I DECIDED TO FOLLOW the strategy of Marketwatch.com columnist Chuck Jaffe in setting goals for this year. In this article, he describes how he writes up 30 or so goals for the upcoming year, mails them to himself, and then — without retaining a copy to consult over the course of the year or memorizing the list before posting it — tries to fulfill as many as he can. At the end of the year, he tears open the envelope and compares his list to what he actually achieved. "A good year," he writes, "is one in which I nail half of my targets and get close to the bull's-eye on about half of what is left."
On Monday morning, I typed up around 30 goals, with a wide variety of life areas. I printed this before going to my parents, did not revise it, and mailed it out. Concurrently, I set up a shared Google Docs page on which I will record what I consider to be achievements for the day. I went with this format so I could update or consult the list from any browser, and not have to trust to memory for an end-of-day recap. I know a few of these were on the goals list I mailed out — including writing up the list itself — but I felt I should get an early start on recording just what I could show for the year, to make the 12/31/07 review all the more useful.
I don't intend to list every little twitch here in the same detail as I use on the list. Naturally, anything blogworthy will show up here. Just to show you the sorts of things I care about, here's the first 2 days:
1/1/07: Composed list of 2007 goals; dropped into mail. No copy retained.
1/2/07: Fully funded 2007 Roth IRA for $4,000.
1/2/07: Opened fixed-income ladder: 3- and 6-month T-bills, 9- and 12-month CDs. Also opened first 4-week bill for year (these will be opened as long as the rate > that of FDRXX).
1/2/07: Blogged (twice).
1/2/07: Began a spending record.
1/2/07: Set up Gmail acct under true name.
Doesn't seem like much, but considering the main goals of interest on my sheet are to find a new job and to define the next stretch of my career, having a detailed record of achievement should, if nothing else, help me refocus unproductive efforts and take pride in effective ones.
So I have a mystery list of aspirations floating around out there, soon to be affixed onto my wall, there to remind me to expand, if not fulfill, my potential for this year and beyond.