Can you believe it? 2023 is upon us! A new year means new goals. As a runner, I have an achiever personality type. Hitting goals gives me a big high, just like a runner’s high. Setting goals is one of my favorite things to do during the new year. It's time to reflect on what you accomplished in the previous year but also dream big for the future. Instead of making resolutions for the new year, however, I like to set Objectives and Key results (OKRs). What is that? Read more for a guide to learn more about OKRs and why they are effective.
OKRs- What they are and why they are important.
Objectives and Key Results is a framework for setting goals that answers two questions. 1) Where do I want to go? (Objective) and How do I pace myself to see if I am making progress towards my objective? (Key Results/ milestones). This method was created at Intel and made popular at Google (where I worked for 5 years). It's been a very effective method for me to set my big audacious goals and keep me accountable for the outcomes. As they say, “Hope is not a plan”. OKRs can help you create a plan and achieve those dreams.
The first step in this process is to think through what your big objectives are either for the year, quarter or semi annually. Think about stretching yourself outside your comfort zone but keep them realistic.
Objective: Run my first marathon.
This could be a realistic goal but an unrealistic goal would be to:
`Run a marathon in the Olympics in 1 year” if you’ve never run a marathon before.
Your objectives can span from your running goals to your personal life, relationships or learning something new. We had objectives for our puppy when he was house training and it was very effective and useful.
Next, think about the milestones and key measurable outcomes that would help you be accountable to the objectives.
Using the example above:
Objective: Run my first marathon
Key Result: Choose goal marathon by Jan 31
Key Result: Sign up for marathon by Feb 15th
Key Result: Start training program 14-18 weeks before goal race date.
As you can see, these key results have dates and are very specific actions with details to them.
Some things to avoid while setting OKRs:
- Reserve these for stretch goals and big achievements. There will be day to day tasks and low value objectives that come up but these OKRs should be your guiding light on achieving your biggest goals
- Make sure that your key results are highly connected to achieving your objective and keep the key results to about 3-5 per objective. KRs should not be a laundry list of tasks, it should be the most impactful items that will lead to achieving your goals.
- So for example, “ Buying sneakers” will be a task not a key result for the example objective above.
Grading and tracking your OKRs
After this process, you should have a list of Objectives for the quarter or 6 months or the year. In order to keep these goals top of mind, you should revisit these goals every month to see how much progress you have made.
Each month, you can assess whether you are making enough progress on the key results and if not, focus your efforts in the next month to move the needle forward.
You can also grade each KR from a scale of 0-1.0 so that you can make an assessment of whether you are making progress. Because these are stretch goals, at the end of the goal period, if you hit .7 or above, it is considered a success. If you hit 1.0 on all your goals, you may not be stretching yourself hard enough.
I recommend using the easiest most convenient tool for you to track and measure your progress on these OKRs. Some suggestions are:
- Spreadsheet- Google Spreadsheets is a great tool for this.
- Calendar (online or offline) to help remind you to check in on your goals monthly
- Notebooks and Planners- I absolutely still love the tactile feel of crossing things off a list and writing things down. Notebooks and planners are still a great tool to help with goals. Pen and Paces has a brand new line of notebooks and a Goal/OKR sticker sheet to help you achieve your big audacious goals. Check them out here!
Dream big and go get ‘em in 2023!!