It’s december once more, such a perfect month to set new goals (aka resolutions) and then break them at your earliest convenience.

I’ve been there. Oh, I’ve been there so often.

I used to set many, many goals. If I ever accomplished them it was pure chance (Such as: Goal = get my degree next year, set when I know it’s going to happen anyway)

It took me years and years to figure out how to make goals I could actually accomplish.

Ironically, I learned this from my job in IT.

Because you know who else struggles with accomplishing goals?

Project managers.

For the longest time, projects (and specifically IT projects) have struggled with very specific project plans (build X and Y by this and that month for this and that amount) they could never ever follow through on.

Until someone asked: wait, so why are we always failing at our goals?

And someone answered: “It’s because things change!”

What seemed important in December may no longer be important in April. What seemed very doable in March might turn out nearly impossible in June. Circumstances change. Priorities change. Resources change.

And so should our goals.

Luckily, business found an answer to goal setting, ‘agile’, that I’ve adopted for personal use.

The basics of Agile

How far ahead can you see?Agile is a group of methods for goal setting and planning in a world that just keeps changing.

Basically, agile says:

“You need to roughly know where you’re going long term and only plan for short term.”

The idea behind this is that you can’t really effectively plan for long term, since you simply can’t tell what the world is going to look like in a month.

Maybe you’ll need very different things than you thought you did. Maybe something happened that changes what you want or what you can or can’t do. And that’s a good thing.

In the past, this kind of thing would either mean you had to stubbornly continue towards your goal, or abandon your goal altogether.

Agile is different. It tells us to approach goals differently: Embrace flexibility! Don’t be afraid of change!

AgileMe

AgileMe is my personal adaptation of agile methods for everyday life. It’s based on the following 5 principles:

  1. Determine your direction.
  2. Set short term attainable goals.
  3. Determine your tasks
  4. Reflect on the result
  5. Reflect on the process

Now, let’s look at each of these in more detail.

Determine your direction

You need to know where you’re going. You need a broad and distant goal, a mission, that will shape your decision making. You can have different ones for different aspects of your life (like health and relationships) or you can tie them all under one big goal. If you don’t have your goal yet, please consider my free challenge to help you find it. Your goal can be as broad as ‘world peace’ or ‘becoming the best Pokémon trainer in the world’.

Set short term attainable goals.

Your specific goals should be short term. I set mine for a week, since that’s about as far as I can more or less predict. These goals can be things like ‘Finish project X’

Determine your tasks

A goal is a result, a task is the means to the result. At the beginning of each day you’re working on your goals, determine what you’re going to do to get closer to reaching your goals on that given day. Also, reflect on the previous day: are you still on track? If not, is there anything you can do to get back on track? Maybe ask someone for help

Reflect on the result

At the end of each short period with goals, reflect on the results. Are you happy with the results? Are they still relevant? Did something happen that had your priorities wildly change (for instance, you or your partner got pregnant or you’ve gotten a new job opportunity)? Based on this reflection, set new short-term goals for the upcoming period.

Reflect on the process

How can you improve your productivity? Would it help you to wake up every morning with meditation? Do you need a new notebook or other stuff? Do you find that you actually work best at night? Make plans to improve your process for the upcoming period. 

What’s holding you back?

As with any new type of work, I could totally see how this method might feel daunting or you feel like you need more info or help. Let me know what you need and I’ll try to answer any questions you might have left to help you boost your productivity!