To Achieve Goals, Reflect on What Matters and Measure Your Progress

At the end of each year, I think about what’s important to me that I want to focus on during the next year. I usually come up with a short list of three or four things—some personal and some professional. For each one, I identify the metric that will help me gauge how I’m doing and what success looks like (i.e., a target value for the metric). For example, I wanted to be more intentional about personal relationships in 2020, so I tracked how many activities I initiated with friends and family each month. My goal was five.

I don’t do this in isolation. I do it with a group of entrepreneurs so we can hold each other accountable. We track our goals in a central place and discuss our progress every month. If someone isn’t moving in the right direction in a particular area, we dig into the reasons for that.

When I set my targets in December, I’m nowhere close to achieving them. And I usually have no idea how I’ll reach them. I just know they represent what’s important to me and that I want to improve in that area. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m committed to figuring out how to move the needle through the year.

Today I reviewed my October metrics with my group and looked back over 2020. I had set a few stretch targets that I wasn’t confident about achieving. I was pleased to realize that I’ve achieved each stretch goal, even those that seemed unattainable. I thought about why and came up with a few reasons:

  • Cadence – The regular rhythm of revisiting and discussing goals every month keeps them top of mind.
  • Accountability – I don’t want to be the slacker in my peer group. Especially concerning goals I set for myself! I push harder so I don’t embarrass myself.
  • Motivation – Taking time to pinpoint what’s important is key for me. When I identify the right things, it feels natural to work at improving them.
  • Short list – I measure four things, max. I don’t think I’d be able to focus on more than that.
  • Balance – Including personal and professional things helps me feel like the progress I’m making is balanced. It’s too easy to do well in one area to the detriment of the other.

It’s rewarding to monitor my progress throughout the year and the positive effects it’s had. I’m looking forward to settling on what’s important to me for 2021 during the holidays.

What about you? What do you want to work on in 2021? How will you measure your progress?