📚 Goal Setting

First Published: 2023-10-20

Setting goals is one of the best ways to ensure you stay on track and keep improving yourself.
In this post I want to reveal my method of goal setting and it's supporting heuristics.

SMART (-er)

Just to get this out of the way: yes, I am familiar with the SMART acronym and employ it's heuristics:

My ranking of the basic heuristics based on importance

Of these heuristics I find Measurability, Actionability, Timing and Evaluation significantly more important than Specificity, Relevancy or Reward. I won't waste time assessing relevancy in depth, and also don't need my goals to be more specific than what is necessary to fulfill the other heuristics of measurability and actionability. As a reward, since I fortunately already have everything I want, I usually go for a nice meal downtown.

Frequency and Dismissal

Goals come in various shapes and sizes and deserve different treatment because of it.
I don't set new long-term/yearly goals more than once a quarter at most, and when I do, I set one at a time.

More short term goals, quarterly or monthly goals, usually come in groups of up to ten.
A couple of weeks into a quarter, or days into the month I reevaluate, discarding around half of them.
This can be seen with the Q4 goals I shared recently. I started setting up syncplay and jitsi, but then discarded those goals due to a change in perspective regarding their value proposition and operational difficulty. Sometimes it's new information that makes a goal obsolete, such as with my arch-mirror and netcup migration goals.

As a rule of thumb I set many short-term goals, but dismiss most of them quickly.
I prefer trying out several short-term goals to over-analyzing them in advance.

Don't talk about it

For long-term goals: don't tell anyone.
Not telling anyone drastically increases your chances of sticking to and achieving your goal.

Fun goals

One more thing I occasionally do that may appear strange is to set, for lack of a better term, fun goals.
Like this month I set and achieved the goal to watch at least two anime series.
I treat fun goals as no less important than regular productivity goals.
This greatly helps to balance out any toxic perfectionism.

Start small

My system has matured to be this elaborate over years.
Goal setting takes practice and doesn't need to be a consistent practice to yield results.
I don't set new goals every month if I don't feel like it.

Chances are you set a goal for this year. Are you on track?
If you are not, is there a smaller sub-goal that you can still achieve this year?


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