It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Yes, the holidays are wonderful, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about that next wonderful time of the year. The coming new year, and the inexorable goal planning that ensues.

I understand that not everyone shares my perspective. We all have different activities we love and we loathe. For me, setting stretch goals, ensuring they are well-crafted, measuring progress against them and delivering is energizing.

When it comes to personal goal setting, I really got serious last year. I went through a self-designed life planning exercise to get a better sense of what mattered most to me. Out of this process I identified a new top-level goal (or objective) – Embrace My Love of Coaching.

One technique I discovered which I love is the 5-4-3-2-1 goal setting method described in The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll. It uses time horizons to plan out the actions needed to achieve a long-term goal. The horizons are

  • 5 Years
  • 4 Months
  • 3 Weeks
  • 2 Days
  • 1 Hour

Applying this framework to Embrace My Love of Coaching looked like this

  • 5 Years – Become a professional leadership coach (yes, this was a 5-year goal)
  • 4 Months – Informally coach five individuals
  • 3 Weeks – Identify one prospective coachee
  • 2 Days – Prepare for upcoming 1:1s with coaching opportunities
  • 1 Hour – Be present and engaged in the current meeting, coaching where appropriate

I love this framework because it’s a straightforward way to decompose a long-term goal/project into actionable steps.

I adopted formal quarterly goal plans in Q1 of this year. I follow the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) framework which has grown rapidly in popularity over recent years. You can read all about OKRs in John Doerr’s seminal book on the subject, Measure What Matters. Each quarter I set 3-5 Objectives (or goals), and for each objective I identify 3-5 Key Results – specific, measurable actions I will take to deliver on the objective. Here’s a few examples sticking with the coaching objective:

Q1 2021 – Objective: Embrace My Love of Coaching

  • KR1: Formally mentor/coach two colleagues
  • KR2: Document four coaching learning modules
  • KR3: Actively coach my direct reports

Q2’s coaching goals were similar. By Q3, however, I had decided to launch my coaching practice by the end of the year instead of five years from now…

Q3 2021 – Launch Arete Pursuits

  • KR1: Complete financial planning (Meet with Financial Planner, Meet with Tax Firm)
  • KR2: Expand website content (Research 50 coaching websites, Obtain 10+ testimonials)
  • KR3: Enroll in coaching certification program

Q4 2021 – Expand Arete Pursuits

  • KR1: Create blog post weekly
  • KR2: Add 5 logos to website
  • KR3: Exceed 2021 bookings goal

What was fascinating to me was how much easier this process became with practice. Here’s an actual quote from my email to my personal board of directors on June 30 as I shared my Q3 goals:

As Q2 comes to a close, I’ve already fleshed out my Q3 goals. They basically wrote themselves. I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life when I’ve had greater clarity on my goals and my path…

Which brings me to the final key – I don’t just document my goals each quarter. I share them with friends who will give me feedback, support me, and hold me accountable. I also incorporate metric collection and progress reviews into my Weekly Review process. So, my goals are not forgotten. They are always in the forefront of my mind. An unanticipated side effect is that I find myself goal planning in my head all the time. When the end of the quarter rolls around, I’m generally 90% settled on the next quarter’s goals. I just need to document them and make sure they are specific and measurable.

I am so excited about goal planning that I’m going to try something special. I have set aside a block of time the final week of the year to help others plan their goals. Use this link to schedule your goal planning session with me.

A few specifics and caveats – Each session is 45 minutes long. I ask that you have something to start with – some idea of your goals. We won’t cover much ground if you come to me with a completely blank sheet of paper. If you are a current client, please use our regular sessions, and save this time for others. Limit one session per person please. And finally, I know I have a global network, and these timeslots align to North America. I’m holding a limited number of slots for other time zones. If you’d like to work with me and need a different time, please message me directly on LinkedIn.

Want to comment? Join the conversation on LinkedIn.

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