At the end of each year for the past five or so, I’ve written up a set of goals for the coming year. Not resolutions, or habits I want to establish that might help me achieve some vague goal, but concrete targets to aim for over the next twelve months.
Here’s what I wrote down as my goals for 2014:
- Get 100 regular users for Rewryte.com
- Find a permanent place to settle
- Live abroad for the summer
- Have one short story published
- Post to the blog on a weekly basis
- Keep the same job through the year
- Open a retirement savings account
- Learn Haskell
It’s a mixed bag: definite success for three of the goals, complete failure for the other five.
In the success column, we can put “find a permanent place to settle” (my wife and I bought a house in April), “post to the blog on a weekly basis” (with the exception of the holidays and NaNoWriMo, I’ve been posting thrice weekly for a good while now), and “keep the same job through the year” (I was developing a bad habit of switching companies every year or so, making our taxes more complicated and my resume look like I’d been playing employment hopscotch; this year I stayed with the same employer the whole way through).
I failed at everything else, though.
For a few, it was because my goals changed: rather than open a retirement account, we opted to payoff the credit card; instead of pushing for more users of rewryte.com, my business partner and I shuttered the site this summer to work on smaller projects.
Sometimes accomplishing one goal conflicted with another: buying a house meant we didn’t have the cash to try living abroad for the summer, and focusing on work-related skills while I stayed with my employer for the full year meant not spending time learning a new programming language (Haskell).
And for the last, I simply couldn’t do it. I submitted several short stories to be published, yielding a nice collection of rejection letters, but no sales.
So: 3/8 or, a 37.5% success rate. That’s a fine batting average, but doesn’t say much about my ability to set and accomplish goals.
Of course, not everything I ended up striving for is captured in that list: holding our monthly spending to a budget, winning NaNoWriMo, paying off the debt incurred from the sale of our previous house, taking ASL classes, taking cooking classes. So priorities shifted, and goals were pushed back or shelved.
Perhaps what this really reflects is poor judgement on my part at the beginning of the year about what will be important to me over the course of it?