January 28, 2012


Pick Four coverGoals, goals, goals. Many systems help you reach them. By experimenting, you'll select or create system that suits you. To succeed, you need to get started and keep going.

Seven Habits

Over the years, I've used elements of the Seven Habits system (and used to buy the paper-based calendars in the days before smartphones). With this approach, you plan by the week. We have many roles (e.g. parent, employee, spouse, student).

You schedule the relevant ones for the week into your calendar. For instance, as a parent you may want to help your child practice a speech on Tuesday evening from 7 PM to 8 PM. As an employee, you may allocate 1 PM to 4 PM on Thursday to catch up on email. Once you schedule the essentials, other activities fit around them. (For more, see Scheduling your priorities the Seven Habits way)

Getting Things Done

Several years ago, I started using the Getting Things Done approach to get things out of my head and into a system I trust.

I'm using PersonalBrain (see review) to track for big things. The drawback is that I can only use it on my Windows computer. There's no edit/sync with Android or iPad.

For To Do items, I use Toodledo for a web-based repository that's connected to Pocket Informant on my Android phone and iPad. I have the Pro version so that I can create subtasks. This works well.
For client-related items I want to track long term, I use a web-based CRM system, Batchbook. There's overlap but that's manageable. (for more, see Three big lessons from Getting Things Done)

What's Missing

My current approach is 100% independent. No one else is involved and the goals are private. Some goals slip ...  but at least no one else knows.

Pick Four

Pick Four - sample diary pageEnter Pick Four. This is Seth Godin's update of Zig Ziglar's low tech process for reaching goals over 12 weeks.

Pick Four combines three elements
  1. a mind dump of your life goals (like Getting Things Done)
  2. identifying roles and goals (like The Seven Habits but for the full 12 weeks, not week by week)
  3. peer support
Most of the workbook is a diary in which you make notes about what you did for each goal each day. You also mark whether what you did was enough.

Form A Team

Pick Four - crazy pricing in CanadaAmazon sells these workbooks in four packs. We paid $30, which works out to $7.50 each.

At the time of writing, the US price is $20. In Canada, the price is $135.04, which must be a mistake.

The inviting open-me cover looks reminds me of Dr. Seuss and Tim Burton. The paper looks cheap because it's not smooth or bright white. Looks deceive. The paper is good quality. I'm using a gel pen and ink doesn't bleed through the paper.


I'm in a quartet of high-calibre participants I met recently. We barely know each other but are all committed to meeting our goals. When you're working in a team, members must agree to (obvious) rules like maintaining confidentiality and keeping commitments.

Why 12 Weeks?

Twelve weeks feels right. That's long enough to achieve reasonable goals but short enough to motivate. By the end, we should have built habits that
  • keep us from quitting those goals
  • encourage us to set more goals

What's Missing?

Pick Four is only paper-based. I'd much prefer an iPad app. That saves trees and helps with privacy. As with a diary, I wouldn't want anyone looking at what I'm writing.

Since the spiral binding is on the left instead of the top, writing on the left-hand pages is tougher for neat freaks. Maybe there will be more options in the future. Since I don't like throwing things away, I'd like an iPad version that lets me print to a PDF for archiving.

You only get five days per week. That gives you two days off. I like that but would prefer a seven day calendar to be consistent with today's lifestyles. For instance, you might have goals that include weekends but that doesn't mean you're a workaholic.

Picked Four

Here are my goals:
  1. Ask for business (3 times a week): I make myself available to clients who decide on their own that they'd like my services. That's pressure-free but not proactive.
  2. Exercise (3 times a week): I turned 50 last year and must pay more attention to my body. This category also includes sleeping earlier.
  3. Declutter (daily): don't ask. I've got stuff piled up on flat surfaces. I have closets and boxes filled with stuff I'll never use and would have trouble finding.
  4. Ship video (once every two weeks): this involves getting better with editing and talking to the camera without my mind going blank.

Each goal is a stretch and was reviewed by a peer mentoring group and my Pick Four goalmates.

I'm on Day 2 and will report back in 12 weeks on April 21, 2012 (results here (new)).


Podcast 153

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PS Don't wait for my findings. Keep working on your goals.

1 comment:

Leila said...

Very interesting subject. A proactive vehicle to getting things done. It's more challenging to get all your goals
accomplished being solo. This reminds me of Napoleon Hill's " Mastermind" concept. Group resources, especially those that have the same focus, in this case to get goals accomplished will ultimately breed success.
I'am always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to utilize time effectively.

Good luck Promod.