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Like many men, at the start of each new year, I half-assedly attempt to reflect upon my life in order to create improvement goals for the forthcoming twelve months, which I then consistently proceed to abandon within weeks, sometimes without so much as realizing said abandonment until the next year rolls around to remind me of my resolution failure.
This year, though, has been different: I resolved to develop a resolution process that actually gets results — a process that would help me become a significantly better person (read: aggressive). It consists of a simple, data-driven plan with monitoring mechanisms to ensure the plan is being executed (efficient, effective, objective, and transparent). The process also includes periodic reflection to ensure the plan is not only being executed but that the plan was a good plan to begin with. Finally, it will be a process that others can use for their own self-improvement, ideally at any moment since that whole new year January start date is arbitrary anyway. Here’s how I did it (and am doing it).
The first thing I had to do is choose areas to improve upon. I wanted to make sure all of this resolution business pays off for me, so I focused on things that are important. With all of the flaws I possess, I also have to be careful and make sure I don’t spread myself too thin. I needed to focus my efforts to ensure these resolutions generate actual results. Don’t leap too quickly or you’ll fall into the same old cycles of resolution abandonment.
After thinking on it for a while and discussing it with my friends, family, and a few passing strangers, I came up with a list of nine areas I am focusing on this year. Some areas were chosen due to very poor past performance, and others are what I consider areas of high importance where I may be doing OK but need to be kicking butt. A few were chosen for general interest shits and grins.
Here are the nine areas:
Special skills resolutions
Problem: These areas of improvement were still very broad and full of many potential objectives. To remedy this I created another layer of detail for the nine with specific, measurable objectives to clearly define progress. These measurable objectives will both help define success as well as provide milestones and targets for status checks to make sure I’m not falling behind throughout the year.
Here are the nine areas of improvement with their related objectives:
1. Relationships with friends and family
Objective: These objectives are best kept private.
Objective: General — build my intellect through reading
Objective: Learn more about a cool subject (economics)
Objective: Writing — become a better writer
Objective: Again, these objectives are best kept private.
Objective: Increase my net earnings by $10K vs. 2011 salary
Objective: Increase our net worth by 20% of gross income
Objective: Start my own business
Objective: Increase relevant technical skills
Objective: Improve my professional demeanor
Objective: Lose weight (13 pounds) and get in shape
Objective: Slightly improve my diet
7. Special Skills
Objective: These bad boys may appear in future posts . . . or may not. Again, for now, private.
Objective: See new countries and cultures
Objective: Go on man-focused adventures
Objective: Become more politically active
Objective: Help those in need
The Plan to Achieve the Objectives
OK, that might have been fast to read, but it took a few weeks of hardcore thinking to hammer out; however, choosing resolutions has never been the area where I’ve struggled in the past, even when I chose them with care. It has always been the actual success in completing the resolutions that has not gone according to plan.
In addition to being lazy, I’m also forgetful so in addition to having a plan, I need some reminders to make sure get all of this stuff done. To help me execute to the plan I built two tools: the Bold Action Device and the Monthly Feat Record or B.A.D. M.F.R. for short, a.k.a. BAD MF’R.
The BAD MF’R is a combination activity checklist and scorecard that tracks my progress on the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual tasks I have chosen to achieve my objectives.
Each month I build a plan with all of the bold actions for the month (BAD) and print it off. I then carry it around with me and check it throughout the day. At the end of the day, I tally what I have accomplished — or failed to accomplish — on the monthly feat record (MF’R) thereby creating a simple, comprehensive view of how I’m doing according to my plan.
I now have some aggressive, meaningful resolutions, a doable plan to accomplish the resolutions, and a tool to track my progress.
For now this is enough to get me started.
Every so often I’ll be posting an update on my progress. Feel free to chime in and give me any input you may have. You can help me evaluate this resolution process and system, refine it, and hopefully build something that others can use to successfully to accomplish their own resolutions.