How to Write Personal OKRs

It’s the beginning of a new year, and many of us are thinking about our goals for 2022. Do you have any? In this post, I’ll teach you how to write personal OKRs to clearly define and track your progress towards those goals.

What is an OKR?

I was first introduced to OKRs at work, but I soon started using them for my personal goals because they provide a clear and measurable way to track progress. I’ve been using them for the past three years, and they’ve helped me better define my goals from vague ideas to concrete, real things I can accomplish. So let’s dive in!

First, what the heck is an OKR? OKRs are a goal setting framework often used in business to set goals and track outcomes. This framework is used at some of the world’s top organizations like Intel, Google and Amazon.

The actual term “OKR” stands for objective and key results. Objectives are significant, clearly defined goals. Key results are the measurable criteria by which we can measure the achievement of those goals. Usually, a complete OKR is comprised of one objective and 3-5 key results.

Examples of OKRs in Action

Let’s take a look at a few examples. For the first one, maybe you’d like to become debt free. Your OKR could look something like this:

  • Objective: Become debt free.
  • Key Results:
    • Download Mint and start tracking all account balances.
    • Pay off $20,000 in student loan debt.
    • Pay off $5,000 in credit card debt.

Now, maybe you want to read more books this year. How about an OKR like this:

  • Objective: Read 10 books in 2022.
  • Key Results:
    • Make a list of 10 books to read.
    • Finish 10 books.

Here is another example for someone with saving and investing goals:

  • Objective: Progress towards financial independence.
  • Key Results:
    • Fully fund my IRA with $6,000.
    • Fully fund my 401k with $19,500.
    • Increase my emergency fund to $10,000.

You’ll notice that with all of these examples, the objective is clear. “Read 10 books this year” doesn’t leave much room for interpretation; you know exactly what that means. In case there is any question, the key results tell you, in smaller steps, what needs to be done to achieve the objective.

Measuring Success

When measuring progress throughout the year, and ultimately to see whether you achieved a goal or not, you can score key results with a percentage completed. If the goal was to save $100 and you saved $80, you would score that as 80%.

That said, it’s actually up to you to decide what kind of score defines success. If you’re consistently hitting 100% of your goals, they might be too easy.

On the other hand, for an ambitious goal you might want to consider being happy even with a lower score. If I had an OKR to learn to dance, for example, I would consider even just 10% a success.

If you’re trying something that you’ve never done before, or saving more than last year, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit 100% on your personal OKRs. There’s always next year.

Tracking OKRs

Tracking one or two OKRs is easy, and can be as simple as sticking a post-it note on your fridge. If you want to set a lot of goals, you might want to create a spreadsheet or dedicated page in your notebook or notes app. I suggest that whatever your method, you make sure that you’ll be looking at the OKRs often to keep them in mind.

There are also professional tools out there, like Gtmhub. These tools are overkill for personal OKRs, but might be helpful for an organization.

Here is an example of one of my own OKRs below. I use a simple Google Sheet to track my progress throughout the year. If I were to fully find my IRA tomorrow, I would update that row to 100%. These are very ambitious goals for me, so I would consider even just 70% to be a success.

This is a finance-related personal OKR.
This is a finance-related personal OKR.

Read on…

I hope that helps explain how to write personal OKRs! You can create them for any kind of fitness, health, finance, or other goals you might have. It’s a flexible framework that can be applied to any field.

Want to learn more about OKRs? For an excellent book, check out Measure What Matters by John Doerr.

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