What do we really mean by having a "goal"?

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February 8, 2021

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3

Minutes

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A ‘goal’ can mean different things depending on how much time we are allotting to it. A goal for this week is likely a task, something you will do. A goal for the year is likely an aspiration

The problem with weekly tasks and yearly aspirations is that it is difficult to connect them in a meaningful way. Sure, our yearly aspiration may be “achieving financial freedom” but what does that mean for my infinite TODO list this week?

Connecting the weekly tasks and the yearly aspiration, there is another type of goal: a 3-month goal that is about results. Everything we do, we do because there is something that we are trying to accomplish. This idea of 3-months goals is not new. Corporate has been using it for a long time. At its best, it takes the shape of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). And the idea can be used by anyone. 

Let’s have a look at how it all fits together.

Weekly goals are ‘tasks’

We can think of weekly goals as ‘tasks.’ On a weekly basis we need to know what is important for us to do. Our long term aspirations need to inspire weekly or daily action. Otherwise, the aspirations are not helpful. Not to get too philosophical on this but any movement towards your goals happens in the present, not in the future.

Examples of tasks

  • Call my accountant
  • Do 3 interviews
  • 5 cold emails

It’s critical to have weekly ‘goals’ because otherwise we get distracted by an infinite TODO list. We need to know what tasks will move us forward.


3 months goals are ‘results’

We can also think of goals as ‘resultsthat we would like to see. Goals that are ‘results’ need more time than specific tasks. The ideal time is 3 months. Any result that is meaningful will probably take several tries. 

Examples

  • Achieve $5,000 in passive income
  • Pay off 30% of my debt
  • Automate the boring parts of my job

We likely have ideas on how to reach these results but some of these ideas may not work. have ideas on how to get there but they may not work. In my experience, a month is too short to experiment and see results. And if we don’t need experimentation because we know how to get it done… it is likely a task, not a meaningful change.

3-months goals are critical in connecting our weekly tasks with our long term vision. Having a clear change in the horizon helps us declutter our everyday activities.


Yearly goals are ‘north stars’

We often spend more time reflecting on the year that’s passed than on imagining what the coming year can be about. It is helpful to stop to think about the change we would like to see in our lives and businesses. We call these one-year goals ‘north stars.’

North star goals are far enough from the everyday execution that they can be a shining inspiration. They keep us going when the motivation is low. This longer term vision turns into traction when we are setting our 3-months goals. For example, if your ‘north star’ is achieving financial independence by the end of the year, it is useful to ask what results need to take place in the next 3 months.

Examples of north stars are: Become financially independent, Pay off all my debt, Launch my own business.


Conclusion:

Goals have different functions depending on the scope of time. Weekly or daily goals are tasks that keep you moving forward. The three months or quarterly goals connect our daily execution with our aspirations. Yearly goals are north stars that inspire you.


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Feb 18, 2021
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3
Mins
How ambitious should our goals be?

A good goal is big enough to drive you and small enough to be actionable. These five questions can help you find the right size for your goals.

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