven’t acted on it. This year, I will. The business plan itself is not really what I’m after, it’s the process of writing it that’s important – doing the research to see if it’s a worthwhile proposition.
- Post a minimum of 72 blogs to my professional blog site. That’s an average of 1.5 blog postings per week. Of course I’m already behind in this area so I’ll need to do some catch up here. As with my first goal, this goal is really serves as a proxy for two other goals that are more difficult to measure. First I’d like to get better and faster at writing and one approach to that is to do it more often. Secondly I’d like to increase the number of people I help through this blog and studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between blogging frequency and readers.
- Schedule and have a Weekly Review at least 40 times this year. I’ve been using a customized version of David Allen’s Getting Things Done for years now, but I haven’t quite mastered one of the more powerful aspects of it, the Weekly Review. This year will be different.
My Personal Goals
Before the end of this year, I will:
- Double the amount of pasture that I have fenced. About one-third of our pasture has perimeter fencing and that’s just not enough for the heard of animals that we have and will have by late spring. I need to give them access to more grass.
- Read at least 5 books on preparedness, survival skills, or sustainability on the farm. This equals what I did last year and my knowledge on the subjects have greatly increased but I still have a long way to go.
- Paint three rooms in our house. There’s not much more to say about this one.
- Resolve an ongoing plumbing issue. There’s not much more you want me to say about this one; trust me.
And there you have it, my goals for this year. Of course I’ll continue to do the other things in my life like teach a Sunday School Class at my Church, volunteer as an Assistance Scout Master in the Boy Scouts, and strive to spend more time with my kids. But these are the new goals for the coming year.
I was close to setting a personal goal of going to Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico this year, but I’m not quite ready to commit to that yet. I’ll go one day, I’m just not positive that this year will work out for me.
There’s nothing really impressive or necessarily inspiring with them, but getting them jotted down so that I can refer to them throughout the year and reflect on how I did at the end of the year will is good. Thanks Tim for tagging me on this one.
Since I was so very late in getting these out, this meme has pretty well run its course so I’m not going to tag anyone for follow up. But if you’d like to share your goals for this year, I’d love to hear about them. Post a link in the comments section below, or jot them down directly in a comment.