Today we will talk about goals. Goals have been a big part of my life recently. Some good stuff has been getting done. I have also learned a few things.
Why set goals? Good stuff almost never happens by accident. A good event might happen by accident but things that take some level of effort over time don’t. The inertia of life is such that unless you make intentional choices you will keep doing the same things and getting the same results. That is fine if you are where you want to be. It isn’t so fine if you want things to change.
Focus- I have found that I can focus on a fairly small number of significant goals at once. Two seems doable and 3 is probably pushing it. Four would definitely be too many.
What makes a significant goal? Something that you can routinely do in terms of time/ effort/ money in a normal month without making significant changes could be considered routine. Routine stuff is important but often that stuff is on auto pilot. Save X% of this paycheck, make your IRA contribution, etc. Stuff bigger than that which requires changing your use of time/ effort/ money falls into the category of significant goals.
Admittedly this part is sort of being formed in my head but focusing on 1-2 significant goals makes sense.
What makes a good goal.
Specific- Get prepared would not be specific. Add 90 days of routine household items would be specific.
Measurable- How can you tell if the goal is met or not? Get fit would not be a good goal. Lose 15 pounds or get my 10K road march under 100 minutes with a 40lb load would be measurable goals.
Achievable- I am a mid 30’s average height white guy. I am not going to be an NBA star.
Relevant- The goal has to relate to the desired end state.
MOP v MOE
Measures of Performance (MOP) measure something you do. An example of a MOP would be “Go to the gym 3x a week and work out for 30 minutes.”
Measures of Effectiveness (MOE) measure the result of what you do. “Add 25% to core lifts” or “Lose 15 LBs” would good measures of effectiveness.
Discussion: I almost always favor MOEs. If you go to a gym you will see (at the risk of generalizing) a chubby girl moving slowly on a glider playing on her phone and some guy doing 135 on bench press. They have been doing the same thing for a year. She wants to lose weight and he wants to get stronger/ bigger. They are, if there is any plan at all, using a bad MOP.
The one place I do like MOPs is when you are trying to build a habit. Going to the gym (doing dry fire/ etc) to get into the habit of doing that thing is important. Also often with the beginning of a goal you might not have a baseline to really make a good MOE. So the habit of going to the gym will help you get an idea of your capabilities which will let you set more effectiveness based goals down the road.
If we really want to be specific you might have measures of performance to support the actual goal which is a measure of effectiveness. Example “ I want to lose 20 pounds this year and to do that I will consume 2,000 calories of real food a day, minus one cheat meal a week, and work out 4x a week for 30 minutes.” The two MOPs (diet and exercise) support the MOE of losing the weight.
Time- This is pretty simple. When do you plan to achieve the goal by? Breaking it down into sub goals lets you set a path to success. If the goal is to save $1,200 in a year that would be a hundred bucks a month. So to meet the yearly goal you have to put back $100 a month or $50 per bi weekly pay period.
Consider how one goal might affect other goals or be limited by other things.
Example- I wanted to save money and also to cash flow grad school. These goals were mutually opposing. I could do one but not both. I ended up putting saving on the back burner and cash flowing school. Now that school is done I am back to saving.
Putting it all together. We have a plan for our life. The previous SWOT article is a way of doing that. Figuring out goals that support the plan is a logical step towards making the plan happen.