Today I have put together my tentative list of 2008 goals, plus some 2 – 3 year, 5 year, and lifetime goals. The list is of course subject to change, especially as I’m still a month and a half away from 2008.
This year I accomplished very few of my goals. One major goal was finding a new job, which ironically did not appear on the list of goals that I published on my blog. Worse, I didn’t even finish the list of books I said I was going to read (although I am on track for 52 books this year, and 8 of 16 of my original list). This tells me that the self-help story about at least writing them down and they’ll end up getting done even if you never look at it again is a crock, just like the fabled Harvard study they always quote but that has been proven to have never happened.
Not to say I don’t believe in goals, though. I never used them before, and I think that is part of the problem. Using goal setting is a new habit for me, and how to set achievable, measurable (SMART) goals is a skill, like anything else. Here are some thoughts.
First, some of my goals were habits, not goals. For example, reading the Bible every day. I was hit or miss on this one. As a goal, I saw it as reading the Bible for 365 days and if I didn’t, I’d failed. However, as a habit, I could have focused on it for 30 days until it was a routine, and if I missed a day here or there it was okay. Same with many of my other goals. So next year I’m going to try to differentiate between goals and habits. Thank you, Zen Habits, for pointing out the difference!
Second, another thing I noticed is that my goals were often at the tactical level. That is to say, they were short term, and I didn’t really see them as leading to anything long term. No strategy. It’s great to have a goal, but why do I have that goal? What do I hope to get out of achieving it? This could also be called motivation.
Third, I didn’t plan my goals into my days and weeks. I set no next actions ala “Getting Things Done.” It’s hard to achieve a goal if you have no plans for doing that.
Fourth, I had no regular reviews of my progress. Every now and then I’d look and see, oops, haven’t done that or that or that…but that was about it. Now I find myself a month and a half from the end of the year and realizing that I have little time left to accomplish a whole slew of goals.
Which brings me to the final point; namely, I think I had too many goals. It was hard to focus on each one because there were so many others. So, next year, I hope to cut down on the number and focus on doing a few things well.
For the rest of 2007, I have just two goals:
Open Roth IRA
I also have three habits:
Gym at least 4 times a week (October habit) – so far, I’ve done this.
Track spending (November habit)
Read Bible daily (December habit)
Each habit I’ll focus on for thirty days and then hopefully it will be automatic for me to do them. I think habits can lead to goals, but aren’t really goals in themselves, except for the setting of said habits.
As for 2008, I have some as detailed below:
– Reduce my spending (via tracking my spending)
– Give to church (regularly), symphony, college
– Buy a house
– Establish a will
– Make at least one new friend
– Have at least one dinner party
– Finally do married Bible study
– Get weight down to 170 (via gym habit and diet habit)
– Bench 200 pounds at least 5 times (Same)
– Practice kindness
– Play games once a week (through spending time habit)
– Vacation to Glen Eyrie with my wife
– Maybe do 30 Day Challenge
– Blog twice a week
– Explore finding my passion
Habits to set and maintain:
– Track my spending (From November)
– Read Bible daily (From December)
– Better diet (January)
– Use cash more often (February)
– Spend more quality time with family (March)
– Family devotions (May)
– No complaining! Have a positive attitude! (Ongoing)