On 1 January 2018, I set myself five goals for the year. They were that I would:
- write and publish a blog post every week
- publish a set of photos I had taken every month
- save £5,000 by 31 December 2018
- go for a run twice a week
- visit a great place to eat every month
I usually suck at sticking to my New Year’s Resolutions, so this year I tried to do things differently.
The first thing I did was make them public to make myself accountable. I made a dashboard so my progress was visible.
Instead of setting big and amorphous goals, I set goals that were specific and easily measurable. My thinking was that the more regularly I was able to tell myself I was making progress, the more motivated I would be to do them.
I built in some redundancy too. Instead of making one big goal to achieve for the year, I created five goals to ensure that I had a reason to keep at it if something went wrong. I also said that I only needed to do 80% of each goal to claim “success”.
How did I do?
It is 16 December 2018, and as I write this, I have achieved a grand total of one goal by my own definition of success; I have been to 10 places that I consider “a great place to eat” this year; more than 80% of the target. Huzzah!
Unfortunately that means I failed to achieve four out of the five goals I set out to achieve this year. It’s not all doom though.
Write a blog post every week
Whilst I didn’t manage write 52 blog posts this year, I have written more posts this year than I have in any single year since I started blogging.
My previous record in one year was 13 blog posts. This year, including this post, I’ve written 16 posts, and I’ve still a few more to publish this year. I missed the target by some margin, but I still did more than I ever have before.
In hindsight, setting a goal to write four-times more posts this year than I have ever managed in the same period previously was a bit unreasonable in the first place.
Publish some photos every month
I didn’t manage to publish 12 photosets this year either; I published five. Again, though, that’s more photosets than I published last year (last year I published 2).
Save £5,000 this year
I have saved a whole bunch of money this year, and then subsequently spent it. Between two holidays and a bunch of new tech, I spent a lot of money that I could have easily saved. Despite all this though, I have saved about £900, and I’ve had a good time with the money I spent. I don’t feel too bad about this one really; as I always tell myself, you can’t take your money with you when you’re dead.
I have many, many excuses for why this didn’t get off the ground.
I don’t like running in the rain. I don’t like running in snow. I injured my foot in April that made it painful to walk, let alone run. Then a knee injury flared up.
Ultimately, these are all excuses. I could have done a range of other exercises to offset these, or maybe even joined a gym, but the reality is that I’m just too lazy. So it didn’t get done.
Lessons learnt for 2019
I’m going to set myself goals for 2019, because whilst under my definition of success I failed 80% of the time, I feel like I’ve actually made fairly decent progress. Certainly, I have done more than I would have done had I not set these goals in the first place. I feel like my “in the open”, “built-in redundancy”, “specific and measurable” goals formula worked fairly well too, but it could do with some tweaking.
For 2019, I’m going to make sure my goals are SMART1, not just specific. Thinking I could – for example – quadruple my blogging output was ridiculous, and I should have been more realistic. I’m also going to set a greater diversity of goals to drive me to do more things I have been meaning to do for ages.
One thing I won’t be changing is putting my goals in the open but, do me a favour? If you’re reading this, it would be helpful if someone – like, literally anyone – would nag me about getting on with the things I end up saying I’m going to do.
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timebound ↩