Resolving to be a 'better form' of ourselves in 2024

January 3, 2024 in Personal

It’s the time of the year when we reflect on the past year (here’s mine in case you missed it) and start to bring our focus to what we want to achieve in the new year. This year I find myself torn on New Years “resolutions”. I think it’s great for people to set themselves ambitious goals to make their lives better! (I’ve never heard of anyone saying they will exercise less, drink more alcohol, or eat more junk food as a resolution). New Years resolutions are not that different from the goals and KPI’s we set for our products and projects. They can often be very ambitious, but we set them with the goal of improvement and moving things forward with more clarity.

One thing that most New Years resolutions and product goals/KPI’s have in common is that we frame them both as being measurable and specific. This is great for gauging what we believe is success, but I’d like to propose a way that may be a little bit more ambiguous. Currently, the goals we tend to set are things like “Increase sign ups by 200%”, “Reduce churn by 20%”, or “Reduce CPC by 5%”. Personal goals follow the same pattern; “Exercise 2 times every week”, “Eat vegetarian food 3 times every week”, “Only drink 2 units of alcohol per week”. This is great, and easily measurable, right? However, it’s also limiting in the sense that you could reach your goal and have no path forward. You may never reach your goal and you’re only choice is to feel like a failure. Many of us even “fail” in the first month which leaves 11 months of reflecting harshly on ourselves.

I once heard about a consultant who was considered successful due to the revenue they had being a one-man company. A number on a piece of paper. For years it was my goal to reach that number. When I did hit it, I felt… nothing. There was no party. No internal celebration. I was expecting to feel pride or accomplishment, but it was more of a looming question. Now what? That’s when I decided to stop having personal goals that surround a specific number - especially ones set by someone else’s.

Instead, for the last 4 or 5 years, I’ve had the same resolution. It’s simple (which is why I like it); it’s to be in better form a year from now than I am today. Now, I said it’s simple as a resolution, but I did NOT say actually achieving it is easy. Better form - for me - means I should be in better shape, feel better, and act better. The beauty in this is there’s no actual way of measuring it, but like most things in life, you absolutely know if you’ve fulfilled it or not.

I try to think about my business in the same vein. It should be in better shape in a years time than it is now. That does not only relate to financial figures, but things like reputation, how I present myself (website, etc), and long term goals are all part of it too. For setting and pursuing meaningful goals, consider the HEART framework: Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, and Task Success.

Here's how to apply it:

  • Happiness: Focus on goals that genuinely make you happier and more satisfied. Reflect on what brings you joy and fulfillment and set resolutions that align with these sources of happiness.

  • Engagement: Engage deeply with your goals. Choose objectives that you're passionate about, which will naturally drive you to stay involved and work towards them consistently.

  • Adoption: Adopt habits that support your goals. Instead of vague resolutions, develop specific, daily, or weekly habits that will lead you towards your larger objectives.

  • Retention: Ensure your goals are sustainable over the long term. They should be challenging yet achievable, encouraging you to stick with them and not just be a fleeting interest.

  • Task Success: Set clear criteria for what success looks like for each goal. Define what completing or making progress on your resolutions will entail, so you can measure and recognize your achievements.

→ Here's how to apply it to products!

By aligning your goals with the HEART framework, you'll be more likely to pursue and achieve meaningful and fulfilling objectives. The thing I like about this is that there’s no specific goal to reach. If you improve by 1% over the year, it’s an improvement. And if you improve by 200%, there’s no point in stopping so go for 210%! We get stuck focusing so much on vanity metrics in our personal and professional lives. Page views, followers, or other surface-level stats may look impressive, but don't necessarily translate to anything of value or actionable insights. They make us feel good for one moment, but they aren’t forming our decisions. They aren’t guiding us towards progress. They don't show the full picture. It's important to understand the difference between these and more substantive metrics, which actually reflect your progress towards meaningful goals. Distinguishing between the two helps ensure you're not just chasing numbers, but making real, tangible advancements.

"It all comes down to one thing: does the metric help you make decisions? When you see the metric, do you know what you need to do? If you don’t, you’re probably looking at a vanity metric. Vanity metrics are all those data points that make us feel good if they go up but don’t help us make decisions." - Neil Patel - Metrics, Metrics On The Wall, Who’s The Vainest Of Them All?

Going to the gym 3x / week? I think it’s great, but it’s a vanity metric. It’s likely going to help you feel better, but unless you have a healthy diet, there’s not much point. Increasing your sign ups by 200%? Congrats! Now what? Increase them by 200% more?

As we stand at the start of a new year, it's natural to look forward with hope and ambition. Yet, as we chart our course for 2024, it's crucial to steer clear of the seductive lure of vanity metrics that promise so much but deliver so little in terms of real growth and satisfaction. Instead, let's pledge to embrace a more meaningful path. Let's set goals that not only reflect our deepest values and aspirations, but also guide us towards genuine improvement in our lives and work.

Consider what truly matters to you and how you can measure your progress in a way that reflects that significance. Whether you use the HEART framework or another method that resonates with you, commit to a year of meaningful, measurable, intentional growth. Let's make this year not just about what we accomplish, but how those accomplishments make us feel and the real difference they make in our lives and the lives of others.

Here's to a year of setting and achieving goals that matter, to a year of living more intentionally and joyfully. Let’s all choose to be a ‘better form’ a year from today!

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