How I Created My 2020 Goals

In a recent message, I briefly shared a picture of my goals for this coming year. It's a single sheet of paper that I frame and hang next to my desk.

I look at it every day.

This was an example of choosing the best things first, then aligning your plans, habits, budget and tasks to a big, powerful goal.

It's a process I call "Aim, Ready, Fire" and I've been using a variation of it for 4 years.

  1. "Aim" for what really matters most (5-10 big objectives).

  2. "Ready" yourself, your resources, your schedule to achieve what matters most.

  3. "Fire" on the plan, evaluate along the way so you have a higher likelihood of success.

In the days following, so many requests for more details about my process came in that I thought it would be helpful to post it here.

This post will be a little longer than usual, but I hope it helps you want more and get more in your next season.

STEP 1. End of Year Evaluation

With repetition, this is fairly quick. I simply take my Strategic Priorities from the year before and grade each from 1-4 (percentage or quality of completion, depending on the kind of goal).

{I also take an average of all achievement together to get a "score" of my year, similar to Michael Hyatt's great LifeScore Assessment}

I find it immensely helpful to evaluate and organize my goals in the following categories:

  • Spiritual

  • Emotional

  • Physical

  • Family

  • Social

  • Vocational

  • Financial

If you don't have prior goals you can evaluate, fear not! Simply create two columns, "Negative" and "Positive" and get brutally honest about every aspect of your life in the last few months.

This step is crucial. Not only will it give you a jumping off point for your future goals, it will help you see the nuances of your challenges and successes. Yes, there will be aspects you can criticize, but I guarantee there will be much to celebrate.

STEP 2. Articulate a Singular Focus

This should feel like a powerful theme for your year. It's not a measurable goal, it's a way of describing the kind of life you want to be living in 12 months.

This is so helpful when you get to the next step (outlining more specific objectives), but more on that later...

I've had the same Singular Focus for the last two years (and you can steal it if it feels meaningful for you).

"Real close. Real Strong."

"Real" is important to me because I score high in the Enneagram 3. I love achieving. I'm good at it. But I can be tempted to lack substance for the sake of appearing successful. Because of God's grace, I know I can be the real me in my relationships, my work and with myself.

"Close" is powerful because I want deeper intimacy with God, myself, my wife, my daughters, my team and my friends.

"Strong" helps me focus on strengthening my soul, mind and body because I am a steward of those resources and the stronger they are, the more I'm free to serve others.

What kind of a life do you want to be living in the next 12 months?

STEP 3. State Exciting, Clear Priorities in all Categories

You can use the categories I listed above or find your own.

Either way, it's important to see your life as a collection of inter-connected pieces so you don't focus on making progress in the 1 or 2 categories that feel urgent or exciting to the neglect of others. For instance, I can be tempted to chart out work goals and leave my relationships untended.

Some examples from my latest Strategic Priorities:

  • Spiritual: "Be a discipler" (I want to grow my intimacy with God and lead others into it)

  • Family: "Katie says 'Better than ever'. (what part can I play in giving her the best year of our marriage so far?)

  • Vocation: "Create sought-after content". (I don't want to create noise. I want to share ideas that people actually need.)

REMEMBER!!! Always compare the clear goal you create in each category to the "Singular Focus" you stated for your year. Will achieving these goals create the life you want to be living at the end of this term?

STEP 4. List 1-3 S.M.A.R.T. Goals in each Category.

This is where it gets very, very practical (and maybe a little scary if you did it right).

Under each category goal, list 1-3 S.M.A.R.T. goals.

What's a S.M.A.R.T. goal, you ask?

Variations on this abound, but the definition I've come to use is the following:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Achievable

  • Relevant

  • Time-bound (has a due date)

{Some also add "E" for "exciting" and "R" for "risky"to make "SMARTER" goals that get your blood pumping. Do what suits you.}

These are the goals that, if achieved, will accomplish your Strategic Priority which, if achieved together with the other categories, will create the life your "Singular Focus" describes.

Some examples from my latest goals:

  • Spiritual: "Be a discipler"

  • Goal: Read 365 chapters of Scripture

  • Goal: 1 Week-long prayer and fasting retreat

  • Goal: Meet 12x with at least 5 men I'm pouring into

  • Vocation: "Create sought-after content"

  • Goal: Re-position podcast, driving 100x engagement at Radius

  • Goal: Release 2 eBooks, generating 1000 downloads

An example of the template I print out and frame (not my actual sheet)

This process has helped me immensely. I pray it helps you as well.

Though it may seem tedious, doing this only once a year will prove well worth-it.



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