“You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”
At this point, we’re about one month into 2013 and many of us have abandoned our New Year’s resolutions. Personally, I prefer to set my yearly goals about a month in because it gives me some time to reflect on what I really want to improve without being distracted by everyone’s bandwagon resolutions like getting in shape or eating less junk food.
The other reason I prefer to wait a month before resolving to do anything is because it gives me time to collect some baseline data. In his Wall Street Journal article, Bill Gates writes, that “you can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal.”
To use the common example of getting in shape, I’m going to explain:
- How to set a goal, and
- How to measure it so that you can effectively achieve your goal.
First you need to set a baseline measure of what your abilities are. How fast and far can you run? How much weight can you lift? How much do you weigh? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you determine what needs improvement.
Next you need to identify your end goal and find a way to quantify progress towards that goal. What does “get in shape” actually mean? Do I want to be able to run faster? Farther? Do I want to be able to lift more weight? Do I want to weigh less? All of these goals can be quantified (e.g. I want to be able to run a mile 30 seconds faster than I currently do, I want to run a 10 miler, I want to be able to bench press 100 pounds, I want to lose 20 pounds).