Did you notice that the year is half over?
That we’re in the 3rd quarter of the year, and also that the first week of it is already over?
Most people have long forgotten their New Year’s resolutions. Others have solid goals they’ve kept in front of them on a daily basis.
For some, the passage of time is terrifying. It’s a reminder of how much older we’re getting. Some people wait until the last minute to work on something important, cramming it all in at the end, and I’m sure it’s true on a larger scale as well.
For others, the passage of time is merely a constraint. They knew there would be a point in time when 2015 would be halfway over. The question was what they might accomplish by then. What would they learn? How healthy will they be? What kind of individuals will they be?
I’ve struggled with keeping an awareness of my goals in the past. I would set goals, and I would even be specific about them. I wanted to lose 20 lbs, or I wanted to earn a set amount of income from my business in a year.
And then it would be the end of the year, and I would find myself thinking about setting goals, which reminds me that I’ve already set goals.
I just forgot about them.
One problem is I didn’t make plans to accomplish those goals. A goal without an plan? It’s like saying “I’d like a million dollars” and never caring one way or another if I get it.
Even if I did make plans, they would be vague and easy to forget. No matter how detailed or lightweight a business plan is, it does you no good if you keep it in a drawer and never look at it.
Another problem is that the goals weren’t very inspiring on their own. They lacked context. Losing weight is OK, but it sounds like loss and pain. Being healthy and fit sounds exciting and inspiring. What could I do if I was fit enough to play a soccer game like I did when I was in high school? Or even better, if I could keep up with my nieces when we played together?
Making money from my business is OK, but I had no reason to expect the money. Why would people pay me? How can I even expect the rate of sales that it would require? Setting goals about the value I provide to players, on the other hand, is something that I can control. It keeps me customer-focused.
But I found that making the goal a daily part of my life was key to keeping my awareness up.
I have goals for my business. I have a few metrics I care about, and I used to have the same problem of forgetting about the goals I had set.
For instance, my higher level goals involve the number of games published and the number of new customers I find.
It doesn’t matter what number I set if I then go about my day to day ignoring them. Then if I do remember to check my status one day, I’ll find that nothing has changed.
So I made a rudimentary scoreboard out of a corkboard and some index cards.
It’s on the wall across from my desk so I can look up and always see what my goals are and how I’m doing. I have a spreadsheet on my computer with similar data, but it requires me to open it and specifically look at it. This scoreboard, however, is easy to see at all times, which keeps my mind focused.
I have a day job, so finding time to work on my business is an important consideration, which is why I have a goal for the number of hours I spend doing game development, and I have another goal for time spent doing business development. If I don’t pay attention to my time, it’s easy for me to let opportunities to work on my business slip.
But just spending time on game development isn’t an end in itself. It’s meant to lead to the bigger goals, which are marked with a crude drawing of my logo.
I want to publish a game this year, and I want to gain at least one new customer from it. Why only one customer instead of a thousand? Because that first customer will be a major accomplishment, and I will move the goal posts once I do accomplish it.
I see my blog as a key part of my marketing, and so I have content goals for it, too. In the last two quarters I ignored my blog so I could focus on game development. I figured a post a month would be decent.
But for the next quarter, I want daily posts. My reason for the massive increase, which requires me to take precious time from game development?
It’s another way to keep my goals in front of me. I’ll write about my business, about my vision, mission, and purpose, on a daily basis, which means I’m consciously putting these things in front of me.
I used to do so by making a short post on my Google+ profile, but I thought, “Why am I giving my words to Google? Why not own the content myself?”
I don’t want half of the year to pass without me realizing it and without any change in my goals. My goals aren’t mere wishes. I know they require conscious effort to accomplish, which requires me to keep them in front of me, no matter how hard it gets or how many distractions there are.
I’ll adjust my scoreboard throughout the year. Each day is geared towards the week’s accomplishments, which are geared towards the monthly goals, which are in support of my quarterly goals. If I decide my goals need tweaking, such as the number of game development hours I spend, I’ll set a new target, and I’ll make plans accordingly.
For instance, last quarter I dedicated two evenings to game development in an effort to get to 100+ hours, but I found it was difficult to keep those evenings dedicated with a lawn that needed to be mowed and various other urgencies cropping up.
So I’ve scaled back to 60 hours because I believe it is doable while also giving me a reason to stretch. My productivity is very low compared to where I want to be, and even though 60 hours in a quarter isn’t very much at all, it’s more than I have been demonstrating. Last quarter I did about 48.5 hours, and the quarter before that was 43.25 hours.
It’s hard to accomplish much with so few hours. I’m aware that some people spend hours daily on their part-time businesses. For me, 5 hours a week would actually be an improvement, so that’s what I’m aiming for these days.
But if I didn’t keep these goals in front of me, it would be easy for my actual time spent to be near 0 hours a week because I wouldn’t realize the time was passing. I wouldn’t realize that half of the year had passed without much to show for it.
Instead, I’m able to look back and see what I accomplished in the last six months.
So how’s your scoreboard? Are your goals top of mind?