For the past three years, I’ve been trying to get better at setting goals for myself and sticking to them.
When I tried this the first time it didn’t work out so well. Last year things worked out only a little better. 2020 though, this was going to be the year I achieved my goals!
On New Year’s Eve 2019, I set myself 7 goals for 2020:
- give something back as a trustee or governor
- be a better friend by seeing them more
- write a blog post each month
- publish 5 episodes of a podcast
- lose 10kg of weight
- do dry January
- save £5,000 by the end of the year
I followed the same structure as the past few years. These goals were bitesized, measurable and published on the open internet so that I kept myself honest. They were deliberately over-stretching because I didn’t expect to achieve all of them; but the goal was to achieve 80% of what I set out to do overall.
How did I do?
Despite everything that’s happened in the hellscape that is the year 2020, things have gone remarkably well. As at 21 December 2020, 83% of my goals have have been completed giving each goal an equal weighting.
Here’s a blow-by-blow account of progress on each goal.
Give something back
Let’s start with the bad news: this year, I aimed to give something back by becoming a charity trustee or a college governor. I started to look but nothing suitable has come up. So I haven’t achieved this goal.
One thing I have started to do is volunteer with an LGBT+ charity, Just Like Us, as a mentor. That’s a great first step, but I want to do more because I think it’s important.
I’m going to keep this goal for next year and try again.
Be a better friend
I’m a bit of a loner I enjoy my own company which means I can be a bit of a rubbish friend. This year I tried to be a better one.
The success criteria for this was to meet up with at least 12 friends; one a month. Given the whole coronavirus situation, ‘meet up’ obviously became ‘have a video call with’ a lot of people; and given everyone wanted to have those in Lockdown #1, I caught up with many more than 12 friends.
This goal became too easy, so I made it harder: I had to be sociable once a month, whether that was a Zoom quiz or an actual, real life interaction.
Thanks to an abundance of other friends who were also desperate for something resembling normality, I have achieved 100% of this goal.
I like writing, so I try to keep writing. The definition of success for this goal was to write 12 blog posts this year; matching my writing pace from last year.
After a writing spurt at the start of the year, I lost steam on this goal. Nonetheless, including this post, I’ve written 10 blog posts in 2020, and I’ve one more to go1. That means 91% of this goal will be completed and I can count it as ‘done’.
Start a podcast
In 2019, I had an idea for a podcast called the Department of Bad Ideas. I didn’t actually get around to making it though, despite putting all the infrastructure in place. So this year, I said I’d finish it but I haven’t. I recorded two episodes of the podcast, but I want to do a couple more before I publish them.
Despite that, I have still achieved 100% of this goal2. The success criteria for this goal was to publish 5 episodes of a podcast, and I did do that. I created a podcast for the Civil Service LGBT+ Network as part of its digital pride season. It’s called the PrideON podcast, and you can listen to it on the Network’s website.
You know when people say they’re going on a diet in January and then it lasts about 5 minutes before they get back on the chocolate and booze? That used to be me; but not this year.
The success criteria for this goal was to lose 10kg of weight, starting out at 80kg on 1 January 2020. As I write this I weigh exactly 70kg. So I have achieved 100% of this goal but, more importantly, I think I have a much healthier relationship with food than I did at the start of the year.
This was a pretty straightforward goal. The success criteria was to not drink alcohol for 31 days during January 2020. I achieved 96% of this goal and I can count it as ‘done’.
Save some money
For the third year in a row, I started the year aiming to save some money for a house deposit. For the last two years I have failed to achieve it. This year I met the goal and blew past it.
The success criteria for this goal was to save £5,000. I saved more than £9,500 this year, achieving more than 190% of my goal.
I suspect the pandemic, home-working and lack of going out has contributed substantially to this; but I’ll take it!
One more thing
As I approached the mid-way point of the year, I decided I needed one more thing to stretch myself. So I resurrected a goal from last year: learning to ride a bike. I never learnt as a child, so now was my chance.
In August, when the weather was good and the roads were quieter than ever, I bought a bike and I learnt to ride it. I subsequently ended up almost crashing into an oncoming vehicle and injuring my foot to the point that I haven’t ridden it since, but that is beside the point. I can ride a bike now, even if not very confidently. Let’s say I achieved 60% of this goal.
Not too shabby
It turns out a global pandemic and a year with a lot of unexpected spare time on my hands is a good environment for getting things done.
It’s nearly a new year, and substantial challenges await; not least the challenges I’m going to set myself for 2021. Next year, I’ll have to think about how I stay this on top of my goals as we get back to normal (fingers crossed).
You can see my progress with this year’s goals by visiting my goals dashboard.