In the last post, The 14 Imperatives, we discussed the important areas of your life that were critical in living at high levels of performance. This post will review the methodology of goal planning and how you will actually reach your goals in each of these areas in your life.
Here’s an outline of the steps:
- Vision Planning
- Yearly Goal Planning
- Monthly Reporting and Daily Metrics
First we will start with Vision Planning. The idea behind this is that you set a single vision for an imperative that you wish to accomplish. It’s usually something decently far away from your current condition.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the steps currently on how to achieve it. That will all come later. Your vision is ideally something that when accomplished, will revolutionize your life in that area.
Some of my personal imperatives have very long-term visions. This is okay too as long as it is something that really speaks to you. An example of something with a long time frame would be having a Health Imperative vision of living to age 120. I also have shorter time frame visions like becoming financially free in the next year or two.
Tip: I try to keep my vision set to one or maybe two items at any given time. Too many visions for one imperative will crowd out your focuses. If you really have multiple visions for one area, try and get clear on which one you would like to seek to accomplish first.
The purpose of these visions is to set the stage for all the other yearly goals and shorter term goals in your life.
Once you map out a vision for each of the 14 imperatives, you will be ready for the next step. The Yearly Goal Review.
The Yearly Goal Review:
Typically your visions will often stay with you for multiple years as a buoy to strive for in the distance. However, your yearly goals are those in-between smaller buoys that help you reach your Visions in each of the imperatives.
The time frame for this type of goal is typically around 6 months to a year. I would also recommend not selecting too many yearly goals. If you really think you can accomplish a few different ones then that’s fine but consider then batching them together into one specific goal.
Warning: Setting too many goals for each imperative may lead to an overwhelming time. It’s best to find one that would really help move the needle forward towards your vision and stick to that one. Consider brainstorming multiple ideas for each imperative before committing to a single one.
Examples of Visions and Yearly Goals:
Finance: For the example vision we used of becoming financially free, a yearly goal could be to purchase two rental properties that year or reach an extra 20,000 a year in consulting income.
Career: Say our vision for this area is to create a company that is 100% immersed in your Life’s Purpose, an example of a yearly goal could be switching your career or job to something more aligned with your Life’s Purpose.
Travel: This is one area that I do have multiple Visions for. Mine are to visit all the U.S. National Parks, visit all the major cities in the world and go to space. As I mentioned above, the yearly goal is something that helps move you towards your Vision. Examples of Yearly Goals could be visiting two national parks that year, Living remote in another city for a month, or researching a plan to go to space (I think I’m saving this one til later…)
Sustainability: My personal Vision for this imperative is to become carbon neutral. Similar to becoming financially free, this is a specific goal that could be mapped out. So what I do is measure my carbon emissions monthly so I know which areas to reduce then set a yearly goal each year for the different areas of emissions. I’ll cover more on this topic on later posts but for now an example of a yearly goal would be reducing a certain emission category to zero. Like buying a electric vehicle in year 1, off-setting my electric bill with solar panels in year two, going zero waste in year three, and so on.
At this point, you should have outlined a Vision for each imperative and set yearly goals for yourself that help move you towards your vision. Next we will look at monthly reports and daily review sessions.
Monthly Reports and Daily Reviews:
The popular adage goes “you cannot change what you don’t measure” and this applies to everything from your bank account to how much fun you have each year.
Some areas may be more challenging to measure than others but I would recommend the following system for keeping yourself accountable for reaching your yearly goals.
Every month I have a quick review session where I take a peak at my monthly report card. This one page report shows my progress on different critical metrics and goals. I can see if I am hitting my intermediate goals or if I am sinking to my set-point.
I cover this in more detail in this post about my monthly report card, but for now it’s basically a personal dashboard highlighting the critical pulses of your life.
Every week I try to take 30 or so minutes to review my current projects and my progress on them. I use the project planning online software Trello to categorize each imperative and my current projects.
I’ll typically have my calendar open on the other screen and will add time to work on projects that I find important or urgent. I like doing it this way because then you can look at all your current projects and make strategic decisions on where you should focus your time.
It’s also helpful to have your yearly goals open too so you can review your progress on each of them.
This is often something I do during my daily runs or while I’m in the shower. I’ll typically brainstorm new creative ideas during these times for solving problems in my current challenges or new ideas that may help move the ball forward more effectively.
I find when you take a step away from the grind, the most thoughtful and creative ideas typically arise. So when you are making your ambitious visions for each of your imperatives, it’s perfectly okay if you do not know how you will achieve them just yet. Just write them down and focus on the yearly goal, and the weekly reviews.
I bet that during these times away from your desk you will have that realization that will help make those visions a reality. Often sooner than you imagined was possible.
Bill Womeldorf is an energy efficiency consultant and real estate entrepreneur in Boston, MA. He’s typically the one with the reusable water bottle in business meetings. When we all work together, he believes, it’s possible to solve the climate crisis. You can follow Bill on twitter @BillWomeldorf and read more about self-improvement and sustainability on his blog.