Goal Review for 2020
At the start of each year, I try and reflect on the areas of my life in which I’m trying to improve. After establishing a list of areas, I take each area and come up with an objective I’m trying to achieve. I then dive a level deeper to come up with measurements and goal measurements for how I’ll know I have hit these objectives. With this, I end up setting Objectives and Key Results for the year.
In 2020, I set three objectives: Build a Habit of Learning, Raise Your Fitness Bar, and Become a Voice. Of course, 2020 was a hellscape. After two months, most of my goals really became singular: keep myself and my family alive and healthy. It took a few more months before I began to be able to look at boundaries beyond the days and the weeks, and I continued tracking toward my yearly goals.
Looking back on the year and the ways in which I tried to accomplish my goals, I’ve come away with one key takeaway: I need to restructure my goals when the circumstances dictate. Halfway through 2020, it was clear that some of my goals were not only going to be missed, but I would not even be able to make progress on them. Others, I deprioritized in every way except for in the system where I tracked my goals. There’s a lot to unpack here in terms of what circumstances should dictate restructuring, how to ensure I don’t throw the towel in too early, and how I should keep track of changes in my goals. This is something I’d like to figure out in 2021.
One practice I began in 2020 that I want to continue with in the new year is quarterly goalsetting and strategizing. I cribbed this from James Clear’s **Atomic Habits__ – an excellent, excellent read. At every quarter boundary, I set goals for the upcoming quarter. While these quarterly goals will ocassionally simply be 1/4 of whatever amount I hope to achieve by the end of the year, the explicit exercise allows me to ask myself what’s coming up in the next three months that might encourage or discourage me from leaning into a particular goal. The quarterly strategizing is also key. I run through the quarterly goals, and I ask myself what habits or systems I need to change in order to set myself up for success. Hope is not a plan and all that. I picked this practice up in Spring of last year, and by the last quarter of the year, I was kind of coasting. I’m aiming to get four good cracks at strategizing this year.
Here were my goals, and my reflections on each goal, for the hardest year I’ve had the pleasure of living. I’m eager for the coming year.
Build a Habit of Learning
- Read 40 books
- Cross 12 items off my learning list
- Read 15 months of saved software engineering blog posts
- Read 15 months of saved engineering management blog posts
Overall, I felt I was able to dedicate myself to learning through all the tumult of 2020. It looked a little different than I drew it up at the start of the year. I accomplished a solid half of these. I hit the gas on reading more books and didn’t really get anywhere on my queue of blog posts. At some point, I’ll have to either declare bankruptcy on the queue or at least skim it for anything extra relevant I will actually read.
On the note of reading more books, around September, I realized I could hit 50. I reorganized some of my book queue, and I hit the stretch goal. Even as I found some slack in my reading schedule to lean in on blog posts, I leaned into books instead. And still, I recognize the value in reading high-quality, high-relevance blog posts. I need to adjust my habit here to catch up on the timely, important posts while still hitting the books.
Raise Your Fitness Bar
- Run 1700 miles
- Run a 17:59 5K
- Run a 36:59 10K
- Run a 1:20:59 Half
- Run a 2:59:59 Half
Running changed a lot for the community over 2020. Races were postponed and reimagined. Virtual races became the main, and sometimes only, venue to race. I got in one 5K in March that was able to PR, but I wasn’t able to bring my time under 18 minutes. I ran no other races on my goal list.
The year was a real test of my love of running and what I value in it. I came out the other side realizing that the racing side drives me, but it’s not the only source of my joy. When the races were taken away, I kept running. I fell short of the 1700 miles in part due to fewer miles in March, but largely, the miss was a factor of an IT band issue that had me way under my mileage in November and December. If I keep asking the Five Whys, I realize that a reason that my body didn’t hold up through the year was likely the worse health, less sleep, and totally tossed around maintenance regiment. I’m taking this into 2021.
Become a Voice
- Write on 100 days
- Publish 12 blog posts
- Deliver 2 talks
I combined a couple of KR types here with a habit-building and a results KR in one objective. It worked out ok. I published 11 blog posts – a record for me! – and I did that despite only flirting with the halfway mark of my days KR. I got a lot out of writing this year. I connected with an old friend. I sparked conversations with colleagues. And by the end of the year, I was building a habit of daily journaling.