Goal setting is a fine art. We all have high aspirations for ourselves, but many New Years resolutions are broad statements without action plans. Maybe that is why many people don’t keep to their resolutions. It might be corny, but my company emphasizes S.M.A.R.T. goals during the annual professional-goal setting program. Smart goals are:
- S: specific
- M: measurable
- A: attainable
- R: relevant
- T: time-bound
Each goal is then broken into smaller tasks. Where personal goals are concerned, I’d wager that Specific, Measurable, and Time-bound are the most important attributes to keep in mind. My resolutions/goals often run aground because of two things: 1) I didn’t break the larger goal down into daily or weekly actions, or 2) I forgot to keep doing the actions after a few weeks.
Enter Mindbloom, a web-based app that aims to help you “grow the life you want.” The people behind Mindbloom have essentially created a small game that rewards “players” for completing actions they have set up for themselves. By continuously repeating actions, Mindbloom players may develop new habits.
I’ve started using Mindbloom and it has helped keep me on track for my 2012 resolutions. Sadly, Mindbloom does not (yet?) have a way to state a large personal goal and then help you break it down into smaller tasks, mini-goals, or actions. You need to identify those smaller actions on your own at this point. There is no way to track your progress in that larger goal, but you can see how often you have accomplished the smaller tasks.
Mindbloom is designed to help you identify daily actions you would like to add to your routine. You can schedule actions—I am scheduled to clean out my email inbox (by deleting or archiving 20 emails) every Thursday and stretch every evening. You can keep your actions in a simple list, and check them off whenever you do them. You can add inspirational quotes and images to a slideshow, which Mindbloom rewards for viewing.
One of my goals this year is to develop my skills in crafting (sewing, knitting) and cooking. So I’ve loaded my inspiration slideshow with quotes about creativity, expression, and pictures of food. I have created actions that encourage me to work at least 5 hours each week on learning these skills and finish one new craft project each month.
Your life is represented by a tree that reflects how well you are keeping up at your actions. For those only interested in focusing on your financial and creative areas of your life, your tree might only have two branches. But if you are trying to build new habits in many life areas (career, spirituality, relationships, health, etc) your tree will have more branches. It works a little like a Tamagachi pet (remember those?). If you keep up on your actions, your tree grows and stays green. If you neglect this checklist, your tree will wither and brown. I haven’t yet killed my tree, but after the holidays (when I was without internet) my tree was getting a little dry. If you have friends who also use Mindbloom (it connects through Facebook and Twitter) you can see how their trees are growing in your “forest of friends.
You progress through the game by collecting seeds each day to level up. A healthy tree produces more seeds than an unhealthy tree. There is a cute bumblebee that greets you when you sign in each day, congratulating you on leveling up, collecting seeds, completing 30 actions in any given life area, etc. I’ve logged into Mindbloom in the middle of a crappy day and that peppy little bee managed to lift up my mood because it reminded me of what I HAD accomplished that day.
Mindbloom is free to use, and if you own an iPhone, there is a companion app (Bloom*) that can be used to remind you of your actions while you are on the go. You can also access the mobile version of your Mindbloom page for checking off completed actions. I have found it very helpful and while I wish it had a “larger goal” setting option, it sounds like the company is open to suggestions.
Good luck and Happy New Year!