I’m starting my goal setting a little late this year. I mean, even for setting goals on Groundhog Day, I’m late. I’m okay with that because I want to get it right.

To me, goal setting is fun and terrible. I love imagining the future where I have accomplished the thing, and I love checking off all of the little steps along the way. However, sometimes I struggle with making too many goals, setting off on too many ideas. While I am able to prioritize and get the most important goals accomplished, I always want to do ALL of them.

This year, it’s gonna be different (of course). It has to be different.

I don’t just want to say that I’m going to resolve to do a few things and then run off and do whatever and then later check to see if I did the things. I think that is more like logging and compare. It isn’t what real growth is about. As I’ve been logging my coding progress pretty much every day for half a year, I’ve learned that you can log your activity, and you can reflect.

These are not the same thing! Reflection includes an awareness of the activities or things done but layers on thoughts, usually critical and positive (in the philosophical or economic sense, not the happy monkey sense). Some questions that I ask during reflection1:

  • What did I do well?
  • What could I have done better?
  • How did I feel about starting/finishing?
  • How does this contribute to its context? [This is a big one - sometimes, I can’t find a context, which indicates a new thing - either good or bad.]
  • Do I want to do this again?

honesty pause: Both logging and reflection take time and reflection pretty much requires logging to be finished. I do not really do reflection often enough even though I am aware of the value. I think this is because I wait to complete the log until I have no more time. One possible solution is to stop work with enough time cushion to do a proper log and reflect. Another solution is to have a scheduled reflection time but not make it seem too big or scary.

Given my grand big understanding of my own need for reflection, I’m going to apply that to my goals. I’m going to follow Dave Seah’s masterful plan and actually check in with my GHDR every month. I recognize that it is February 4, so I am already starting out behind.

So, what do I want, like really want? Ooh, that’s tough because it is only easy to see what you want when something is dissatisfactory. When I’m cold, and I usually am, I really want to be warm. When I’m stressed about a project, I really want to read a good book. Life, I guess, is easiest when there is something wrong. I don’t at all want to start from a place where I have to assume that there are things wrong with my life or me that must be “fixed”. Somehow, that makes me uncomfortable, and I reject it outright. Overall, I can’t complain - there is a roof over my head, there is food in my reach, etc. Maybe it doesn’t have to be really wrong to fix it. Perhaps, if my coffee is tepid, I might really want to have hotter coffee - it is just a tiny improvement on something that is already good enough. That’s how I’m going to tackle my GHDR - improvements.

  • First, I need to reflect on last year2. In order to do that reflection, I read over my journals from the past year. This one from March really makes me laugh:

    One of my greatest strengths has always been …​that I have boundless curiosity and enthusiasm. One of my greatest weaknesses that I acknowledge … is that I tend to start a lot of things that I can’t finish or act rashly.

  • Second, I need to get real about goals I’ve already set. Maybe they are crazy, but maybe they are worth incorporating. For my awesome 40 goals3, I said:
    • Sub 4 hour marathon
    • Income producing business
    • General fitness

Wait, these are lame, not awesome…I’m trashing these - too general and insane. I don’t even want to run another marathon. I must have been really tired or crazy when I came up with those…which I clearly thought out since they were sitting alone as a bulleted list with no commentary. :smile:

  • Now, I’m ready to come up with goals. I already know, from my reflection, what makes me happy. I know that I really want to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams, but eventually, I will need money to continue the whole having a roof over my head and food thing to which I’ve grown attached.

Boundaries and context for goals

I think I want my goals to push me towards spending more time on what makes me happy while not completely dropping the things that I need to do. To identify how to do that, I’m going to try to set out pillars of myself or my needs here.

  1. Health: I need to incorporate the feedback that I have on this body and maintain it by doing things that are good for me. To me, this looks like:
    • Dropping any idea that I can drink alcohol. While I truly enjoy some flavors, especially red wine, it makes me feel like crap - even just a little bit. It is not worth it.
    • Limiting my consumption of sugar and flours - just like above, it makes me feel bad, my body gives me feedback that these things are not good for me - even after it craves them. I need to be conscious of what is good for me in the long run.
    • Getting regular exercise. I don’t really like going to the gym - it smells, and there are all those other people there, and I have to get dressed special to go, and I have to take a shower when I get home which may not be when I want to take a shower - but I need to lift weights for my future self - weight bearing exercise is the only way that scientists have shown builds bone mass. With a history of osteoporosis in my family, I need to get out in front of this. I also need to run more or walk more consistently. I know that I am a fair weather distance trekker - happy to step it out when it is warm and much less so when I might get cold, but I and the dog still need exercise when it is chilly.
  2. Friends and family: I enjoy activities with friends and family. I know that I am more productive after good times with friends, and I am able to accomplish more types of things when I engage with other people. To that end, I need to ensure that I do not let my natural inclination to stay home and work on “productive tasks” keep me from doing things with friends.
    • I should likely say “yes” more often and continue to try to come up with activities that do not include going out super late.
    • I may want to formally ensure our family game nights happen.
    • I may need to set some kind of visual goal tracking to ensure that I keep this kind of balance in my life.
  3. Intention: I want to give more regular attention to reflection and intention. I think I’ve been setting out too naively thinking that if I set a goal and identify something that contributes to it that I can just keep moving forward and will be headed toward the goal. Somehow, that doesn’t work because without reflection, I lose sight of the original intent of the goal and the little things that add on can change direction. No matter how great oranges are, if I want apples, I need to plant apple seeds, not orange seeds.
    • I think that the primary way to keep myself focused on my bigger goals is to set aside real time for reflection in a public space - even if in a safe public space - in a regular fashion. Maybe even weekly. I don’t think that I am willing, at this point, to set aside the kind of time that I probably need daily. I have a feeling that this gets easier, but I find it rather draining right now.
    • I also need to limit the quantity of places where I put and track activity. This means dropping or merging software, like Evernote and Trello and Notes.
  4. Money: I absolutely must have some sort of income. I can either get a job or make something profitable. I am about seven months into my personal sabbatical where I let myself just attempt to make something work. I have until July to either put up or shut up and that is just fact.
    • I have no shortage of ideas. I have even shown that I can plan, implement, test, and drop an idea that does not work.
    • I am rather frugal. I should let this free me to have smaller monetary goals than I might otherwise. I don’t have to make the 6 figure salary to fuel my lifestyle, for example.
  5. Community: I want to engage with the community of people that I don’t really know that are doing similar things. When I reflected on 2017, I engaged with several communities online that helped me to do different things. I think my joy with that podcast flow chart is part of this.
    • Dave Seah’s discord chatroom continues to provide me with encouragement and positive coworking motivation and new things to know/try
    • My #100DaysOfCode friends on twitter are great and I think that will be the hardest thing to let go when I stop doing it. I don’t see the need to do a third round as I have definitely gotten into a habit of coding.
    • I can engage with other groups on twitter and facebook for coding through: Women Who Code and Moms Who Code (both groups that I am in) and the hashtags #CodeNewbie and #indidev. I’ve also recently found the Dev.to website with great community.

Okay, now that all the pondering and plodding is over with

My 2018 GHDR

These are the resolutions that I will be tracking over the year. They broadly fall into categories above: [H]Health, [F]Friends and family, [I]Intention, [M]Money, and [E]Engagement.

  • I resolve to eat food that makes my body happy [H] That will be mostly plants and meats. In particular, I’m going to strive to avoid: sugars, alcohols, and preservatives (like nitrates).
  • I resolve to regularly go to the gym with friends [H,F] This gets me friend time and healthy time. By regularly, I mean at least once per week. I was doing this before our big vacation at the end of 2017, so I think it is perfectly doable.
  • I resolve to run or walk intentionally at least 4 times per week[H] This does not include trips where I’m walking as part of my journey.
  • I resolve to do one thing with friends or family every month [F] - like a concert or hike or activity. This is a resolution to continue a trend, but intentionally because it makes me happy.
  • I resolve to conduct a weekly review session where I summarize what I’ve done and how I’ve felt about it and where it is taking me [I] I will do it on this blog, so that all of my thoughts are together. I’ll continue to do my daily journal entries (not here) and use those along with my code entries for fodder.
  • I resolve to conduct a monthly review of my progress on these goals [I] Again, I will do it on this blog, so that all of my thoughts are together.
  • I resolve to make some kind of income and track it each month [M] I’m starting out in a strange spot here, so I will need to revise this one as I go.
  • I resolve to stay engaged and contribute to the communities that I have found [E] I think this will include daily posting, commenting, and creating content, but I am not sure how it will evolve over the year. I think there is risk involved in spending too much time on this area.

Woot! Looks like that’s a wrap. I’ll go ahead and add some semblance of these to my monthly tracker in my journal so that I can have a visual.

My 2018 Review Schedule

SAT 3/3 First review
WED 4/4 Second review
SAT 5/5 Third and checkup review - look over and reflect on year so far
WED 6/6 Fourth review
SAT 7/7 Fifth review
WED 8/8 Sixth and checkup review - look over and reflect on year so far
SUN 9/9 Seventh review seventh is a neat word
WED 10/10 Eighth review
SUN 11/11 Ninth and checkup review - look over and reflect on year so far
WED 12/12 Final Review
  1. I don’t always write these out, maybe I should. considers creating a text service to paste out questions to ensure thorough reflection…decides not to become a robot 

  2. Watching Dave put together his summary of the past 11 years really kept me from skipping this step. 

  3. It took me forever to find these super lame flipping goals. Which lets me know that I’m using too many services to hold notes. I looked in: Day One, Evernote, Notes, Reminders, Handle, my actual journals, last year’s ETP, and Trello.