How I Make Quarterly Goals Work for Me
In the spirit of follow-through, and because sometimes these things are easier to read than hear, I thought I’d tack on a little addition here to this week’s podcast episode on goals.
In the chat, Erin and I talk about why we don’t love New Years Resolutions. In short:
• Annual goals are too long; we may not care about the same thing 12 months from now.
• Because they’re annual, they usually don’t happen because we don’t bother to break down what it looks like to accomplish them in small, daily increments.
• We make them because we’re “supposed to.” It’s the start of a new year, so it feels good to set a goal, even if it’s done without personal conviction or drive.
• They’re so lofty that in order to accomplish them, your life has to end up being all about reaching your goal(s) instead of just living your life.
I make the case, instead, for quarterly goals. These are goals you set every 90 days. (Quarterly goals are also the basis for making change that actually works in my course, Like Your Life, which happens to be re-open for enrollment right now through January 8.)
We go into much more detail in LYL on how quarterly goals work, but here’s a real-life example from my own life. These are a few things I’d like to see happen in my life this year:
• Finish writing my novel (and maybe sell it to the right publisher).
• Develop the habit of three hours of solid exercise per week.
• Get our fixer-upper house to a “state of completion” by the end of 2018. (Meaning, close enough to done—because a house is never fully fixed.)
• Take Tate on a mother-daughter trip to celebrate her 13th birthday.
• Save $X in retirement.
• Help Finn, our youngest, become a strong, independent reader.
• Help Reed, our middle, with certain personal goals (I’m keeping them vague here, for his privacy).
I could call these annual goals—but they’re really more ideas. Big-picture ideas of what would be great to say I accomplished a year from now.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a list like this—overwhelmed enough to not bother doing any of them, just shrug my shoulders, and click 'watch next episode' on Netflix. This is why quarterly goals are so handy.
Q1 is January through March; roughly 90 days. I’ll choose 1-3 big-picture goals listed above, and focus on a smaller set of things I can do to make progress on them. These become my quarterly goals.
1. Write 15,000 words in my novel.
2. Take a weekly yoga class from the studio down the street (I signed up for a 10-class special two days ago).
3. Save a fourth of what we want to save for retirement this year.
…that’s it. At least for actual goals; I’m sure I’ll do other things, like research ideas for my trip with Tate (and possibly book a flight), continue to read-aloud daily with Finn, and maybe take on a house project to help Kyle, since he’s spearheading our renovation.
But when it comes to bonafide goals I can check off a list? It’s just those three.
Near the end of March, I’ll evaluate how I did on them. If I can check them off, great. If not, no big deal—I either tweak it and keep at it, or cross it off all together. (This is another benefit of shorter, 90-day goals: you can see quickly whether a goal is worth even having.)
In Like Your Life, we walk through setting these quarterly goals after early sessions of helping you understand your unique wiring, what your childhood tells you about your lifelong vocation, evaluating the six key areas of your life as they stand today, and more.
This is because goals only work when they’re actually useful. And the best way to make useful goals? First, know who you are and what you’re about.
That’s what Like Your Life helps you do—if you’d like to join us (over 5,000 have taken the class!), head here to enroll through January 8. I’d love to get to know you there.
top photo from Rocky
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