Happy New Year to you! I hope you had a great party with tasty food and nice people around you, maybe some fireworks. But most importantly, I hope you are in good spirits and filled with optimism. My wife and I, we celebrated in a small circle with our little daughter and a bunch of friends.
To be honest, I’m not used to staying up late to watch the fireworks. I’d rather go to bed early, get up early and work on the things I enjoy doing most, such as creating new content for Tactical Project Manager or working on my personal goals.
Talking about goals: Did you set any personal goals for 2022? Now is a good time to think about your dreams and what you love to achieve this year. It’s not too late to set goals!
It has become common to joke about these so-called New Years resolutions because we start with a lot of motivation but then life gets in the way and we don’t follow through on our goals. We sign up for a gym membership, show up 2-3 times and then pay the membership fee for 12 months and never ever visit the gym again (sounds familiar? I have been there).
But the thing is: Setting a personal goal is really the first step when you want to make a change in your life and accomplish something significant. When you feel I REALLY WANT THIS TO HAPPEN.
For me, how Tactical Project Manager came about was basically because of my personal goals. I had this goal of becoming independent and starting my own business where I could share my knowledge with other people. I still have the sheet with my goals scribbled onto: Start a business … and now – after several years – it has become reality.
How was this possible? And how can you make sure you follow through on your goals?
I thought I’d share a few ideas and techniques that have helped me make big progress on my goals.
How to achieve your goals [my tips]
You need a system!
In the past years, I started a lot of personal projects. Many of these projects never led to anything, but there were areas where I made huge progress, also outside of work. For example at age 30 I decided to get back to playing the violin. I had taken lessons as a kid and had reached a really good level. But then at age 15, I smashed my bow and shouted “Screw Mozart!
So at 30, I started taking lessons again. Once a week, I would go to this lady and we would practice for 60 minutes. Sometimes, I was so tired from my PM job that I almost collapsed. But at the end of the lesson, we would fix a time for the next lesson. It became sort of a “system” that automatically kept me on track:
The date for the next lesson was already set in advance!
I would have felt like a loser if had canceled a lesson because I “didn’t feel like it”. So I always went to my lessons, even when I had a bad day. I hardly practiced at home, but over time I became a really good violinist and I even performed in front of audiences many times playing Mediations by Thais.
So if your goal really matters to you, you need some sort of system.
A system is like an automatic mechanism that keeps you accountable.
My friend Kai, who is actually a university professor, recently decided to get into piano playing. Besides taking regular lessons, Kai also started a YouTube channel where he records his progress with a new video every week. That’s a great system too, because it keeps him focused!
What are some systems that can help you accomplish your goals? Think about an organizational setup that keep you focused and eliminates distraction. Ideally, with a built-in kick-in-the-butt when you start getting lazy. Here are some examples:
- Instead of signing up for a gym membership, you could hire a personal trainer (in person or via video) and you set up a regular training schedule [can be applied to other areas, such as learning an instrument]
- Find a person who has the same goal and form an accountability group
- Start a YouTube channel and share your progress with others (like my friend Kai)
- Put aside one hour every week to work on your personal projects
If you want to learn more about systems and how they can help you achieve your biggest dreams, I recommend you read How to Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams. For me, it’s the best personal development book!
Conflicting values can hold you back
I’m a family person, I like to hang out with friends and have fun together, but I’m also very ambitious and enjoy working on my personal projects. It took me a while to understand that I couldn’t have everything at the same time.
My issue was this: When family members or friends planned some event and invited me to join, I was always torn between working on my own projects and spending time with the group. In the end, I often said: “Ok, I’ll join you”. But then I’d feel guilty for not working on my own stuff. And of course, I didn’t make much progress.
When going through one of Tony Robbins’ programs, I realized this was a matter of conflicting values: I wanted to be a good friend and partner, but I also had this urge to accomplish something big (in my case, building a business). The two values were somewhat in conflict with each other because I couldn’t hang out with friends and at the same time advance in my personal projects.
Once I realized that I was trying to accomplish multiple conflicting goals, I could adjust my behavior. For example, I would talk to my wife and say “Honey, I’d like to use this weekend for work” and she’d say “Fine. I’ll go visit my mum” and everybody was happy and I could work on my own stuff without feeling guilty.
In the end, you need to decide what you want to achieve in life. If it’s something that truly matters to you, then you need to make sacrifices. And a critical step here is to find out what your personal priorities are and see if you are holding yourself back because some of your values just aren’t 100% compatible, as in my case.
That’s it. These were my two tips for achieving personal goals.
Let me know if you found these insights helpful. I enjoyed putting down my ideas, and it’s fun to write about something other than just project management. Actually, achieving personal goals and leading projects, the two things have a lot in common. Because ultimately, the reason why we commit ourselves to lead projects is not (only) to make our boss happy but to accomplish something we didn’t believe we could and become a better person in that process.
I wish you a great year 2022!