The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.
Louis CK* does a very funny comedy routine where he talks about how he is so very proud of himself for just thinking about doing something and revels in how wonderful he is for just having had the thought - Although he never really seriously came close to doing it.
In part I thought of this because it is the beginning of a new year but also because I've been proudly telling people that my 2015 goals and objectives are down on paper. When I ask if they have done the same, a serenade of crickets seem to follow shortly thereafter. If you come from a corporate world you know there is an agonizing amount of process and administration around setting annual Goals and Objectives, so I was even more surprised when hard core business people seem to look away as I ask.
To be clear I am not referring to "resolutions"**. I am talking about a plan for the year, associated with a vision with objectives and activities to get you there; there are two parts that I am referring to here... having a plan and actually acting on it
If you were asked by the Cheshire cat where you wanted to go in 2015 would you have an answer? It speaks to the old adage... it doesn't matter what you do if you don't know what you want. Business, particularly bigger business, is very good at the process of developing plans aligned with strategy, mission and vision (sometimes agonizingly so) - Why shouldn't you?
Remember that this isn't just an academic exercise nor should it ever be. We should have a Vision for our life and Guiding Principles that focus us, and as superfluous as these may seem, they actually act as a lighthouse when life gets stormy and complicated. With these guiding principles, as well as consideration to the current situation, plans, goals and objectives can be developed that drive action . Remember this about planning... it can take two hours and one piece of paper or three months and countless PowerPoint presentations. In the end it is important have a plan.
I suspect that most of us carry a plan in our head that may or may not be tied to a longer term vision for ourselves, but if push comes to shove, we have one - Now back to Louis CK; having a plan in your head is analogous to him revelling in the fantasy of thinking about doing something and how wonderful it is to just be thinking of it.
Now to the real point in all of this - It does not become real until you write it down. With the act of writing it down (typing or graphically representing it...whatever it takes), you have created something that is now tangible, communicable, measurable, and the first step to executing on it. There is a large amount of urban legend with regards to how your probability of success increases by writing something down; this is well articulated in a book called The Art of Quitting by Peg Streep and Alan Bernstein ***. For me personally, there is a commitment that comes to writing it down.
Oh, one last thing... don't be so particularly concerned with the format and formality - Simply put, the vision and panning really are just, "what you want to be and what are you going to do to get there?" Formality of a good planning format and language can always be evolved to: Vision, Mission, Guiding Principles, Smart G&Os, strategies and tactics. You will get there soon enough. Just write something down... anything.
This is what I have written down for 2015... (I am partial to PowerPoint so I was able to simply cut and paste)
The Vision for a fulfilled Life
- Self confidence with myself and the world through mindful action and presence (self)
- Self awareness and knowledge through activity & travel, learning, knowledge and wisdom (self)
- Deep emotional connection with a “Life Companion” (relationship/spirit)
- Deep connection and Legacy for my Daughter (relationship/spirit)
- Satisfying circle of friends with personal and professional connections (relationship/spirit)
- A safe, comfortable and tranquil living space (environment)
Intimate work with a company or small circle of clients to help them grow into their goals (environment)
(Guiding Principles in Bold)
2015 Goals and Objectives
Self Confidence: Maintain an uninterrupted physical lifestyle, Study mindfulness, Expand networks and formal association membership
Self Awareness and Knowledge: Travel at least twice in 2015 internationally, Take at least two academic courses, Continue community activities
Deep Emotional Connection: Develop a soulful “Life Companion” relationship, Continue to build an adult relationship with Sarah
Satisfying Circle of Friends: Continue initiating quarterly get-togethers, Assess toxic friendships, Develop positive new friendships
Legacy: Develop a family Legacy plan
A Safe, comfortable, tranquil living space: Relocation and execution plan
Intimate work: Solidify GPE Stratagem as an income generator (> $XXXX K), Develop client funnel, Develop Blogging capability (no less than twice a week), Expand social networking
I have written out the detailed activities to reach the above goals for the first six months of the year; come July, I will review and adjust the objectives accordingly. Based on the situation and my successes, I then develop activities for the second half of the year. I am big on Goals and Objectives being SMART*** to ensure that there is the greatest chance of success.
Well there you have it...there can be a great science to developing Goals and Objectives that ensure the greatest likelihood for success. For me though, just write them down - Bring them to life now, as you can optimize the formality and wordsmith them as you go.
* Louis CK is a very funny American comic - Louis CK Live at Beacon Theatre (language warning but very funny)
** I simply hate resolutions... yes I know hate is a strong word.
*** Chapter 7 - Mapping your Goals
**** SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound... this is the criteria that should be used to develop good objectives.