Rick Kierner posted on January 4, 2010 07:17

I was tagged by Jeremiah Peschka in his post about 2010 goals.  So here’s my response.

I am a huge fan of goals.  In my opinion if you don’t have a roadmap of where you want to go, there’s zero chance that you will end up anywhere near there.  Goals are huge; they’re important; they’re critical to success.  If you don’t have success, you have reached some degree of failure.  And no one likes to be a failure.  And they are VERY hard to create.  There are several things that go into creating good goals.  Lucky for you, I’ve created a 3-step process to help anyone create good goals.

1.) Plan

First, a long term plan is necessary before identifying annual goals.  The term “long-term” is relative.  I refuse to plan any further back professionally than I have professional history.  So if I’ve been working for about 10 years, there’s no way to have a realistic 20 year plan.  Quite often, it’s not realistic to have a valid 10 year plan.  But in my case, I think it is possible. 

In ten years, I want to be a noteworthy developer, leader, mentor, and manager in Central Ohio.  I want to be someone that people look to for career, professional, and technical guidance. 

Note a few attributes about my “long-term” plan.  There’s nothing that is measureable, a few things are quite subjective.  That’s because it’s my plan.  I have definitions of terms like “noteworthy” and “that people look to” in my head.  And that’s good enough.  My plan in particular is very soft.  When I was 1 year out of school, my one-year plan sounded more like “I want to be a good programmer and provide a value-added skill set to the project I’m on.”  So I’ve gotten softer; I feel like my skill set has developed into that of a mentor, leader, and organizer.  This is the most rewarding work I do on a day-to-day basis.  I did intentionally leave “developer” in my plan because I write code, I do it well, I do it fast.  But I work with a bunch of developers.  Lots of people write code well and fast.  I demand a lot of myself and one of those things is to be unique (noteworthy).  So because of that, I don’t *just* code.  I offer a unique multiplier to projects with my softer skills.

2.) Quantify

Goals should have measurable outcomes.  These are completely different from plans.  Goals have a definitive pass/fail quantifier.  Some things are easy to quantify.  Previous goals I’ve had are “Earn Certification XYZ by June 200X”.  If I earn that specific certification by June of 200X, then I have attained my goal.  If don’t earn it or earn it after June, I am a failure.  There’s no gray area here.  You are successful or a failure.  That may be harsh but as soon as we get wishy washy on our definitions of success or failure, you end up with meaningless goals, no destination, and ultimately a wasted effort. 

Here are my goals for 2010:

  • Read 6 books that are oriented to professional or technical development by December 31, 2010
  • Create an LLC to be a parent to potential side projects by March 1, 2010
  • Continue my 3 mentee relationships and meet with each person at least once per month during 2010
  • Create at least 1 online system that is built to provide a continuous revolving income stream to subsidize my personal income

And there you have it.  4 measurable goals.  I’ll break them down to highlight the effort I put into the wording of my goals and to explain them in more detail.


I enjoy reading.  I think that reading provides an excellent way to improve one’s self.  I intend to once again read 6 books.  I have a few in mind but don’t want to limit my self to those in case a better one pops up.  I don’t change my goals.  These will signify my success for the 2010 calendar year.


Over the past 3-4 years, I’ve had several ideas for small companies or services that require little to no maintenance or attention.  Sometimes, these ideas would have produced a little bit of money and therefore would have required some type of business to own them.  But because I am was a chicken, I’ve never created the LLC and therefore never followed through with my ideas.  This year, I’ll create an LLC to host systems  or services I have ideas about.


Mentoring is AWESOME.  Helping people become more by providing guidance, leadership, education, and opportunities has been the most fun I’ve had in my professional career.  I love doing it and I have recently established 3 relationships with people in that capacity.  I want to continue this effort but “continue” isn’t quantifiable.  I want to meet each month to make sure that progress is made… A meeting is quantifiable.

Online Service

This one is related to the LLC goal.  I am currently working on a nice piece of software that will provide an interesting service.  I fully expect to be able to release a production quality instance by May.  I am hoping that creating one service will lead to additional ones.

3.) Measure

Throughout the year, these goals should be checked for status.  This will create a motivational element throughout the year and remind you that you should be working hard to accomplish your goals and not be a failure.  To be more specific, I like to keep a spreadsheet on my desktop that identifies the goals for the year and a list of achievements that are related and not related to those goals.  This helps me keep track of how I’m doing and whether I can regard this year as a successful year.  Additionally, it helps me provide the necessary information to my employer for my annual review.  I tend to incorporate my goals into my company’s annual review process but I could certainly see that effort as optional. 


I also create personal goals.  I’ve chosen not to share them in this venue.  If you’re interested in talking about personal goals, hit me up via email or IM and I can share my unique view on personal goal setting as well


You now have 3 easy steps, some examples and some explanations.  Get to work, become better at whatever you want to become better at.

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