My 2015 Strategy Part 3: Specific, Measurable, Actions
goals personal growth planning
Alright! It's the end of the second week in January and we're finally done with all the ways to plan out an epic 2015. Part 1 focused on the big picture strategy. Part 2 focused on the foundational habits that need to happen to provide the time, energy, and financial resources to make it happen. Part 3 will focus on the specific actions to take.
For the underlying theory, go here.
Also, sorry I didn't post yesterday. I lost my keys (again) which meant walking and busing all over Boulder to get a spare set from my fiancé and get home. Okay, I could have written something, but I figured you'd get a better quality post if I slept first.
Here are the big life goals from part 1:
- Write a novel
- See Tibet, meet the Dalai Lama, and see a snow leopard in the wild
- Become a martial arts master — Krav Maga, Kenpo, Ninjutsu
- Spend more face-to-face time with friends and become a valuable support to them
- Play more games
- Read more
- Spend more time in nature
- Start a business
A Year Long Lens
Focusing down on a year timeframe is the first step. That's pretty hard. We tend to underestimate what we can accomplish on a long time frame and overestimate what we can do in a short one. But here's a shot at where I'd like to be at the end of the 2015 in relation to the above goals (excepting flying and visiting Tibet, as I've decided to hold off on those):
- Completed a manuscript for a novel, found an agent, beginning the publication process
- Got my Level 5 in Krav Maga
- Grown the blog to 1000/hits a day
- Created or learned a coaching program and applied it to helping my friends
- Read 52 books in 2015
- Hike once a week
- Have a business that brings in $10,000/month
Creating Specific Actions
My rule for a specific action is something that you can imagine actually doing. I cannot picture in my head doing "Become a Level 5 in Krav Maga." It's too vague and isn't something I can imagine actions around.
But I can imagine myself driving to the class and taking the class.
This is advice I give to my writing students as well: specific examples allow you to picture as vividly as possible the thing being described.
Another important element of good action are that they are things within your control. I can't fully determine whether my book is published or not, but I can sit down and write it, and I can research and call agents. I can find out what those agents want, and I can follow the advice of my agent in securing a publisher.
When creating your actions:
- Make sure you can actually picture yourself doing them. If you can't, get more specific.
- Make sure it's something you can control, not something that relies on some external force to swoop in a make stuff happen for you (that's not a goal, it's a wish).
Breaking it Down - 3 months out
Now, I need to figure out exactly what I'm going to do to make all these things happen. Let's stick to a 3 month window for the first set of actions.
- Write 30 uninterrupted minutes a day. Based on my current pace of 500-1500/words a night, that should allow me to finish the first draft in 3 months
- Attend Krav Maga classes once a week in Denver. For the first 3 months, the goal will just be to reintegrate the habit of martial arts practice.
- Write 2 blog posts a week. Start writing emails again. Restart the twitter strategy I used to get tons of guest posts in 2012. Getting up to speed again is a good start for the first 3 months of 2015.
- Get a post on Mind Body Green. This is a bit of a stretch goal for me, but I think it's entirely doable. I'll research the process and talk to some friends who have done it, and see if I can craft a post that is more powerful than my last one.
- Read an hour a day. This isn't really work for me, since I already read about this much. The trick will be making sure I'm reading the right things, making progress on books rather than random stuff.
- Hike once a week. Creating space is the first step for me to actually get something done, so I will be choosing a day and time and making that sacred time, because time in nature is sacred time.
The Business Side
I'm working with a coach on this, and the emphasis has been on developing habits that expand my relationships and thus opportunities. Here are the actions I've taken as part of the coaching and on my own:
- Took a free online class on business strategy.
- Used that class to negotiate myself into an internship with a friend who runs a small business to gain experience and pick his brain.
- Reach out to 3 people a day.
- Start a conversation with 1 stranger a day.
- Commit to being totally present in the interactions I am having in the moment. Here's a wonderful video from Marie Forleo on that.
- Actively look for ways to bring value to the lives of people I influence.
- Set up an Etsy store for my fiancé and I to sell her art. Then, tell everyone about it (nudge, nudge).
- Write a paid blog article a day.
- Ask everyone I meet for a referral, with the goal of having 5 clients by the end of March.
And that's about it. Some very specific things I can do to make progress in the direction of the overarching strategies of my life.
I think of actions as the How, and the strategy as the What. Or, put another way, the strategy is the direction, and the actions are the steps.
The reason I like the latter metaphor is that all the actions I mentioned above could serve a totally different goal in another context. It's only the direction I've given myself that make those particular actions relevant to my goals.
Anyway, that's my planning process. I hope it's been helpful to you in getting some clarity on your own process. Maybe you don't have a process, and you prefer to go via intention rather than the admittedly military concept of a strategy, with logistics and tactics.
What are some specific actions you can take in the next 3 months to move you in the direction of your big dreams?