The other day, I read a great article on Chris Brogan‘s blog about Wiring Yourself for Success in 2010. He suggests that, instead of making the traditional New Year’s Resolutions and following them up with endless to-do lists, a better alternative is to set goals and lay out mind maps or frameworks for how to accomplish those goals with multiple paths to the same end result. So, instead of laying out resolutions like “lose 30 pounds”, he says he chooses to set a fitness goal and focuses on one word (in this case, active). He then writes out multiple ways, or paths, to achieve this goal and any distractions or obstacles that might prevent him from accomplishing it, then lists out a few steps to take on his path to success, what the “finish line” looks like (3-5 activities a week, looser jeans, a need to go shopping), and ultimately what comes after he has achieved this goal (step up activity level, try something challenging).
Rather than static goals and infinite to-do lists, this approach is accessible and fluid. If you slip up, there’s no need to start over, simply reassess and redirect, keep working your way to that goal. It’s encouraging, motivating, and makes so much sense.
Chris suggests picking three words for the year to start with. Mine will be: Learn, Create, Smart.
- Goal word: LEARN
- Path 1 to the goal: formal classes (I’m in the process of signing up for graphic design classes)
- Path 2 to the goal: utilize free time
- Path 3 to the goal: integrate into work life
- Distractions: work, other goals, social and leisure activities
- Steps to the path: sign up, work hard in, and excel at online graphic design classes; find free or inexpensive photography tutorials and practice with both digital and 35mm film cameras; read, read, read; observe professionals online and reach out to ask for guidance; work closely with my boss on creative projects and professional development opportunities
- The finish line: working knowledge and understanding of typography and layout in print and online media, five photography sets each with a different concentration (aperture, focus, f-stop, filter, flash, etc.); enough knowledge to push forth and create my own website.
- What’s next: use new knowledge to complete own website, portfolio.
- Goal word: CREATE
- Path 1 to the goal: build own website
- Path 2 to the goal: continue blogging
- Path 3 to the goal: create my own style look
- Distractions/obstacles: time management, lack of patience
- Steps to the path: create a logo for my new online identity/website, layout and design of site, code it, update it; post to blog at least twice each week, keep new and exciting features coming and continue with features which I have already started, keep it fresh and relevant; add at least three home-sewn pieces of clothing to my wardrobe; make at least three pieces of jewelry; clean out any old or outdated pieces and donate to charity; take photos to document looks
- The finish line: a comprehensive, cohesive style and look in person and online; a brand I am proud to push forth in the world
- What’s next: continue to refine look, organize and style home spaces and document with photos, label, periodically refresh look online and in person
- Goal word: INVEST (I had originally picked “Smart”, but changed it to a verb – I like “doing” words and investing sounds smart, doesn’t it?)
- Path 1 to the goal: invest financially
- Path 2 to the goal: invest my time
- Path 3 to the goal: invest in myself
- Distractions: cash flow, time management, the usual social and leisure distractions
- Steps to the path: eat well (no nitrates, chemicals, preservatives, or hormones, eating a balanced diet, eating often but not lots at once), exercise (walking, biking, and getting out more), learning to view spending money on myself as an investment and not wasteful, do something every week that I can be proud of – whether that’s creating a piece of artwork or excelling at a project at work or donating time or money to a charity I support, spend money and time on quality and not quantity
- The finish line: owning only things that are quality and useful and nothing that can be considered clutter, visible results in health improvement via physical appearance and in hormone test results, a savings account not linked to a checking account that has a small amount in it only used in cases of emergency, a list of accomplishments at the end of 2010 that will challenge me to do even better in 2011
- What’s next: paying down debt on student loans, investing money, a list of equally challenging goals for 2011