Having a long term plan helps measure progress towards your goals. I’ve used a simple spreadsheet for two years now to track my annual business goals and it’s helped me grow and accomplish things I never thought I could do. I was planning my 2010 goals and thought I would share the spreadsheet so it can help others.
The planning process
In order to plan what you want to accomplish, you’ll need to do some thinking. Basically I just think of 5-15 things I’d like to accomplish over the next 12 months and write them down. I like to use a Mindmap for brainstorming some ideas and then group them into similar categories. For 2010 I had 4 categories:
- Software Development
Don’t over-think this process and just write down some things you’d like to do. Don’t worry about getting them perfect, you can change them at any time you like.
- Rows – each row will list a goal you want to accomplish over the next year.
- Columns – each column will list how you are doing for the month, plus an additional column for last year. The column for last year is useful for goals that you already have made some progress on.
- Cells – the individual cells are used to enter the percentage of the goal you have completed. If you’re 45% done with your 3rd goal in March, you’d enter 45 into E6 (Goal 3, March).
- Totals – at the bottom of each month is the average percentage complete for all of your goals.
- Trend – the trend is automatically calculated and will show you the change from the last month to the current month. I use this to see if I’m completing enough of my goals each month and to show my progress over time.
Once you have the spreadsheet setup with your goals, start working on a few of them each month. Ideally you want to complete at least 8.3% of them each month (shown in the Trend row) in order to complete them all in a year. I usually update the spreadsheet every month on the first.
Hacking the Spreadsheet
You are free to change or hack on this spreadsheet. If you want to pick a different number of goals than 10, make sure you edit the Totals row to use the new number. If you have an idea or a suggestion, feel free to post it in the comments here.