This is part two in a five part series. Here’s part one if you need to catch up: Day 1: Empathize

As a hockey goalie I normally don’t like goals, but today I’ll make an exception.

Our goal for day two is to assemble a prioritized list of objectives. There’s an important distinction I need to make before we begin. Although a “goal” and “objective” are synonyms, we’re going to apply specific definitions around them for our purposes this week. An “objective” will be something that you wish to put effort into, but we have the freedom to be creative in our descriptions. “Goals” will need a specific description and will need to be measurable. We’ll get into goals on day four.

The first step is to create a list of every objective you can think of that you have. For this framework, if you’ve called something a goal in the past, that would count as an objective for here. Dreams, wants, desires; any of those would count as an objective here. They don’t need to be things you’re currently working on, or intending to work on. Capture everything here, we’ll go through a framework to help prioritize them soon. If you’re still struggling with what to put down, here are a few examples:

  • Ride my bike across the state
  • Write a children’s book
  • Win the Leicester Town Fair Apple Pie Contest

Other examples could be related to your job, education, family, health and fitness, a hobby you want to learn, a new skill, a house project. The goal here is volume so take the full amount of time to brainstorm. Once you create the list, hold on to it and use it for the next sprint you run for yourself in the future as a starting point. I had done an exercise like this several months ago and although some of the objectives I’d written back then aren’t relevant anymore, I was still able to lift some and was inspired by a few others for some new ones.

Next up is the Head, Heart, and Gut check. For each objective you’ve listed, take a minute or two and imagine a future in which that thing has been achieved. How has your life changed? How fulfilled are you? Hopefully you get a warm, tingly, or inspired feeling for at least a few of those ideas. Highlight any that stir something in your head, heart or gut. We’re aiming for around 5, give or take a couple. Ten is too many. If there’s only one then you are done my friend and you can move on to tomorrow. For the rest of us, we’re going to capture the ideas that make us tingle on individual Post-it notes if you have them, pieces of scrap paper if you don’t.

Now that you have your top objectives defined, on a scale of 1–5, rank each idea in the following three categories: Interest, Importance, Benefit. Interest would be genuinely how interested are you in achieving that objective? How often do you think about doing that thing? Have you ever been close to going for it but never took the leap? Higher the score, the greater the interest. Importance is how important is it to you that you achieve the objective? Is it a promise you’ve made to yourself that it was something you would do one day? Is it a must do bucket list item? Benefit would describe the positive change that would occur in your life if you were to achieve it. That positive change can be self esteem, monetary, professional, etc. Add up the total and write it on the objective.

Our next method of prioritization is the Impact x Investment matrix. Place a piece of tape horizontally on a table or wall, place another piece of tape across that vertically so you have a giant plus sign. We’ll start with impact on the horizontal axis. Pick up a random objective and plop it right in the middle. This is our objective starting point. Pick up another objective and determine if the impact of the new objective on your life would be greater or less than the one already on the axis. You can use your Interest, Importance, Benefit score as a starting point but try to think holistically how much of an impact achieving each objective would have on your life. Go through each objective until all of them are laid out in order from least to greatest impact. No two objectives can have the same impact rating.

For Investment, our vertical matrix, we want to consider how much time, energy, and resources would be needed for us to achieve each objective. Do this to the best of your ability but with the understanding that you might not have all of the information needed to make a 100% accurate assessment. Move each objective up or down, depending on the estimated investment of time, energy, and resources it would take to achieve it. No two objectives should occupy the same amount of resources. When you’re done, your matrix should look something like this:

The bottom right corner is the sweet spot. If anything lands there, highest impact with lowest resources to achieve, it’s a dream scenario. More likely than not, the highest impact tends to be the highest investment.

Now it’s time to pick one. Regardless of where everything landed, there may be constraints about your life at the moment that force you to limit the amount of resources you can apply to achieving an objective and that is completely fine. We’re aiming for progress, not perfection with this sprint. Choose one objective that you are willing to commit to at this point in your life. We’ll build out a path for how to achieve it, but what’s critical here is that you commit to one. Take some time, think about it, and when you’re ready choose one.

That gets us to the end of day two. I hope your head, heart, and gut are fully committed to achieving your objective. If you’d like to go even deeper on the process I do a deep dive on one aspect of each day through my Substack newsletter. If you’re interested you can sign up here.

Below is the breakdown of how to run day 2 of the personal design sprint yourself. Give it a try and send me your feedback, I’d love to learn how to make it more effective. Good luck!

PERSONAL DESIGN SPRINT

INSTRUCTIONS: Define

Total Time: 1hr

Step 1: (20 min) Create a complete list of every objective you would like to achieve.

Step 2: (20 min) Head, Heart, and Gut Check: For each objective you’ve listed, take a minute or two and imagine a future in which that thing has been achieved. How has your life changed? How fulfilled are you? Tag each objective that stirs a sensation in you. Aim for around 5, no more than 10. Write out each one on a single Post-it note or scrap piece of paper.

Step 3: (10 min) Interest, Importance, Benefit Score: On a scale of 1–5, rank each idea in the following three categories: Interest, Importance, Benefit. Total up your numbers for each category and write the total on the objective.

Step 4: (20 min) Impact x Investment Matrix. Create a large X, Y axis on a table or wall. Starting with the horizontal impact axis, pick up a random objective and plop it right in the middle. This is our objective starting point. Pick up another objective and determine if the impact of the new objective on your life would be greater or less than the one already on the axis. You can use your Interest, Importance, Benefit score as a starting point but try to think holistically how much of an impact achieving each objective would have on your life. Go through each objective until all of them are laid out in order from least to greatest impact. No two objectives can have the same impact rating. For Investment, our vertical matrix, we want to consider how much time, energy, and resources would be needed for us to achieve each objective. Do this to the best of your ability but with the understanding that you might not have all of the information needed to make a 100% accurate assessment. Move each objective up or down, depending on the estimated investment of time, energy, and resources it would take to achieve it. No two objectives should occupy the same amount of resources.

Step 5: (5 min) Pick one that you will commit to achieving. Promise yourself that you will do your best to achieve this objective.