2020 Goal Retrospective

Another year, another yearly goal retrospective. This year included a grab bag of curveballs, most notably COVID. Although there was a lot of loss this year, I'm blessed to be able to say this year was really good for me and my family.

Without further ado, here's the retro!

What Worked

  • Not doing the quarterly reviews and focusing on the monthly reviews. In this season of life (young kids) quiet/focused time is precious and it's not possible to spend too much time planning together (or individually) for that matter.
  • Small, specific goals that created a habit or helped figure out a workflow worked well. We should continue to pick key habits and work on them through a focused goal. It's important to have only one or two of these per year to prevent your goals from becoming too boring.
  • The simple habit tracking sheet (gsheet with the number of times per week I did my target list of habits) provided a nice weekly reminder of the habits I want to build.
  • I started this year reconnecting with a group of friends focused on changing a handful of specific habits. It's been a great motivator to 'flip the defaults' on some behaviors at the beginning of the year.
  • I spent a lot of time over the last year being more intentional about my screen time usage. This has paid off: I feel more focused and less distracted than in the past even if it means I'm the "horrible texter" in group chats. It's worth continuing to improve my systems & disciplines around controlling screen time, it pays a handsome dividend.

What Didn't

  • Goals that required lots of communication/coordination with my wife and weren't essential to this year, didn't get done. Getting time alone to work on common projects is challenging with young kids. I don't think there is a great solution to this other than being very careful about committing to goals that fall into this category.
  • Goals that weren't impactful to get done this year were hard to prioritize. Be thoughtful about goals that are 'nice to haves', or something that is very exciting/an important long-term goal, but not something that can be tied to real progress this year.
  • If the goal isn't really important to get done by the end of the year, don't include it. For example, one of my goals was completing a list of house projects. Most of these were not essential and I made progress on these without intentionally prioritizing them. I enjoy learning new skills and doing things with my hands, so I'd made certain improvements a priority without any additional willpower.
  • We didn't hold each other accountable for goals that didn't make any progress by default. In our monthly review, we spent time reviewing the month and what we could improve, but not tracking against the goals we committed to.
  • We didn't adjust our goals and revisit some of the things that were just impractical after covid hit. Historically, we've been bad at adjusting goals after setting them. It feels like admitting defeat, which is something I hate doing. I need to get better at just accepting that life is dynamic and the focus of a year could change on a dime.
  • I naively thought we had the parenting thing down. Kids pushed the limits of our parenting skills this year. My wife and I have spent a lot of time in the second half of the year talking, reading books, implementing new ideas, etc relating to our parenting. This took a lot of time and was the right place to put our efforts, but it was not reflected in our goals (either explicitly or by reducing the number of additional goals). I don't expect this year to be too different as our oldest continues to get... well... older and we continue to attempt to figure out how to parent well.

What Should Change?

  • Don't include goals that impact us more than a year out.
  • Don't include goals that aren't critical and will partially get completed by default. Think about which goals require dedicated willpower to change behavior or make significant progress and focus on those.
  • Make reviewing our goals and keeping each other accountable to them part of our monthly review.
  • Either have goals tied to parenting or leave lots of margin to include time for parenting over the next year.