“Ok, I’m ready. This time I’m going to do it. Really do it. I’m going to commit.”
Search personal development on the internet. You’ll find hundreds of philosophies, books, and recommendations on the topic of goal setting.
To simplify things, they all boil down into one of two buckets: Result-Oriented or Habit-Oriented goal achievement strategies.
Result-Oriented goals were first. Remember SMART?
Habit-Oriented goals came next. Achievement through consistent behaviors.
In my experience, both of these strategies work…sometimes.
I think there’s a better way.
Welcome to the Next Generation of Goal Achievement Strategy: Iteration-Oriented goals.
What’s Behind Door No. 3?
The missing piece to most of the goals we set for ourselves is an emphasis on learning, or more specifically Iteration Cycles.
Result-Oriented goals emphasize the outcome. This is great when you want to achieve something once.
Ever worked your tail off to lose 10 lbs, only to gain it back? Yup.
“Having a goal never helped me achieve it.”– James Clear
Habit-Oriented goals emphasize the process. This is great when you want to normalize a desired set of behaviors.
What if you choose the wrong set of behaviors? I swear subbing out Bud-Light for Michelob Ultra was supposed to help me lose weight.
Iteration-Oriented goals emphasize progress. This is great when you want to achieve lasting transformational change. Ding Ding Ding.
Ever have something where you were making progress, learning, improving, and then just gave up? Guessing no.
How Iteration Cycles Work
Successful iteration happens when you measure progress, learn from it, and repeat.
Important to mention, “Iteration Cycles” is plural. Meaning more than one. After each cycle assess what you’ve learned. Then run it back.
What worked? What didn’t? What did I learn? What am I going to do differently in my next iteration cycle?
Having an assessment process helps you become more objective, less emotional. More experimental, less personal.
You might be wondering, how long is the right cycle time?
The answer: It depends.
A week, a month, 90 days? All good options. Just make sure it’s long enough to identify progress, short enough to quickly refine your actions.
My Iteration Cycle
Maybe you’ve noticed…my blogging iteration cycle is weekly. I post on LinkedIn Wednesday mornings and then measure my new subscriber growth over the next week.
A few weeks ago, I posted one of my favorite blogs thus far and got 1 new subscriber. Seriously…only 1.
But wait…3 current subscribers emailed me saying that they’ve really enjoyed reading my posts. 1 reader said they shared it with their CEO, who loved it. Another said they thought it was my best yet because they could really relate to the message.
What did I learn? What can I do differently? Now time to iterate.
Still In The Game?
At the beginning of the year, I wrote a blog post that the most powerful word in goal setting is the word “yet.” Yet keeps you going when hope is low. It’s not that you haven’t reached your goal. You haven’t reached it yet.
If you haven’t reached your goal yet, what if you sought out the progress you have made, and iterated over the next week?