The trouble with running a business (or a busy life) is that it constantly feels like there are a million things pulling at your attention.
I think of quarterly goals like a steady railing for you to grab onto when you start to feel like you're drowning in overwork. You get to ask the question, again, "ok, what really matters?" And then you can Zoom back and out and start from that frame.
Every quarter I send a note to the founders and companies I work with to look at the quarter ahead. Then we plan for what truly matters in the next 90 days.
Productivity is deceptively simple in that it's about focusing on less, not more, and sequencing things properly.
So, for me, goal planning is not about creating anything complex. Your entire plan for the quarter should fit on a half sheet of paper. This forces you to be clear, specific, and it keeps you from hiding behind complexity (we're all guilty of that).
One other thing to note is that goal setting is not about improvements.
It's about making changes.
"Growing 10%" is an aimless goal.
Instead, ask "What change would I need to make such that growing 50%+ would be a natural byproduct?"
To answer that you might decide that you want to change your pricing, or how frequently you do sales.
"Improving my public speaking ability" is an aimless goal.
Instead, maybe you make your goal "Attend 6 weeks of Toastmasters meetings."
Here is an example of what my quarter looks like:
- Launch the first 5 episodes of Trend Council Podcast.
- Complete my first book draft.
- Build a process for publishing my books to Amazon (Design, formatting, etc.).
- Script and publish a Youtube video every week.
After this quarter I will have written and published a book, published the start of a new podcast, and posted to Youtube (write, script, edit) every week.
These are the changes I made outside of business as usual.
Logging future goals.
One thing I'm doing more of is keeping a log or folder of ideas for quarterly projects which could be my goal for next quarter.
I find this strangely enjoyable. Not only do I get to have ideas that seem exciting, but I can slot them into this folder for review later. This gets me off the hook from doing anything about them now (I'm focused on this quarter's goals only!) but it also gets me excited about what I can make/create in the quarter ahead.
It's sort of a procrastinator's dream, hidden in sleight of hand that makes you productive. I can only really focus on a few things at one time... so, hey, maybe this quarter is not the quarter to be on Twitter or not the quarter to change my workout habits.
The point is that we cannot do everything, and we cannot do everything at once.
I give up, I can only do a few things. So let yourself do some daydreaming about what I might do without having to own doing them just yet.
And some ideas I have for next quarter:
- Go sugar-free (minus one cheat meal per week).
- Find and hire, or partner with a marketing assistant.
- Run 4-6 people through a group workshop that lasts 4-6 weeks.
- Complete and publish a full course that I will eventually write a book on (outline, written, video)
- Host 10 Founder interviews for Youtube.
Note that it's totally up to you to set the bar's height for your goals. You can go through drastic changes or simple changes. Either way, it's just 90 days, so just do your best.
Everyone is capable of doing this on their own, and yet it also is helpful to do with someone else a few times to get the hang of it. I help founders and teams plan their quarterly strategies. If you want a partner to do that with, let me know.
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