December 14th, 2020
It's that time of year again. The time we start reviewing how the year has gone for us and what could've been better.
I like to do a year-end review towards the end of each year, and I capture all of my reflections in a bullet journal spread. If you haven't seen my video and you're thinking of doing a year-end review, watch my video here.
As I was doing this, I realised something very interesting. No matter what the circumstances, I always end the year feeling that I'm happy with what I've accomplished. I wondered why I always feel this sense of accomplishment, even in the years that I haven't done as much.
I had an inkling that it could be something to do with my goals being the opposite of SMART. In my corporate jobs I was always pushed to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). A SMART goal would be very specific and can be measured, so you can prove that it was accomplished. For example: your goal is to run a marathon in April 2021 and you will achieve this by running 5 times a week and increase your distance every 2 weeks.
For some reason I always go against this approach with my personal goals, and I thought maybe it was just the rebel in me boycotting corporate methods.
Once I started thinking about my 2020 goals, I came across a concept that was new to me: pull vs push goals
Everything started to fall into place. What I thought might be lazy goal-setting, because I don't want to hold myself accountable for anything, is actually a goal setting method. I realised as I read more on the topic on Ness labs, that my goals always lean towards being pull goals.
A push goal is a specific goal that you push yourself to achieve. A pull goal is one that you feel a pull towards because you enjoy it.
Anne-Laure Le Cunff on Ness Labs summaries the difference between push and pull goals in this table:
I'll give you an example by sharing what one of my goals was for this year:
to share a bit of my bullet journal and thoughts, online, everyday.
I was drawn to YouTube because it's a platform that I've enjoyed and learnt so much from over the recent years. After sharing my first couple of videos, my passion and dedication were the driving force to overcome the challenges I faced, to help me continue sharing on YouTube.
I saw my niche begin to form - bullet journalling for mindful productivity. A combination of mindfulness and productivity. This formed the foundation of everything I enjoyed sharing, and what my viewers enjoyed seeing.
A few months in, I was drawn to setting up a blog and a newsletter. I was excited about being able to share more on mindful productivity, and stay connected to my growing community.
Here I am, 8 months in, with:
A YouTube channel with over 5K subscribers
A weekly newsletter (with so many more subscribers than I expected)
3 products on Etsy
A digital product that will be released very soon
Thoughts, ideas and excitement
Pretty much all of these were unplanned. I didn't know what to expect when I set the goal or what I wanted it to lead to specifically. I had an idea of what it could lead to, which excited me. But I didn't let myself get carried away with thinking about the end, before I'd even started.
I committed to doing something to contribute to this everyday. Then as I started accumulating more knowledge in the field, I was able to make educated guesses about what I wanted to do with my growth, how to do it and the right time to do it.
Anne-Laure Le Cunff on Ness labs recommends a 3 step process for designing a consistent practice and working your way up to a rewarding and impactful project:
Ask yourself what activities you enjoy doing. Regardless of the outcome, what would you keep doing whether it makes sense to or not.
Find a common pattern between the activities listed, to identify the overarching direction.
Commit to dedicating time on a consistent basis, whether it's writing, reading, drawing. Don't worry about the end goal, you should be able to enjoy the activity for what it is.
You'll start to see emerging patterns if you honour your commitment to complete the activity consistently. For example, if you enjoy writing, just commit to writing something everyday. Put it in your calendar or journal, and honour your commitment.
You don't need to have a plan or defined objective. Eventually you will notice your writing building into something, heading in a certain direction. Maybe even a topic for a book or an idea for a personal blog. There are so many exciting outcomes that could come of this, if you spend your time and energy focussing on the craft.
Commit to consistent practice, without a structured action plan or defined end goal. Let your knowledge of the field grow and at the right time, you might find yourself on your way to publishing a book. Or doing something you never would have predicted when you started.
This is the essence of a pull goal.
If you feel reluctant to set outcome-based goals this year, I urge you to consider shifting away from traditional goal setting. Think about how you can turn your push goals into pull goals. Maybe a perfect balance of the two could work for you. It's worth experimenting to find out.
You might find yourself on an unexpected, exciting journey, that you never could have predicted.