2022 Goal Retrospective
I’ve been doing retrospectives on my yearly goals for a while now. Here’s my review of last year’s goals and my thoughts about what I can change in this years goals.
(as an aside, I’ve been working on open sourcing some of the templates we use as a family to plan out our life—if you are interested in taking a look while I refine them, drop me an email.)What Worked I started using Streaks this year to track key habits I wanted to maintain or start. For well-structured habits, this worked. I had a daily recurring p1 task on todoist to track habits on Streaks and that was effective at keeping me looking at it daily. Tracking weekly goals on a google sheet (tied to our weekly review) worked well as a recurring reminder of weekly and monthly habits I want to improve on. Goals with very clear metrics continued to work well. Only focusing on two habits per year continued to be a good practice. Anymore than two is too much. Building new habits, or replacing engrained behaviors, is more challenging than achieving a specific goal. Creating a shared goal with my wife to get 2x kid-free trips away worked really well. This is an exciting goal for both of us, and it was great for our marriage. A great "pressure release" valve which allows us lots of time for conversation and connection in the midst of raising small kids and a demanding job. Parenting Protip: we’ve found the all-inclusive Mexico resorts work really well. They are cheap, great food, great beaches, and if you are in the west, great Mexico beaches are ~2hr direct flight. I love "adventure travel" (airbnbs in a unpopular town) but at this stage of life with small kids, going somewhere where you make zero decisions (including "where do we go to eat") is really helpful for maximizing time for conversation and reflection. The effort I’ve put into digital minimalism has continued to pay off. ActivityWatch has been great for tracking my computer usage and understanding where I’m wasting time. Setting time limits on my phone apps, and iterating on them weekly, has been effective in reducing overall screen time. I’m terrible at gifts and my wife loves getting gifts. Not a good combination. I finally solved this by putting key ‘special dates’ on my todo list (3w before the actual date) and kept a running list of presents/things she wanted. This worked well. What Didn’t Goals without extremely clear outcomes did not work well. For "life decision" goals it’s worth thinking about the particular decision outcome you can track against. This is challenging, especially if you aren’t sure exactly what the outcome is. Most of my goals over the last year were not exciting. This was partly the season of life, and this next year I need to focus on some really exciting goals. You can’t have boring goals each year. Habits are tricky and have continued to be elusive to consistently form. When a habit is forward looking and you primarily track your habits in the morning, it doesn’t work. Habits that are tracked need to be something you get done right now. Habits which change a behavior compared to starting a new behavior (like eating differently or doing a screen-less day each week) are not easily built through a habit tracking app. I’m not sure what needs to be done here, but my gut instinct is: You have to involve another person to keep you accountable Set aside a large block of time to implement any structural changes to make Focus exclusively on a hard habit like this; do not try to change more than one of these at once. Create an obnoxious reminder about this habit. Ex: house-wide alexa announcement. Relatedly, if you can’t easily track a habit, it is hard/impossible to build. Only try to build trackable habits. What Should Change All goals must have an extremely clear outcome. Really think about goals and make sure they are precise enough. Refine ActivityWatch reports, by improving filtering & categorization, to give me a very clear idea of where I’m wasting time on my computer. Try the iOS downtime feature to block phone usage on a more rigorous schedule. If this doesn’t work, have my wife set the screen time password. This will especially help with stopping phone usage at night and on my screen free day. Some ideas for habits which change existing behavior: You have to involve another person to keep you accountable. Get my wife, or a close friend, on board with habit changes that have been hard to make. Set aside a large block of time to implement any structural changes to make Focus exclusively on a hard habit like this; do not try to change more than one of these at once. Create an obnoxious reminder about this habit. Ex: house-wide alexa announcement. Try using OKR format for more expansive goals that lend themselves to weak metric-based definitions. The KRs can be a bit less interesting as long as the aggregate KRs add up to completing the challenging/exciting goal.