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Since May I’ve been working with Julia, as my personal coach, to improve myself and excel my growth as a professional as well as a human being.

Defining a theme

At the beginning we did a couple of exercises to find out what I wanted to achieve and why. What resulted was a theme:

I don’t want to be seen as a freelance frontend developer anymore, but instead as a consultant helping with strategic decisions!

It was a hard and sometimes painful process to dig deep and try to find the reasons where I wanted to be in the future and why. But that’s what is necessary to grow.

How to know if I’m on track?

After finding the theme, Julia helped me with a couple of exercises to come up with things I could measure to find out if I’m making progress towards my theme “goal”.
I ended up with a list of around 30 KPI I could track. I was lucky that my girlfriend was always challenging me to clarify the why behind each and every one of these KPI. That helped immense to refine them to the final list.

Then I grouped them into three categories; Near Future, Future and Someday. Near Future would be stuff till the end of the year. Future 1-3 years and Someday everything for 3+ years.
Then I checked if my near-term KPI would help me later on with my long-term goals.
That was the moment I realized, that some KPI were still more vanity metric than real measurements. On the other hand, some long-term goals would be hard to reach without intermediate goals in between.
For example, one of the long-term goals was: “25k € in revenue from consulting projects per month”. To reach that there had to be an adjusted step, which meant a new goal: “First consulting-only project”.

After reviewing my KPI/goals list I made a cut where I wanted to be at the end of the year. The outside perspective of Julia helped me to keep the goals challenging, but not to big that they were not reachable.

The final set of KPI

This way I ended up with a set of goals/KPI to measure if I was on the right track:

  • When talking about what I do I refer to myself as a consultant instead of a freelancer
  • Publish some kind of thought every week
  • Double my professional network on Xing, Linkedin and twitter
  • Speak at at least two meetups about different topics
  • Deliver my first conference talk

That looks familiar …

While on vacation I read John Doerrs “measure what matters”, when I realized that Julia helped me to setup my own personal OKR.
If you don’t know the concept, I’ll give you a short intro. The O stands for Objective – you can think of it as a desired state you want to be in. That’s why it’s a bad goal, because it will be not measurable but should be aspirational.
This is where the Key Results come into play. These are a set of results that can be easily measured and tracked. If these Key Results compound, you know that you reached your objective or at least made big progress in that direction.

What’s awesome about these OKR is, that when they are defined you can assert if every action, you’re doing, helps you to reach one of your Key Results. If not, you should consider dropping it.
That’s why I created a Kanban board in my office to accomplish my KR.

My personal Kanban board. Time to setup new Goals.

Additionally, I created some tools helping me to track intermediate KPI. For example, for two of the KR I created a spreadsheet to track the number of meetups I attended and the resulting new connections I made and if I changed my self-presentation.

Setting OKR is hard

As John Doerr mentioned in his book, it’s hard to find fitting KR. Mine have been too easy or not appropriate for me.
I failed completely in terms of publishing anything – it was the wrong KR to track, because it was way to challenging for me – I’m not a publishing person, yet.
Both the meetup and the conference KR were way to easy and not challenging enough.
For me as someone who has never done any type of public speaking before, those two felt daring when setting them. But in hind-sight two meetups and one conference talk where way too easy to achieve.

So, did I achieve my objective?

Yes! Throughout my activities and especially my mindset shift the CEO of Trusted Shops offered me a job as the Head of Product management. Not exactly what I had in mind half a year ago, but in terms of my theme a defined success.

Keep the momentum for 2019

During the holiday I was brainstorming with my colleague and partner in crime on our OKR for the unit we’re heading now. That’s a new challenge on its own, because now we have different levels of cascading OKR – from company goals to unit goals down to the management team – which have to be aligned.

With that it’s also the time to set some new personal OKR to get ready for 2019.