Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 83 – Reviewing the year & Preparation for 2010

Welcome to the last edition for 2009. Please note our offices will be closed from Christmas Eve and we will be returning on the 4th January 2010. Unfortunately we won’t be able to make any placements during this time. Any urgent items, a message can be left on our answering machine and we will endeavour to answer your queries as soon as we are able.  Alternatively we will be checking emails periodically through the holidays. Which just leaves me to say – we hope you have a remarkable end of year and a safe and happy Christmas a New Year.


The end of the year is always a good time to go back through the year’s achievements, and of course to plan for the following year.

What went well? What could you do differently? What will you do differently? Where do you want to be at the end of 2010? Some of those questions can be impossible to answer if you don’t have the information written down somewhere, but they do need to be answered.

Imagine getting into your car and starting the engine, shift it into gear and you set off. Do you know where you are going or do you have a vague idea of the general direction you need to go in? What would happen if you didn’t have even the vague idea of where to go – you would drive aimlessly around. Most people’s ideas regarding goal setting are like those kinds of car journeys. Few people have a definite plan and know how to get there. Most people have a vague idea about what they want whilst the remainder just wander along being distracted by whatever they see.

We can all be guilty of letting the day-to-day “stuff” to get in the way of projects and goals – but goal setting is vital and it is important to do it properly.

The following goal setting exercise is designed to make you question your current behaviour, and to make you think about what it is you want out of life.

In this issue we will look at:
•    Reviewing the past 12 months
•    What is a goal?
•    How do you set goals?
•    What items are on your goal list?
•    How are you going to achieve those goal items?
•    When are you going to achieve them by?
•    What are the benefits of achieving the goal items?
•    What are your reasons for doing it?
•    Who will help you achieve those goals?
•    What is stopping you?

Reviewing the past 12 months
Do you ever stop to think about what you have achieved? If you want to get more out of every day and in this case then it is a good habit to get into. But when do you stop and review? Well I think there are some important times to do this review and reflection of achievements:

•    At the end of each day – do you go back through your task lists and check to see what you managed to achieve on a single day? Did you add anything to your task list as the day went on? Did other people give you things to do? Why you? Did that impact on what you did / didn’t achieve?
•    At the end of the working week – Review your daily lists, how far behind / ahead are you? Did you manage to work on any major projects? Have you written next week’s task /goal list?
•    At the end of a month – Do you review your weekly lists each month? Most people – unless they are in the habit of going back through their daily tasks lists have no idea what they spent majority of their time on during a month. You can see where this is going can’t you
•    At the end of a year – most people have a vague notion they did OK on the whole, but usually can’t find a specific – yes I achieved this and this and this and I finished several of …. If you had to update your CV with significant achievements for 2009 – would you be able to? Given that your CV is a working document, and you see the perfect job with a closing date of 4pm today – would you be able to apply for the job – or would you need to spend a couple of days re-writing it? So – get into the habit of marking down your significant achievements – when they happen – that way you don’t forget.

You can of course get more out of each day – and the how is simple. You just need to write down what you did and how long it took you to do. You can use a notebook or you can use your calendar – I use a time log – We don’t “remember” to mark down things like – went to the loo, made another cup of tea, chatted with Fred in the kitchen for half an hour in a calendar or journal. If you had to charge back your time – how much would you have really earned today? Using a time log forces you to do it – if you are honest with yourself – and given no-one else will see it – why wouldn’t you be honest with where and how you spent your time. The beauty of this system is it is self-regulating. Once you see where and how you spent your time you will automatically make some changes. Assuming you want to of course. So take some time over the course of the next week – yes that may be difficult in the lead up to Christmas and the break – but it is important that you do. Because if you don’t review, then how can you effectively set yourself the goals for 2010?

Assuming you want things to be different next year, you will need to set yourself some goals. These can be annual or they can be short range goals of a couple of months – it’s up to you. What they do have to be though is realistic.

What is a goal?
The first point I would like to make is this –

Goal setting – Is more than just deciding what you want and writing it down.

A goal is something that you say that you want. But is not something that you can achieve in a day or two – they’re classed as tasks. Now a task can take you towards your goals, but they can just as easily take you away from achieving them. What is the difference? Well a goal should take you out of your comfort zone into areas you’ve never been to before. Because – and this is the first key – achieving a goal is not just about the end result – but what you have to do in order to reach them – so the journey is just as important as the destination when it comes to goal setting.

How do you set goals?

Whilst this can be more useful for personal goals, the process works just as well for work related goals, and to be fair you should have both.

Do you have a list of New Year’s Resolutions? Does it contain the same set of tired objectives as last year? Or did you manage to cross one or two things off the list during the year.

Most people spend a minute or two deciding on things they want to change in their lives. High on most people’s lists are things like, earn more money, spend less, don’t buy so many shoes, eat less, exercise more, take a decent holiday, pay off the credit card debt. As you can see from this kind of list – it’s hardly inspiring is it? The problem is, most people haven’t been taught that to set goals that inspire; you have to do some real thinking first. And this is called – the do before you die list.

These are the things that you say that you have always wanted to achieve / do and see at some point in your life. If you haven’t spent time and written one of these before, spend some time over the next couple of days, get out a big piece of paper and start scribbling. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.

Once you have written this list, you might have a hundred things, or you may have 20 – it doesn’t matter how big the list is, so long as it has things on there that inspire you.

What items are on your goal list?

Now you have your list of things you say you want to do or achieve. However before we go on I would like to ask you a couple of questions. Have you looked at every area of your life?

For example – do you have:

•    Health / fitness related goals?
•    Financial goals?
•    Family and relationship goals?
•    Work related and professional development goals?

Goals are not worked on in isolation – so one will impact on another.

Do you have a problem with spending too much money on things that give you pleasure, for example coffee, chocolate, alcohol or cigarettes? Then how are you going to save up for that brand new wardrobe of clothes you say you want? What about that trip to Europe? Do you currently have a credit card debt that you can only just manage to service? Are you overweight because of your reliance on those things that you buy on a daily basis?

Chances are better than good that if you said yes to one area then you also said yes to most of the other areas too.

So when dealing with goal setting, you have to consider everything that will be affected by how you currently act and react, and only when you have decided those factors can you decide whether or not you are willing to take the next steps and work out how you are going to achieve those things.

How are you going to achieve those goal items?

This is usually where most people get stuck, they know what they think they want, but they don’t think they know all the answers…which tends to stop a lot of people from beginning the process.

If you don’t make any changes to your current life and lifestyle then nothing is going to change. What are you willing to change / do in order to achieve what you say you want to achieve.

Say your list contains items such as:

Pay off my mortgage / credit card bill or whatever is your financial goal.
I want to lose 10 kilos by June 2010

Consider this equation – If you buy a single cup of coffee every working day for a year you will spend about a thousand dollars. Are you happy to continue to buy that cup of coffee now or could you use that thousand dollars in a better way? You can for instance get a lot of personal training classes for a thousand dollars, it just depends how much you want change to happen.

When are you going to achieve it by?

Most people have a vague, oh I’ll get it done by so and so…. when it comes to goal setting and goal achieving.

Let me put it this way, a goal is just a dream without a proper time limit on it. But how do you set a time limit. Well it depends on the goal.

•    Painting the house – An average size room can be stripped of furniture, cleaned, patched and painted in a weekend. Average of two days. If you only have the weekends – then each room will take you a weekend….4 bedrooms = 4 weekends….or 8 days.
•    Planning and saving for a trip to Europe – will depend on your current level of debt and your ability to save. If you spend more than you currently earn, then you won’t achieve the goal at all. The first issue with dealing with this goal isn’t just about your lack of ability to save money, rather your ability to stop spending lots of money a few dollars at a time. Work that one out and you can save up for anything.
•    Weight loss – half a kilo to a kilo a week is do-able…any more and you run the risk of putting the weight back on as soon as you stop restricting your calorie intake. So work out how much weight you need to lose and you have the number of weeks it is likely to take you. 10 kilos = 10-20 weeks
•    Writing a book – if you are working, then a thousand words a day is a good target, depending on how fast you write (or type) – an average novel starts at about 100,000 words – therefore a hundred days or 3 and a bit months (to get the first draft)
•    Gaining your masters degree – how many units can you study during a single year? Do you have the time to devote on top of your current work load / home and family life?

When thinking about timelines – you do have to be realistic, but goals do have to be time bound or they won’t get done.
What are the benefits of achieving the goal items?

One of the major keys to goal achievement is the benefit you will gain from doing it. If you don’t know why you want something then you won’t be motivated to take the steps you need to take.

•    Writing a book – you may get international or national recognition, and more money. You may simply have the satisfaction that you did it…
•    Losing weight – may mean – better health, a whole new wardrobe, much better self-esteem and an improved bank balance.
•    Travelling to Europe – you’ve managed to save the money, you have seen the land of your forefathers, everyone told you that you couldn’t possibly do it and you proved them wrong.
•    The house will sell for more money, which means you’ll be able to move to the area that you want to live in.
•    A masters degree may get you a better job / more money
What are your reasons for doing it?

Whilst benefits are a good way to motivate you, the best motivational tools you can use to achieve your goals are the reasons you have these items on your goal list in the first place. Why you want to achieve something can take you towards your goal. You can see it, you can feel it and you know why you want it.

Work out your reasons – get very specific about what you want and why you want it.

Renovating the house:
•    The house is a pigsty and needs a complete overhaul;
•    We’ve just moved in and we want to make it look like it belongs to us
•    It’s been years since these walls last saw a coat of paint – it’s time !!
•    That style of decoration went out 30 years ago (don’t worry – wait a few more years and it will be back in again)
Weight loss:
•    I have an unhealthy BMI and the doctor told me to lose weight or die
•    I do not look very nice without clothes on !!
•    I don’t look much better with clothes on !!!!!!!!!
•    I hide behind frumpy clothes to try and disguise the fact that I am fat and unhealthy
•    I don’t have any energy
Who will help you achieve your goal?

Every one needs help. The richest, most powerful people in the world have armies of advisors to help them. Sports people have coaches and personal trainers to help them improve their game. Why should we be any different?

Believe me when I say, you will struggle to do everything you need to do by yourself. So enlist the people who can take your dreams forward:

•    An author needs an editor and a publisher. Even if you decide to self-publish your work, you still need to get someone else to read it to make sure you haven’t written drivel
•    You may need encouragement to reach your new weight – in which case a personal trainer can be invaluable, or a weight loss consultant, a nutritionist, your partner and your kids can all help you to keep to the straight and narrow and encourage you not to buy and eat “bad” things.
•    But really the best person to help you is YOU. Make sure you diarise the important stuff, make time in your calendar to work on your goals and projects and then when the time pops up – keep your appointments with yourself, and don’t let anyone (including yourself) break the appointments.
What is stopping you?

Your belief in yourself may be your biggest stumbling block.

•    If you don’t believe you can – you won’t put in the effort
•    If you don’t believe you can you won’t have the motivation, you will find excuses; you will do anything BUT work on your goals if you don’t think you are good enough / worthy enough to achieve it. We may not always get what we want, but we do get what we expect.