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.
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.
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.
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.
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.