The Voluntary Life: 185 How To Set Meaningful Goals For The Year Ahead

12 December 2014

185 How To Set Meaningful Goals For The Year Ahead

For many years I wanted to set meaningful goals for the year ahead, but struggled with the process. I never knew quite where to start and I often felt like I was just making goals up, without any real emotional connection to them. Consequently, I wasn't really committed to my goals and I found the whole process of making annual goals frustrating. I often gave up and didn't bother with the whole thing.

Over time, I've developed a method of setting annual goals as part of my overall productivity systems.  Now that I have a method, I find setting and meeting goals much easier and, best of all, the goal-setting process has many other benefits, regardless of whether I meet a goal. In this episode I explain my method of goal setting. Here is a very short overview of the steps:

  1. Divide up your life into all your Areas Of Responsibility. I have 15 of them with names like Finances, Health, Relationship, Friends, Writing, Podcasting etc.
  2. Make a page for each Area Of Responsibility. I use Evernote, but use whatever works for you.
  3. On each AOR page, work out what this aspect of your life means to you. I do this using Mindmaps, unstructured journalling, and some structured writing (details are in the podcast).
  4. Add a section to each AOR page where you write down all your specific aims: what you want to change, implement, improve, or enhance about this aspect of your life.  For inspiration, review your vision board for each AOR (If you don't know about vision boards see episode 101 on How To Dream Big).
  5. Put all your list of aims together and read through to get an overview of everything you want from all aspects of your life.
  6. From your list, choose 4 or 5 Big Hairy Audacious Goals for the year ahead—whatever you feel most emotionally committed to.
  7. I also choose some Less Hairy goals for the year ahead too.
  8. Set yourself a reminder to review your list of goals regularly throughout the year (at least quarterly).
  9. Tick off the goals as you reach them. Celebrate reaching your goals. Be supportive to yourself- if you only got to 70% of an original goal at year-end, celebrate the 70% win too.
  10. Rinse and repeat at the end of the year.
Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 185 (17 minutes)



1 comment:

  1. Great podcast, Jake! Two questions came to mind:
    1) What's the definition of "Area of Responsibility"? Being a heavy GTD user myself, I wonder how the concept fits in the GTD framework?
    2) Is there an "inventory" of AORs? I don't wanna miss a thing (now you're listening to the Aerosmith song in your head) when I'm planning for a whole year.
    Thank you!

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