Thursday, January 17, 2013

Set your goal, measure your steps

Let me talk about how to do things.  I come to realize there is a simple binary logic to getting things done, and improve the performance of getting things done.  My algorithm is as following:

  • Write down what I want to do.
  • Is it obvious how I can do it?
  • If not, I have a goal; subdivide the goal into multiple steps that will get me there.
  • If obvious, I have a step; do it.
  • Repeat until the original 'want' is done.

In this algorithm, everything is either a goal or a step.  A goal is something that you want to do, but don't know how to achieve.  A step is something that you know how to do.

For example, "I want to get more readers to my blog" is a goal.  It's not obvious to me how I can do that right away.  "I want to write a blog everyday" is a step.  It's obvious how I can do it, and I've done it before.  I know exactly what's involved.

Beauty of looking at tasks this way is that the repertoires of steps increase as I do more of the steps.  Once I've mastered how to get more readers to my blog, it becomes a step.  It's not a goal any more.  I've learned of a way to do it.

Another benefit is that it forces you to break complex goal into simple and immediately executable steps.  Steps are the ones that you can execute, and you can measure how many of the steps that you were able to do each day.  By balancing the steps that I take and goals that I subdivide, I am distributing my time across easy chores and hard tasks.  If I practice a step enough times, I notice I become faster at completing the step.

A goal involves experimenting and learning.  When I first wrote "I want to write a blog everyday", it was a goal not a step.  Over the course of a year, I've practiced at hitting this goal 365 times a year.  I think I have demystified what is involved in writing something everyday.  I had certain ideas of what would involve, but until I've experimented myself and learned it, I was not sure whether it's a doable goal.  Now I know.  It's totally doable.  It has become a step for me.

I see people making all kinds of goals.  "I want to launch my product."  "I want to win my first 100 customers."  "I want to get my blog started."

Start breaking them down to steps.  Do a few steps each day.  Everyday.  Take a step back once in a while to enjoy how you are getting better.

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