Ben's Q1 in Review; Q2 Goal Setting

One of the best moves I ever made in my career was to put together my own personal board of Directors in 2017. My board is made up of 4 people who I admire and respect, but have also helped me shape the path that has brought me to where I am. As 2017 came to a close, I sat down with my board to discuss the pits and peaks of 2017, and together we planned my priorities and initiatives for 2018. For about a year now, I’ve been making goals on a quarterly basis compared to a yearly basis because I’ve grown to really appreciate bite-sized and short-term achievements. This is something I adopted part of the way through 2017, and 2018 will be the first full year where I would break my goals into bite-sized chunks that I can plan for quarterly. I was excited about the goals the board and I set out for 2018, and more excited to see how I would line up at the end of Q1.

When I came to my December board meeting, I had one idea about what 2018 was going to look like. When I left I had an entirely different layout of the year. I came into it feeling incredibly confident and ready and I left with a healthy level of humility and a new desire to grow and develop. You see, I’ve always had this grand vision for myself as an author/speaker/consultant/expert on careers and success and happiness, and my board politely told me that I need to take a step back and think about how and why I want to become that expert before I start pretending to be one.

I wanted to call 2018 my “year of the side hustle” and start getting out there and leading workshops and writing expert posts and all of the above, and they urged me to take a step back on that. They encouraged me to think about making this year about learning and growing myself, reading more, and talking to people who are experts, and figuring a little bit more out about what it would take for me to someday be that leader I’ve always envisioned myself being.

I felt very challenged by that, but I knew that meant something was right. I decided to take their advice, and move forward planning my year in that mindset. I decided that I would call 2018 my “Year of the Foundation,” because if I was building my dream life the way I would build my dream home, the first thing I would need to do would be to lay the foundation. This would be the year where I do what it takes to make sure that I have a solid foundation of knowledge to move forward and start to build up my dream life. My personal mission of 2018 is to study others and to explore my own professional ideas, perspectives, solutions, and voice.

From that, the board and I created 4 categories of goals, as follows:

  1. Develop my knowledge (Show myself that I could be an expert)
  2. Put myself out there (Show others that I could be an expert)
  3. Break down barriers (Become more self-sufficient)
  4. Take more time for me (Make more time for real life)*

*I needed to make this intentional goal because I felt like I poured my whole self into my career in 2017, and I knew I missed out on taking more time for myself.

Below each category, I made 3-5 individual goals for the year that were later broken down into quarters. For simplicity’s sake, I’ve extracted my Q1 goals below. Note that I have more goals for the full year, but some of my goals have been mapped out for later in the year.

1. Develop my knowledge

  • Serve as a mentor in the company mentorship program
  • Meet with one industry expert
  • Read 1 book
  • Build quarterly goals for myself at work

 

2. Put myself out there

  • Write 3 blog posts

 

3. Break down barriers

  • Take an online web design class
  • Automate my monthly bills
  • Find a psychiatrist and make an appointment
  • Digital cleanse (Change passwords, remove unwanted photos, etc)
  • Credit Card usage never over 10%

 

4. Take more time for me

  • Take a pottery class
  • Get a facial

My Q1 Report Card

When I count it all up, this means that I had created 12 separate goals for Q1. Looking back, I can really see how this strategy of setting goals to accomplish in the short term that all funnel into a bigger picture for the year was useful for me. This way, I can check in more often, and either pat myself on the back or kick it into high gear for the next quarter. Below I’ll talk about the successes and challenges of these goals. You’ll see that some of them were easier to achieve than others.

1. Serve as a mentor in the company mentorship program– Done.

2. Meet with one industry expert– Done. A friend of mine at work connected me with a relative of hers who was very nice and willing to call me and tell me her stories, perspectives, and ideas. This was someone who has been in training and development for something like 30 years. We talked for just under an hour, and it was really cool to hear stories from someone who has been in the game for so long. Very rewarding!

3. Read 1 book– Done. A recommendation from my boss was a book by Patrick Lencioni called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. The book talks about how great teams work and I learned a lot from it. Highly recommend!

4. Build quarterly goals for myself at work– Done. In January, I sat down to think about what I wanted to accomplish by the end of the quarter, and I decided that the main thing I wanted to do was totally overhaul and rebuild the employee onboarding experience at my company. I told my boss that I wanted to be able to hold up a sheet of paper and say “this is our employee onboarding program,” and by the end of the quarter, I had finished. And just to really drive it home, I did print it out on one page.

5. Write 3 blog posts– Done. In this quarter, I redesigned my personal website and had a few discussions with friends about how I wanted to be writing a lot more, and that actually led to me writing eight blog posts. This leads me to believe that I should increase my blog quota for next quarter.

6. Take an online web design class– I am 40% done with this class, so this is a goal where I fell short. I found a free web design class through General Assembly called DASH, and I signed up early in the quarter. The reason I set out to take this class was to be able to design and update my personal site on my own. Coding is kind of hard to learn for me so I was having to force myself to work on this. My new deadline to finish is June 31st.

7. Automate my monthly bills– Done. Any bill around credit cards has been set to pay in full on the 15th of every month, something I’ve never set up before and will keep me more accountable. I’ve created budgets and systems where most of my bills are charged on the same day so that nothing ever comes as a surprise. The biggest win here was setting my rent on autopay. This had just become an option in my building and it has changed my life for the good!

8. Find a psychiatrist and make an appointment– Done. I moved to NYC 3 years ago, and I still haven’t found a psychiatrist to refill my prescriptions. I’ve had my primary care doctor filling my medications, but he’s always told me I need to find a psychiatrist. I did some research, asked some friends, and I finally found one. I wasn’t able to get an appointment until late April, but I did find one!

9. Digital cleanse (Change passwords, remove unwanted photos, etc)– Done. Changed all my passwords, removed bad Instagram photos, untagged myself from bad facebook pictures, totally revamped my social media profiles and removed bots that were following me.

10. Credit Card usage never over 10%– Done. Never over 10%.

11. Take a pottery class– My friend and board member Jess and I took a really fun clay class at Baked in Brooklyn! I highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to have a lot of fun for just $45. Now I have this beautiful catchall ceramic bowl to go on top of my dresser.

12. Get a facial– Okay don’t judge me but I got THREE facials this quarter. I got the first one and it helped my skin so much that I went back. Twice. I knew this was something that I would want, so I didn’t totally regret it. It was awesome.

Successes of Q1

 

  1. I met most of my Q1 goals and I exceeded a few of them too. I had a lot of fun crossing these achievements off the list.
  2. Along the way, I made some adjustments to my blogging goals and was able to write 8 blog posts instead of 3, which is more aligned with how I should be thinking about my writing cadence.
  3. I also felt like by reading one full book in just a few sittings, I opened my eyes to how powerful that learning experience can be, and even got halfway through a second book that I’m loving. Moving forward, I think I can resolve to read more than just one book in a quarter

 

Failures of Q1

 

  1. I didn’t finish the coding class. I still can do it, but I set out to finish it in Q1 and I didn’t do that.
  2. Outside of the coding class, I hit or exceeded all my goals. This makes me feel like my goals were not ambitious enough. In Q2, I will make goals that are a bit more ambitious and challenging.

So what about Q2?

As I mentioned before, I plan to set goals that will be even more challenging than those I set out to achieve in Q1. When reflecting on the successes and failures of Q1, I am reminded of my need to roll up my sleeves and make things happen, even if they aren’t the most fun. For example, I am the kind of person who can almost always find something more fun to do than a coding class online, but I know I will be better off for having finished that class. So this will be the quarter I get that done.

On the opposite side of that, I can see that when I do enjoy something, like blogging or self-care, I have an easier time achieving those goals, so I should kick it up a notch.

In making my Q2 goals, I need to look back to my 2018 plan and extract the goals that are specific to my overarching themes for the year. See below for the Q2 plan:

1. Develop my knowledge

  • Serve as a mentor in the company mentorship program
  • Meet with one industry expert
  • Read 1 book
  • Build new Q2 goals for myself at work

 

2. Put myself out there

  • Write 3 more blog posts
  • Submit at least 1 of my posts to an online publication
  • Plan an in-person group personal development workshop

 

3. Break down barriers

  • Create a Q2 personal budget that works for me
  • Credit card utilization never over 10%

 

4. Take more time for me

  • Read Nate Berkus’ Book
  • Design my bedroom window wall (do a gallery wall)
  • Go to one concert (or at least buy the ticket)

 

New Additions + Areas of Focus

As you can see, this Q2 list is a bit shorter and less comprehensive than my Q1 goals. In Q1, there were a few more skills I wanted to pick up, and a bit more of a time commitment behind it. One of the best things that happened to me in Q1 was that I found the book “The Career Manifesto” by Mike Steib. Mike talks about how after sleep, an 8 hour work day, exercise, eating, and self-care, most people have about 5 hours of extra time in their day. From this, he says that most people spend that time watching television. But if we were able to take back those hours and use them wisely, we’ll be a lot better off than if we spend them watching TV. That’s what I want to do in Q2. I want to use the time I have on personal and professional development to better set myself up for success.

I want to allow myself this quarter to also focus more intentionally on health and fitness. I’m always hesitant to set longer term goals around health and fitness because I tend to be better at sprints than marathons, so to speak. I also want to focus on building some more regimented habits around my sleep and my daily schedule. I am totally one of those people who needs a good night’s sleep, and if I don’t get it, I’m destroyed.

With those new areas of focus in mind, I want to add even more goals and initiatives to my Q2 plan.

  1. Finish my coding class.

I’ll be really excited when I finish this class because coding is one of those things we should just all understand at least a little bit. I’m the kind of person who will always have a personal website, and that website will always need to evolve as I do, so being able to handle that on my own is important to me.

  1. 7:45 am weekday wake up time

Like I mentioned before, I am really enjoying Mike Steib’s book, “The Career Manifesto.”  In the book, he talks all about setting better habits, and one of these is a sleep schedule. He is another person who absolutely believes in the power of good sleep, but he brought up a point around wake up times. First of all, he mentions that the morning is when most people can get the most done without distractions. Second, he brings up the point that people who are ambitious try to buy more time by taking less time to sleep, and when we do that, we delay our wake up time as well. He says that if you must stay up late for whatever reason, that doesn’t mean you get to wake up later. That you will still be better off by sticking with a wake-up time. And the last thing he mentioned was that when we press snooze, it messes with the way our bodies wake up, so it’s not a great way to start your day. That’s why I’m making a Q2 goal to stick to a 7:45am wake-up time. There are about 60 weekdays per quarter, and my goal is to wake up at 7:45 am 90% of the time. So I can snooze 6 times over the quarter, or twice a month. This will also help me get to work earlier and on a more consistent schedule, which will be really helpful for me.

  1. Finish 4 books

The only way I’m going to learn more about how to make the most of my career, boost my professional development, and learn new skills and perspectives is to read more. Historically, I am someone that hates reading, partly because I was bored of reading as a child and partly because Netflix is always a more enticing activity. However, I have noticed that the last few experiences I’ve had with books have been great! And they have even been real books, rather than audiobooks. I want to adopt the mindset that I should always be reading a book, and that’s why I’m resolving to read 4 books in Q2. And as the weather gets nicer I can go read outside!

  1. Write 15 blog posts.  

My board has really helped me realize how much I should be writing if I want to make writing part of my life’s work. My friend and board member Cara told me that being an industry expert or a thought leader means that you are always producing content, that this is how you are sharing your knowledge. And another friend and board member pointed me to a Tina Fey blurb where she talks about her time on SNL. She talks about how in that time, she was pumping out so much material, and so much of it was bad, but that’s also where she came up with some of her best work. That’s why I’m increasing my Q2 blogging goal from 3 posts to 15 posts. I essentially want to be working on my writing every day, and posting at least one new post per week. This will help me find my stride and my voice a little bit quicker, which is a priority. And yes, this post counts!

  1. Work out at least 3 times per week

This is fairly simple, but I have never been able to stick with a plan like this for very long. I either have months where I work out once a week or 5 times a week. I’m making this goal knowing that I could be doing more than 3, and that maybe I even will, but the goal is that I will work out 3 times per week over the entire quarter. This means by June 30th, I will have done 36 workouts.

New Goals

So with these 5 additions, below are my updated goals for Q2. New goals have been italicized for your viewing pleasure.

1. Develop my knowledge

  • Read 4 books
  • Serve as a mentor in the company mentorship program
  • Meet with one industry expert
  • Build new Q2 goals for myself at work

2. Put myself out there

  • Write 15 more blog posts
  • Submit at least 1 of my posts to an online publication
  • Plan an in-person group personal development workshop

3. Break down barriers

  • Finish my coding class
  • 7:45 wake-up time (90% of the time)
  • Create a Q2 personal budget that works for me
  • Credit card utilization never over 10%

 

4. Take more time for me

  • Work out 3 times per week
  • Read Nate Berkus’ Book “The Things That Matter”
  • Design my bedroom window wall (do a gallery wall)
  • Go to one concert (or at least buy the ticket)

 

And there we have it, my Q2 goals! Like I have mentioned in previous posts, goal setting is one of those things that I feel like I’ve gotten better at over the years. It’s totally something that you have to practice to get good at, and it’s something worth getting better at. Since I really started getting serious about setting good goals in 2012, I’ve come a long way.

I’m going to take these goals very seriously over the next 3 months, and I’ll update you all throughout the process and do a similar review to this at the end of Q2. If you have any questions or ideas on these goals, please email me at benjhawes@gmail.com or comment below! And if you have other goal setting tips for the group, please share below!

Have a great week 🙂

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