2019 Goal Retrospective

I've been doing retrospective's on my yearly goals for a couple years now. Although it's a little late, I wouldn't want to break the habit (plus, I'm trying to open source my thinking).

Let's go!

What Worked

  • Creating a distinction between habits and goals. I have a separate "habit document" where I document habits that are important to me.
  • Setting a goal to kickstart a habit. Habit-goals shouldn't be all, or even most, of your goals for the year but having one or two habit-goals can be really effective at changing behavior. It was useful to commit to an action (like hiring a personal trainer) to force building momentum for a specific habit.
  • If you've set a goal for the last couple years and haven't been able to make it happen, consider doing something drastic. How can you up the ante and put something on the line associated with the goal? Maybe it's hiring a coach, tying money to it, making a commitment that you can't back out of without causing issues for someone else, etc. Figuring out how to raise the stakes has been hugely helpful.
  • Including a just-for-fun goal: vacation, hobbies, etc that you'll be really motivated to accomplish. This has helped me be excited about the year and maintain motivation for the important but not exciting goals.
  • Setting aside project time as a married couple. It was fun to work on our goals together, and we got some important and run things done during this time. Looking forward to more of this.
  • Joint goals or projects with my wife was really fun and motivating. For instance, we built a garden together this year.
  • Zero-targets. Setting a non-action goal was a great way to break some behaviors I wanted to change.

What Didn't

  • Goals that weren't exciting or specific enough fell to wayside.
  • We didn't do the quarterly review at all. This is the second year that this wasn't an effective practice. In the season of life that we are in (little kids), we just don't have the time to really set aside the time to do a proper quarterly review. We need to rethink this.
  • This may be obvious, but having a kid is a goal in and of itself. We knew we were going to be growing our family, but I didn't account for this in my list of goals. Make sure to a in that year and you need to plan for that.
  • We didn't create "project time" that often individually or as a couple. I wish we blocked off time for projects 2-3x more than we did.

What Needs to Change?

  • Remove the quarterly review. We haven't stuck to it for the last two years and with two young kids carving out that amount of time just isn't practical. Next iteration on this is adding reminders to our monthly review to ask a couple of the questions that we wanted to incorporate into the monthly review.
  • More project time. This is super fun if you set goals at a couple and helps create focus around making progress on goals that are slipping.

Here are some other reflections I had about the year:

  • Many of the exciting life changes have come and gone (moving, buying a house, etc) and we are in a season where family (kids) take up the majority of our time. This means that most of our goals are less exciting, and that's ok. We have to remember that raising amazing kids and being present to them is our top priority. What that requires shifts and changes throughout the year.
  • Some things in our life which need to change are hard to tie to a specific and measurable goal. Mostly because we don't know exactly what needs to change. With two young kids "improving our family balance" is a thing we need to improve, but what that exactly means isn't clear. What we decided to do was pick a specific thing that represented the best forcing function we could think of for improving on the vauge state that we are marching towards, and then adjust the specifics of that goal as we move through the year.
  • Most of your goals shouldn't be actions that you naturally motivated to take. I tend towards this mode and need to think hard about what goals work against things I don't