10.26.2009

Writing 5 year goals - a personal example

In a previous post, I identified an outline for identifying 5 year goals, which begins with identifying your central purpose in life (CPL). In this post, I detail how I arrived at my current 5 year goals.

I start with my current CPL - to teach others how to make better decisions, specifically in designing, building, maintaining, and using information systems.

How did I write my 5 year goals?  First was to confirm my ideal is something of value to me. By writing a CPL before writing 5 year plan, I have specified the work I want to do.  The CPL identifies the what.  But the goals identify the where - where I want to beIts an end point.  The what and where should be consistent and guide each other.  

When writing my 5 year goals, I looked at my current interests, values, and strengths. The idea is to look for major themes within the CPL.  From there, I accessed the difference between where I am now in each of the themes and where I would ideally wanted to be.  In my case, I have three major personal initiatives that are consuming my time.  These three are:
  1. Researching and publishing the relationship between individual ethical perspectives and decision making using information technology
  2. Improving IS class curriculum to encourage proper thinking using sound pedagogical techniques and correct philosophic ideas.
  3. Discovering ways to improve personal, classroom, and research productivity to free my time for other endeavors as the arise.
Each of these three are concretizations of my CPL.  But they will not do for goals.  Goals must be made quantifiable. To get there, I analyzed each of my themes in more detail.  For the first theme, I summarize my thoughts:
The ethics track of research is essential for kick starting a long-term re-evaluation of the role of various ethical perspectives on the success of individuals in business.  While I don’t know how long I will pursue this track, I do want to focus on it in the next 5 years for three reasons - 1. to better understand the relationship between ethical beliefs and the usage of information systems, 2. to establish a research tradition that is inspired by Objectivism so that future academics can build on my success, and 3. to establish my career in academy as a successful researcher so as to remain marketable and respected.  To accomplish this, I need to publish regularly and of good quality to gain recognition.  Based on past experience, I can manage 1 article a year.  If I try to tackle more than that, I often get bogged down and can not finish any of them.  I also expect, as I build my research experience, I will be able to publish more articles, but I may want to explore and publish in domains other than ethics.  If I can publish at least one article a year in this domain that shares my increased understanding of ethical beliefs and decision making while utilizing an Objectivist perspective, I will have accomplished my goal.
My second theme:
Improving the class curriculum should be well established within 5 years.  Over the past year, I have read a number of books and listened to some lectures on the philosophy of education to help me build a foundation for evaluating and implementing pedagogical techniques effectively.  Over the next 5 years, I will continue to refine my class curriculum to incorporate an appropriate hierarchy of knowledge.  I have started this in my Intro IS class and plan to re-evaluate my other classes.  Based on what I have learned in my current classes, this process involves continuously research, experimentation, and editing.  The hard part will be identifying clear measurements of success.  Perhaps this could be the beginning of a new research stream.
The last theme:
I have just started addressing this need.  Currently, my work week consists of 40 or so hours a week.  I do not want to take any more time than that at this point in my career because I have young children at home that take up the remainder of my time.  I am still ambitious and refuse to let time be a limiting factor in my success.  But my current work requirements do not give me much free time to expand into other realms.  So I need to brainstorm how to accomplish the goals listed above with less time, but more efficiency so that I can continue to perform well in those areas AND add new goals.  For example, I have long desired to re-start Camp Indecon, or something much like it.  In fact, I have numerous business ideas I would love to try out, but do not have the time to do so.  I also have a book idea that I would love to get started writing.  To find that time, I need to be more effective with what I currently do so that I can better create the world I want.  I've been rereading David Allen's Getting Things Done, to help with personal productivity.  I've also been experimenting in my Systems Analysis and Design class with methods of improving retention, but minimizing my time involvement.  Within 5 years, I want to continue the productive activities I am doing today (research, teaching, and committee work), but with 20% more efficiency (freeing up 1 day a week for new projects/goals). 

A big part of my thinking process above consisted of analyzing my past accomplishments. This analysis helped me judge my capabilities for continued success.  Questions I asked myself: Consider what I have accomplished in the past 5 years.  How structured was my pursuit of those goals?  Did I have a plan to get where I am now?  If I had a specific goals and a plan for achievement, could I have done more?  If so, how much more?

As you can see, the first and third theme have clear quantifiable goals.  These are important for establishing bench marks for success.   I am still working on a clear quantifiable goal for theme 2.  I see this one as a work in progress goal.  But I realize I must come up with something if I want to ensure its success, hence my reference to a research project.  What I've found is that the process of thinking about a quantifiable measure for success is just as important than the actual measurement itself.  By thinking through how you will measure success, you must essentialize and concretize the theme from a nebulous idea into a clear, precise actionable item.  By doing so, you force your mind to consider reality and your means of interacting with it (reason). 

The last question I asked myself is are these 5 year goals doable, but make me stretch.  My answer is yes, they are all doable.  Taken individually, none of the three stretch my capabilities, but trying to accomplish all three within 5 years will continue to push me.  Could I push myself to do even more?  Maybe, but not without losing my love of the work I'm doing.  For example, I enjoy blogging, but it is no where listed in my long term goals.  Yet, I talk about many of my goals on here.  Sometimes I brainstorm ideas out loud just to see if they make sense once I write them down.  Sometimes I just need to vent so that I can get on with other more productive things.  If I push myself to be hyper productive without taking into account my personality and hierarchy of values, it would ultimately be self-destructive.  Context matters, so your goals should not neglect them.

Hopefully, my thinking out loud about writing 5 year goals helps you to do the same.  I would love to hear about your experiences.

Update: If you enjoyed this article, please check out my new blog Reason for Success, where I focus exclusively on personal development.

3 comments:

  1. That was a cool as well as inspiring read...i only wish you wrote it 5 years back...ha ha ha...

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  2. Thanks Viraj! Yes, it would have been nice to articulate this process 5 years back. But there is never a time like the present to start thinking about your future.

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  3. Great post. Thanks!

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