This is my list of goals for the next 29 days.
New Year’s Resolutions
I gave up on the idea of New Year’s Resolutions years ago. Like most people, I never looked at my resolutions again once I made them.
In 2007, David Seah introduced me to Groundhog Day Resolutions (link to his 2013 post). It was as if the clouds had parted and a holy tome came down from heaven. This was an idea that made so much sense.
Fundamentally there are two problems with New Year’s Resolutions. The first is burnout. After the craziness of the holidays, New Year’s parties and standing in the return lines at the mall, no one has the patience to tackle a bunch of new resolutions. It makes sense to wait a little longer to start making big plans. That’s why February 2nd, Groundhog Day, makes so much more sense. Give yourself a little time to recuperate.
The second problem is the lack of review that comes along with resolutions set at the beginning of the year. There’s isn’t a clearly laid out plan to review your progress and make sure you’re still on track. Again, Groundhog Day Resolutions to the rescue. David took the date 2/2 and made a month-and-a-day review day. So on 3/3, 4/4, 5/5 (etc.) you review your goals and make sure you’re still on track. Best of all, the last review day is 12/12, after which you can focus your attention on the crazy holidays once again.
One more problem I discovered during the monthly review process was the sense of guilt when the things I tried weren’t working out and I stopped working on them. Jon Acuff’s blog post “Why I quit New Year’s Resolutions (and what I’m doing instead)” helped change my mind about that. His technique is similar to Groundhog Day Resolutions, but in 7 52-day sprints. Taking on an agile development approach, he uses his sprints as an opportunity to try out new habits for 52 days and see how they stick. There’s no harm, no foul for dropping them. His formula:
- Pick a goal or two in each of the 7 areas of life.
- Crush said goals for 52 days.
- Drop the ones I hate at the end of the 52 days, keep the ones I love, and then work on a brand-new set for 52 days.
I’m adapting that a bit for the first month of Groundhog Day Resolutions because there are tasks I’ve already started that I’d like to continue or measure better. Also, with the start of the resolutions, I feel motivated enough to tackle a few of these at onec.
Mr. Acuff’s seven areas of life also made a lot of sense to me, so I’m borrowing them as well:
So a formulated way to set goals with a clear mind and a pattern to review them is a good start. But where to start on planning? I picked up Chris Brogan’s approach for this a few years ago as well: 3 words. (My 3 Words for 2013). Each year he picks three words to define his year and where he wants to go. In 2010, I picked Deploy, Serve and Connect back in 2010. I think these three words might be more of a mantra, actually, since I keep coming back to them year after year.
Before I finally get to goals and plans, I wanted to talk about the 20-mile march article on The Art of Manliness blog. The phrase that sat with me most strongly from the post was: “Methodical, Disciplined Consistency”. It was this consistency that made the difference between two expeditions to the south pole; one that was successful and the other which led to the deaths of the entire expedition team. I want to apply that consistency to everything I do. To highlight the AoM’s article, here are the 7 factors in needed to make good goals
- Performance Marker: Delineate the minimum effort. This is the minimum to be accomplished on a daily basis. It should be a stretch but still do-able.
- Performance Marker: Delineate the upper effort. Despite success, where won’t you go to avoid burnout. Rest is crucial, so hold back from extremes.
- Tailor the plan to your personality and environment
- The design must be self imposed. This plan cannot be built to please others, only yourself.
- It must have a Goldilock’s time frame – not too short and not too long.
- It must lie within your control to achieve. For example, the difference between getting clients and calling prospects is that you can control the later.
- Goals must be achieved with great consistency. Be the tortoise, not the inconsistent hare.
With all of the information above, I think I finally have a scheme that will work out very well this year. In fact, I was so inspired to get started, I didn’t even wait until Groundhog’s Day to implement some of these.
Return all correspondence within 24 hours
I’ve always tried to do this, but I have made better efforts to do this. Going forward, I am going to keep track of all correspondence and whether or not I’m replying in a timely manner.
Make one contact each business day
Contacts turn into prospects, and prospects turn into clients. It’s the only way to build a stronger business. Since I started this, there have been 20 business days and I have contacted 12 people. Meh.
I organized my contacts in a CMS and created a workflow for tracking opportunities and clients.
In order to be productive on a daily basis, I need to focus on work tasks, not goofing off on the internet. I have been focused on tasks I put on my calendar and have saved checking email, facebook, twitter, etc. for when I have my phone but am not able to work (e.g. waiting to pick up kids).
Take my wife on a date every month
As a Christmas present, I put together a monthly secret mission. This was a way to make sure to take my wife on a date without having to come up with something to do on the fly. Our January date was a cooking class!
Take a picture every day
My goal to take a picture every day isn’t necessarily to get photos of the family every day, but to be in the habit of getting my phone or the camera out and using it. However, this does result in my taking more pictures of the boys and Teh Wife. Its good to have pictures.
Start an allowance plan for the boys
We opened the First National Bank of TUaaH (Three Uhris and a Helfers), which gives the boys some allowance and lets us teach them about financial responsibility.
I’ve tried to be better about making sure I do the dishes (which is my job if Jen cooks) and keep the kitchen clean at the end of the day. Also I’ve been trying to start laundry at the beginning of the day and fold it before bed. (I get it put away during my morning routine since family is asleep when I’m done folding.) Yes, I’m a dude and I can do laundry.
Ramp up to 20 hours per week of billable work
Obviously, this is a result of prospecting and focusing on billable work first. I haven’t yet reached this goal, although I am focusing on Butt in Chair time to do this. If I don’t have 20 hours of billable in a week, I should be using that time to prospect and work on internal projects. It’s true, my amount of work has dropped over the years as Jen’s career has taken so much time and I’m a stay-at-home dad.
Read two books a month
On track with 2 books read for the year so far.
Get up at a consistent time each day (6:30)
Regardless of whether it’s a weekend or not, I want to get up at the same time. This helps me call it a night well too. At 10pm I’m ready to head upstairs and wind down for the night.
Track my food and exercise
I’ve restarted this one in the last week after getting sloppy during and since the holidays.
Get a tight reign on my tongue
My goal is NO PROFANITY. This is a great goal, and I’ve caught myself a number of times when I was about to swear. There have been other times where I have sworn and really chastised myself after the fact, but at least I’m noticing what I’m doing.
Read the Word of God (the Bible) daily
I had been somewhat inconsistent on this over the last few years. Part of getting up at a consistently is that I have quiet time before our youngest needs to get ready for school. It’s a block of time that no one interrupts, so its perfect. Also, its the first and best time of my day.
Our small group has started studying the book of James. I made a goal to read alound the passage for the next group meeting each morning as part of my devotionals. This has been great, I’ve caught nuances and learned something each day I’ve done this.
Official Groundhog Day Resolutions
I’ve done pretty well with those goals. It’s time to see if any of them to be adjusted or removed.
Career-based goals will support the work I do as a freelance Ruby on Rails developer. While some goals lead directly into financial benefits, others are there to ensure I continue to grow in my field.
Make one contact every business day
I’ve already found success and new leads by sending a quick email each day. Sometimes it’s difficult to find someone to send an email to and sometimes its awkward emailing an old contact I haven’t spoken with in some time.
|Minimum effort||Success percentage up to 75% for the period. (16 of 21 weekdays)|
|Upper limit||85% (18 of 21)|
|Tailored||Continue to use and refine my CMS strategy.|
Attend two meetups
Meetups are a great place to make new contacts, learn, and connect with other people. My focus on meetups should be in technology or startups. Meetups can also serve as places to hold myself accountable to projects I’m working on.
|Tailored||Technology or startup based|
|Goal||Deploy, Serve, Connect|
Improve sales pipeline workflow
I finally documented my sales pipeline workflow, and I would like to make a concentrated effort once this month to look at that process and determine if there are better ways to make the process more efficient and to improve my success rate.
|Category||Career, Social, Financial|
|Goal||Deploy, Serve, Connect|
Family goals relate to doing things together or taking care of our home and other needs.
Work on a geeky project each month with the boys. This month will be ordering and assembling a gaming PC that is their belated Christmas present.
|Minimum effort||1 project|
|Upper limit||2 projects|
I have nightmares about being a hoarder. Sometimes when I see all the junk drawers in our house, I think I’m one traumatic event away from an episode of Hoarders.
To that end, I want to spend 15-minutes twice a week to take the time to go through a box, shelf or drawer and eliminate what I don’t need or haven’t used in some time.
|Minimum effort||2 15-minute decluttering sessions|
|Upper limit||7 15-minute sessions|
Weekend project room
A running joke around our house is “Ladies, if a man says he will fix it, he will. There is no need to remind him every 6 months about it.” I have a list of unfinished “honey do” projects around the house. I will pick a room in the house and work on any open tasks in that room for 2 hours on a Saturday or Sunday.
|Tailored||Small block of time with no requirement to finish a project in one weekend.|
Call my dad everyday
I was doing really well calling my dad everyday last year, particularly when I was driving to the coffee shop. Now I’m working at home again and it’s harder to remember to call him. I want to get back in the habit.
|Minimum effort||20 of 29|
|Upper limit||29 of 29|
|Tailored||Call while running errands or at lunch|
Increase billable hours
I need to push the billable hours I’m working both as a raw number of hours and as a percentage of all hours worked.
In January I had a 9% billable rate (4 of 45 hours). I would like to increase that amount this month and reach a 25% rate as I start doing more client work.
(Sidenote: I hate blogging this… I’ve really let myself slide in the last year :-( Networking in, networking out, I suppose).
Clearly this goal is a bit other-dependent. However, there are ways to increase this on my own… one way is to simply ask existing clients for more work if I notice there is something to be done.
|Minimum effort||24 (estimated 24 of 100 hours)|
|Upper limit||40 (of 100)|
|Tailored||Billable work as appropriate|
Invoice every other Friday
Once upon a time I got sloppy about invoicing regularly. This led to that uncomfortable feeling when I finally got around to invoicing my billable work, especially for a small amount. So, to maintain cash flow, I will invoice every Friday depending on the biweekly schedule for each client.
|Tailored||Follow my invoicing process|
Mental health and learning are covered under the mental category.
Read two books a month
My goal is to read two books a month for a total of 24 books for the year. I’ll still lose the yearly competition with my sisters, but I’ll be at a new personal best for books read in a single calendar year.
I’d also like at least one of the books to be non-fiction. While I love to read to be entertained, I must also use reading to learn.
|Tailored||At least one non-fiction|
Learn one new Vim command
Vim is my primary code and text editor these days. It’s an extremely powerful tool with many features that make it great. I’ve been using it for about a year and still consistently find new things to learn about it. I will learn at least one new command each week to become a better vim user.
Write 1000 words a week. As I’m spreading my time into different categories, I think this should be do-able. I want to make a mix of writing blog posts for Red Bit Blue Bit, uhri.com, as well as a fiction project I have been planning.
|Tailored||Mix of blogging and fiction writing|
I will track my food everyday. I will keep my calories below my daily required calories at least half of the time.
|Minimum effort||29, 15 days below calorie goal|
|Upper limit||29, 20 days below calorie goal|
|Tailored||Use myFitnessPal to track foods.|
Hrm… Other than the social bits covered in other goals, I’m not sure I have much to work on in this category.
Continue to maintain a schedule of devotions and prayer.
|Minimum effort||25 of 29|
|Upper limit||29 of 29|
Keep track of the number of times I use profanity and get it down to 0.
|Minimum effort||< 15|
|Upper limit||< 10|
|Tailored||Keep a ticker chart with the number of times I use profanity.|