Happy New Year my dear readers.
This time of the year, it is common among all of you pretty & talented people to make New Year’s resolutions. And there is an entire industry behind your vows for weight loss or abandoning cigarettes. The problem with that is: these are pretty narrow paths to walk all year, and pretty poor agendas to live your life by. In fact, most of us will not derive the joy and intrinsic motivation they’ll need by just losing weight on itself. What would be another way to keep up with our resolutions?
Sometimes it makes sense to apply management concepts that were designed for companies on an individual – you.
Remember the 80-20 rule, turned into art itself by guys like Tim Ferris (The 4 hour work week – read it). Remember the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey)? Both great concepts which I happily applied in my personal life. Both great examples of how business logic can apply to private ventures, without turning sour or greedy. Now the time has come for… the Balanced ScoreCard for Individuals. If you have just enough time left to read up until here, let me say this: What’s benefit of a BSC? It will structure your personal desires and allows you to decide where you want to take action and where not.
I would suggest 3 steps to make yourself a BSC for the next year. You’ll need 1.5 hours.
Diversify and go wide
This is the most fun part of the BSC exercise. Take all of your ambitions, plans and ideas you have thought of over the last few months and put them on a sheet. Big, small, doesn’t matter: every trip you wanted to take, every book you wanted to read, every friend you wanted to visit. Become a 10-year old again and dream aloud of all you can come up with. Once you are in ‘the zone’, you’ll see it is not hard to spell out 50+ items. But MAKE SURE you write a tangible and achievable goal with those ambition. An example would be: develop a blog, write 12+ articles in next 8 months.
Structure your ambition and bring balance
Structure is the single biggest factor that drives companies, and individuals, towards success or distress. You just created a list of 50+ items, now categorize them into little groups (my categories include “films”, “books”, “art shows”, “freelancing targets”, “writing goals” which will , “alumni network”, etc). After that, the little groups into big buckets (mine will be “culture”, “personal ambitions”, “social”). Count how many you have in each bucket. This will give a good indication of where your ambitions lie. Are they in line with what you thought? Go through another round and think of what you can do more to extend on an underdeveloped side of yourself. That way, you’re on your way to achieve balance in what you do. You are working slowly to balancing what you are doing now with what you want to be doing.
Scrutinize, scrap and focus
After a good hour of thinking about your future self, you have this sizeable list of items. And what the BSC thinking will have shown you is the importance to balance it. What is needed now is a painful exercise: SCRAP at least half of the items on this list. Some of them will lead to a dead-end or will derail your focus, some others will simply require too much energy and need to be managed as a project of its own – the year after perhaps. Some others will be too futile, others will contradict each other. It is important to develop the maturity to be honest with yourself. Take decisions: you cannot spend more time with family while boosting your travelling and social life unless that goes at the expense of work time or another hobby.
Once that exercise is completed, a good scorecard will emerge. When the balance is kept, along with the goal setting, it will literally be a card you might want to print out or frame it. You’ll regularly have to go back to it during the year, and I sincerely wish you can tick of many items you have chosen to invest on… happy 2012!