I have a confession to make. 

I used be AWESOME at setting goals ... and terrible at actually accomplishing them. 

After setting multiple goals, I'd feel so excited to start improving myself in so many areas. Then a few months pass, I'd look back at my goals and realized I've barely made any progress. 

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What the heck? Why was this happening? What was I doing wrong? 

Well, it turns out I was lacking this very important characteristic for making significant progress at anything ... 

Focus

I was simply working on too many goals at once. 

That's until I joined the Sidekick team and learned about the focused, goal-setting framework we use called Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). 

In fact, it's the same framework used by hundreds of other wildly successful companies, such as Google, Intel, and Linkedin.  

And it's the driving force behind their growth.  

The OKR framework sets ONE goal, which is then broken down into a few different measurable results, within a certain time period. Here's the basic layout: 

OKR Framework

Objective: This defines the qualitative outcome of the goal and what we're looking to accomplish. The objective should only be a sentence or two in length. 

Time Period: Usually for a three month period.

Key Result: Measurable results, split into three key results, that increase with difficulty. Think of each key result as a "milestone:"

           KR1: Quantifiable goal we can accomplish with 80% certainty. 
           KR2: Quantifiable goal we can accomplish with 50% certainty. 
           KR3: Quantifiable goal we can accomplish with 20% certainty.

Progress Table: Where to document goal progress at the end of each week. 

  Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
February        
March        
April         

Pretty simple, right? 

The best part about the OKR framework is it keeps us focused on what we should be working on. As our VP of Growth says, focus wins

OKRs are designed for each division (ex. Sidekick content team, Sidekick product team, etc), and individuals within each division.

For example, our current OKR for the Sidekick content team is publishing three actionable, high-quality articles per week. However, in order to do that, each person on the content team needs to constantly improve. 

That's where the individual OKRs come in. 

As an example, I'm working on becoming a more helpful writer. 

In order to make progress within the next three months, I need write consistently (which is built into our content team OKR), read books, and study other helpful writers.  

For inspiration to create your own personal OKR, here is my personal OKR for this current period: 

My Personal OKR

Objective: Become a more helpful (and entertaining) writer. 

Time Period: February 1, 2015 - April 30, 2015 

KR1: Read two books on writing. 
KR2: Rewrite two articles by Ramit Sethi; two by Mark Manson (both helpful/entertaining writers I've learned from). 
KR3: Double the amount of readers from previous three months. 

Progress: The progress I've made so far: 

  Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
February                Ordered both books        Read first book to chapter 6  Rd first book to chp. 10

 Read first book to chp. 18

March Finished first book      
April        

 You'll notice that each key result is measurable (ex. I will read two books; I will rewrite four articles; I will double the amount of readers). Notice that KR3 (doubling readers) is very ambitious. That's the point. KR3 should be challenging, which pushes us to work extra hard to hit it. 

However, if we don't hit our key results, we are not punished. OKRs are not performance reviews. Think of them as a road map, which help us stay focused, guiding us throughout the day. 

To stay on track, I schedule myself email reminders for the end of each month.  

For example, here is the email reminder I received this week, which I scheduled one month ago (in early February): 

Future self reminder 

Dear Future Me, 

By now, you should have ... 

        1. Finished the first book. 

        2. Started the second book 

Have you? 

Love,
Past Me 

send-now-sidekick-hubspot-content

 

Similarly, I scheduled an email reminder in advance for the end of March. 

Keep in mind OKRs can be set for any job. Whether that's managing a business or division, increasing sales, developing better products, or improving writing. It doesn't matter.

It's merely a tool to stay focused on your goals. 

Creating your own OKR is pretty straightforward, but if you'd like to save time, I created an Evernote template to easily start a personal OKR right now.

Here's what it looks like: 

okrprogress

Yes, granted there aren't exactly four weeks in every month, but it's the rough framework I use to track progress. It works for me. 

If you're setting a ton of goals, but not making progress as quickly as you'd like, I highly suggest trying the OKR framework.

If it works for employees at Google, it might just be able to work for you, too. 

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Originally published Mar 5, 2015 6:36:00 PM, updated February 01 2017

Topics:

Sales Goals