In This Episode:
In this episode, I talk with David Alvarez about setting goals instead of resolutions and how to do it the SMART way.
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goals, year, life, people, David, recorded, set, timeframes, project managers, talk, accounts, achievable, planning, podcast, retreat, minutes, pounds, achieve, write, key
Walt Sparling and David Alvarez
Welcome to the pm mastery podcast. This podcast is all about helping you master your project management skills by sharing tips, tricks, tools, and training to get you to the next level while sharing the stories of other project managers on their journey in project management. And now here's your host Walt Sparling.
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Walt Sparling 01:39
Alright, so welcome, everyone. In place of an interview for this episode, we're going to talk about goals and goal planning. And we have back David Alvarez, who was here a few episodes back and talked about ADD or Action Deficit Disorder. You can find that in episode number five. And I'll include a link in the show notes as well. So welcome back, David.
David Alvarez 02:06
Thank you. Glad to be back. Thanks for having me on.
Walt Sparling 02:09
Glad to have you back. I thought that was a great discussion on the Add. And I'm pretty sure the goals are gonna be also an awesome discussion.
David Alvarez 02:19
Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. Thanks.
Walt Sparling 02:21
So December is typically that time of year where people start doing either resolutions or goal planning. And David and I, we just completed an annual mastermind meeting, which we do at the end of every year, usually the first weekend of December. And we get together with a bunch of guys. And we do goal planning. So we talked about how we did last year and what our plans are for this year, and we're gonna get into more detail about that.
Walt Sparling 02:54
But one of the things that we do is we do goal planning, not resolution-making because resolutions typically don't have a plan, someone says they're going to lose weight, or they're gonna reduce their drinking, or they're going to increase their income, something but without an actual plan, you're not going to do well at succeeding. And there are a few things that you can do in your goal planning and doing your goals that will help you succeed.
Walt Sparling 03:24
So I mentioned we just got back from our mastermind. So, David and I both belong to a men's success-focused mastermind group. I've brought it up in other episodes, and I'm sure it'll come up again. We will be five years old in January. Is that correct?
David Alvarez 03:41
Yeah, yeah. Five Year hard to believe how quickly time goes by. But Yep, five years in January.
Walt Sparling 03:46
Yeah, crazy. So we meet every three weeks. And attendees give presentations on primarily successful topics. But occasionally we get some off the wall presentations, which are fun, it breaks things up. The purpose of the group is to help people be more successful in different areas of their life. And we're going to dive into a little bit on what those areas are here in a little bit. We do we use a system that actually David was instrumental in putting together and it revolves around seven life accounts. So, David, I'm gonna turn it over to you and let you talk about the seven life accounts.
David Alvarez 04:23
Great, thanks. Yeah. So common, you know, there's a lot of personal development, there are all types of research that's done is commonly found that there are seven key areas of everyone's life that are very, very important to have a whole kind of like you know, just a well-balanced life. I think we all struggle with balance from time to time, and it's okay for one of the life accounts to maybe not be going as well as others but to kind of keep looking at it is really important.
David Alvarez 04:57
So the seven key life account are financial, physical or health, family, mental or educational, social, spiritual, and career. And again, these are commonly known as the seven key areas for life. And in order to live that well-balanced life, it's important to constantly analyze that. One, we have seen this articulated almost as like spokes on a wheel. And so when you look at the wheel and the spokes, if you number them one to eight, and eight being the highest one, and you kind of fill in where you grade yourself, you want it to kind of be well rounded. And again, in times that, you know, one area may not be where you want it to be. That analysis that we do in the retreat, I think is really, really key. So those, again, are the recap of those seven life accounts.
Walt Sparling 05:52
All right. So we're gonna talk a little bit about how we go about this at the annual retreat. One thing I want to reiterate, resolutions don't typically have a plan, goals do. And there are a few key steps you can do with goals that will help you achieve them. So one of the first things and most important is you need to write them down. You can write them down on paper, a notebook, and a journal, and type them in on your phone or laptop or a tablet, as long as you get them recorded. Now, there's tons of evidence that this is probably the most critical step. And, David, I think you've mentioned in the past that there are statistics on the percentage of success based on those who write them down and those who don't.
David Alvarez 06:35
Absolutely, yeah, this is usually often referred to as the number one key to starting goals. So that's that I agree with that 100%.
Walt Sparling 06:46
So then the second one is to read your goals. So you can't just write something out and you got to read it, read it out loud, so you can hear it. Maybe talk about it with a friend or your partner, discuss them, you know, what, why am I doing this goal? Why do I want to do it? What is my why? And then this second item is also considered very key to being successful if you want to get your goals accomplished. And then the third is set some timeframes. So if you just come out and say, okay, by the end of 2021, I'm gonna lose 20 pounds, well, you're probably going to start looking at it again in November, you got to have a timeline. So you need to set maybe some mini-goals five pounds a quarter, to get up to that full 20, then a couple of things that'll do one, it gives you a target to shoot for. And B it gives you the opportunity to celebrate when you meet one of those many goals. Now, of course, if it's a weight thing, you don't want to celebrate with cake and ice cream. But you get my drift, you want to make sure that you celebrate because that is another item that they recommend, is celebrating the little wins.
Walt Sparling 07:57
So for me, and David, I know I've personally been around goal planning people for 20. Some years I've known David for, oh, probably nine years, I think we go back.
Walt Sparling 08:12
Yeah, and, and then five of it was obviously in this mastermind. So all of these people that I hang out with on a regular basis, our goal planners, and the ones that succeed are the ones that actually follow at least these minimum steps. Let's say you're new to goal planning, it's like, oh, it sounds great. But I don't even know where to start. Well, we gave you three; you know, write them down, read them out loud, discuss some, and then set some timelines.
Walt Sparling 08:40
If you are new, there are some systems out there. And probably one of the most famous is what's called SMART goals. So SMART goals are.. SMART is actually an acronym. And it stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely, or time-bound. With that specific. So that means you need to be you need to have your goal well defined. And that's why you want to write it down, so you can read it and think about it and go No, it's not exactly what I want to do. It needs to be clear, you don't want to lose weight, you want to lose 20 pounds. So don't get too generic with it, it needs to be measurable. You want to basically spell out how I'm going to achieve this goal. Like if I said earlier about splitting it up. So I want to lose five pounds a quarter. And you're going to write that down and you're going how are you going to do that? Well, you're going to weigh yourself every morning for you know the entire year until you hit your goal. Achievable, you want something realistic, you don't want to set a timeframe that says I want to lose 20 pounds by the end of January. Because unless you starve yourself to death, that probably ain't gonna happen. So you might say 20 pounds in six months. Some people might say that's aggressive. You got to think about it, but it has to be actually achievable. It can't Be a miracle type goal. And this kind of also goes along with the next one, which is realistic. So it has to be something that you can actually achieve. And then timely, of course, you've got to set some time bounds or milestones that you want to accomplish during it. Now I'm just using a weight one. But you can apply this to any one of your goals. Use that concept as you go down and evaluate each goal. Is it specific enough? Is it? Is it a way I can measure it? Is it truly achievable? Is it a realistic goal? And do I have some timeframes assigned to it?
Walt Sparling 10:35
Now I'm going to put some links in the show notes, which are gonna get you some videos, and web links, that will talk to you a little bit about smart goals. Let's see what else, I think the next thing we'll get into David is talking a little bit about the retreat, because obviously, we do our goal planning in a chunk, and we dedicate an entire weekend for it. What I want to do is talk a little bit about how we go about it. You don't need to go on a retreat to do your goals. But you should allocate time to sit aside somewhere where it's quiet, and you can work on them, if you want to work on them with a partner or a friend, go to a coffee shop or somewhere we are away from your normal environment. And your purpose is to do goals. And that's why we do the retreat. This is the fourth retreat that we've done in the five years. This year, we went up to a cabin in Nobleton, which is actually the third time we've been there. We had seven guys, and they come from all different industries. So we had multiple guys from banking, we have engineering, insurance, real estate, VR, and then, of course, myself project management.
Walt Sparling 11:47
So we spend two days and two nights around a fire, we're smoking cigars and drinking whiskey or bourbon, or rum or whatever ever, they want to drink. And we talk about goals. Typically, we get up there Friday evening, and we do what's called a year in review. So we get a fire gun, everybody sits down and we start usually around 8:00 - 8:30 and we just go around the ring and we go okay, how did you do in 2020? What kind of successes did you have? So we talked about the seven life accounts? How did you do in your social? How did you do in your career, your mental, your physical? Did you have some successes in there? Did you have some failures or maybe not as much success as you'd hope to? So we talk about that, and since we meet every three weeks, we kind of hear about that stuff during the year. But this is the one opportunity for everybody to just throw it all out there and say, Okay, I did great this year, I did great in one area and not another. So we go around the fire, and we talk about that. And we usually stay up pretty late Friday night. 12 it one o'clock. And then we go to bed and we start over. So, David, you want to talk a little bit about Saturday?
David Alvarez 13:04
Yeah. The next morning, when we get up, we start with big thinking, right? So we just kind of go around the fire pit and talk through some life goals, you know, what are the things that we kind of like a bucket list? What are the things that we want to achieve in life? And that helps us start to kind of think about, what do we want to accomplish in the coming year. So, the next session is we go through those same seven life accounts. And we kind of go around and just throw out some ideas that we're thinking that we want to achieve. And each one of those, so we'll go around first with financial and we'll kind of throw out here's something I'm thinking, we'll kind of hash that out. Talk to it, we're all kind of taking notes as we're talking. And then that, you know, we that kind of wraps up the the morning session. So at that point, we've gotten some bigger thinking some high level, you know, what do we want to achieve in life. And just like anything else, and like what you're sharing here in this podcast Walt is that we can have great ideas. I use the analogy of the GPS, I can want to get to New York from Tampa, but unless I plug it into my GPS, and then I actually turn it on and listen to step by step or turn by turn directions. I'm not going to get there. And that's why again, that big goal, here's what I want to accomplish. I want to drive to new work. Now it's a matter of, okay, what are the term by turns? What are the goals that I need to set for myself to get there? And then we you know, kind of go and do lunch and kind of breakaway and just have some alone time.
Walt Sparling 14:39
The cool thing about doing them individually, is we have seven guys. Some of the comments and goals that some people have, others either have no clue or don't even know where to start there. And so they get inspiration from some of the other folks or when they bring it up and so I'm not really sure where I think I need to go this year, and then people start asking questions like, oh, okay, you know, I didn't think of that. That's good. Yeah, that's good. I think that's important. I'm going to work on that. It's a conversation at this point. It's not solidified. And by having those other people, you are bouncing ideas off of them, and you're hearing their ideas, it inspires you to do a better job in yours.
David Alvarez 15:22
Yep. Yeah. And that's where again like you said earlier, you can do alone time, right? You can set goals, you don't have to be in a group. But there is it is so impactful when you get a group of people, like-minded people, especially together, or even if you're doing the goals yourself, have someone else that you can bounce those thoughts off of, I think is really key.
David Alvarez 15:44
In the next part, the afternoon session of the retreat, we did something we got used to in 2020, which was a pivot, right. So we had, some general thoughts of what we were going to cover. But one of the members in the group had talked about an exercise that he had heard about before, which was around our eulogy, planning our eulogy. So we decided to do that that turned out to be for me really, really impactful. What we asked everybody to do was to think about their funeral, and to almost script the funeral. What song would you want to have played? What verse or quote would you want to have, you know, on the screen? Is there a specific picture that you would like to have on the brochures and just posted there? Who would you want to give your eulogy, the format? And what that did for us was, there's this thing called to begin with the end in mind. And when you think about how you want your life to end, that should inspire you all what you should do today, so that you can get to that stage. But it also kind of gave us all that that sense of you know that this is, life is short. And this is our opportunity, you know, and that's it really helped me solidify some of the goals that I set for this upcoming year. What were your thoughts on that exercise Walt?
Walt Sparling 17:11
I thought it was awesome. And it was interesting to see how different people, the music that they wanted, whether they wanted it to be kind of a serious event, or some of it wanted to be a little comical. They were pretty clear in mind who they wanted to give the eulogy. Some of them were individuals, some were there, their family. Pictures, some wanted a single picture, someone at a collage of pictures over their life, your point about the end in mind, I think a lot of people were thinking like, okay, so if I want to be this person, and I want to be talked about in this way, I gotta make some changes, or I gotta keep doing certain things, in order to be that person, because I want to represent this to my family and friends when I go. So, and you're not going to be there. Well, not specifically, but not physically anyway. So it is I thought it was a great exercise. I enjoyed it.
David Alvarez 18:07
Yeah. So that again, just kind of really got the creative juices flowing. Once we wrap that up, we finished the evening where we all got back around the fire. And what was really neat is again, like you said before, we, you know, we were able to hear others share their goals and their aspirations, and it got us thinking about what ours could be. But it also got us thinking of, you know, how can I help someone or someone made a comment about this goal that they were setting in their career. And so we were able to have that group discussion, and then also kind of go off one on one and have some of those; You know, Hey, I heard you mentioned this, and have you thought of that? And so again, it's just really helping all of us elevate our game for the upcoming year, and really helping set those SMART goals for us to strive for the upcoming year.
Walt Sparling 19:01
Yeah, and the cool thing about this is, oh, there's a couple of cool things. But there are a few of us that have been been to every single one. There are a few that have only been the last few years. But even the ones that have been saying, I think the last two years. It is totally amazing to see the difference in them from the first time they came. And, you know, the first time they came, they're like, yeah, I'll give it a shot. I don't know sounds kind of weird going out in the woods and talking about goals. But now this year, they had it all written down, they were ready to go. And that now they realize, wow, this is a really good thing and it helped me, you know, last year, so I'm glad I come and I definitely plan on coming again. So that was good. Plus we eat very well. This year. I think we did or didn't think we did I actually smoked six racks of ribs. One of the members brought this massive pot or baking dish of macaroni and cheese, which was phenomenal. We had Cuban bread we had, the actual owner of the cabinet we stayed at we've been there so many times, she actually left a cake for us. And then, of course, we had our, our cocktails. It was just a really good time and we ate.
David Alvarez 20:25
Yeah. And the food helps definitely helps with the thought, thought process of setting goals.
David Alvarez 20:33
But yeah, so those were the main couple days. And then the final session of the retreat was our the morning and in the morning, we did breakfast, like you said, we continue to eat well, especially the bacon that you made, which was amazing. But we, we then went off, and we that's when we got some alone time. And we sat down with our notes. And we really got to think through Okay, so here's my ideas for the upcoming year's goals for each life account. What are one or two things? Oftentimes what happens is we can overwhelm ourselves with goals, seven goals, if you just have one or seven life accounts, if you just have one goal, and each one, that's seven goals. A lot of times you'll have people trying to set 2,3,4,5 goals and a life account. And then at that point, it just becomes too daunting. When you sit down and you and you think yourself, I've got to do all of this. So that's why we really encourage everybody to get just one goal, one goal possibly two in each life account. And so that's what we do in that that Sunday morning session, is just kind of write it out. And then we sit down together. And then just like how we did the prior couple of sessions, we go around and each life account, and everybody shares here's my one or two goals for this life account in the upcoming year. One of the things that we did differently last year that we learned from that we implemented again this year, but I think this year, we're going to take it to a whole new level was we actually recorded ourselves, reading out our goals. And I know that you mentioned earlier in the podcast wall around writing down our goals, reading them, and then setting specific timeframes. That reading part, it really hit me when we went around and we played our prior years schools. And I heard myself for the first time in a long time, and I you know, stopped and thought, man, why didn't I listen to this sooner? Because a lot of times we'll write down a goal. We'll work on it for a few days, a few weeks or even a month. And then life gets in the way. And we kind of just get this gradual drift. And then it's almost like, Oh, I forgot that. That's something I planned on. So I think recording and then listening to, creating a system or habit where you say, you know what, once a week or whatever it is, I'm gonna go back and listen to that, I think was really key for me. Oh, I think what about?
Walt Sparling 22:59
Yeah, I thought it was huge. And it was really interesting that we actually had everybody we talked about, Hey, you guys are supposed to record your goals last year, do you still have them. And every single person that was there last year had a recording and they played it. And it was so funny looking at, you know, their faces? And they go oh, wow, why have I not listened to this before? You know, it's like that one thing that was new to our, our agenda last year. So people just forgot about it. You know, they had their forms and their paperwork and all that, but they forgot about the recording. And I remember when I listened to mine, one of the goals that I mentioned at that retreat last year was to start a podcast. I can tell you, it wasn't this podcast. But it was another podcast idea that I had, but it never went anywhere; COVID head and things got crazy. And, and for me, the idea for this podcast didn't actually come up until around September.
Walt Sparling 23:58
I had a goal that I accomplished, but not in the same manner in which I had recorded it last year. And the cool thing about this is it now that we had everybody play them, we recorded these in front of everybody else. We timed them, they range anywhere from a minute to two minutes, I think was the longest one. So now at the beginning of every meeting, we're going to change our meeting format a little bit, we usually do a five-minute drop. But instead, the person is going to play their goals that they recorded at the retreat. And while it's playing, they can thumb up or thumb down or sideways as far as how they're doing on that goal. And if we end up seeing that they're just constantly thumbing down or whatever, we can have a discussion about it and say what's going on? Why are you not making any traction on this goal? So I think it's going to really help out in the meetings for this was coming here.
David Alvarez 24:53
Yeah, I agree.
Walt Sparling 24:54
That being said, that's kind of the that's our retreat. That's what we do. And obviously, like I said, you don't need to retreat. But, I think if you, you definitely have to set aside time. And this is our way of setting aside time to do our goal planning.
Walt Sparling 25:06
So I'm gonna include Actually, I'm gonna include a link to a video from the event, it's just a series of photos, there's a little live-action stuff in there as well, kind of show you the environment that we were at the guys that were up there, and it was it's very casual, so no one's dressed up. And it's a fun little video to watch. It's short.
Walt Sparling 25:25
So the other thing, one of my goals for 2021 is, because of the success that I've had in the mastermind, the success mastermind, and what I've seen with others, one of the things that I want to add to the podcast and blog, another area, is a project management mastermind. That will give an opportunity for project managers to kind of get together and benefit from each other is kind of like you do when you might work with your teammates. But these will be people that are really, really focused on growth as a project manager. And they'll be able to get together with some like-minded people and talk about that. So that's something I'm working on for this year. And I'd love to hear from anybody out there who is interested in being a part of that, to send me an email, and I will get some information, I've already started to outline what my thought process is on it, I'll send out some information. And we'll see if we can get this thing going in the first quarter of 2021.
Walt Sparling 26:28
So, with that being said, I just want to remind you, there are three things that you need to do. When you're working on your goals, you got to have a plan. So you got to record your goals written or electronically, you need to read them out loud and continue to read them through the year. Don't write them down, stick them in a nightstand and then in six months, go back and visit them, put them somewhere where you can see them. And remind yourself that you are working on a goal. And then set some realistic timeframes. So whatever it is you're going to do, as part of your planning, make sure that you have when you want to accomplish whatever that goal or goals is, sort of as you David, you want to add some more notes on that?
David Alvarez 27:16
No man, you summarized it pretty well. And he said you're gonna have some links in the notes. But I'm just like you said recording the goals is so important. And then remembering to go back and re-read or revisit them is just as important. And when you record the goals that sets something in your subconscious that kind of helps you get there kind of like you did with the podcast. And even though it may pivot, you'll still end up achieving a goal or getting really close to it, which will make a lot of progress. So thanks for thanks again for having me on.
Walt Sparling 27:47
Well, no, I appreciate it. I'm glad you could make it. We are going to have a man is going to be back. And we're going to do a wrap up for the year something I want to do every year where we'll go back and we'll talk about all the different people that we interviewed the kind of the solo, not solos, but the topical conversations we had like David with this one and ADD. So that's coming up here in another week. So I asked you all subscribe if you would.
And we'll see you on the next episode of pm-mastery.