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What to do with "goals" that aren't fully projects

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  • What to do with "goals" that aren't fully projects

    So I sat down this weekend, and made my list of goals for 2009. It is a big list of ideas, all realistic, and all achievable within the calendar year.

    A few of these goals I turned into Projects, and I am starting on now. What do I do with the rest of these "Goals" that aren't completely well thought out yet? Do I put them in an Incubate folder?

    Just curious how people handle their New Years Goals.

    -propynyl

  • #2
    Originally posted by propynyl View Post
    So I sat down this weekend, and made my list of goals for 2009. It is a big list of ideas, all realistic, and all achievable within the calendar year.

    A few of these goals I turned into Projects, and I am starting on now. What do I do with the rest of these "Goals" that aren't completely well thought out yet? Do I put them in an Incubate folder?

    Just curious how people handle their New Years Goals.

    -propynyl
    Incubating them would benefit only if that's not going to be incubated forever! In fact, goals generate some of the most significant projects. You can read more about this in

    * Chapter 13 of GTD: The Power of Outcome Focusing
    * "Stalking the Wild Projects": A free article on www.davidco.com

    Regards,
    Abhay

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by propynyl View Post
      A few of these goals I turned into Projects, and I am starting on now. What do I do with the rest of these "Goals" that aren't completely well thought out yet? Do I put them in an Incubate folder?

      Just curious how people handle their New Years Goals.
      In my opinion, incubate is not a place for things you haven't thought about, but rather for items you are not ready to move on.

      Would it take that long to think of a next action? Maybe you can dedicate some time each week to think of next actions for these goals? Have you tried phrasing the goals like a completed project? (i.e. get kids on cruise control for summer)

      I don't make new years goals

      - Don

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd dedicate some time during my next Weekly Review to think of Projects for each Goal. As a reminder, I'd stick a relevant note in my tickler for my next Weekly Review day.

        In fact, I sync my Projects to my Goals once a month, during the first Weekly Review of the month. Just to ensure that each Goal has at least one Project, and that I don't have too many "orphaned" Projects (Projects unrelated to Goals).

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by propynyl View Post
          A few of these goals I turned into Projects, and I am starting on now. What do I do with the rest of these "Goals" that aren't completely well thought out yet? Do I put them in an Incubate folder?

          -propynyl
          Make each goal a project, with the Next Action: "Make list of Next Actions."

          You might also consider giving this action a context of @THINKING or @BRAINSTORM so if you're in a planning/pondering mood, you can flesh out your not-yet-thought-out projects. (I try not to have too many contexts, but I've found @BRAINSTORM very beneficial.)

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          • #6
            Most often, my goals aren't projects, but rather something more along the line of an area of responsibility or area of focus, a level above projects in the methodology.

            So, many of my goals have multiple projects, each with their own notes and next actions.

            You should decide if the goal is really an area of responsibility or focus instead of a project. If you find that it is, then develop at least one project connected to that area of focus.

            For instance, Improve Health is a common area of focus. This will have several projects under what would appear to be sub-areas of focus. So strength training may be a project under which would go some next actions, like Read Body for Life. Eat better my be another sub-area of focus or project which will have some next actions as well.

            What are the particular examples you have in mind?

            Comment


            • #7
              I have to agree that goals will often consist of more than one project. If you prefer smaller projects, as I do, then that would be even more the case. For those goals that you have not yet fleshed out but would like to delve into, you could create a project "identify goal XYZ", for which you would need to set up a next action. If, on the other hand, you don't want to review it yet, you could add it to your tickler, your next goal-setting/review session, or your someday/maybe list.

              Personally I have never used an "incubate" list, using instead a someday/maybe and a future (definite upcoming projects) lists, both of which could be considered incubation lists I suppose. Since it really is a matter of personal terminology, maybe my advice has come full-circle.

              Comment


              • #8
                Look Into Projects

                Depending upon where you are at with the project you can probably choose any of the options in this thread, this is just another suggestion you might try:

                One of the things I picked up from "Making it All Work" was that there are "projects" related to goals that I haven't really thought about enough to determine what I want to do about that. David calls these R&D or "Look into" projects. The outcome of that project is to figure out how you want to approach it. The next action might be to call someone or have a conversation, or do some brainstorming. But the outcome of the next action(s) is to determine how to handle the situation. Only until the "Look Into" project is completed can you answer the go/no-go question. Maybe the result is you drop the goal, maybe it is put on a may want to do in the future list, or definitely want to do next quarter list (I split Someday/Maybe into two lists.)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MarinaMartin View Post
                  Make each goal a project, with the Next Action: "Make list of Next Actions."

                  You might also consider giving this action a context of @THINKING or @BRAINSTORM so if you're in a planning/pondering mood, you can flesh out your not-yet-thought-out projects. (I try not to have too many contexts, but I've found @BRAINSTORM very beneficial.)
                  I like @Brainstorm!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Isn't the recommended approach to organize goals/objectives into a 30,000 ft horizon view that is reviewed as appropriate (quarterly?) to ensure areas of focus (20,000 ft) and projects (10,000 ft) are defined to attain them?

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                    • #11
                      Richard: Yes, that is recommended. But the quarterly reviews are more for review and maintenance. One can't "do" a goal; one can only do action steps that get there. So, at some point, one will need to spend time investigating potential goals, and setting up a Project and Actions will do that.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Food for thought - higher altitudes

                        Reading this thread has helped me to clarify for myself how the higher altitudes and goals really are, how they fit into GTD, and how to chunk the higher altitudes. For a long time (both before and after I picked up GTD), I've struggled with setting goals so much that I've learned to hate the process. But perhaps this "ah-ha" moment might be the first step in undoing my attitude towards goals. For the first time I've been able to see how all of the altitudes work together in a concrete way and truly define work at all levels. I think it might be good food for thought.

                        David Allen defines a project as an outcome that requires more than one action to finish it. Building on that definition, I shall redefine a goal as a 30,000 ft outcome, related to one or more 20,000 ft areas of focus and responsibility, that requires the successful execution of more than one 10,000 ft outcomes (projects) to achieve it. I shall also redefine define vision/strategy as a 40,000 ft outcome, long-term goal, or state of existence that requires the sucessful achievement of more than one goal to achieve it.

                        First, let's examine how goals relate to areas of focus and projects. To illustrate, I'll use a physical fitness goal. You might set a goal to reach a certain weight and body mass index by a particular date. Physical fitness relates to one or more areas of focus such as "health and vitality", "recreation", or even perhaps "spirituality" for some (I know that runners enter into a zen state). To reach that goal, you must complete multiple projects. You may or may not know all of the projects you need to complete and the order in which you need to complete them up front. Also, the list of projects will differ from person-to-person.

                        Maybe you need to decide whether or not to join a gym or set up a home gym, so the first project would be "Look into joining a gym" or "Look into setting up a home gym" (a research-type project). Once you know for sure which route you want to take, the next project might be "Set up a home gym" or "Join a gym". Or perhaps you just want to build a habit to exercise regularly before committing to a gym membership or buying home gym equipment (i.e. walk 30 minutes a day, 4 times a week). The project would be "Set up an exercise routine", which you would consider "finished" when you've got the habit on "cruise control". Other projects that might follow include "Update exercise routine", "Hire a personal trainer", "Set up a nutrition plan", etc. Between the projects you'll probably have calendared actions and reminders to check your progress to see if you need to make adjustments so that you remain on track to achieve your goal. Some projects might even repeat, such as "Update exercise routine" when your results have plateaued and you need to get to the next level.

                        Now that we've examined how goals relate to areas of focus and projects, let's look at how they relate to vision and strategy and finally our ultimate purpose in life. When you set a goal to reach a certain weight and body mass index by a particular date, you have defined what you want and by when. By why do you want it? What will it give you? What's the reason for pursuing the goal? You find the answers to those questions in the 40,000 altitudes--the vision statements of what you want to have, do, and be in life. This fitness goal could be tied to vision statements such as "I want an abundance of physical energy, strength, and health", "I want to project confidence on the inside and the outside", "I want to be attractive so that I can attract my ideal mate", or perhaps "My body is my temple; I will make it strong, sturdy, and beautiful".

                        Finally, you define the 50,000 ft purpose of your life, as a culmination of all of your work at 40,000 ft, your governing values (which you can clarify from 40,000 ft work), and a mission statement. You might have a mission to "love and serve others". To do that, you need self-love and an abundance of physical energy (40,000 ft work). Taking care of your body is an act of self-love, and it will give you more energy. If you're not in shape now, you need to set reasonable goals (30,000 ft work) to get in shape. If you are, perhaps you need to get to the next level. Health and vitality is an area of focus for everyone (20,000 ft work) and physical activity positively supports it. If you don't have a place to exercise, you need to join a health club (10,000 ft work), and maybe the very next thing that you need to do is call a health club for an appointment (Runway work).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Mindmap all goals then add projects

                          Propynyl,

                          Try putting all your goals (and any intermediary steps/sub-goals) on a mindmap.

                          For each goal, brainstorm other intermediate outcomes (ie. Projects) and add these as nodes around the periphery, below that goal.

                          If you decide you don't want to move on a Project yet, then add a 'Someday' node below that goal and move the Project below that Someday node. Collapse the Someday node to hide the somedayed projects for that goal.

                          Any remaining Projects are active, so make sure these projects are on your project list. During the weekly review, you'll spot any projects without a next action.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This is very inspiring reading for me. I was worried that other people might not be suffering from this problem.

                            I had this problem but I've largely solved it in concept. The actual implementation is something I'm working on defining.

                            The basics of my approach starts with an amendment to the processing flow chart in GTD. Right before it says "is it actionable?" you need insert a new question: Does it relate to self-advancement? (I have a definition for what self-advancement is that encompasses slightly more than self-improvement; the reason I opted for a different term). If the answer to that question is yes you need to spin off into a different methodology separate from task-oriented GTD which I call GBT (Getting Better at Things).

                            I found that by trying to classify the raw data that comes from goals, which you find yourself having to deal with (esp. if you are interested in bettering yourself), into actions and tasks often just doesn't work. It leads to over-commitment and guilt. For me this was very severe because I'm currently unemployed so I think I can afford to engage in all this stuff and before you know it there's no food in the cupboards because I haven't been shopping!

                            The most important breath-of-fresh-air thing you can do, which helped me inordinately, is to identify all this stuff as separate from task-oriented GTD and put it into a separate lists system (again the importance of not blending applies), get it out of GTD, so that it doesn't hamper you ability to do things that are task-oriented. Self-advancement has to take second place to fulfilling your immediate responsibilities.

                            I'm slowly writing an essay on this. If you think this is interesting/useful or would like to know more perhaps there are opportunities for collaboration.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Interesting. How do you perform self-advancement without actually doing any actions or tasks?

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