- Justin Phu
I always have ambitious goals I want to achieve. Whether it be get shredded in time for summer, achieve that dream job or improve my relationships I always have a target I am striving for. However, I am often trying to accomplish all the goals at once! "I'll just work 18 hours a day, go to the gym every morning and go out with my friends every week", I tell myself. If I miss my goals I just say I'll work harder like somehow I'll get another 10 hours in a day. Somehow I believe I'm not reaching my goals simply because I'm not working hard enough. In reality, my mistake was not working smart enough.
Aimlessly trying to achieve a goal with no concrete steps is like trying to walk to a destination blindfolded. You know the general direction but you cannot course-correct and despite walking as fast and as hard as you can you never seem to achieve your goal.
Think Like A Business
Imagine you were running a company with 10 engineers. You set out a bunch of goals for your company like growing 10x, expanding into a new market, or investing in cutting down technical debt. Now I'm sure you wouldn't just say to all the engineers "here is what we want to achieve, I'll see you in a year's time and we better have reached out goals". Instead, you would allocate resources to particular areas estimating how much effort it would take to achieve the goals. After doing that you would cut goals that are simply infeasible with the resources you have. Furthermore, you would be sure to continually get progress updates and measure your steps towards those goals.
Everybody has the same set of 24 hours in a day. You need to act like a business and be very meticulous with your resource allocation. You need to be explicit with your goals and they must be measurable. You also need to treat your employees (your body) well. You cannot over-work your employees but rather need to give them time to relax and recharge.
Setting Up A Business Plan
As The Start-up Of You explains we are all entrepreneurs running the business which is your own life. What aspects of running a business can we apply to our lives?
Balance Your Risk Portfolio
Businesses that focus entirely on non-risky products will soon be consumed by another company with more innovative technology. Alternatively, businesses that focus purely on the next new shiny technology will soon run out of resources and also disappear. You need to balance your portfolio with appropriately risky projects.
For example learning technologies for work is a stable and great way to improve yourself. However, are you balancing that with learning emerging technologies that could potentially open up unforeseen opportunities?
This also applies to your health. If you wanted to be healthier you can just add more vegetables to your current meals or cut portions. These are relatively risk-free approaches and they may reap some rewards. Alternatively, you can occasionally try our new diets such like Keto or Intermittent Fasting. You may have an terrible time on these diets for a month or they may revolutionize the way you think about food.
Ensuring your portfolio has a reasonable amount of risk ensures you reap the most rewards.
A company would not attempt to be the best in every single field. They would determine what they want to improve and focus deeply on the area.
You should also do the same. Pick specific key areas you want to improve and focus on those as opposed to becoming a superhuman.
Specific Measurable Outcomes
You must be able to see if you are achieving your goal. You need to be able to course-correct quickly and rapidly. This means both making your goals measurable but also reflecting often. Again, you could be working as hard as you can imagine but be moving further and further from your goal.
These are the ideas that I could come up with the top of my head. I'm certain there are plenty more that I have missed. Continually ask yourself - "If I am the CEO of the company that is my life what should I be doing to achieve my goals".
A technique that many companies use is Objective Key Results (OKRs) which is a mechanism to define goals, allocate resources to them and figure out progress towards those goals. Furthermore, to achieve the OKRs they plan based on sprints to get small focused actionable achievements. This seemed to work very well for business so why not try this on my own life!
The technique I use to layout my own life is bi-yearly OKR planning with my high-level objectives for the half followed by monthly sprints to indicate what specific goal I am trying to achieve with each month.
Following this post I will follow it with 3 more:
- Reflection on 2020 H1 goals
- 2020 H2 OKRs
- Sprint planning for September
I will be writing up a late OKR planning for this half followed by the sprint of September. Hopefully, this will both keep me accountable but also give an example of what I think it means to treat your own life as a business.
Businesses have rigorous plans to achieve their goals. Why don't we do the same for our personal goals?