The Tyranny of Goal-Setting

A combination of writing Learning Objectives at work, and hearing people talk about either NOT setting New Years resolutions, or HOW to create good ones has got me thinking about the tyranny of goal-setting.

I regularly use and talk about the SMART model in my work (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Based, in case it’s a model you’ve not heard or have forgotten about it’s so old).

But sometimes that gets in the way of the big audacious, fuzzy, exploratory goals. So this year I’m going to make more conscious decisions about when they have to be precise, and when they have to be fuzzy.


Talking mental health and autism

The last two days were spent at Harbour Centre Campus in downtown Vancouver, where we hosted a two day conference on the topics of mental health and autism. The Executive Director at ACT brought together an excellent collection of speakers; international, adults on the spectrum, researchers, and practitioners. This variety of speaker provides many different approaches and understanding of the topic, and also reinforces the commonalities (one of ACT’s objectives is always to break down the silos, to get the researchers, practitioners and families talking to each other productively).

This was our fourth time delivering the conference via live webstreaming, and each time it gets a bit better:

  • I wrote stage directions to make sure that people stood where I wanted them to enable easier filming. This will result in a better video, too.
  • There was less online “chatter” during the presentations – I hope that means that people were simply paying attention and taking notes. It did make it easier to see the questions being asked (which were thoughtful and on topic).
  • I was posting links to references and support groups to our social media accounts as we went on, and that was popular amongst both attendees and the rest of our audience. The objective was to reinforce the learning for attendees (check) and to reinforce the importance and value of these events to those who did not attend. The resources that I was able to share extend our reach, and the communities lifelong learning.
  • The final panel of the conference was structured (and worked!) as an opportunity for reflection and tieing things together. The speakers referenced other talks as they discussed their own learning and practice, issuing challenges to the audience. Overall, it was a powerful way to end the conference.


Monday is more summation; we’ll be trying to collect more promised links and resources to send out. The conference may be over, but the learning, change and implementation certainly isn’t.

What happens if I remove 20% of my website?

As I’ve noted, our organization has lost our government contract (they’re taking it in-house). One of the services we provide is that we host a list of approved professionals, the “RASP”. We have several pages on our site on this topic (how to search and how to apply for example), and this accounts for 22% of our landing pages in 2016.

Of all our visitors, 22% start on one of these pages, and while some move to non-RASP related pages, many don’t (these are task-oriented visitors). That’s going to be a significant loss in visitors; but will it impact the rest of our services?

I’m trying to look at our Analytics stats to figure out what we can learn to help new viewers find our website, and to organize and streamline the website. This is part of my Board Report, to show how we will be planning for life beyond the government contract (I also won’t be employed by the much smaller organization, so we want a really streamlined website). So what am I asking from the stats?

  • how do people arrive at our website?
  • what pages do people visit?
  • what pages do people land on?
  • how many people visit the donations pages specifically?

What do we do with those stats once we have them?

  • plan to increase visitors nationally and internationally
  • plan increase visitors from “not Google”
    • Social Media
    • Emails
    • Links on other sites
  • target topics in which to develop or link to more information
  • create targeted GoogleAds


This is my starting place: what am I missing?

What does a good day look like?

I had a job interview yesterday, and one of the questions was “what does a good day look like?” I’d not thought of that before, and it’s SUCH a good question. My initial (insufficient) answer was:

  1. Opportunity to casually throw around an idea or process with a colleague; not a debate, but a series of “what ifs”and “what abouts”
  2. Putting on my headphones and deep focussing on something, be it writing or planning.


And I think both of those things are true, I’d elaborate. It’s about;

  1. Brainstorming: the bouncing around ideas with a colleague OR members of the larger community (I just participated in an #npmc Twitter Chat, for example), but what’s important is the feeling of excitement and of new possibilities.
  2. Puzzle-Solving: Figuring out a knotty problem (I’ve been known to fist pump in my office!), outlining a project plan, writing some beautiful prose, editing some prose to be half the size!


An even shorter summary: ideas and implementation.

Key accomplishments

I’m looking for work now (our operational contract was not renewed, so we’re winding things down), and thinking about key accomplishments.

Accomplishments can get lost in the daily gains and losses at work. I can see the lost opportunities, and things I want to get done so clearly, but it’s worth celebrating the success, too. What is the norm now, wasn’t necessarily there 5 years ago.

When I started here, our communications strategy was adhoc, off the side of a few desks, and I’ve slowly modernized and formalized our approaches.

  • Visual Consistency: We have consistent branding for our different resource areas, and we use these logos throughout the website, print materials and emails. We’re creating visual reminders for people.
  • Feedback: We’ve always used evaluation forms for our live events, but now we summarize them into one Excel spreadsheet, which includes key quotes from participants that I can use for our marketing materials.
  • Infographics: We reach big in the office, which means that we can’t do it all. A few years ago we ran out of time to do a public Annual Report, so I took the stats from our funder and Board reports to create one-page Infographics:
  • Writing: we have a style guide and checklist for our online and print materials, so that we remember that all print materials need the month/year for example. We always know which is the most current.
  • Social Media: from nearly nothing, we now reach up to 6,000 people a week through Facebook.
  • Strategy: Also known as the “If Amy Gets Hit By a Truck” document; what we use, why and where it all is, our Communications Inventory 2017.
  • Analytics: Beyond the number of visits is a wealth of information. Where do people land? Where do they do next? Do our newsletters drive traffic to the website (spoiler: yes).

And more, but that’s a good summary for now.

Asking for feedback; not just for annual surveys

Inspired by a #NPMC chat on twitter today, I’m reviving a dormant goal I had for my online videos project.

I’m proposing incorporating a one question poll into our monthly newsletter; low-stakes, it’s a means of collecting feedback from the larger community. I hope that the questions would help recipients reflect, normalize their own questions and fears, and direct them towards resources.

I can use Google Forms to embed it right in the email, and the following month, suggest resources related to the answers.