We’re well in to January, but it’s still resolution season, right?
Every year, around this time, I resolve to lose the weight I’ve gained since my twins were born, and every year I… don’t. This year, things are different.
Sure, it’s easier to focus on me now that the twins are almost ten and the little guy will turn five in the spring. Really, though, the eight years of not accomplishing this goal means experience has taught me some things about goal setting:
- Habits are hard and take time
- Goals are ideas, not actions
- Success can’t be measured annually
In the past, I’ve had this notion that in a year, I could lose fifty pounds. Failing that, I tried reducing my goal. Regularly. With the result being zero each year, it became clear that the goal wasn’t the problem.
So what was holding me back?
Action. Like, real planned action.
I have realized that an annual goal or ambition is too vague. It doesn’t mean anything here and now. It suggests I could get to it more next week. Or next month. Or whatever, I’m hungry.
My answer: fifty-two projects. Not one epic year-long project to attack this monolithic goal, but a project for every week.
Why? Because action.
Thinking of what I want to be at this year’s end might be great visualization, but it doesn’t tell me what I should be doing right now. A week long project, however, does, especially if each week has its own success criteria.
Seven days isn’t that far out, and having fifty-two goals instead of one forces me to think about what I can really do, and what choices and plans I can make to be successful.
Every week spells a new project in OmniFocus (but any task management system will work, if it works for you). I don’t make a repeating project, because I need my actions to be purpose built for and achievable in a specific week. If I have more meetings or am away or the weather is going to suck, I have to design actions that will fit.
The only repeating action is the weigh-in at the end of the week, and the updating of a spreadsheet to measure the overall.
The spreadsheet identifies:
- my starting weight
- my goal weight for the week
- my actual weight at week’s end
- a five star rating for the previous week’s activities I might typically do
- a column for notes looking back at the week to track lessons learned and insights
This short cycle planning means I honour each week’s constraints, target each week’s goals, and plans and execute specific actions.
In action, I’m doing more than I’ve ever done before, so I expect the results will follow as I keep at it. If nothing else, I’m measuring and learning all the way.