Startup

Achieving annual goals (and also the other ones)

Achieving goals is possible. The short ones (daily, weekly, monthly) or the longer ones (annual goals, long-term goals). This is how I do it.

But first things first. A goal is not a resolution. I’m not talking about the New Year Resolutions here. A goal is something we desperately want to achieve. It’s the thing which is well thought out. It’s not something we think would be nice to achieve. It’s not something we decided to do when drinking another shot of vodka on New Year’s Eve. It’s something bigger.

How do I achieve my goals?

Calm down, slowly… Let’s talk about five things first.

First is the definition. My definition of a goal.

Second is the characteristics of my goals.

Third is the bigger picture/plan.

Fourth is the process of planning.

Fifth is the process afterwards.

Definition of a goal

A goal for me is some specific thing that I want to achieve by some specific date. It’s not a process, it’s not something endless. It’s something palpable that should be achieved by day X.

Characteristics of a goal

My goal must be:

  • measurable
  • hard to achieve, big as fuck; but at least somehow realistic/possible to achieve
  • dependent on me

Measurable goal

I don’t believe in goals which I can’t measure. If I set a goal to achieve, I need to be sure that on day X I would be able to say achieved or not achieved. No freaking partly achieved, no maybe, no probably, no sometimes. Yes or no. Black or white. Hell yeah or no, I fucked up. Binary.

No place for: I’m gonna exercise regularly, I’m gonna eat healthy food, I’m gonna party less, I’m gonna read more books.

Hard to achieve, but realistic goal

A goal is something I desperately want to achieve. It’s not some nice-to-something-bullshit thing. It’s a must-have/achieve/do thing. And it’s hard to achieve. If it would be easy – I wouldn’t need to set it as a goal. If it would be easy, I wouldn’t need to plan how to achieve it, there wouldn’t be any process in the middle. I would just do it.

Achieving my goal is often complicated. It often means going out of my comfort zone. It often means longer work, preparations, trying, failing and trying again. Even if it looks easy for someone who’s looking at it – if it’s on my list of goals, it means it’s hard for me.

But on the other hand – it must be realistic. Sure, sky is the limit. But as long as you don’t have a plane, a rocket, a helicopter or at least some wings on your back – you will never touch it.

A goal which is dependent on me

This sucker was my biggest problem for the last couple of years. I set goals which were not dependent on me. So, I could achieve them or I could not. But the result (achieved/not) often didn’t depend on me.

It was something like: gain XYZ unique users to my blog; gain XYZ new customers to PayLane; rebuild XYZ.

And you know what? Sometimes I achieved these goals, sometimes I did not. Because they were not dependent on me. I could do whatever was possible to gain as many users/customers/whoever, but something unexpected happened and because of that they did not come. Or simply my plan for gaining them didn’t work out. It happens. You may spend millions of dollars on ads which gave your competitor hundreds of thousands of customers and the same ads could give you 10x less customers. It simply happens.

So if it’s not dependent on me – it couldn’t be my goal. I can set a goal like spend million bucks on ads on Facebook (because I can – it’s my decision, my choice, my money; it depends on me), but for sure I won’t set a goal like gain a thousand new customers from Facebook.

Bigger picture, bigger plan

I set a few types of goals:

  • daily
  • weekly
  • monthly
  • annual

And also, I have something I want to achieve in a longer perspective. This is not my goal, it’s more like where I want to see myself/my company/my family/whatever else in the next couple of years or even more.

These longer-perspective-no-goals may be like:

  • to have my own company, which will be mine and which will allow me to do whatever I can (e.g. work from any place in the world) and which will give me enough money to not worry about my finances (3-years-wannabe thing)
  • to have my own flat/apartment/house (5-years-wannabe thing)
  • to teach my kid all the sports I know (10-years-wannabe thing)
  • to save enough to not worry about retirement (15-years-wannabe thing)
  • to see all the world’s continents (20-years-wannabe thing)

All the goals I have (no matter what type of goal) are somehow related to my X-years-wannabe things. And so… because I want to have my own company like above, I’m working hard on Squidility and Slickky this year. If I want to have my own home in the next couple of years, I need to find a place where I want to live, so I need to move abroad somewhere and find out if I want to live abroad or maybe not. Etc

And now the goals…

Annual goals are the goals I want to achieve this year. That could be at the end of the year, that could be at the beginning of the year. But somehow this year.

Monthly goals are the goals I set for the current month. Like above – no matter what day of the month, but these goals have to be achieved this month.

Weekly goals are the goals for the current week, daily goals are for the current day.

How to set the goals?

I do two things here:

  • I have some particular date in my calendar when I spend some time on setting my goals
  • I always set my goals, by looking at the longer-term goals first

Particular date means that in my calendar you may find: 3rd of January for setting annual goals, 1st day of the month for setting monthly goals, Mondays for setting weekly goals. And one of the first things in the morning for setting daily goals. All the goals I put in to Slickky, so I may easily find them anytime I want.

Looking at the longer-term goals first means that just before I set some type of goals, I look at myother goals. So if I want to set annual goals – I first need to check X-years-wannabe things. If I want to set monthly goals – I first need to check my annual goals. If I want to set weekly goals – I first need to check my monthly goals. And if I want to set daily goals – I first need to check my weekly goals. Why? Because that’s how I am able to plan everything by still having longer-term goals in the back of my head.

Weekly goals are weekly because I wouldn’t be able to accomplish them in one day. Monthly goals I wouldn’t be able to accomplish in a week. Etc. So by using this method I’m pretty sure that I will accomplish all the goals I have. It works like: when I set my daily goals for today, I first look at my weekly goals. And because I know what I need to accomplish by the end of the week, I know what I need to do today to have a chance to accomplish my weekly thing(s). The same is with weekly, monthly and annual ones.

Process of planning

Process of planning I just described above. I look at the longer-term goals at the beginning. Then I plan what I need to do when I have a chance to accomplish these longer-term things.

But I didn’t mention about one damn important thing here. Planning is the key. Planning and what’s going on afterwards (this process I describe below). You need to plan everything. Not just wake up and say: yeah, I’m gonna do this or that. No: I will stop drinking, just after long night with a bottle of whiskey in front of you. I mean real planning.

This is why when I plan my annual goals I have the whole day off in my calendar on January 3rd. This is why when I plan my monthly goals, I spend ~2 hours for only that one thing. This is why I spend 30min-1 hour on Mondays to plan the week. This is why writing is one of the first things I do every single day.

And when planning I don’t do anything else. No playing with the kid, no watching a movie, no talking to anyone, nothing. Simply nothing. Just planning. All the world around me doesn’t exist. There is only me and my planning.

Process afterwards

I described it above (setting shorter-term goals after looking at the longer-term ones), but I didn’t tell about what’s even more important.

Regular reviewing.

Yes, I review my goals on a regular basis. I have tasks like ‘Review X type of goals’ in some particular days in Nozbe. Review annual goals every other month. Review monthly goals every other week. Review weekly goals every other day. And once I have such a task for some day – I do it.

Because priorities may change. Because unexpected things could happen. And the goals have to be up-to-date all the time.


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  • Maciej Brochocki

    Regarding tools, I think it would be easier to just use tasks/projects in Nozbe for that. Just add labels “weekly goal”, “monthly goal”, “annual goal” and display tasks with needed label for review. Daily/weekly goals simply become priorities in Nozbe.

    • I used to use Nozbe for my weekly/monthly/annual goals. It didn’t work out. Nozbe is great for tasks or projects, not for goals or daily journals (at least for me).