Personal OKRs are not the only way to live

Quarterly Personal OKR

After spending some time in IT, I’ve learned the importance of setting goals. It is the thing, which may keep the team or even the whole organization aligned in understanding and delivering the bigger picture. OKRs are super powerful for providing everyone with the purpose instead of just making individual contributors the Jira-issue machines.

In my personal life, I became goal-oriented. When I do not have defined goals, I become the person who may spend half of the day scrolling the mobile phone with no purpose. Having a quarterly defined plan and daily to-do lists changes everything for me and boosts my happiness level. Of course, having the ability to modify OKRs in the middle of the quarter is ok.

Just like many people say - plans are of little importance, but planning is essential. For me, having a plan is more important than tracking progress.

Two types of people

I’ve also learned that not everyone is like me when it comes to having a plan. I am the type of person, who likes to have some objective and actionable items, which may help push me towards making the steps to reach an objective.

However, there is also another group of people, who do not need to have a concrete plan and they do not need to define their own objectives nor key results. They like to know only a direction towards which they would like to proceed.

We value setting goals and achieving them in the business world. Pretty often, it also applies to the personal way of living. In my opinion, as we are all different nobody can tell you the silver bullet on how to live your personal life.

Personal Development Goal Examples

For example, let’s assume Rafal and Andrew want to play the piano.

Rafal may be happy with defining the objective for 2021 Q2 as “Improve piano skills” and the set of its key results, the individual OKRs. It may look like:

Rafal would have the specific set of steps, that he wants to make to improve his piano playing skills. Getting the key results done would make him sure “I got better at a piano playing”.

At the same time, Andrew would like to spend the 2nd quarter of 2021 with the goal “I want to keep learning playing piano”. And, that’s it.

Are the key results the one way to live?

No. Both approaches are great as long as they make you happy and satisfied.

Statistically, probably the ones who set measurable key results would achieve a little bit more at the end of the quarter. However, it is ok to perform something without a concrete set of measurements.

Life is also about having some fun and not measuring every step we take.

How do you prefer to define the goals?

I (Rafal) am the person, who likes to define objectives and key results. I set it for all the activities, which I wouldn’t normally do if I wouldn’t write these down. It makes me more productive and happier. I review them at least every one or two weeks.

However, a few months ago, I started to understand the people, who choose that different approach. They pretty often combine this way of living with a strong passion for some specific activity and they just want to go with it.

It’s ok to “just keep doing something”. It is not mandatory to have a to-do list. It is not necessary for everyone to set their goals.

How the OKRs work for me?

On 2021-06-30, at the end of the quarter, I opened Notion and reviewed the list of my personal OKRs, which I set for 2021 Q2. I went through the list, and it told me that I am about to “run 15 kilometers on a single session” and “ride 60 kilometers on a bike on a single session”; these two were defined for the “Stay Fit” objective. It forced me to change my outfit and go out immediately.

Also, there was an objective “Improve career” with the key result about reading the “Web application security” book by Sekurak. It made me read the last 50 pages on that day.

Checkboxes are powerful. Goal-setting works for me.

Should you use individual OKRs?

Do you like to define your key results, or just objectives/direction? Or none of these? All of these approaches are great if it helps you to be happy.

What’s worth is just making a conscious decision on the path, that you choose for yourself. If you haven’t decided yet - maybe personal goals / OKRs can help.

Examples of Objectives

I will leave the key results for you, but if you would like to get some inspiration for 2021 Q3 then this is the list of Objectives, which I set for myself in the past:


[1] How Google sets goals: OKRs / Startup Lab Workshop