Beckomberga allé 12
168 61 Bromma
Never having been much of a goal setter, I have now decided to challenge myself by doing just that. Setting goals. More specifically, goals around my life.
Frankly, I have always found goal-setting to be quite boring and the opposite of stimulating. I don’t compete and I could never thrive in a workplace where I have to achieve a numerical goal per day or week. I subscribe to the idea that all the really important things in life can’t, and shouldn’t be, measured (by “really important” I mean the love and connection we have with other people).
Also, I have to admit, I’ve had my doubts about goal-setting because the potential disappointment and shame of not reaching them makes me feel uneasy about the whole thing. Thus, I have been an avid non-goal-setter all my life. Much to my dismay, the research around the importance of goals says otherwise. It might be time for me to re-think this.
Right. Said and done. Life goals, here I come! Somewhat influenced from all the discussions we’re having at work I decided to try using both user stories and OKRs when setting these goals, which admittedly, may sound slightly odd. I’m not sure life goals are the traditional context for user stories or OKRs, but it felt intriguing to try.
The user story comes first:
As as (young!) middle-aged woman I want to be healthy, happy and active so that I can enjoy life, family and friends.
And may I just say that life, family and friends are in no particular order.
Not really a very breath-taking user story, right? But what I learnt was that writing my goal like this made my desires very distinct and clear in my mind. I realised how very important this is for me. Furthermore, I got the chance to pit it against other wishes. I considered “I want more free time” (or as my daughter phrases it; why can’t we go to school two days a week and be off five?) but I realised that if I have to choose between free time and health, health is the more significant and critical choice for me. Defining my own user story was useful in itself since it allowed to me to compare and contrast all the hopes I have for my life. Not only have I found the most important choice for myself, I have also realised that this is the foundation for everything else I hope to achieve. A so-called enabler story if there ever was one.
On to the tricky part, the OKRs. They are meant to be stretch goals (70% achievement is a reasonable target, after all), so I’ve really tried to not let fear of falling short limit me. And honestly, just putting them out there is kind of scary.
Anyway, this is what I’ve come up with:
I will be a healthy, happy and active woman all through my middle years by:
A) Increasing stamina and strength, by running 3 times a week and weight training 2 times a week. VoMax to increase 6 points.
B) sleeping 8 hours a night.
C) get outside for a walk everyday, minimum 6000 steps at one time. Walk 10.000 steps everyday.
D) doing things that make me content, including but in no way limited to reading, writing, listening to music, pursuing my interest in mindfulness and having time by myself.
E) enjoying my meals and increasing the nutritional value in them (as opposed to more or less cutting out foods. A life without bread is not for me.).
Some of you might notice that there’s nothing about spending time with my kids in there, or even about being a good partner or friend. It’s a deliberate choice. Truly, being the best mother my kids can have is one of my most important life goals, as is showing up for friends and family and spending time with them. But in order to do that I need to be balanced and I need to be taking care of myself first. The quality of the time I spend with others is directly connected to how I feel myself (especially true for time spent with the kids, sadly.). Hence the me-centered goal setting. Also, I realised nothing regarding work came up. That doesn’t mean I find work unfulfilling or unimportant, quite the opposite in fact. But again, I can only have fun, contribute and find meaning at work if I’m feeling good. I tried compensating the lack of personal harmony with more work a couple of years ago, and needless to say, that really didn’t end well.
Some of my OKRs have numerical goals, some don’t. I am not sure I want to set a goal for the number of books I read or hours I have to myself per week or month. It feels like sacrificing the passion, spontaneity and enjoyment of those activities for the sake of measurement alone. Neither have I set a date by which these activities need to be accomplished. This a steady and continuous work in progress, probably spanning over the next decades of my life, give or take a few revisions along the way.
Truth be told, I notice that my goals are helping me make progress already. Having a goal with my stamina makes it easier to plan, re-invent and prioritise my running. Planning the week’s workouts feels encouraging and fun for the first time in ages. And putting into words what my priorities are helps remind me that I both need and want to make time for these things.
So there you have it. My life’s user story and OKRs. I never thought I would find myself saying those words, but it’s surprisingly stimulating to try something new. Whether I achieve my goals or not, I will at the very least have exerted considerable effort in the attempt. I will certainly also have learnt some thing or two about myself. That feels like a real win-win to me, no matter how it goes.
Want to write the user story of your life? Try it here (instructions in Swedish).
Beckomberga allé 12
168 61 Bromma