2017 Goals – See yourself on Top


By Tim Igo

The average attention span of a Goldfish is 9 seconds. The average attention span of a Human in the digital world is 8 seconds……   If you want to achieve your 2017 New Year’s resolutions and goal’s you are going to need to learn to focus longer than 8 seconds. What better time than now to improve your focus and set yourself up for success in 2017?

Hang in and read through the end of this article, remained focused, avoid the digital distractions, apply these tools and concepts to your life, and I promise 2017 will be your most successful year ever and you will crush your goals.

The tools and concepts in this article are ones that I personally used to successfully Climb Mount Everest, Climb the 7 Summits, and achieve many other difficult personal and professional goals. These are approaches and tools that I have applied to my personal and professional life to be successful. They can work for you too.

Climbing Everest is a paradigm of our inner drive and desire to set and achieve goals in life.   Reaching the summit first requires that a person decide that they want to climb the mountain for some reason of Significance, which could be physical exercise, enjoyment of the outdoors, to inspire other people, overcoming adversity, or the rewarding feelings of accomplishment. Climbing a mountain can be Measured by reaching camps or milestones along the progress towards the ultimate goal of the summit.     Reaching the peak of a mountain requires that the individual take Action in either hiking or climbing for a period of time. Similar to 2017 New Year’s resolutions and goals in our lives, writing down the goal to climb a mountain alone will not make it a reality. The mountain climber must create an Action plan including which route to take and plan for the resources needed to make the climb successful.   In mountaineering overcoming the challenge of the climb is Rewarding when you stand on the summit.   Finally, in mountaineering and life Time is finite – a mountaineer must determine how to allocate their time and how much time to spend in the pursuit of the summit.

In goal setting there is a mnemonic S.M.A.R.T. that we can use to ensure when we set and pursue goals in way that improves our ability to achieve the goal and pursue the right goals.   S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Significant
  • Measureable
  • Actionable
  • Rewarding
  • Time-Bound

This reminder for goal setting can be used for all of the goals that we set and pursue in life whether they be our overall life goals, our goals in our career, or the big hairy audacious goals like climbing Mount Everest.   All goals must be significant, measureable, actionable, rewarding, and time bound.   Our personal goals could be tied to family, friends, career, financial, educations, personal growth, physical and health, or public service and philanthropy.     In setting our personal goals it is important to first start with the bigger picture of our life goals and then determine the smaller goals below our life goals. The same holds true for leaders in organizations – it is important to first set the larger mission, vision, values, and strategy of the organization and then to set the shorter term operational goals, quotas, and budgets.

“Look it’s a Goldfish”

If you are still reading  you held your attention  for about 90 seconds – you are 10x more focused and committed to success than a Goldfish. Unfortunately being 10x more focused that a Goldfish is not enough to make 2017 a year of crushing your goals.   The calendar year of 2017 has 525,600 minutes, in that time a Goldfish will get distracted 3.5 million times.   The average person browsing the internet over the same number of minutes will get distracted 3.9 million times – do you want to be average?

If you are short on time right now save the link to this post and come back and read it later.  Or if you want to jump to Action now and start building your 2017 Goals go to my website  http://timothyigo.com/goal-tools/ , create a free member account, and download the Goal sheets and start creating your goal plans for 2017.

If you want to make 2017 a breakout year and want more insights into how to successfully achieve goals continue reading to the end and we will dive deeper into the elements of effective goal planning.  The rest of the article will take you another ~10 minutes to read.   Are you willing to invest 0.002% of your time in 2017 learning how to make the other 99.998% of the year productive in achieving your goals? 

Significant

 In mountaineering expeditions navigational aids are used to help accomplish the goal of reaching the summit. At times mountaineers get off course on the journey to the to the summit. Mountaineers can get disoriented in a storm or on new terrain, and the use of navigational aids helps them get back on track. A compass will tell a climber which direction is north so they can orient themselves on a map. Or on a clear night in the Northern Hemisphere the North Star can be used as a navigational aid.   Navigational aids are constants.   A mountaineer can never climb high enough to the reach the North Star but they can use the North Star as a navigation aid to plot the course to where they want to be. Navigational aids help orient us in the journey to achieve our goals.

In the expedition we call life, we need navigational aids as individuals and organizations.    In order to set meaningful goals in our lives is important to step back and look at the bigger picture and define our core ideology.    By understanding our life goals, our personal mission, our passions, and our core values we create a navigational aid that can orient us.     Our core ideology similar to the North Star or a compass orients us and plots the course on where we want to go.

In order to set meaningful goals, we first need to look at what we value so that we can prioritize our time to pursue the right goals. Values are our standards of behavior and judgment of what is important in life. Similar to how a compass helps a mountaineer decide which direction to go, our values help us navigate our decision making process in life. Our values define our character and guide our behaviors with family, friends, and colleagues.   Examples of values include Accountability, Respect, Freedom, Responsibility, Integrity, Honesty, Trustworthiness, Truthfulness, Courtesy, Compassion, Justice, Order, Tolerance, Sociability, Loyalty, Dignity, Courage, Self Esteem, Autonomy, Independence, Objectivity, Knowledge.   Similar to a Compass with North, South, East, and West – we need to define the core values that are most important to us, so that when we need to make decisions in life our values can act as a navigational aid to our behaviors and pursuit of goals.

Similar to mountaineering, in life at times we might lose our course and we need our core ideology to keep us on track with our life goals. Life is dynamic and our core ideology is the constant navigational aids that helps us navigate back to our ideal self through the peaks and valleys of life. When we understand our core ideology and use it to define goals our commitment to achieve the goals will be more powerful. Our core ideology helps us paint a picture of our ideal self on how we envision ourselves in the future. Using our life ambitions and passions to set our goals is a powerful motivator.

We need to write down our principles, values, and higher priorities before we try to start writing out goals.   When we have our priorities as our moral compass it will be our guide to ensure that our goals are taking us in the right direction.

Using our personal values and core ideology to define our life goals and then breaking down our life goals into smaller goals and makes our goals Significant and meaningful, which will improve our ability to successfully achieve our goals.

Measurable:

The process of climbing a mountain is measurable. As a climber moves up the mountain they gain altitude and can measure the progress in elevation until the summit is reached. This makes measuring progress towards the goal in mountaineering easy.   When I climb mountains I wear an altimeter watch that uses the barometric pressure to tell me the approximate altitude on my route.   This data point helps me in multiple ways. First, it helps me understand my performance and how fast I am climbing. By frequently checking my watch for data points, I see the trend over time and my elevation gain per hour. Understanding my performance over time I can calculate an estimation on when I will reach the summit and if I have enough time to safely ascend and descend. The altitude also helps me determine my position on the route. I can triangulate my position by lining up the altitude data point against the topographical elevation lines on the map and determine how I am tracking against my plan. Measurement systems give us feedback on how we are progressing towards our goals.

Quantifiable Measurements:

When setting goals, the easiest ones to measure are quantifiable goals. When climbing mountains examples of quantifiable measures of progress include elevation, distance traveled, time for a trip, reaching the milestone of a specific camp, or the summit.    There are many different quantifiable metrics we can use and when setting goals, we should always seek to find quantifiable measurements even if it requires being creative. Some examples of quantifiable measurements are amounts, performance, time, frequency of occurrence, volume, time to complete, or date of completion. When we set the measurable metrics for our goals we should keep a record or log of the measurements. By recording the measurements, it gives us the ability to understand our progress and when we do reviews of our goals we can understand if any targets were missed or milestones missed so that we can make adjustments and improve. Measuring creates accountability. Measuring has a positive emotional impact on us as we progress towards the goal.

Qualitative Measurements:

In mountaineering, I have three goals for every climb: 1. Get Home Same, 2. Have Fun, 3. Reach the Summit and I prioritize them in that order.   The 1st and 3rd goal are very specific and measurable, the second goal “have fun” is qualitative and it is a matter of my feelings, satisfaction, and self-worth. Although reaching the summit makes a climb more fun sometimes that is prevented by external factors. In 2011, I attempted to climb Denali with a team of climbers including my father. Our team made it up to high camp, however due to bad wind and weather we were stuck for 6 days and did not reach the summit.   Even though we failed to reach the summit, I would rate my goal of “Having Fun” a 9 out of 10 based on the experience that I had on the mountain – I enjoyed the opportunity to spend time climbing with my father, I built new friendships with our team, I climbed in the most beautiful mountain range in the world, and I learned the mountain, which helped me to prepare for a second attempt in 2014. Qualitatively, I had a good climb and accomplished my goal of having fun. The only way it could have been a 10 was if we made the summit.

In our lives sometimes there are goals that do not have quantitative measures and we need to measure our progress against qualitative measurements. Qualitative goals are felt more than measured and when measured are done so on a subjective scale (i.e. scale of 1 to 10). Qualitative goals are about the feeling it has on a person, their satisfaction, and the worth that it creates.   In the business world we see qualitative goals such as customer satisfaction or employee satisfaction.     When leading and managing talent in an organization the qualitative goals are very important to why people stay committed to an organization and can improve performance.   Though subjective they have an important place in our personal and professional lives. Qualitative goals can be more difficult to measure with certainty, however since these are goals based on emotions and feelings, qualitative goals can be inspiring and motivating.

Measurement Review Process and Tools:

Setting up a regularly scheduled time to review our completion of activities, results, and completion of our goals improves our probability for success.   Goal reviews are about holding ourselves accountable, track progress, provide a feedback mechanism, helps us understand what is and is not working, and provides us immediate lessons which we can incorporate in order to increase our chances of success.    Goal reviews also allow us to reflect and enjoy our success when we achieve goals. Enjoying the sense of accomplishment will feed our positive energy and drive us to accomplish bigger and better goals.   Review systems to review our goals on an annual, monthly, weekly, and daily perspective with each time frame focusing in on a different depth and level of managing our goals.

  • Daily Reviews we should utilize task lists, checklists, and to do lists. By making a list of the activities that we want to complete in the day we prioritize how we will use our time to accomplish tasks and activities.   By crossing off or highlighting completed items it gives us a sense of accomplishment and making progress which has positive emotional impacts

 

  • Weekly Reviews and Planning we should sit down at the beginning of the week to review our progress and plan our upcoming week before the outside world starts imposing on us and consuming all of our time on activities that are not in alignment with our goals. In our weekly reviews we should review our day task list and activity logs to measure the progress that we have made towards our larger goals. If we are losing our way towards the goals we should course correct and plot out the tasks and activities we will work on in the upcoming week in order to get back on track to drive results and accomplish our goals.

 

  • Monthly Reviews we should spend 30 minutes and review our goals and look back on the progress that we have made in the last month. Reviewing our weekly reviews and holding ourselves accountable for anything that we missed and realigning out path based on any changes that have happened in the last 30 days.   When we review our goals on a monthly basis we should determine which goals we hit and which we missed. For the goals that we missed we should ask ourselves “Why?” Was the goal set on to aggressive of a timeline? Did we not spend the right time focusing on that goal and need to reprioritize your time? Was the goal one that was not important? Should it have ever been a goal to begin with? If the answer is no that is OK we just need to learn from the experience and make sure that the goals, we set are ones we are committed too and in alignment with our priorities.   Setting goals that we are not committed to pursue is demotivating and can create negative emotional energy so continuously improving our goal setting process will improve overall satisfaction.

 

  • Annual planning we should spend more time reviewing our core ideology, life goals, and major priorities in life and reflect how any changes in the prior year on our lives, our family, our health, our careers, or our experiences and the impact those changes might have on our goals and priorities. We should also review the goals we wrote down the prior year and measure how we progressed against those goals both quantitatively and qualitatively.   The beginning of the calendar year is the best time to do this.

 Actionable:

Before every mountaineering expedition I create an action plan. The action plan starts before I step on the mountain.   I spend time researching and planning for the climb.   I obtain a topographical map of the mountain and I study the route. I create a laminated copy of the map and I highlight the route to the summit, and I create a table with the elevation and distance of key waypoints and camps, the estimated dates we will be at each camp, a brief description for the segment of the route, and include the days for contingency for bad weather on our schedule. The plan with my schedule, tasks, activities resources, measurements and milestones – it is my action plan.

The success in reaching the summit begins with this planning process when I mentally envision what it will be like to climb the mountain.   I climb the mountain mentally multiple times before I even step foot on the mountain – I try to anticipate the challenges, the steepness of the climb, the loads that will be carried, and the camp locations.   I envision the objective hazards and risks of the route and think how the risks can be managed. I determine and organize the equipment needed for the climb, create checklists, and organize all of the gear before leaving for the climb to ensure I have all the resources needed. The prior visualization and action plan significantly improve my chances of success.

In reality the climb will change as weather, condition on the mountain, and team performance may cause adjustments to occur over the course of the expedition.   As an example on Everest it took us an extra 10 days due to high winds blowing on the summit at over 100 mph and keeping us stuck at Base Camp.   No matter how well we plan in our personal and professional lives unexpected external factors will arise that impact the timing of our action plans and in those cases we need to adapt and remain focused on the end goal.  Adaptability is an important element of success.

Action Plans for Avoidance Goals:

The types of goals that we set will also dictate how we create our Action plans. There are two main types of goals we set in our lives.   The first are growth goals, which are goals in which we say that we want to do more of something. The second is avoidance goals, which are goals that we say we want to do less of something or stop doing something. Many of the New Years resolutions people set that and have a high chance of failure fall into this category of avoidance.   For example, quit smoking, drink alcohol less, eat less junk food.

These two different types of goals, Growth and Avoidance Goals, have very different psychological effects on our brains.   Growth goals have a positive effect on our emotions when we can achieve them – we clearly see positive rewards.     Avoidance goals in their nature create a negative connotation in our head by giving up something – although the avoidance goals are things we know that are good for us subconsciously we feel we are losing which inhibits our ability to reach the goal.

One way we can develop better actionable plans for our avoidance goals is instead of focusing on the negative, write the goal as a positive and make the tradeoff of doing more of something else. For example, when I train for a mountain climb I will give up alcohol and certain unhealthy foods to physically prepare for the climb – it is easy for me to make sacrifices when I am focusing my time on other activities contributing to a bigger goal.

Avoidance goals tend to be based around changing bad habits.    For avoidance goals understanding how our habits work can help us design Actionable plans to achieve avoidance goals.   Habits are created through repetition. Habits are routines developed through the evolution process as a survival skill to conserve energy and make our brains work efficiently. Through repetition our brains are trained to recognize a situation and without having to think consciously, our brains make the subconscious decision to act out of habit. Mental routines are like exercise for the brain. Anyone that has worked out and done the same exercises repeatedly knows that over time the workout becomes easier as the muscles condition to the same repetitions. Something that was once a hard workout becomes easier. The same is true of the mental decisions when we set into routines.     In order to break bad Habits, we need to change the routines in our lives.     The key to breaking bad habits or creating new good habits is recognizing the trigger that sets off the current routine.     The Habit is triggered by a stimulus in the environment where our subconscious brain decides to act out the action response that we have previously performed many times.   When we develop our action plan we need to evaluate what stimulus and the environment are that creating the current bad habit that will inhibit our ability to change and accomplish our goal.     Once we are aware of what is triggering the bad habit then we can be aware of the subconscious cycle in our heads and understand what is happening in our own heads and change the behavior.  Awareness is the key to breaking the cycle of bad habits.   Once we are aware of the stimulus and environment that is causing the trigger we can develop our action plan and choose our Action response to the trigger.

The first portion of making a goal Actionable is writing down the goal. For the simplest goals with a single task they may not require a detailed plan. For complex goals we need thought out plans to make the goals Actionable and achievable.   Any complex goals that have multiple task, require preparation, complex activities, coordination of resources and people, and spans a longer period of time requires an action plan. Building a strong plan that is Actionable, defines the measurements, tasks, resources, and the timeframe to achieve the goal will help you visualize the process, provides a tool to review progress, and it will increase your chances of accomplishing the goal. As the old adage goes – Failing to plan is like planning to fail.

Rewarding:

 The feeling of standing on the summit of a mountain is rewarding long after the goal is accomplished.   I will never forget my expedition to Mount Everest in 2010.   The experience with my fellow climbers, the journey, and the rare chance to stand on top of the world is a reward that I enjoy today as much as the day that I stood on the summit.  100% of our team made it to the summit.  Each year on May 23rd, the anniversary of our summit, our team exchanges messages and emails with each other from around the world.   Goals have to be rewarding.

The inputs invested into accomplishing our goals are our time, effort, commitment, sacrifice, and resources.   The outputs we receive from the process of goal setting are the rewards.   Rewards can take on many forms and may include monetary rewards, increased security, recognition, personal development, self-esteem, autonomy, reputation, praise, or enjoyment. When we set goals we need to look at the balance between the effort put into the process of pursuing the goals and the rewards that we receive from those inputs. If we do not feel that the input of the effort is fairly rewarded, then we will become discouraged and demotivated. This is why it is very important for us to look at the balance of the effort, time, commitment, and resources we will need to put into the goals vs the rewards to determine if the goal is one that is worthwhile for us.

As we talked about earlier on building Actionable plans when setting our goals, we need to be aware of the Habits in our lives.   Designing the right rewards in our personal and professional lives is an important element to breaking bad habits and creating good new habits. The habit process is triggered by the stimulus and the environment as we discussed before, but the reason for the stimulus to trigger the response routine of the habit is that our minds are trained for the reward.   Habits are the behavioral conditioning in our lives to have a stimulus, which causes us to take an action, and that action in turn leads to a reward. Our brains crave the reward from the habit, which is why designing and understanding the right rewards is important to drive the right behaviors that allow us to create a commitment to action and reap the rewards from our goals.

As we accomplish goals, success breeds more success and we build up more positive momentum and energy that can help us see rewards achieve bigger and better goals and grow as individuals.

Time:

In setting goals, we typically are told to push limits aside to allow ourselves to grow. There is one limiting factor in our lives that we need to let enter into our process of setting and pursuing goals and that is Time.   Time is a finite resource so we need to make sure we develop a plan on how to allocate that limited resource. No matter how much we complain about the fact that there is not enough time, the amount of time in a day is not going to change and we have the same amount of time as everyone else. How we chose to use and prioritize our time is what makes the difference between people that are successful and those that are not successful.

The first step in order to effectively manage our time is understanding our priorities of what is important to us as we discussed early when we talked about significance.   The best tool to manage and prioritize our time is our life goals, values, principles, and core ideology – when we shape our goals around these things it ensures that we are not wasting our time.

The tools that we should use to manage our time are:

  • Life Goals, Values, and Priorities
  • Goal Deadlines
  • Goal Time Allocation – Amount of Time to Allocate and Complete a Goal
  • Synergizing – Looking at ways we can accomplish multiple goals or priorities at the same time
  • Daily “To Do” Lists:
    • Set aside few minutes at the beginning of every day planning our time and activities
    • Put the most important activities first when possible
    • Check off completed tasks to feel a sense of accomplishment and progress
  • Weekly Reviews Lists – Setting our Priorities and Goals for the Week
    • Set aside a few minutes at the beginning of the week planning our time and activities
    • Review Complex Goals and progress towards those goals
    • Review Activity Logs or our calendar on how you used your time in the prior week
    • Review progress from the prior week, celebrate successes, and make adjustments
  • Monthly Reviews – Prioritizing our Focus for the Month
    • Review progress towards your larger annual goals
    • Review Complex Goals and Progress towards those goals
    • Review any major issues that occurred preventing you form achieving goals
    • Set priorities for the upcoming month on how you will use our time
  • Annual Planning – Prioritizing our Time for the Year
    • Review Core Ideology, Life Goals, Values and Priorities
    • Reflect on accomplishments and failures in the last year and lessons learned
    • Develop our goals for the upcoming year and how we will prioritize our time

As we discussed earlier time is limited and our priorities all compete with one another for time. Using these tools to prioritize and manage our time helps us manage our time and accomplishing the right goals and more of our goals. The right time management system to best utilize our time daily, weekly, monthly, and annually will help prevent procrastination or other activities and distractions that interfere with our goals wasting our time. Using a review process is a very valuable tool to ensure that we are effectively managing our time to achieve our goals.

Call to Action – Develop your 2017 Goal Plan:

Today is the first day of the rest of your life so if you do not already have a good approach to goal setting there is no time better than the present to create a good time management strategy that is in alignment with your life values, priorities, and goals.   Download the free tools and templates below to build out your 2017 plans and see yourself on the summit!!

Goal Tools:

Step 1 – Core Ideology – Values, Mission, Vision, Principles, Priorities and Goals – Planning Sheet

Step 2 – S.M.A.R.T. Goals Worksheet (Significant, Measureable, Actionable, Rewarding, Time Bound)

Learning Goals – Continuous Learning Tools