…ditch those vague New Year’s Resolutions (eg. “exercise more”, which only 8% of people tend to achieve) and replace them with SMART goals.
Happy New Year! I hope it’ll be a good one for you all. One way to make that more likely is to ditch those vague New Year’s Resolutions (eg. “exercise more“, which only 8% of people tend to achieve) and replace them with SMART goals.
There are a couple of variations on the acronym (you may have learned ‘Realistic’ for example), but they amount to the same thing.
When you set a goal, it should be clear, possible to define success (and progress), yet should also push your abilities and comfort zone. Above all it should be time constrained.
A year is a nice ‘tidy’ unit of time for us to think about making big changes in, but it’s comfortably big enough that we can procrastinate for months without having to do anything, unless we set some SMART goals.
It’s also worth noting that people tend to greatly overestimate what they can do in a year (they also underestimate what they can do in 3 years or more).
Write down and Share your goals!
Even when you set SMART goals, people often fail to meet them. They may just lose interest. They may want the result but procrastination gets the better of them, or the goal changes and flexes because they’re not taking a deliberate approach. But there are ways to improve your odds!
According to research from the Dominican University of California, people who write down their goals are 44% more likely to achieve them! That’s huge!! So write them down and leave them somewhere visible, like on a post-it note on your bedroom door, or as the background on your phone. Or both!
Even better is if you also share the goals. You’re 77%(!!) more likely to succeed when you do, versus just thinking about them. Get an accountability buddy (or, “accountabilabuddy”), and share your goals with each other. Then check in every few days to see how you’re both doing. Help each other out.
This is one of the main functions of any type of coach. They hold you accountable to achieve your own goals, while offering the benefit of their professional experience.
What also works here is to publicly share your goals, like on your social media or a blog post. Anywhere that you feel people are paying attention to you and may be interested in your success. So that’s what I’m going to do here.
Sharing some of my 2019 SMART Goals
Health & Personal
Sober January – I do this every year for self-discipline, and to detox a bit after Christmas. No drinking until Feb 1st or later. That’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant (to my health), and timed.
Run a Marathon – Carried over from last year. As I explained in my 2018 review, I’ve an ankle injury. This is a big goal with several hurdles, so it’s not SMART, but I break it down into smaller goals. First step is to treat the injury, by contacting a recommended physiotherapist by Jan 10th, and getting the next instructions, and a time frame.
Take 1 Holiday overseas – This will be my friend’s wedding in Canada in July. Can’t wait! Hopefully I’ll get another trip in somewhere, too.
Personal Budget – I’ve kept track of my spending for years, ever since I moved to Australia and wasn’t working initially. This isn’t a SMART goal, but it does provide a financial framework for all of the goals below, making them possible on my conservatively projected income and expenses, and extra-possible on better income. I’ve broken things into categories, and track spending per category as I go (books, nights out, bills, etc). If you’d like a (blank) copy of my budgeting spreadsheets, get in touch. I’m happy to share useful tools.
Volunteer 1 day per month average – Also carried over from last year. I only had 5 or 6 volunteer actions. First step is to contact a local group before Jan 20th and see what kind of help they need.
10 Climate Actions by November 15th – I’m a volunteer Cool Planet Champion as of last November, and we’re expected to take 10 ‘actions’ in the year. My SMART goal here is actually to postpone this as a deliberate focus until March, and then review, as I need to give some serious attention to the new business in the early months of this year.
Revenue targets – Suffice it to say that I have these, and you should too if you’re self employed.
Attend a non-Irish conference – I tend to go to a lot of Irish meetups, but to go to the effort of a multi-day overseas conference to see who you can meet (and get some travel done) is not only fun, but great for business. I did this in my games company for the last 3 years. Now I have to change industries, but the goal remains. If you’ve any suggestions for a good conference, I’m all ears.
Release a free eBook download by April 30th – I want to give some of my best planning and mindset techniques for free to the site’s visitors. This also can help build a mailing list for future use. It’s also a teaser for later material.
Release a paid eBook by August 31st – Taking longer to write, but I want to be selling a few products from this website, ultimately, and to have the first one out by the end of the Summer, at the latest.
Speak at 2 conferences – Likely Irish conferences, and I’d speak at more than two if asked, but I want to appear at least twice. It’s a great way to get eyes on your business, and to make new connections.
I’ve several other goals set on lots of topics like how many times I’ll perform comedy, music, burlesque, how often I’ll clean the house, how much I’ll read per week, cook for myself, etc. All SMART goals, but for the sake of brevity I’ll wrap up now.
I just want to add that it’s okay to have longer-term, more ambitious goals whose timeframe is harder to establish (“go to space” is one of mine, and it’s timed only by “before I die”), but for anything short-term, especially business related, you should make more deliberate goals.
There are great techniques around achieving those “moonshot” goals (as Peter Diamandis, the guy who created the X Prize, calls them) too. Maybe that’ll make a good topic for another time.
So, Happy New Year everyone! Hopefully in my 2019 goals review in a year’s time, I can report complete success on those mentioned above.
BONUS TIP: If you’re giving up smoking or something similar, the story you tell yourself matters. “I’m trying to quit” is not a very effective story. Try a new mindset. “I’m not a smoker” works better.
Please share some of your own goals and resolutions below and let’s keep each other accountable!
What can be improved? I’ve named my failures, and shown where I succeeded. Some failures came from (or were narrowly avoided despite) procrastinating on setting dates or appointments.
Well, it’s the end of the year. Time for my 2018 Goals Review! This will become an annual tradition on the site, because of…
I believe in setting goals for myself, and if you’re reading this coaching blog, you probably do too. But they’re pointless if you don’t create solid plans to achieve them (SMART goals) and if you don’t measure your success or failure.
One of the key benefits to having a coach is that there’s someone you’re accountable to (aka: an ‘accountabilabuddy’… yeah, fun word). Almost all of us perform better when we feel there’s someone we’d be letting down, than when only we ourselves know about the goal.
For example, when I first started blogging on the RetroNeo Games website in 2015, my first blog post stated that I’d blog every single weekend (silly me, I never put in an ‘until’ date). Because I felt accountable to my publicly stated promise and to my few dozen readers, I did blog every weekend that year, even over the 3 weeks I was away on holidays (I wrote in advance and scheduled the posts). For the two years after that I declared that I’d do one post per month, and I succeeded in that, too.
So, in a few days, I’m going to publicly post some of my 2019 goals, but for today, I want to review my 2018 goal results (which were never publicly posted, as the site didn’t exist yet, though they were measured by me privately) and do a review. These goals were not all specific. Some were aspirational and vague. I had daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and even lifetime goals. They weren’t really business related either as I was about to start a new employment last January.
New Year’s Resolutions/Review
Lots of bloggers and journalists currently love to be edgy by writing headlines like “New Year’s Resolutions are useless”, but then proceed to tell you why they’re actually great if you just define your goal in a SMART way (by the way, that means your goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed – there are a couple of alternate versions, but they amount to the same thing).
So, I’m not going to say that. New Year’s Resolutions are great! My own resolution every year is to “100% give up alcohol for January” (checks all the SMART boxes), just to see how I’m feeling about it. If I ever miss it much, I’ll know I might be developing a problem. So far, so good.
But the main thing that’s worth doing is reviewing your SMART goals from last year to appreciate your successes, and recognise your failures, or where you need to get more specific. This then helps you set better goals for the coming year so that you can continue to grow, both personally and professionally, and hopefully make a bigger positive impact on the world.
It’s important as well to measure your progress towards these goals during the year. I do this at the end of each month, personally.
So! How did I do in 2018?…
Kevin’s 2018’s Goals
Attend at least one Conference – Conferences, particularly small ones, are great places to meet people from your industry and learn what changes are coming down the line. If you’re lucky, they can be incredibly fun, too. I started 2018 still working in the games industry (which has some of the most fun-loving, talented, and welcoming professionals in the world) and for 3 days in April I attended Reboot Develop, in Dubrovnik (for the second time. Seriously, go to this if you’re a games developer).
Take an Overseas Holiday – I was in Dubrovnik, Croatia, for aforementioned conference, and it was incredibly fun, with some off days as well, but I don’t think the conference and holiday should be the same thing, necessarily. However, I did fly home through Amsterdam for a two-day break and met a couple of friends, so that counts. I also went to Paris for my birthday. I was primarily volunteering with a refugee charity for 5 days, but when I finished my shifts, and for most of my birthday itself, I got to play tourist. One disappointment is that these were short, I’d been to all locations before, and all were connected with work in some way, though I still had a great time. I meant to go Inter-railing around Europe, or to Japan in September, but it never happened due to what was happening in my job around the time. Then I started straight into this coaching business and never got away. Still, goal technically achieved.
Take a Survival Course – I’d wanted to do this since the year before, and finally signed up to it for October. The Summer groups were full. It was miserably wet, and I got hypothermia, but as I suspected, it was a valuable experience to get out of your comfort zone and put daily problems in perspective. We built shelters, fire, learned some basic survival skills, and even had to endure some simulated captivity and psychological warfare. Fun! We pushed our physical and mental limits and are all stronger for it. It wasn’t “fun”, but I think it’s important to do something like this once a year at least. You never know when you might actually need to survive a crisis situation.
Learn x2 New Skills – Great success here, with 3 (or 4?) new skills. They weren’t defined initially, but over the year I learned how to Moonwalk (Michael Jackson move), do some basic pole dance moves (my friend owns a studio and I finally made good on a promise to take some beginner classes), dance some basic salsa, and I’ve begun to learn to juggle, though I wouldn’t say I have that skill yet. Funny enough, 3 of those new skills are dance related. I hated any form of dance when I was a teenager. Go figure.
Do x2 Burlesque Shows – In 2009, and until 2011, I ran a burlesque troupe in Ireland called The LoveCats. My friends wanted to start it up and I was invited in to play the guitar, but wound up running it after one friend moved overseas. At different times I was host, band member, an extra in group numbers, and eventually had a couple of my own acts as well. It was great fun, and a great community. I’m still involved in the scene (Co-Producer & Judge on Miss Burlesque Ireland, mainly) but hadn’t performed in 7 years. I wanted to try out a performance again, so I got something ready during the year, and made my “comeback” at a show in Dublin in August, and performed again in September. I’ve also applied for some shows next year.
It’s something I’d meant to do for a couple of years, but writing the goal down and beginning to tell other performer friends that I was “coming back” soon, made me accountable. When it got to June and I’d done nothing solid yet about creating an act, I really got into gear.
Invest 10% of salary – Simple enough. I bought some Bitcoin and Etherium. It’s down at the moment, but the point is that you don’t invest what you can’t afford to lose.
Run a Charity Event – Next year I want to be specific about how much I want to raise, but this is technically a success. I volunteered my birthday and raised some money for the refugees in France, also going over to help out for 5 days, but that’s not what I meant by “event”. The rest of the year passed by and I hadn’t organised a charity event. However, I was organising the Irish Game Dev Christmas party. On the day of the party, I realised my failure to reach the goal thus far, and quickly gathered some prizes, a donation bucket, and announced that at the party if you donated to the bucket, you could take a ‘lucky dip’ in a bag and pull out a game code, or some other prizes. We raised €114 for Dublin’s homeless. In spirit, I feel I failed this goal, as it wasn’t much money and it wasn’t specifically a charity event, but it was better than nothing, and technically a success, since my goal wasn’t that Specific. Must do better next year.
Run a Marathon – This was an ambitious goal, as I don’t run, or really get much intense exercise. That said, I’m fit, healthy, walk every day, do my stretches, and want to run. The problem is I have an ankle injury of unknown diagnosis that’s been bothering me for over a decade, especially when I run, push something heavy (like a car), or even stand for too long. I started in January turning my walks into runs, but after just two days my ankle was badly at me and I couldn’t even walk on it for a few days. Every now and again, I’d push a bit further, but really couldn’t run any more than a minute without triggering this injury. I’ve been to physiotherapists, osteopaths, had an x-ray, etc, but never found the cause of this injury. The only health professional I regularly see now is a (very good, and holistic) chiropractor, and while he’s improved my back, my ankle got no better, which was the expected result. He recommended getting an MRI and maybe seeing a specialist, so in December I finally had the MRI and initially I’m told it looks like some form of tendinitis. I’ll be back to a different physio next year with the scans and hopefully I can sort this out and get back on track towards that marathon. It might be more than a year away, but the goal will be written, progress will be measured, and some day I’ll run a whole marathon. It’s not necessarily a 2019 goal, but working towards it is.
Volunteer one day per month – Big fail here. I never set up any relationship with a charity in my local area that I could regularly volunteer with. I did do 5 days with Utopia 56 in March in Paris, and allowed that to count for 5 months, but I never really followed up. For shame. I have, however, relinquished my role as Editor of the Imirt newsletter (that was a volunteer role, but not like ‘charity’ volunteer) and my organising of The Games Co-Op meetup in Dublin (same) for next year, so I should have a little more time. I did do 2 days of training with Cool Planet Champions in November, which is a volunteer climate activist role, but I don’t know if I’d honestly count the training, and I haven’t performed any actions/events for it yet, so, I definitely fell short of the target here.
Go to a comedy gig each month – It’s important to laugh, but I only went to one show all year (David Cross) and that was last-minute as my brother couldn’t make it and offered me the tickets. Fail.
Start Self-Defense Classes – I spoke to coworkers and friends about what martial art I might enjoy, and I got in touch with a couple of studios who didn’t return messages, but that’s as far as this went. Early in the year I was too busy with other classes I had taken up (salsa, yoga), games meetups, and commuting, and later in the year money was tight as I left my job in October, so this just never happened.
Any of my Life Goals – I didn’t achieve any, but didn’t expect to either. These are goals such as going to space, setting foot on all 7 continents by the age of 35 (only South America and Antarctica left to go!!). I did, however, move closer to working a year remotely while travelling. In deciding to leave my job and become self-employed again, I got closer. Coaching can be done remotely. It should also be more lucrative long-term than the games industry, hopefully allowing me to take an expensive trip to Antarctica via South America.
Stand Up Comedy– I mentioned burlesque and music above, and I speak in public occasionally. When I was a teenager I did some drama, too. Basically, I’ve done most of the things you can do on stage except for comedy (and circus, but I’ve no plans for that). When I realised this, I decided that I’d do a newcomer stand-up set. I thought I’d take a few months to write funny observations and try develop a short set. In my last job, late in the Summer, I met a guy who turned out to be an amateur comedian, and he told me where I could go to do a newcomer night. I took a bit too long with the joke writing and too long to get in contact with the venue, but I am now booked for my first stand-up comedy performance… for January 8th… This goal was kind of successful, but technically outside of the year, even though I booked it inside the year. I’m reluctant to call it a failure or a success. Whatever it is, hopefully it’s funny.
Cook Meals, Time in Nature, Open Mic – I wrote these down as weekly tasks, and in reality I probably averaged once per fortnight on each, which is okay. I feel better for having done that much.
Other Daily & Weekly Tasks
I had other goals around physical and mental exercises, language learning, dating, coaching clients (even while working the games job, which was really just not feasible after commuting times and other goals), reading every day, and practicing lucid dreaming techniques (I was part of Dr. Denholm Aspy’s research group in late 2017, and wanted to keep up the practice, but rarely did).
I had middling success with these goals. Many of those tasks were getting done as others weren’t, and I’d switch focus, and then not be doing the original few.
Happiness & Unhappiness
I do an exercise where each day I write down my 2 favourite things that happened that day. Each week I circle the week’s best 2, and each month, the month’s best 2. Looking back over it, I can see that the things that made me happiest were time spent with friends and family, nights out (especially in rock clubs or concerts), time spent in nature (especially the sunshine), good dates, helping others (those times that I did volunteer, or with my clients), performing music, learning new skills, and accomplishing big tasks or goals. I will strive to do more of these things in 2019, then.
I also try to write down what’s making me unhappy, when I can figure it out. A lot of these things are small and seem silly when you look back (like late buses, or inefficient government departments), but a lot of them had to do with my old employers, which reinforces now my commitment to being self-employed as a coach. More still had to do with rejection (from job applications I wanted, or in dating), or being treated disrespectfully. Respect is very important to me. Unfortunately, you can’t control how other people behave. You can only control how you respond to it. So, apart from stating my expectations and standing my ground where appropriate, I must endeavour not to let the behaviour of others upset me.
It seems wrong though to say “don’t get your hopes up, so you’ll never be disappointed”. But hey, this is life. We do our best. Still learning.
So, where can I improve? I’ve named my failures, and shown where I succeeded. I caused (or narrowly avoided causing despite) procrastinating on setting dates or appointments. I delayed the survival course and stand-up comedy because of fear alone. That’s ironic, because facing the fear is exactly why I wanted to do them in the first place. I’m glad I got them done, but I must be aware of when I’m procrastinating on the bigger, scarier goals.
I definitely made too many small, aspirational goals, without due care to how they’d fit into my timetable. A lot of the time they just couldn’t. I need to set daily and weekly tasks with more consideration for my timetable (I’ve cut out my big commute to Dublin since leaving my last job, so that will help), and assign the bigger goals to segments of the year, rather than rushing to complete most of them in the second half.
I also need to write shorter blogs… though an annual review seems like it ought to be somewhat lengthy, to be fair.
Thanks so much for reading. Do please leave a comment if you got some value out of this.