My 2017 Goals

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again. 2017 is approaching and 2016 will soon be in our rear view mirror, just another memory to look back upon.

 

New Year’s resolutions will be made. The gym will soon be full of people, churches are going to be packed and vegetables will fly off the shelves at the grocery store. Many birding Big Year’s will also begin with excitement and promise.

 

And most of these resolutions will be broken within a week. 🙂

 

It’s always funny and slightly sad how quickly these promises to ourselves are given up. The New Year starts with so much energy and a willingness to change, but suddenly the realities of life set in and our old habits come storming back!

 

Ironically, probably the most useful goal is to actually have a plan to accomplish your New Year’s resolution. Instead of focusing just on the final outcome of the goal, have a written plan that details the steps to the goal and make it very specific.

 

For example, as you can probably guess, here is the most popular New Year’s resolution:

 

“I want to lose weight.”

 

Unfortunately, almost no one actually follows through with this goal.  First, how do you know when it’s achieved? How much weight do you want to lose?  As soon as you lose 1 pound, technically you have lost weight for the year. Second, their is no plan on how to lose weight.

 

Think of your weight just as the scoreboard, what habits and activities need to be changed on a daily or weekly basis that will ensure the weight is lost?

SMART Goals:

In our daughter’s playroom, we took chalkboard paint and created an enormous chalkboard on an entire wall. Our daughter loves it, but it has actually served as a great place for my wife and I to brainstorm ideas. Specifically, it’s used to write out our yearly goals and make a plan to achieve them.

 

We have started the process of creating our 2017 goals. A strict requirement is that every goal has to be considered SMART. This is a concept that my wife introduced me to a few years ago and it has been a game changer.

 

SMART is simply the below acronym. I think of it as a test to put my goals up against. If I can’t answer the following questions about my goal, then it’s not really a goal, just a silly dream!

 

  • S: Specific
    • “I want to lose weight” is not specific. “I want to lose 20 pounds by December 31st, 2017” is much better start and at lets us know what success looks like. It’s also a little less than 2 pounds per month, which doesn’t sound hard to do.
  • M: Measurable
    • “I want to lose 20 pounds” is a measurable goal. An example of something that is not measurable is “I want to look better.” This is objective and is really just a lazy goal!
  • A: Agreed Upon
    • To hit this section, I share my goal with others. It provides accountability for me. Normally it’s just my wife, but keep reading and I am going to share my 2017 Goals!
  • R: Realistic
    • This is a bit tricky. I try to make goals that will stretch what I have previously ever done, but it still needs to be realistic with my available time and resources. “I am going to see 8,000 birds this year” is probably more of a dream ( a very awesome dream!) than a goal.
  • T: Time-Based
    • What is the deadline to have this goal achieved? By default, a New Year’s resolution gives a year deadline.

Tracking the Leading Indicators, Not the Lagging Indicators:

 

A few years ago I was introduced to the idea of Leading Indicators vs Lagging Indicators and it has been trans formative. Almost everyone puts their focus on the Lagging Indicator, which is hard to influence.  Putting attention on Leading Indicators will give your goal a much better shot at success.

 

Lagging Indicators: It is something track-able but it trails the desired behavior. Think of the scoreboard of a basketball game that’s over, you are just looking at the result.  Let’s examine the common goal of losing weight. The amount of weight lost is the definition of a lagging indicator. The moment that you step on the scale, the game is over, we are just looking at the result.

 

Leading Indicators: These are the track-able activities and habits that will lead to losing weight. For example, to lose weight, some leading indicators would be working out, eating more vegetables or limiting processed sugar.

 

I have found that when the focus is only on the Lagging Indicator, there is a less likely chance of reaching my goal. I think this is because I am not getting an update until the game is already over.

 

Once the scale is stepped on, your fate is sealed! It’s going to say what it’s going to say. When the scale shows that you have lost no weight, that can be extremely depressing and causes many to abandon their goal too easily.

 

Personally, tracking the Leading Indicators has been amazing. It takes some of the pressure off and makes a goal more attainable. Also, it has helped eliminate goals that were unrealistic or it became apparent that I was not prepared to do the Leading Indicators that were required.

 

For example, in the past one of my goals was to “Learn the Guitar by the end of the year” which is obviously a lagging indicator. Upon closer examination, the leading indicators to learn the guitar meant getting lesson 2-3 times per week and committing to daily practice. Eventually I want to learn to play, but I am not ready to commit to the Leading Indicators required.

 

*To track my Leading Indicators I use an amazing app called Way of Life – The Ultimate Habit Builder and Breaker. Each day, I get a notification asking whether I completed an activity. I give a simple “Yes” or “No” and over time it keeps track of my results. I have a reminder pop up at 10pm every night and it takes under a minute to input my daily activities. *

 

Have you had enough of my goal setting tips?? I certainly have, time to share my 2017 birding goals.

Scott’s 2017 Personal Birding Goals:

1. Add 200 species to my life list: (Check state here and see monthly updates)

  • Every month, I will be posting an update on my birding adventures and mishaps. I recently started a new eBird account to track my life list, so I am basically starting from 0 here in 2017. I have never done a great job of keeping lists and records, which this goal will hold me accountable and keep me excited to submit checklists.
  • Leading Indicators: If you have been following along, it would be hypocritical to not list the leading indicators required to see 200 bird species this year!
    • Submit 52 checklists to eBird:  This breaks down to at least one checklist per week and ensures that I am consistently birding throughout the year and recording birds.
    • Submit a checklist from at least 4 states: I live in Akron, Ohio. My house is less than 5 minutes from the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which gives the opportunity to easily go birding close to home. But, there are only so many species of bird in Ohio. It is certainly possible to gather 200 species in Ohio alone, but it may require quite a bit of driving throughout the state. I have trips already planned to South Carolina, Florida and maybe Utah this year (they are not primarily birding trips, just vacations). If I can submit checklists and look for birds in these states while there, it will certainly help reach 200 species.
  • A side benefit of this goal is that to see 200 species means I need to know and learn 200 species!  I know the common species in Ohio, but still need help with many of our spring warblers, hawks, sparrows and ducks.

 

2. Bird 5 Times with other people:

  • I am definitely an introvert, my tests on the Myers and Briggs test prove it! One of the reasons I enjoy bird watching is the peace and solitude that being in nature brings. As you can probably imagine, I normally go alone and it’s what I prefer! But by not putting myself out there and going with a group, I am missing out on the skills and knowledge that can be shared by more experienced birders.
  • I plan on seeking out and attending local bird watching walks with (gasp!) people I have never met. I know our local Audubon chapters (Greater Akron and Western Cuyahoga) sponsor many walks. So does our local Summit County Metroparks. Unfortunately, this gives me no more excuses but to get out and do it.
  • I know 5 times does not sound like much to all of you extroverts out there, but 5 times for me with other people seems like I am climbing Mount Everest!

 

3. Attend a birding festival:

  • This correlates a lot to my previous goal of birding with other people. I have never went to any sort of birding festival and would really like too. Currently, I am looking at The Biggest Week in American Birding, which is at the beginning of May at the Black Swamp Bird Observatory.  It’s only a few hours drive from my home.

 

I only like to have 3 goals to keep it simple. I’d love to hear what you have planned for 2017 below!

 

Scott’s 2017 Goals for Bird Watching HQ:

 

In case this is your first visit or haven’t noticed, this site is brand new! I started construction in October and my first post was completed in November. I have a clear (Ok, maybe a bit murky) vision of where Bird Watching HQ is going and what it can become. I have a huge list of future blog posts and ideas, so there is no shortage of content coming. The biggest challenge I am facing is finding enough time to write with a full time job and wife and young daughter.

I thought it would be helpful to share some of my goals for this site over the next year. In my Monthly Updates post will be a section pertaining to my 2017 goals and how I am progressing.

 

1. 24 posts:

  • Since starting this site two months ago, I have had limitless energy and excitement. I am waking up at 5am everyday to have the house quiet to concentrate and write. I have been going to local coffee shops at lunch. Any spare time that is found is devoted to Bird Watching HQ. At some point, this initial “puppy love” will diminish. I am known to become distracted by the next shiny thing and can lose focus and interest quickly.
  • To combat this, I need to stay consistent with posting new content through the year. My minimum goal is 24 posts/articles for the year. This breaks down to two per month. This may sound low, but I don’t want to become overwhelmed by trying to post too much new content and then lose quality.
  • When I started this site, I decided that I would make the site valuable vs trying to attract the most amount of clicks. Therefore, many of my posts/articles will be longer and well researched.

 

2. Grow email list and Facebook “likes”:

Of course I want to grow the amount of people that read each month. I want to create raving fans that enjoy visiting not just once, but every time a new post is published or need to revisit a resource. To help build a community, I am going to focus on two avenues.

  • 1,000 email subscribers:
    • Do you see the bar at the top of the page asking for your email? It’s important to build an email list. Please don’t think I want to grow this list to spam everyone! Certainly not, it’s just a way to email monthly or weekly updates of what is going on here.
      • Currently I have a grand total of 1 person on my email list and that is myself. 🙁 If you like what you see here, please subscribe!
  • 2,000 Facebook “likes”:
    • I am not a huge social media person. Personally, I have deleted all social media apps off my phone and try not to visit except for once or twice per week.  I typically find it a distraction. But one reason I do visit Facebook is to check out what is going on with the birding community. It tends to be very active and there is lots of good information being shared. I can’t believe how easy it is to upload a picture of a bird I can’t identify and have an answer in under 5 minutes.
    • I have created a Facebook page for Bird Watching HQ. As I write this, I have 4 “likes.” I want to grow this to 2,000 likes by the end of the year. To help accomplish, I know I need to become much more active on Facebook and am committing to posting at least 2 times per week on the BWHQ page. Please like the page to help! 🙂

 

I can certainly say one thing, 2017 is definitely going to be a busy year!!! And I can’t wait!

 

I would love to know what your birding goals are for 2017? Please comment below and let’s see how we can help each other. Thanks!!

 

Scott

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