Skimmed through Purposeful Productivity by the venerable Taylor Pearson and he mentions that for a variety of reasons 90 days is the perfect planning window. It’s a lot easier to see the end of 90 days than 365. I like this framework and instead of one yearly goals post, I’m going to break things up into quarters.
When I think of goal setting I’m often reminded of the story of Warren Buffett’s private pilot, Mike Flint. James Clear has a great summary of the story. Essentially Buffett encourages Flint to write down his top 25 career goals. After writing these 25 down Buffett instructs Flint to circle his top five goals. Then comes this powerful exchange:
Flint: “Well, the top 5 are my primary focus, but the other 20 come in a close second. They are still important so I’ll work on those intermittently as I see fit. They are not as urgent, but I still plan to give them a dedicated effort.”
Buffett: “No. You’ve got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn’t circle just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”
The point here is if I have 25 goals It can be hard to make decisions. If I’m only driving towards one goal I can evaluate every decision through the lens of whether or not it helps me reach that goal.
With that in mind I have two “top-level” goals for Q1 2017:
Lose 1.5% body fat: In 2017 I went from obese to just plain fat. I’d like to get all the way to fit this year. I’m absolutely on the right track it’s just a function of continuing to exercise and not eating like total garbage. Measuring by pure pounds is only half the equation. I’d like to get to 20% body fat by this time next year. That means 1.5% each quarter which is just over .1% a week. Feels achievable.
Find a job I can be proud of: Tim Ferriss has a post I think about regularly on “Top Five reasons to be a jack of all trades“. Having diversified interests is not without complications. I’ve never been the type of person to have one sole north star. At some level, I envy friends who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they want to be a doctor or lawyer or police officer. That’s not me. That said I have a few clusters of areas I’m interested / expect to find work in:
Venture Capital: Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been interested in this space for a while. I absolutely love the idea of investing in something a few years before it becomes mainstream. If you look at Pepsi’s previous earnings and growth rates, it’s pretty easy to guess where they’ll be next year. Startups exist in an environment devoid of data. Angels invested in Lyft in 2009 because the people, product and market were all at the right point in time, there wasn’t enough (if any) data to make this a math-based decision. I consider VC intelligent gambling because it involves evaluating people, technology, markets and the future. What especially intrigues me is operating in a qualitative environment.
Corporate Innovation: Lately I’ve become fascinated by The Innovator’s Dilemma and what large enterprises need to do to avoid being disrupted. Startups generally build something that doesn’t exist yet. This means they can focus solely on building the new thing without concern for legacy issues. Corporates have to build the new thing AND determine how it affects their current business. In some respects, this makes corporate innovation more challenging than building a startup as it can make someone a slave to two masters. Given my experience in this space I’d love the opportunity to explore it further.
Marketing: If I boil myself down to one thing professionally, I think it’s a marketing consultant. I love the process of analyzing and improving how people and organizations communicate with their constituents. It all boils down to 1) understanding your product/service 2) determining who your target is and 3 ) communicating with this audience effectively.
Consulting: I really enjoy the consultant’s mindset. Consulting is essentially a three step process 1) look at the thing 2) make suggestions to improve the thing 3) optimize and implement suggestions. I love this notion of being an external party that helps improve the status quo. I have a few friends who work at management consulting firms and regularly hear how they enjoy this component of the work.
So for Q1 2017 I plan on processing every decision through the lens of whether or not it helps me accomplish either of these two goals.
That said I’d like to add a few “process” oriented goals. These are ones that are 100% in my control and doing the activity every day or week will undoubtedly help me reach to where I want to be. My process goals for Q1 2017 are as follows:
- Use a dating app every day: I can’t control when/where/how I meet my wife. I can control looking for matches on dating apps. It is the best time leverage that exists in the dating world.
- Learn to code via 5 exercises each day on Mimo: I’ve found Mimo to be a delightful way to get bite-sized lessons on programming.
- Answer 100 questions on Quora: Oh how I love Quora. As of Jan 1 I’m at 90 answers. So 190 is the goal
Finally there are three goals that I’ll consider bonus goals. They aren’t important enough to be considered above but still worth writing down:
- Finish Google Analytics course: GA is the foundation for all internet marketing. My skills here could use some polish.
- Draft “Redundancy” medium post: I want to write for an audience that isn’t just myself. I’d like to publish one long form medium.com quality post this quarter
- Polish bestroomba.com: A fun experiment in internet marketing.
2018 here I come.