How We Planned for Our 2014 Goals
2018 Goal Planning Update:
We’ve evolved our goal setting process over the past 4 years. We’ve presented on this process at conferences for entrepreneurs and have taught it to hundreds of our students. We outline the newest process in this massive blog post.
We also created an released a free video course called “Plan With Purpose” that walks you through the entire process with short & actionable training videos. You can get these videos for free below.
We are always talking about the importance of having goals, both personal and for business. In fact, just having goals is not enough. Goals NEED to be written down, along with milestones to target along the way and tasks that will get you to those milestones. In addition, it is important to be able to clearly see how you are doing, periodically review your progress, and pivot as needed.
There are a few guidelines that we use when creating and tracking goals:
- Goals need to be visible
- Each goal needs a milestone or “mini-goal” that we can target
- Milestones are broken down into main tasks
- Each business needs to be easily differentiated from each other
- Tasks may move as time goes on
Below we will outline our 4 step process that we used for creating our 2014 goals.
Step 1 – Purchase Materials
Given that our goal was to have these goals visible, we needed to get a few materials to do this.
- 2014 Desk Calendar – Any basic $5 desk calendar will do.
- Post-it Notes in Multiple Colors – We use one color per business, but you can also use one color per goal.
- Scotch Tape – Any tape will do.
- Pen/Marker – Any will do.
Step 2 – Hang the Calendars
Find a space, hopefully in your office, where you can hang the calendars on the wall. The goal will be to leave these calendars up all year, so keep that in mind. Our home office is broken down into 2 sections, our actual office area and our pool table/conference table. We chose a wall next to the pool table.
Tear each calendar month off and tape it to the wall.
Step 3 – Define Goals
We are constantly defining/refining our goals. Our strategy is to look out 10 years and define what we want our lifestyle to look like. We then define a few goals for that 10 year mark. We then work backwards and define our lifestyle in 5 years and the goals for that time-frame. The goals for 5 years should for the most part be milestones or mini-goals for the 10 year goals. We then continue with 3 years, 2 years, 1 year, 6 months, 3 months and 1 month. Each timeframe will have goals that tie into the next goal, just like the 5 year and 10 year goals.
We do this for each business as well as our personal goals. Some of our business goals combined tie back into our personal goals for the same time period.
Below is a template that we use when creating goals. We target to have 3-5 main goals, each with 3-5 milestones that will lead to them.
Step 4 – Add Post Its With Tasks/Milestones for Each Goal
This is where it all comes together. With our materials purchased, our wall prepared and our goals defined, we get to work.
We first print out our goals and hang them on the wall next to the calendars. We then pick a Post-it Note color to correspond with each business/set of goals. Then we go one by one with each business and create a Post-it for each mini milestone and put it on the calendar for the approximate date when we think that milestone should be completed. Some are just guesses that we do based on working backwards from the end of the year, others have specific dates for when they need to be completed by.
In most cases we only go to the milestone level of detail (and not the individual task level) for this calendar. There are a few reasons for this:
- The purpose of this calendar is to view the high level information for our yearly goals. We don’t want it to get cluttered with all of the day to day tasks.
- We store our daily tasks in an electronic format. That way we can access them from anywhere and also set due dates and reminders.
With that said, some of our milestones are big. In a few cases, we will add some tasks to the calendar, but we try to avoid this.
Step 5 – Incorporate Into Your Tasks
All said and done, it took us about half a day to create our personal goals along with goes for each business and get them on the wall. That is all well and good, but without incorporating the wall int our daily routine, it would not add much value.
We previously described how we utilize the concept of batching to increase our productivity. As you may have guessed, we utilize batching with this process as well. Sundays are our planning/prepare for the week day. It is when we process our “Sunday Review” bucket with all of the tasks that we do once a week. One of the items in our Sunday Review agenda is to review the goals calendar.
- We first review the previous week and make sure that we completed anything that was scheduled for that week. If we did, we cross it off. It not, we move it to the next week (or whenever it should be done).
- We then look at the upcoming week. We make a note of any tasks/activities that we need to do that week and put then in our task management system/electronic calendar.
- We then look ahead a few weeks to see what is upcoming. We may shift around some of the Post-it notes if anything has changed. We may also have a few more tasks to add to our list for the current week in order to accomplish the items that are coming up within the next few weeks.
And that is it. With less than $20, a 1/2 day initially and a 1/2 hour each week, you can define and track your goals for the year. I would highly recommend trying this approach if you have not had success achieving your goals in the past.
We want to hear from you. What strategies do you use to create and monitor your goals?