#1 Reason You Will Fail This Year
It’s the start of a new year. You took sometime to reflect about the previous year and come up with new goals for this year.
You are probably too ambitious, you always are. How often do you actually follow through with your new years resolutions?
You are not lacking
I constantly find these articles telling me failure is due t my lack of self-discipline, persistence, motivation, planning or due to fear and excuses. You are not lacking. Everyone has potential, that is the beauty of life. We might have different potentials and different capacity for work and what we might enjoy or not, but we all have potential.
Learning how to get better
What we lack is a good understanding of how humans learn, how we improve and how we can set us systems that help us improve. Getting healthy is a decent goal. Singing up for a gym membership is a decent goal also. Going to the gym more is a good goal. Going to the gym 3 times a week is a great goal.
Using systems to get better
Systems are a great way to carry out any goal. Ray Dalio has been talking about this extensively in 2017, calling it machines. Jeff Bezos is known for implementing great operational systems which helped Amazon becomes the leader in retail and cloud computing. Toyota evangelized Kaizen, a mechanism for continuous improvement of processes and programs.
I am not a multimillion dollar business so this sounds complicated!
It is not and I am going to help you come up with the simple thing you need to carry out all your new year resolutions. We will use science and proven industry methods to get you where you need to be.
Setting a goal for your goal
In other words, you need to be able to measure your goals. Our goals usually seem to be very vague. For example, I want to become a better person. That is a great goal but how are you going to know when you became a good person. How are you going to measure it? How are you going to test it? How are you going to know that you accomplished your goal? How are you going to know when you start doing something that doesn’t make you a better person? Even worst, how do you know when something is making you a worst person?
Adding science to your goal
You need to make your goals clear and measurable. I want to be a better person should be broken into specific goals that can be tracked and measured. I want to volunteer once a month for 2 hours is a very good well-defined goal. Now you actually know specifically what you want and how you can get there.
Introducing A New Way to create goals: Extreme Development
Inspired by computer systems
I been working with computers for some time now and I have been greatly inspired by my experience building computer systems and improving them.
I came up with a strategy for self-development that is effective and easy. Below are the three strategies you need to follow.
1. Measure your goals
When you come up with a new goal, spend good time planning and coming up with metrics (something to measure). Measure the right thing. This is very important. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How do I know I am getting closer to accomplishing my goal?
- Can you measure small incremental changes to accomplishing your goal?
- How do I know if I am hurting my goal?
- How do I know if I am successful?
- How do I know if I completely failed?
The point here is not to focus on failures, but to have a good way to actually define your goals. This is very important for steps 2 & 3. This process depends on measurable incremental changes. Make sure you can define your goals in a way that is measurable. And make sure those measurements can be assessed daily or weekly.
2. Deliver results often
You need to make progress on your goals regularly. This means daily or weekly activities that help you carry out your goal. You need to be getting closer to your goals constantly.
If your goal is saving money, then you should trying to putting money away every day or every week. A month is a stretch and this is when you start hurting your goal. Break down your goal into smaller goals that are measurable so that you can carry out things daily or weekly.
If your goal is to to become more social, your measurable goal can be to talk to two new person every week. This is a very good measurable goal. You can become more specific, but by being able to make small improvements regularly you will be able to actually carry out your goal.
3. Test your goals
Many of us start with new goals in January but they are nowhere to be remembered in October when we totally forgot about our goals. Testing your measurable goals constantly is important for two reasons
- Making sure you are on track and not deviating
- Allowing you to adjust what you do to improve faster
I recommend that you create two tests for yourself
- The first test is your daily or weekly test. This needs to be well defined according to your metric to make sure you are accomplishing your goal.
- The second test should be your sanity test that you do once a month and every time there is a new big change in your life (which would change your priorities). The test should relate to your big picture goal. This could be considered your litmus test to make sure you are on track. The sanity should be diving deeper into your goal and determining if the actions from your regular test are actually accomplishing your goal. You need to put your goal to the sanity test at regular interval (monthly) and every time there is a big change in your life to decide if that change will negatively impact your goal.
Below are examples of big goals, measurable goals, regular test and sanity test
|Big Goal||Measurable Goals||Regular Test||Sanity Test|
|Make more money||Add $5000 in income this year||Am I making $100 extra this week doing side-jobs?||$450 in bank every month?|
|Save more money||Save $5000 this year||Saved $100 this week?||$450 in bank every month?|
|Become an expert in sewing||Sew 12 items for friends for holidays||Spent 8 hours sewing this week?||Finished one sewed item this month?|
|Become stronger||Do Tough Mudder in November||Went to the gym 3 times this week for 40 minutes each sessions?||Can lift 5% more than last month? Run faster?|
|Write a book/novel||Finish my book in 2018||Finished writing 20 pages for my novel/book this week?||Finished 5 chapters every month?|
|Travel the world||Visit six new cities this year||Spend 2 hours each week working extra/planning trip?||Planned a trip for this month or next month?|
The reason that getting through college is easier than some of the goals above is because college provides really good measurable goals (a degree), regular tests (literally tests and quizes) and sanity test (grades at end of each term/semester).
4. [Extra Step] Be flexible and prioritize
Life happens, things change. Your priorities today are not your priorities tomorrow. This is why it’s important to have the sanity check. You need to test yourself against those priorities constantly and also make sure to adjust if needed. Feel free to come up with new goals, change your tests and how you want to accomplish your goal. Being flexible and open to change is good (but don’t make it an excuse to give up on your goals constantly). You should be improving your goals themselves and refining them overtime. By having a way to measure your progress, you can see for yourself if you are accomplishing what you want and set up realistic expectations.
Realistic expectation equals progress and real development and improvement.
What are you going to accomplish in 2018?
Do you have goals set for 2018 already? What are they? I would love to hear what they are and help you refine them using Extreme Development. Look forward to hearing your thoughts and idea.s
Inspiration for Extreme Development
The strategy above was inspired by how software development systems are running today. Keys ideas I draw parallels from: test-driven development, continuous integration and continuous delivery, the test pyramid, agile process and software product management metrics and Extreme Programming.