It’s been proven by science time and time again: if you want a better chance of achieving the goals you set for yourself, you need to map out a plan of action. There are all kinds of different models and methods to do this. So why should you follow the guidelines on this website? Let me tell you part of my story.
I had been at a company for almost 10 years, helping it grow from just a few guys working in an attic room to a market leader. But as growth slowed, so did my fulfillment working there. Long story short, I said goodbye — and after a short sabbatical, I started searching for a new challenge.
I figured this would a very relaxing experience, and I was surprised at how stressed out I became. I thought it would be great to have a fresh start —to be able to choose a totally new career path out of the countless options available. But the anxiety caused by the sheer number of options available to me left me paralyzed — I couldn’t decide on what was right for me. Every day, I found dozens of jobs that could be fun, but I had no idea which direction to go.
I had a general long-term goal in mind for myself — but it was hard to figure out what logical steps to take in the short term to get to that long-term vision.
I had a minor breakthrough during a forest walk: I realized I could put one of my best skills to use. In my working life, I’m very good at making plans and crafting strategies for growing corporations — focusing on setting and achieving goals. Why not apply this talent to developing a growth plan for my personal life?
The problem? My knowledge revolved around models and theories designed for growing and scaling companies or projects in a business setting. I decided to do an experiment to see if I could revise these strategies to work on a personal level.
Right away, I recognized the obvious differences. Companies are made up of teams of people working on the same goals, whereas a personal plan is a solo effort. And corporate strategies are by necessity formulated in a way that motivates both internal and external stakeholders.
But I was surprised at how easily the most-used business models could be used for a personal plan. It took some reworking, but a lot of the elements stood their ground. For example, both companies and individuals have a better success rate in achieving goals when they set goals that closely align with their values and their competencies. And the overall life cycle of a company isn’t that different from that of people.
Start-ups need to figure everything out — and they gain experience and insight along the way. This is a lot like the trial-and-error processes humans go through in their early years.
Scale-ups have some experience, have a global sense of what they are good at, what they stand for as a company, and what their ambitions are. They need to tie all those things together with a good strategy to make them the biggest and best company they can be — just like adulthood, when we have figured out our skills and ambitions. We have an overall sense of where we want to go in life, what we are good at, and what we enjoy doing. To experience the best life possible, we need to use our skills, talents, and passions in the best possible way.
While many start-ups and scale-ups crash and burn along the way, some reach the end stage of the Life Cycle of Companies — the “Elephants.” Getting there by themselves is quite rare — most of them become Elephants by getting acquired by an existing Elephant. This last stage is a company that has utilized its strengths and qualities to get into the best state they possibly can — and from there on out, it’s just a matter of keeping this position and enjoying the successes, just like the retirement stage in life. Some might end up higher in the Life Cycle than others (by better utilizing the possibilities of growth in the previous stage), but we all benefit from the progress we have made along the way once we are here.
I’ve based my models for personal growth on a combination of two of the most well-known models used to scale businesses. They are widely used because they work — it’s that simple.
My personal-growth model is derived from the business growth model developed in “Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish, who is known for his widely read “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.” These models can be applied to any individual’s personal-growth plan.
The “Scaling Up” formula guides you through the process of defining the steps necessary to create a corporate strategy and growth plan. It’s a lengthy process, and it takes some effort. But once completed, a cohesive vision can be drawn on a few sheets of paper, creating a powerful visual model that helps you stay motivated and keep focusing on the end goal.
Once the goals and mission are determined, the next step is an action plan is needed. Harnish’s “Rockefeller Habits” formula is an excellent tool, but it focuses on working in teams, and transforming it for personal use would destroy its power.
So, what model works for making an actionable plan? I decided to work with the OKR method, which is also used for corporate teams, similar to “Rockefeller Habits.” In fact, some of the world’s biggest companies — including Intel, Google, Amazon, Samsung, and Spotify — use the OKR method.
What’s the difference from the Rockefeller Habits? The OKR method is easy to adjust for personal use. It’s one of the most flexible methods out there.
After adapting these business-growth models, I ended up with three spreadsheets (all downloadable from this website) to plot out a life plan and set personal goals:
- One Page Life Plan (One sheet of A4-size paper for a long-term life plan.)
- Personal Goals Spreadsheet (One sheet of A4-size paper for personal goals, split into five-year, three-year, and one-year sections.)
- Objectives & Key Results Spreadsheet (A more in-depth document to transform one-year goals into an action plan.)
Testing the personal growth model
After reworking “Scaling Up” and the OKR method for personal growth, it was time to put this new growth model to the test. I acted as my own test subject, and also applied my growth model to a few people close to me.
Peace of mind
I’ve long struggled with never being satisfied and always wanting more. I want a big house, healthy kids, my own successful business, to participate in a triathlon — all of this in one year, if possible! This overly aspirational list created unnecessary stress and an unrealistic outlook for myself — which undoubtedly leads to disappointment when I don’t succeed.
But when I filled in my personal goals in the structured overview, I noticed that some goals could easily fall in the three-year or five-year period. I can still achieve everything I want in five years, but some of those things don’t have to happen right away. With this simple and logical realization, a wave of relaxation came over me.
With the understanding that many of my goals fell into the three-year and five-year timeframe, I focused on my goals set for one year, which were very doable — no massive mountain ahead of me after all. These were all goals I felt I could achieve within the year, and accomplishing them would be a massive step toward my long-term dreams.
Another big motivator was the simple fact that a complete life plan and list of personal goals fit on just two sheets of printer paper. I input these personal goals in a “to-do” app on my phone, which helped keep me on track with reminders, and the list is on my home screen whenever I start up my computer. It all adds up to a bunch of visual cues keeping my goals top-of-mind.
I also noticed causal relations between different goals — I need to accomplish one before I can begin on the other. This led me to a better understanding of which goals have a higher priority.
I was looking for a new job and found half of the vacancies I saw “interesting.” Because I want to have a business of my own one day, gaining relevant job experience sounds logical. One of my goals was to “start my own business besides my day job” on the three-year line. No rush there.
But I’d written “buy a three-bedroom house” on the one-year line, which depends directly on the “find a new job” goal. So, it makes sense to find a job that will help me achieve the house goal — for instance, a job with an indefinite contract rather than fixed-term.
Landing this type of job helps me toward my goal of buying a house. I can always switch jobs again in a couple of years, and I can choose a job suited to my short-term goals at that point. I needed to focus on a short-term decision to affect my long-term goals.
The goal of this website
My experience remodeling business models to apply to my own personal-growth plan was positive, but it might have been a bit easier for me because I was already familiar with these models and theories from a business perspective. Plus, it was my own model! So, I found some friends to volunteer as test subjects. While they found it fun and interesting, they needed a bit of guidance working through the theories and spreadsheets.
That is exactly the goal of this website. I hope others will find these models useful in their efforts to set personal goals and make solid plans for their lives. Because I can’t guide everyone, this website provides a step-by-step guide to creating a personal life plan. It’s my hope that these models will help you achieve more of your goals and have a happier and healthier life!
The website will walk you through my specially designed models and spreadsheets, as well as supporting material and other theories on setting and achieving goals.
This kind of planning is not for everyone. The subtitle makes a reference to my pragmatic nature — I am into details and structure, which is not everyone’s cup of tea. For readers who crave structure, this website is for you. The abundance of supporting materials and theories contain lessons and insights for everyone.
“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands — your own.” – Mark Victor Hansen