Every year millions of Americans set ambitious New Year’s resolutions, and sadly, most of them go unfulfilled. The nerd in me wanted to pull the research to support this claim, but I decided it was unnecessary because I belonged to a gym for many years and knew it to be true. The gym, pulsating with new members on January 1st would return to a sleepy equilibrium in early February. There is a direct correlation between gym harmony and abandoned goals.
It’s disheartening to think of the many, ambitious, and life-altering resolutions eschewed to seek shelter in the known, the comfortable. But comfort is deceiving. It promises contentment but leads to bitterness because it deflects potential. We have all been guilty of this at one time or another.
Armed with this knowledge and motivated by the promise of a new year I took a walk on January 1st. I flipped through several podcasts and eventually queued up a Ted Talk titled, “Why the Key to Success is Setting the Right Goals by John Doerr.” It was serendipity. Mr. Doerr shared a goal setting strategy known as “OKR,” which stands for Objective-Known Result. It is not a new strategy and has been used by individuals and organizations (such as Google) for decades because of its simplicity and startling effectiveness. You just take an objective and write three to five known results to achieve this goal. Essentially, OKR forces you to answer two, simple questions:
1. What do you want to accomplish?
2. How will you achieve this goal?
Inspired by this message, I sat down with resolve to write personal and professional OKRs for 2019. I have included one of my personal objectives below as an example. (Writing this publicly will also force me to follow-through)
Objective: I will run a half-marathon this year.
I have avoided this undertaking for many years because running does not come easily to me. I’ve often said, “I’m just not a runner” or “I have a bad back.” They are both true, but I have listed key results to help me overcome these challenges.
- I will look up the date and registration deadline for the St. Jude’s half marathon (done).
- I will research training regiments to properly prepare (working on this).
- I will incorporate yoga to help strengthen my back (check).
- I will focus on nutrition and lose five pounds by January 18th (I ate Cracker Barrel this weekend, so this is in doubt- sawmill gravy is my kryptonite).
I also typed out my professional goals and printed them as a poster. They are framed and hanging in my office. Every time I work at my desk I see them as a constant reminder of how I should be devoting my time.
I do not believe OKR is a magic bullet; rather, it’s a tool to help align your goals, time, energy, and focus. I’ll keep you posted on my setbacks, failures, and progress. Here’s to embracing the best versions of ourselves in 2019.