How to utilize a system for achieving goals
You can’t call it a system if there are no basic rules and principles to be followed. And when it comes to goals one such requirement is having a written record. Among many other purposes that it serves is to make sense of the logical connection between all of your objectives.
Today we will show you how we use a mobile app we created in order to make the “GoalBuddy” an integral part of our everyday life.
From sticky notes all the way to many management apps
From the very beginning, we knew that we need some sort of method to archive our efforts. Figuring out how to organize and administer our actions and tasks was a major part of developing our system.
We tried out and experimented with pretty much anything available at the time. At first, it was Niki’s favorite sticky notes and then some ready-made solutions like Google Docs, Asana, Trello, etc. All in all, we went through more than a dozen expecting to find the one that would foot the bill for us.
All of these applications were perfectly Okay but they were nothing more than great tools. And we needed something more, i.e. a system.
You can’t make it without a straightforward system. It should take care not only of your dreams and the road to them but also everything in between.
Finally, we realized that we were trapped in the classic “cart before the horse”. The functionality of all these apps was forming the content. And what we needed was just the opposite – the content to drive the functionality.
Realizing this one thing
While it was fun to try out these many tools we needed something else. We were looking for a practical way to control and handle our objectives within a system.
And that means a comprehensive approach with a methodology and rules that can provide a framework as well as support.
The one thing that changed everything
Once we realized this we started building the “GoalBuddy”. Over time, it has become a meaningful philosophy for working towards anything in life.
It is based on four concepts – vision, 90-day goals, weekly steps, and the Goal Buddy.
We gradually build, expanded and fine-tuned it. Today, seven years later, it is yet to fail us.
The missing link
In the end, we got a perfect system. And yet, we were still struggling how to save and store all the relevant information about our goals within its structure and logic. So, we created a mobile app.
This is the free “GoalBuddy” application for iOS and Android.
Appling the app
Let’s have a closer look at how we use it on a daily basis together with our system. If you feel like it then you can download it. And if not, this article will be useful as a guideline on how to employ “GoalBuddy” and take full advantage of it 4 basic concepts.
First things first.
You start with it because it sets the direction and gives you clarity. Of course, you can jump right away into action and try to figure out the rest along the way.
But it’s preferable to have your vision up and running so that you are sure that all of your objectives synch with it.
What is the most important thing
In order to outline the long-term perspective of your life, you must have a pretty good idea of what is the top priority for you. It will make it easier for you to do the “Wheel of Life” exercise.
In the application, we have some of these presented. We also suggest some others. But feel free to come up with anything you feel like is your own understanding of the subject.
We would strongly suggest that the number of your visions s doesn’t go over 6 or 7. Anything less than that means you might have missed something. And on top of that you risk losing your focus.
Niki, for one, has listed Finance, Spiritual Growth, Health, Mission (“GoalBuddy”), Fun & Entertainment, Family and Friends.
Defining the vision
For each one, we write down on a piece of paper how we see ourselves in the next 25-30 years. In the app, you can do this by filling in the description field. You lay out whatever you want, tell or even visualize what you want.
Or you can do it as Niki. You answer the questions “What do I want” and “Why do I want it?” Having a good and confident answer to the latter will ultimately be what makes the difference between reaching your dream or not.
You can always add these to your vision, or its contents, i.e. how you specifically see it. For example, in our vision for “GoalBuddy”, we’ve included the several resources intended to be of good use to you. These are a podcast, articles, a workshop, a mobile application, a book, and an online class.
A couple of things about the vision
In our application, there is also a field for notes in the display screen under the text field. Often times it is used (depending on the context) for anything needed to implement the vision:
This last one is something we will go into with greater detail.
Our system deals with long-term vision and quarterly targets. We decided against the 5-year goals because they’ve been shown to be ineffective. However, it is good to have a clear view of the intermediate stepping stones.
Regardless of how you keep track of the intermediate objectives, you can add them to your vision. Perhaps you want to do Ironman, a key first move for this might be a half-marathon.
Now we move to the next one.
The 90-day goals
It is a cornerstone rule not to have more than 3 objectives for the period, one for each vision. At the beginning of each quarter you choose the three visions you will be working on and then write down the corresponding goals.
The application is also built in this same manner. This rule stops you from wasting time and effort. You can’t enter a goal without pointing the vision it belongs to. There is also no way to assign two goals for the same vision.
A few words about the “too few goals”
If you are one of those who are prone to overdo multitasking, “GoalBuddy” will help you to stay on track and thus not squander valuable resources.
The idea is to get only 3 visions to work on for the given 90-day period. For some of them, you may not have a written goal if you’ve already built up the habit of working on it. Maybe you’ve already been going to the gym for years. In that case, there is no need to explicitly set it as an objective. Only when you decide to build upon it with a new strategy, you can create a new objective for your Health vision.
The 90-day goal has two components.
The first is what we have to do, aka the action, during the period and which depends entirely on us. The second is the best possible side effect of this action. Its function is to serve as a guiding light for us. For example, regular physical exercise is what we have to do. And shedding off few pounds in the process is the second component, i.e. the many positives of exercising.
Both components should be entered in the application screen where they stay in front of our eyes all the time.
Recently Niki started experimenting with a third one. In addition to the action and performance section, he explains his reasons for choosing the task at hand and not any other.
How it is in the app
In the 90-day goals screen, we see each of them. When you select one it comes into focus with its two components.
For each individual goal, you can see all past steps. This is very helpful when deciding on the next step as well as the final quarterly analysis.
“90 days” means 90 days
In “GoalBuddy”, the objectives of how to approach the vision have the time-frame of 3 months. This deadline is not set arbitrarily. A number of psychological studies indicate that there is a significant dip in motivation around that time. That is why this is the perfect moment to wrap it up, assess the result and set the target for the next quarter.
So, in our application, each goal is automatically closed after 90 days. Or almost always…
Closing the deal
In fact, the application forces you to assign a status to it.
You either mark it as done or if it isn’t you can move it in the upcoming quarter.
If you are ready before the end of the three months you just mark it as completed and move to the next one.
In any case, let’s assume, a goal hasn’t been assigned status. Then if you try to add a new step for it which goes into the next period it will be dropped from your list.
The idea behind this process is to get used to working with quarters and see the outcome of your actions. Learning to do it well will keep you motivated and boost your confidence.
The vision is a great way to get driven and excited. The strategy, on the other hand, is all about how to get there. But doing the actual work is what matters most. The best results are coming out of the small acts that, when done on a regular basis, produce a powerful accumulative effect.
That is why our system is based on the small weekly steps. It is just one of them for each week for every single goal in the given quarter.
Follow this rule to the T
The trickiest one is “only one step for every goal during the week.” The risk is to skip on a step because you spent too much time on another. Or you attempted to do a couple of steps on the same goal and thus you stretched thin your limited resources of time and energy.
Here we emphatically ask you not to make these mistakes. Stick to the simple formula – a vision, a goal, a weekly step, and only three of these per week.
We’ve implemented in the app a way to avoid actions that are not oriented towards your goal.
With the “+” button, you add steps and choose exactly which of the goals it is aimed at.
Just one chance
There is yet another deadline – the steps are being automatically closed at the end of the week.
This happens on Sunday when the app pops up a screen for you to fill in with the following:
- if you completed the step;
- or you have to move it into the next week;
- or you failed to get it done (when, for one reason or another, it is pointless to move the step into the next week).
You can’t proceed further before you choose one of the given options.
The best “screen” – that of your Goal Buddy
The advantage of digital media is the ability to share every step of the process with your Buddy. The name we gave to the system fully reflects our philosophy regarding goal setting. This person is the most important factor for succeeding while you do the same for them – the moral as well as practical mutual support.
The shared access in our app between two potential Goal Buddies is done by an email invitation. Once this is done the fourth screen will show you in real time the status of their weekly steps for each goal.
A regular review
The idea is to assist each other to get better. But not only – it is also vital when to come to help when you notice if your Buddy has trouble with something.
A good illustration is when Ivan saw that Niki didn’t put anything for the step “to learn the software for video translation”. The goal was named “An Online English Course” and Ivan knew that they needed to have a talk. It turned out it was something trivial – Niki hadn’t had the chance to open the app yet.
Passing no judgment
The support side of our system is its best feature because it is based on understanding rather than on criticism.
We know very well how much more practical it is to assist by asking the right questions. When doing so we make it easier for the other person to reach the right decision on their own. Ultimately, it is we who are in the best position to judge when it comes to our own life. The role of the Buddy is to be there for us with their appreciation and understanding.
Today we showed how easy it is to use our custom-built mobile app on a daily basis. But that doesn’t mean that it is the only way. It could be the old-fashioned way – you do it on paper. Or you can use any of the many available task management apps. Either way, it’s essential to follow the basic rules we presented to you. And once again, here they are: 5-6 visions for the most important aspects of your life; three action goals for each quarter; one small weekly step for each of them; and of course – the helping hand of your Buddy.