Jason Freedman, a co-founder of FlightCaster and now 42Floors, recently published a blog post about how he and his team use 100-day cycles and public accountability to set and achieve their business objectives. Inspired by this technique, I’m going to try something similar where I publicly set a few personal and professional goals for the next 100 days and see how it goes.
This is very much an experiment—both setting specific medium-term goals and publicly writing about them—and I went back and forth about whether or not to do it. My hope is that publicly writing about these goals will make me more likely to follow through with them, that I’ll get useful feedback from a few of you, and that it will allow me to share some of what I learn along the way which some of you might find helpful.
I came up with six quantifiable goals in areas of my life that I’d like to improve within the next 100 days (by January 22, 2014). They are:
I recently returned from Automattic’s yearly weeklong meetup and a 10-day vacation with my wife. Including travel days, that’s 19-straight days of eating out with little-to-no exercise. I had a great time on both trips, but I’m glad to be home where I have more control over my diet and workout schedule.
In addition to these trips which have me feeling a bit blah, my father had a heart attack a few weeks ago and because we like the same kind of foods, that’s got me thinking about how I can improve my own diet and overall health.
According to my handy $33 Omron Fat Loss Monitor, I’m currently 19% body fat. Over the next 100 days, my goal is to get that down to at least 10% though a combination of diet, exercise, and tracking. More on the specifics and progress in future posts.
One of the the next major projects that I work on for WordPress.com is going to be improving the quality of the domain name suggestions that we provide to our users.
Over the next 100 days my goal is to work with my teammates to optimize our current domain name recommendation alorithms, ideally seeing a 20% or more improvement of our current domain name registration rate in areas where we make domain name recommendations. (That would be like 10% to 12%, not 10% to 30%). Might even try to make use of some of Lean Domain Search’s algorithms :)
Over the next few years I’d like to become an expert on website optimization. This not only includes A/B testing, but also analyzing who users are, designing user experiences and copywriting for them, and so on.
Long term, there is a lot of opportunity to implement and learn though testing on WordPress.com, the 7th most highly trafficked site in the United States, which I’m very excited about.
Short term, in addition to the optimization work I’m doing for WordPress.com, I’d like to build my own A/B testing tool from scratch so that I can understand how to properly collect and analyze user-generated data as well as the challenges that come along with those tasks. A practical way to do this is to build a tool for use on Preceden, the web-based timeline maker that I run on the side. Not only can I learn the ins and outs of implementing an A/B testing tool, but also hopefully optimize Preceden a bit along the way.
Over the next 100 days, my goal is to implement a simple Rails app that collects information about events taking place on Preceden and lets me perform a simple analysis of the data. Specifically, across a specific date range, what is the conversion rate across multiple events (say, loading the sign up page, signing up, and adding something to your timeline).
4. Family Tree
I have a pretty big extended family. For example, one of my great grandfathers had 8 siblings, most of whom had kids whom had kids whom had kids, some of whom have kids and that’s just on one side of the family. Some of the older folks in my family have bits and pieces of knowledge about who these people are or were (many are deceased) but there’s no single resource to find out these details and I worry that as more and more folks pass away this information will become lost forever.
Over the last few days I sat down with my grandmother and her sister and started piecing together their side of the family tree on Geni.com (which is excellent by the way). I’m thrilled with how it’s gone so far (148 people and counting just from my mother’s mother’s side of the family), but there is still a ton of missing information and it’s going to take some legwork on our part to contact the knowledgeable folks that are still alive to find out about a lot of these people.
Over the next 100 days, my goal is work with at least 15 members of my family and extended family to improve the thoroughness of our family tree. This is easier said than done because there is a strong inverse correlation between how much people know (because they’ve been around a while) and how well they can use a computer, meaning that it’s not as simple as emailing around a link to our family tree on Geni.com and asking folks to go at it.
5. Public Speaking
For the last few months I’ve been attending a local Toastmasters group to improve my public speaking skills. I’ve completed 2 speeches and plan to stick with it until I’m completely comfortable public speaking or close to it. (I’d also like to write a post about Toastmasters at some point because it’s something that almost everybody can benefit from.)
Over the next 100 days, my goal is to give at least 3 more speeches at my local Toastmasters group.
Regardless of how these endeavors go, I’d like to share what I learn as I go with anyone that’s interested. Committing to blogging about these experiences is also another way to make me accountable for finishing which will be important for some of the harder goals (the fitness one specifically).
Over the next 100 days, my goal is to publish at least 8 new blog posts.
And that’s about it :)
I’ve got a lot to learn with respect to each of these areas (in a sense that’s the entire point) so if you have any suggestions on any of this or even whether to do them at all, I’d love to chat. You can leave a comment below or by email at matthew.h.mazur [at] gmail.com. Cheers!