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2023 Goal Retrospective

Tags: goals • Categories: Leadership

Table of Contents

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 going forward.

(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

  • Tracking daily + weekly habits works to reinforce their importance. Setting clear goals with specific metrics has continued to be successful. When a goal is less specific (no dates, no metrics, more of a ending state / lagging indicator vs input-based)
  • A shared goal with my wife to go on two sans-kids trips (harder than it sounds with four young kids!) was great. Having a shared goal which is exciting for both of us is life-giving.
  • Working in an office with an awesome business partner has been great. Great to get out of my home office as much as I love the distraction-free home environment. Hard to replicate the energy of being in person with others.
  • Not explicitly part of our goals this year, but probably the most transformational aspect of this year was investing in a lot more help managing our family (babysitting, cleaning, etc). The big unlock here was inviting a student to live with us in exchange for babysitting & housework help: the overhead of coordinating babysitters and other housework doesn’t feel like it’s worth the effort most of the time (are you going to get a babysitter to go out for an hour? No.). Having someone live with you makes spontaneously getting out of the house possible with young kids.
  • Mobile mechanic. They are cheaper (25-50% compared to a shot) and way more convenient (you don’t need to schedule a car drop-off; they can come to wherever you are). This has saved me quite a bit of time.
  • Treadmill with a weight pack. I’ve been doing this a couple times a week for about an hour at a time with a treadmill underneath my desk. When I’m too busy to get a real workout in, this pushes me pretty hard without taking any additional time. Add some kettlebell swings and you’ll feel like you got a great workout.
  • I’ve taken health more seriously in the last couple years. One of the changes I made this year is cutting out dairy, gluten, sugar, seed oils, alcohol, and processed foods ~80% of the time (can’t hold to this when traveling or out with friends as easily). I feel quite a bit better when I hold to this strictly and many blood markers have improved quite a bit. For an Italian, it’s brutal to give up gluten + dairy, but it’s felt worth it overall (as an aside, there’s something deeply broken with the american food system—I’m curious to dig into this more, reach out if you have any opinions / startup ideas here).
  • I blogged a lot more this past year! The most since 2015. This is largely because I’ve left the day-job and have more time to work through the backlog of draft posts I’ve had sitting around for years. I enjoy writing and would like to continue spending time on this the next year.
  • Involving the kids in life chores, no matter how small. This is a great way to spend time with the kids, passively teach them how to do life things, and make these annoying life chores more enjoyable.
  • Weekly + monthly reviews have continued to be a good cadence to run our life well.

What Didn’t Work

  • I’ve been using Streaks to track daily habits. It’s a great app, but I added too many habits to the app to track which became annoying. Also, some habits required multiple steps to complete throughout the day, which became useless to track.
  • I didn’t hit my health goal for the third year in a row. I’ve been in the best shape of my life, but can’t seem to hit my muscle mass target.
  • Implementing an end of day routine. I wanted to do this, but it just didn’t happen despite multiple attempts. Having a structured routine at the end of the day isn’t possible with young kids.
  • Working at night. If there are undone emails or tasks at the end of the day, I’ll often try to work at night after the kids are asleep. Sometimes this can be effective if I’m "in the zone" on a particular problem or type of work, but it requires switching contexts it’s not effective for me to try to work at night. I end up moving much more slowly.
  • Stopping tech usage after 9pm. This ties into the working at night a bit. Holding to no tech usage after 9pm was unsuccessful.
  • Screen free day once a week. This did happen, but not consistently. It’s hard to not have any screen-related chores to do for an entire day.
  • Not reading enough. I read 10 books this year; last year I read about 20. I’d like to read 30-60m a day but this didn’t happen most of the time.
  • Lots of noise. Across all areas of life, I felt like things were noisy. My attention and focus felt eroded. There are no obvious "big rocks" here to remove to decrease noise, but I need to spend more time thinking about this to understand what I could change to decrease the noise/distraction in my life. For instance, I like to listen to podcasts but I wonder if these contribute to a level of noise in my head and I should instead leave more time for silence / focus?

What Needs to Change

  • Hold to 30-60m of reading each morning. This is critical for me over time and it’s just a matter of getting back into the habit of it and treating it as non-negotiable.
  • Limit the number of daily habits I track to things that have (a) a single step and can (b) be done right away. For instance "drink 3L of water" is impossible to check off and therefore it becomes noise and ignored over time.
  • Spend time researching strength training a bit more. I’m still working off of the same knowledgege I acquired a couple years ago when I started going to the gym, but I haven’t refreshed my understanding here since I’ve built a habit of working out. A little more knowledge here may help me break through the ceiling I’ve run into with my health targets.
  • Give up on an end-of-day routine. Dinner and onward is for my kids and anything I get done after this is random and a bonus, at least while the kids are young.
  • Reflect on how to remove noise. Do I need to completely delete accounts? Declare task/email bankruptcy more often? Can I automate certain areas of my life? Delegate more? I’m not sure exactly what to do here, but should spend time reflecting on this.