Planning your year in a way to ensure you are continuously growing

When walking into 2016 . I entered the year with 3 themes . An year of running , reading and adventure. Well the first two are quite clear but for the adventure part left room for creativity or surprises.

I am a complete witness of my life by itself that you can’t just simply plan for 5 years or even for more than an year. Variables keep changing all the time . Don’t get me wrong that you can’t set 5 year goals but its so hard to plan for 5 years , unless your world runs on a constant .With this I resolved from beginning of 2016 to move into more of an OKR and a thematic approach in setting my goals. My goals are both long term and short term

What are OKRs?

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a popular technique for setting and communicating goals and results in organizations. Its main goal is to connect company, team and personal objectives to measurable results, making people move together in right direction.

Our friends at Google did a great job at defining this technique to help them always be aligned and communicating their vision and goals across the company . Ever asked yourself , how a big company like Google is able to always be ahead in some fields of research and also in technology ? Well a few gems like this one help them be there.

When planning your year you end up wearing a few hats . The hats are Manager and Executioner. Remember all that you plan and set as goals will need to be done by someone and since they are personal you will be the one performing them to ensure you hit the goal.

Did I hear Manager ? Management is something that has been there for a very long time. As time goes on Management has been improving and evolving especially with the age or technology and industrial evolution. The way you managed a company in the 1960s and now in 2016 is definitely different . But the fundamentals still never change.

OKRs (Objective Key Result) might be new to your ears but still heavily is based on the previous techniques of management and goals setting that were there before . The most popular from the mid 80s has been the KPI(Key Performance Index) and SMART (Specific, Measurable,achievable, Realistic and Time Bound) that came about in the early 80s. The latter , were based on Peter Drucker’s concept of Management by Objectives that he deeply highlights in his book Practice of Management.

With OKRs , I found them to be very interesting since you define the Goal (Objective) and Variable of Success (Key Result) . OKRs are simple and often not too long , they are often just a highlight of what you would like to achieve and you can use the key result to measure if you are in progress.

Themes and OKRs

I will pick one theme which was the Year of Running . You can replace Running with something else. If you are curious about why the running then you can check out the why here .

I had started running in 2014 and did my debut half marathon . I didn’t do quite well did it in 2h 57min which is a quite slow but with the conditioning I had at the time could only allow me to do that. I remember that I had given my all . 2015 I did my 2nd half marathon and improved to 2h 28min. 1 year difference but I cut my minutes meaning there was progress.

So in early 2016 , I decided that I had to move into the sub 2 hours mark. I was able to look at things more clearly now . I also managed to look back as to what I needed to do to improve. So I decided to set a Key Result which was Half Marathon 1h 40min and 10K 40min. If I achieved this I had really improved. This meant I was running at a pace of 4–5min/KM which is better to the previous pace of 6–8min/km.

So the theme of the year was running . The objective was to do a 10K in 40min and Half Marathon in 1h 40min. This was not going just be an easy task and will definitely need a plan. If I didn’t achieve either I would not have attained success.

Next Steps

  1. Create a schedule and running plan.
  2. Identify like minded friends who had similar goals
  3. Invest in some new apparel and gear for running .
  4. Register for races and also run in new every city that I ever travelled to.
After a running session in Marseille , France with the Marseille Running Club

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The Execution

From the next steps , you can see that I tried to make my list very short and very high level because I wanted to focus on just the big picture. It gives you the ability to be creative and open to new things that you would like to improve on . Creativity is Key in being able to do things at a higher level of standard.

From my Nairobi LUG meetup, I met my friend Peter Sitati, who also runs and he was better than me . Result, he ended up being more than a running partner but a great friend . He pushed me when I was feeling down and I would push him when he was down.

With a running partner , we ended up creating a culture all throughout the year where at the very least every Sunday morning at 7.00am we would run . From sunday , we added more days and individually when we got time we would run .

Running without the right gear and apparel is not very good and can lead to injuries. So I took the initiative to invest in some good apparel . I used to run with music and my phone and slowly because of the forest sounds and the calmness I stopped. With this when I would run alone in that piece , I was completely blocked out of the world and ended up being where most of my ideas would pop up .

TC Run in San Jose, CA where I was 1st Runners Up in the 10K (55min)

2016 happended to be there year , that I also saw a lot of travel and I made it a ritual that I run in each of the cities.. It even gets better some of the cities I run in competed . Some I became runners up and some I was in the top 10 percentile.

2016 saw me do :

  1. 1 half marathon
  2. 2 competitive 10Ks
  3. 10K PB at 40min
  4. 21K PB at 2h 05min

As we approach I hope to improve my times and also take on my first full marathon. Well , that means more work , more discipline and more resilience.

Note: You can adopt this method of themes and apply OKR approach to help you achieve any goal that you put. From a theme of running , I set an objective achieving some times. The whole approach to arriving there was left out so that I can keep improving and learning . You can apply this to reading , writing, saving , programming or any other goal or theme you would like to achieve in the next year

Update

A few of you kindly asked for some running trails locally and a few places I have run. I will post Nairobi trails that are really great for you .

  1. Karura Forest — Running Trails
  2. Oloolua Nature Trail — Running Trail