Dear Andy,

I’ve been using OKRs in my job as a consultant for years, but I want to apply them to my fitness journey now, as well. Here’s what I have so far — can you help?

O: Lose Weight.

KR1: Take fitness more seriously.
KR2: Watch what I eat.
KR3: Start going to the gym more.
KR4: Train for a 5K.


We're sharing reader questions, answered by the team. Named in the honor of Andy Grove, the creator of OKRs.

Hi Elias!

Thanks for writing in and for your great question.

While OKRs have historically been used by businesses and corporations, they also are a fabulous tool for personal goal setting — both in and out of the office. Your OKRs are definitely on the right track — let’s see what we can do to refine them, shall we?

To start off, your Objective, though admirable, could use a little beefing up, so to speak. I bet there’s a bolder, more ambitious, and more aspirational way to phrase your Objective that will, indeed, help you lose weight, but also will have further reaching results.

Let’s get more specific. Why do you want to lose weight? Perhaps there’s a pair of old jeans you’d like to fit into. Perhaps you’d like to lose 20 pounds in time for a high school reunion. Maybe it’s more serious and you need to lose enough weight to avoid surgery or some other invasive means of medical intervention. The difference between these (hypothetical) Objectives and your previous “lose weight,” is that they all express a specific and personal reason to achieve the goal. Whatever your “why” is, make sure to include it in your Objective.

The main issue I see with your KRs is that they are not numerically measurable. When asked whether or not you’ve achieved a particular KR, you need to be able to answer with a definitive yes or no. How seriously do you take fitness right now, and how will you know when you’ve taken it more seriously? You say you want to go to the gym more — what is your definition of “more”? One more time a week? Eight more times a month? You want your KRs to be concrete, committed, and, most of all, measurable.

Lastly, while I love the idea of training for a 5K, I think we can stretch your final KR a bit further. Instead of training for a 5K, what if you aspired to finish one, instead? What if you aspire to finish one in under 30 minutes? What if you aspire to beat your jerk cousin’s time who’s been running 5Ks for years and won’t ever stop bragging about it at Thanksgiving? I’m just spitballing here. You want your KRs to stretch you further than you think you can go. If your 5K time ends up being 31:25, instead of 29:59, well then great! Remember, OKR results aren’t measured in terms of failure or success, it’s all about setting the most ambitious goals you can and seeing what you achieve for yourself in pursuit of them.

With all that said, here are my proposed OKRs for you, Elias:

Make fitness and health a priority.
Increase pushup amount by x every week.
Reduce fast food consumption by x%.
Be able to complete a 5k within x minutes.
Lose x amount of lbs.

The specifics of these OKRs can (and should be) adjusted to realistically fit your particular situation, but the basics are there. The biggest change I made here was turning your original Objective into a KR. I didn’t want to take away your initial goal, but I think it works much better as a KR rather than an Objective. This way your initial “lose weight” goal is not discarded or forgotten, but instead, it’s a contribution to a greater Objective as a whole.

Hope this helps, Elias, and best of luck!

Billy from the What Matters Team


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