So, by the end of June, after a long period of physical inactivity, I found myself with an overweight BMI and an unpleasant feeling of discomfort that was worsening my quality of life, as well as my work capabilities (see for instance the Harvard Business Review article To improve your work performance, get some exercise). That’s why I decided to turn things around by following a diet and getting back into physical activity. I also chose to use OKRs, the Objective-Key Results framework as a binding force for my tasks, to maintain focus , and to structure daily and weekly feedback based on the key results I’ve set.
How did it go? here’s the account of the results achieved.
I will say right away that I am particularly pleased with the results achieved, which have marked a personal transformation in terms of physical abilities and well-being, as well as the overall attitude. Additionally, I was able to use OKRs in a context, that of personal transformation, which proved to be a good fit for the occasion.
The overarching goal “regain health and fitness” had two key results:
a) Key Result #1 was a 6 Kg. weight loss and;
b) Key Result #2 was about getting back into motion, defined by a minimum number of kilometers (10 Km) to cover in one single session. In the past, I used to run marathons and Ironman races, but those times are long gone. I had to start over from scratch with patience and a good dose of humility.
I achieved the objective by reaching both key results in full. Currently, my weight is 72.3 kg, down from 81 kg at the beginning of the quarter, and from the KR1 target of 75 kg. Regarding running, I completed an exploratory 10 km run in early August, which I finished successfully, also without feeling completely exhausted. However, after returning from vacation, I sprained my ankle, and as of today, I can only run for short distances without pain. Once the ankle is healed, I will have to rump up the volume again, hence I will maintain the same key result of running 10 km in one session for the next quarter.
In 2024, I will set a ‘Health and Fitness’ goal defined by the balance of aerobic fitness and strength, with exercises borrowed from gymnastics (pull-ups, L-sits, Handstands) as outcomes and key results to achieve. I will split the yearly OKRs into quarterly and monthly ones later, next quarter. If reached, these results will guarantee a significant improvement in my health and will drive an active all-rounded lifestyle. Regarding weight, the idea for the next months is to maintain what has already been achieved, in a sort of business-as-usual mode. Hence, I am not setting any weight-related KR, but I will monitor the level reached to avoid significant deviations.
Did the OKRs work?
If we look at the results, it seems that OKRs worked, of course. We all know how simple it is in theory to lose weight (eat less, move more), but how challenging it is to shed those kilograms. This is very similar to the way a lean-agile transformation is carried out: we have a series of patterns that we apply, expecting certain results, but the context makes the difference, and if we don’t take it into account, the results are at least disappointing.
Could I have achieved the same results without OKR? Perhaps, but I am sure OKRs helped me to stay on track.
Like many, I’m not new to setting goals, but explicitly stating them on screen and having a sort of self-accountability helped me stay motivated and on track, preventing significant deviation. Besides having a clearly measurable outcome, the distinction between key results and objectives has helped me maintain focus, with the main reference being the goal of well-being and health. Hence, I would say that OKRs have at least reinforced the effectiveness of the approach, maintaining focus and accountability.
So, in 2024, I will continue using OKRs for my personal goals, incorporating new areas such as skill development in both my personal and business life. I highly recommend giving it a try, and if you find it effective, stick with it.