Jan 8, 2018

The Answer to Goals, Self Improvement, Life, and Everything!

It is not 42.  Although I could easily weed out any other sci-fi nerds by just writing 42 and nothing else and it would make me chuckle a little.  I digress.

The system I talked about last!  It is time.

Life Design

I read a bunch of self help books (Designing Your Life, Essentialism, The Accidental Creative, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck) that all reference basically the same systems.  Basically we all have a limit to how many things we can focus on.  You can't have 10 priorities.  The books break down life into general categories like work, play, relationships, etc.  You then choose what to prioritize and you assess how your supposed priorities differ from how you're actually spending your time.

I did my categories a little differently.  Mine are, in order of priority: Family, Business, Health, and Social/Leisure/Etc.  (Business is on top because this was originally the business vision board.)

I know, that last one is a little vague.  Basically the last category exists to fill in whatever I'm currently struggling with or missing.  Mostly it bounces back and forth between friends and hobbies (aka reading or blogging).

In each category, I've got my top 3 goals for the year or quarter, and each one has the action steps I'm going to take to accomplish it.

None of this is revolutionary.  For me, the best part about it is that it forces me to focus on what's important, and what will have the biggest impact on my life instead of choosing goals arbitrarily or by what sounds good in the moment.

The part that was a real game-changer was implementing a monthly check-in.  For whatever reason, this has never occurred to me.  It was an idea I stumbled across during a coaching session for my business specifically.

What started as a way to organize my finances has grown to encompass all my business systems, and now, my personal development as well.

This is Trello.  I use it for just about everything.  In the case of goals, Trello is my day-to-day interface to check on things and cross things off, while the corkboard is a visual reminder and place to check things off during the big monthly, quarterly, and annual check-ins.

On my "Personal Planning" board, I first have a reminder of what's really important, which includes those core values.  Then I have a separate list for each of the values (minus business, which has several of its own boards).  On each of those lists is 2 cards to manage the goals.

The first card is an overview of what the goals are, along with any goals that are set further in the future.  This helps me, because I tend to be a details person, not a big picture thinker.  So I tend to set totally random goals unless I first brainstorm where I want to be in 5 years and/or what my ideal life looks like.  If I take that step first, then it's a lot easier to set relevant goals for the next year that get me part of the way to that overarching goal.

Note: the weight loss goals are still a little arbitrary, but I was trying to use the S.M.A.R.T. goals system and have something measurable instead of just "feel healthy!"

Then I have the card with the action steps.  This checklist is for me to reference throughout the year or quarter.  Some things are one-offs, and some are ongoing.

In the past, my biggest problem was that I'd set it and forget it.  Setting goals is great but they're not going to happen if you don't remember what they are!

So now, in addition to my monthly business development check-in, I also set a day on my calendar to my personal goals check-in.  What are my goals again?  Am I following the steps?  What is working and what isn't?  Does anything need to be adjusted for the next month?

At some point, I might find I also need to do small check-ins weekly, but I'm hoping that having that monthly deadline will keep me focused and I can check my Trello boards more organically in between check-ins.

The Test

So far I've done monthly check-ins 3 times.  The first was just my P&L for my business.  That went well and really helped make me feel less stressed about business finances, so I started doing it for social media and business development.  My year-end check-in for my business was Ah-mazing, so I've got high hopes for the next month when I do business and personal, but it's always possible that personal life isn't meant to be so systematized.

Hahahaha, yeah right.  Systems for everything!

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