I’m Starting a Business: Planning and Achieving Goals

I write a lot about goals. Sometimes big meaty well-defined goals like the album I recorded last year or the polyphasic experiences I had this summer. Other times the goal is just a 30-day challenge to do something daily or give something up. Sometimes it’s more abstract, like my aspirations to become more aware of my own mental processes. In the past few weeks, I’ve started taking things to the next level in a few ways. First, I’ve started doing not just evening reviews but also morning solo-standups where I plan my day. Second…

I’ve started a business to help other people with their goals.

I’m running this business incredibly lean:

About 2 weeks ago, I was reflecting to my friend Dan from Beeminder about how I thought I might be able to create something to play a kind of complementary role to his product. While Beeminder helps you keep track of numeric goals, I found I needed another system to help me keep track of my progress on more abstract and nuanced goals. As I noted during my end-of-2012 reflection, last year I started using the Pick Four system by Seth Godin and Zig Ziglar. Naturally, of course, as a tinkerer, I was constantly tweaking it, and developed a more robust system. I also found myself wishing I had better software to help me keep track of everything.

Handdrawn graphics showing four goals around a stylize Pick Four cover (ripples in water)

This summer I tried doing sketchnote style goal planning. Really pretty but didn’t actually help much.

However, I figured, it probably wouldn’t be worth it to build that kind of software just for myself. Would it be valuable to others too? Dan recommended starting just the way he started Beeminder: by helping one friend, manually. By chance, later that day I found such a friend, and so after talking with him briefly about his goals, we started going through the steps of the system. I would email him questions and prompts inspired by Pick Four, and he would respond. Meanwhile, I was also pitching the idea to other friends and getting them to sign on for my beta, which I’m hoping to start with about a dozen people in November.

about a dozen people, who have some goals they seriously want to achieve, and are feeling frustrated because they feel like they aren’t making as much progress towards them as they’d like. If this sounds like you, let me know! If you’re not sure if it’d be a good fit, get in touch and we’ll have a quick Skype chat. [EDIT 2013-11-05: the beta cohort is now closed, but feel free to email me and I’ll keep you posted]

So far the November beta cohort is about half-filled. At that point, things will be a bit more streamlined, although people will still be interfacing with me regularly—once this really gets running, in 2014, it’s going to be mostly automated, so if you want the chance to have a really cheap personal goals coach (me!) then now’s the time. The beta is going to be $10/month; after that the service is probably going to be at least twice as much. While I charge separately for full-on consulting, it’s super important to me that my system is helping you, so if you’re stuck then I’ll gladly help troubleshoot things with you. My business doesn’t have a name yet, but I think it will be valuable for people. Full refund offered if it isn’t—I want my customers to be satisfied.

I’m spending this upcoming weekend volunteering at the October CFAR workshop, where I hope to pick up some new ideas for what kinds of questions will help people most with staying on track, and to have more chances to pitch my business to smart, ambitious people.

A portrait of Malcolm Ocean

I'm Malcolm Ocean.

I'm trying to figure out how humans work so I can help make humanity work. More about me.

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