Goal Setting & Reflecting


“What you aim at determines what you see. That’s worth repeating. What you aim at determines what you see.” – Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules For Life.

As October rolls around I am about to take action on what I believe to be the most important exercise that I do each quarter, which is a reflection on how I did the previous quarter and a new set of goals for the upcoming quarter. The reflection portion was developed from my first job out of school which had each teammate present a “big wins and lesson learned” presentation at the end of each quarter. The quarterly goal setting was inspired, in large part,by Tim Ferriss who prefers to do “12 week experiments” opposed to New Year’s Resolutions.

What you aim at determines what you see, is similar to the psychological principle of the “availability bias”. An example of the availability bias, taken from Thinking Fast and Slow, would be: “She has been watching too many spy movies recently, so she’s seeing conspiracies everywhere” or “The CEO has had several successes in a row, so failure doesn’t come easily to her mind; the availability bias is making her overconfident.” Availability bias can also be leveraged to our benefit. This is how you make your own luck. I personally prefer to write my long term vision in my journal every morning, and keep my quarterly goals as the background on my phone. If you always keep where you want to go at the front of mind this will determine what you see, and you will be on your way to identifying opportunities.

Jordan Peterson’s Future Authoring Program, recommended by one of my dearest friends, helped me to establish a long term vision. This is what I write in my journal every morning, and I have it handy when setting my quarterly goals to help avoid friction and create synergy.

A short piece on friction and synergy from Jacob Fisher’s Early Retirement Extreme: “You may find some goals to be counterproductive. Some goals involve saving money, while others involve spending money. Some goals involve getting or being healthy, while other goals are unhealthy. Indeed, if you map out a typical lifestyle you will probably find a lot of counterproductivity. When a strong positive goal is countered by smaller negative goals, the result is friction. Friction produces waste. Waste is prevalent in modern life. Just consider how many people drive. First the foot goes on the accelerator, then ten seconds later, it goes on the brake, turning kinetic energy into waste heat. Then it goes back on the accelerator again to make up for the loss of speed. This results in poor gas mileage, as gas is used to heat up the brake pads, and equivalently poor life mileage when the same habits are used in everyday life. The same vehicle gets different gas mileages depending on the driver. Similarly, money gets different mileage depending on who is spending it. Conversely, if one positive goal is positively aligned with another positive goal, both goals benefit – the vectors point in the same direction in goal-space.” When goals are aligned this creates synergy, not friction. AVOID FRICTION.

The future authoring program is also great because it helps to establish a process. More from Jacob, “On the meta level, a process-oriented strategy is primarily aimed at living, with goals being accomplished as side effects, whereas a goal-oriented strategy is aimed at goals, with living as a side effect.” Before I established a long term vision/strategy I was certainly following a goal-oriented strategy with living as a side effect, which is better than nothing! But having a long term strategy with sub goals set each quarter to keep you on track is best.

So, here is the recommendation:

  • Write down what is most important to you. Establish a long term vision and rewrite it daily.
  • Each quarter write down your goals to accomplish by the end of the quarter that will help move you towards the long term vision. Write the goals down on a space no bigger than an index card, to ensure you don’t get carried away with 100 goals. Put the index card in a place where you will see it daily, and set it as the background of your phone (keep the old ones to look back on).
    • I bucket my goals out into the following categories:
      • Sounds Mind
      • Sound Body
      • Personal
      • Professional
  • At the end of each quarter set aside an hour to reflect on how you did and how you can improve.

goal by Dima Lagunov from the Noun Project


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