New Year’s Resolutions are notorious for not lasting very long. Once the hype and hope of the festive season are over, our wishful thinking meets the harsh reality of daily routine. Typically, come February, all our good intentions for the New Year are quickly forgotten. Could 2012 be any different?

Tokyo Weekender has asked three Tokyo businessmen about their “secret weapons” for realizing goals and executing projects in the Year of the Dragon.

In our gadget-mad day and age, we might be inclined to use some software tools on our PC, laptop or smart phones but are they any better than old-fashioned notepads and markers?

Pros and Cons of software packages:

Trond Varlid, President of EMC Quest Corporation, a career and life coaching consultancy, sees merits in both.

“Using pen & paper to make notes and capture ideas stimulates your brain and your thinking. However, software tools can handle a high degree of complexity and large amounts of data and they are usually very flexible when it comes to amending and updating information as the process towards completing the goal or project evolves.”

iMacs and software tools

Columnist and speaker William Reed, President of Reed Research Institute, argues in favor of using a software tool.

“Handwriting is more personal, more portable, and you can include sketches and doodles but a software tool enables you to use multimedia, hyperlinks and to share digital content with collaboration partners and on social media.”

Corporate Strategy consultant Roger Brookin, President of Petal KK, is skeptical about the usefulness of software tools.

“A software tool must always be accessible and you have to be able to share with others to make it work. Many years of experience have taught me that whatever the software tool, it will never change your habits.”

What are their recommendations then to put our 2012 New Year’s Resolutions into action?


Tip 1: Goalscape

Varlid is an enthusiastic user of Goalscape, a software package that defines, manages and tracks the progress of goals and projects. Goalscape was developed by a team of athletes racing yachts in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and it proved an effective way to peak performance and goals achievement.

“Goalscape visually shows you the overall structure of your goals or projects, including all main components and their relative importance, as well as the degree of completion in one and the same picture effectively. This enables you to quickly determine the critical remaining tasks to be completed.”

For job and business purposes being able to show the relative importance as well as tracking progress is particularly important. Goalscape includes several features for this, such as the ability to color sub-goals and their components and to set start and target end dates for each sub-goal.

“I am I using Goalscape for all my major business projects, including the establishment of a new company, the creation of a network to support contemporary musicians and a wine application project as well as major personal goals that I am aiming for.”

Goalscape Connect, an online version of the desktop package is well suited for sharing team goals and projects in companies and organizations and for tacking goal-related communications through a chat function for each sub-goal.

“All team members and other relevant people can conduct their communication about each sub-goal through the chat function and thereby maintain a thread of the entire communication for that particular goal.”


Tip 2: Personal Brain

Reed is an avid user of PersonalBrain, a mind mapping and personal knowledge base software package. PersonalBrain helps to visualize and organize the connections in our brain and to access ideas for review anytime later.

“Its interface is non-linear and interactive and it feels a lot like the way that the brain actually works. It facilitates creative thinking unlike many software programs which force you to think like a computer does.”

PersonalBrain contains many useful features, such as calendar tracking, tags, cross linking, filters for selective display and the ability to attach files and links and it enables you to see a project at different levels of altitude with a good balance of thought and action.

What’s more, PersonalBrain has the ability to publish to a so-called WebBrain where you can share your projects in the same format with other people, regardless of whether they have the PersonalBrain software or not, and connect to other devices that you are using.

“As a columnist, I archive all articles for each of my different columns in a single WebBrain, which are then synched and managed easily from my desktop.”

Some people use PersonalBrain to organize all of their projects or even their computer desktop but it works equally well if you just want to write an article, plan a presentation or a strategy for your next career move.

“PersonalBrain is especially useful for long-term goals and projects because it can handle complexity and it is great for capturing ideas and information as progress.”

Evernote software

Tip 3: Evernote

Brookin recommends using the Evernote software for note-taking and archiving in combination with Google Docs’ office suite and data storage services. He argues that this combination works well as a means of capturing his thoughts in whatever format.

“Evernote can double as a scribble pad and I like taking photos with my iPad, upload them on Evernote and having them made searchable.”

Brookin is using Evernote in combination with Google Docs for all his business projects, accounting tasks, to-do lists and for following his hobbies, which includes creative writing.

“As an avid Mac user, I value Google Docs’ inherent advantage of simultaneous editing and also that it allows me to interact with people who still use Office format. Google Docs enables all members in my network to collaborate intensively on conceptual work and even improve on my deathless prose.”

Further Info:

All three software tools are available in English and in Japanese. Goalscape is available as paid commercial edition. PersonalBrain and Evernote are available as free editions or as paid commercial editions.

Text by: Alena Eckelmann