This week I wanted to talk about goals…. my goals to be precise.
I’m usually quite private to discuss these, I believe more in showing not telling. But because I haven’t achieved as much as I would have like in 2021, I decided to share with three aims:
- Give insight into the goals setting process (especially when things don’t work out).
- Be accountable.
- Refocus for 2022.
When I set goals, I lump these into categories as a way to organise and reflect on the different areas of my life.
For example, this year I’ve mostly focused on goals around my:
The next section looks at how goals in each of these areas went.
The year started with achieving a five-year long-term goal – to become a Project Manager.
It’s an odd feeling to achieve something you’ve been building towards for so long that I couldn’t help feel disoriented and wonder “What next?”
I set my next career goals based on getting the most out of my new role, but these didn’t work out because the role was not what I expected.
Upon reflecting in June I realised my expectations where different to the reality and my goals just weren’t achievable.
This illustrates the challenge with goals, often you are making assumptions into the unknown. Even approaches to help you define your goals like SMART are often based on best guesses about the future, which is precisely why regular reflection is essential to identify:
- What has changed?
- What do I now know that I didn’t know before?
For various reasons I realised my dream job wasn’t for me, and yes I’m not lost on the anti-climax of a massive long-term goal turning into a disappointment. I’m going to share why things didn’t work out in a future newsletter, so join the mailing list to ensure you get this.
I began the search for the next role, a demoralising quest as nothing advertised filled me with enthusiasm. I’d almost given up when I saw a role in project communications that sounded exactly like something I’d been wanting to get more into.
Apart from writing this blog, and a short stint writing process documents for a website I don’t really have much of a communications and engagement background, so it was a nice surprise be offered the job!
Learning from the mistakes of the past year I’ve decided to keep my 2022 career goals grounded in reality until I understand the finer details of my position, they are:
- Settle into the team.
- Understand the role and identify the requirements that will make me successful.
- Network and build relationships with people to be more effective doing the job.
My family goals are generally the same every year – ensuring I’m present around my wife and children, and ensuring I make the most of my free time with them while I still have the opportunity.
The pressures of 2021 really got to me, and it didn’t help my usual stress outlet – the gym was not available for part of the year. I’ll be honest admitting I could have been a more attentive father and husband.
For example, I take pride in reading to my children every day, but after a long day, I’ve often taken the easy route and just let them watch Peppa Pig on Netflix before bed.
I mentioned my approach of categorising my goals, this is precisely why, although the categories may not seem related, they all have a way of impacting progress on each other.
After a period of reflecting in September, I refocused my goals for the remainder of the year and 2022:
- Be more compassionate to myself and recognise the good things I offer my family.
- Be more present, keep the phone away, turn the TV off. Play with my kids more, read to them. Make more time with my wife.
- Working from home – know when it’s work time, personal time and family time. Don’t blend the three into one mess where I’m underwhelming at all three.
My long-term gym goals have been to:
- Bench press 100kg
- Squat 150kg
- Deadlift 200kg
I’ve achieved the first two in 2019, but the deadlift continued to allude me. It didn’t help every time I got close to achieving it another lockdown happened and the gym closed. When it reopened, I felt like I was using that time to catchup.
All the inconsistency killed my motivation, but to my credit I pushed through, when the gym was open, I would show up four days per week as I always did.
It’s frustrating to note that as the UK finished it’s last lockdown in June further progress has been hampered by gaps due to surgery, gym closure and persistent sickness bugs!
This has given me a pissed off energy, and as 2021 comes to an end I continue to attack the deadlift goal following a dedicated 12-week programme.
In theory, I wanted to use this post to report that I had now hit the 200kg deadlift, but this has alluded me. The lesson here is that you can set date and deadlines when you are going to achieve your goal, but sometimes life just gets in the way.
Here is hoping I can achieve this in early 2022, where I will then review where to take my health and fitness goals next.
With achieving my long-term career goals, I decided 2021 was going to be the year to put more energy into my writing ambitions:
- Publish a blog post every week of the year
- Write four short eBooks
- Submit one original article for consideration by an external publication
- Be more effective at promoting my work on social media
As you’ve already established – the stresses of this year meant I didn’t get as much done as I’d planned:
Publish a blog post every week of the year
I started the year rolling out two posts a week, but by the first quarter I was suffering from bloggers burnout so I reduced my schedule to once a week.
By the middle of the year I was struggling to write – something I put down to laziness. Somehow (with support of some backup articles) I managed to publish 51 out of the 52 weeks of the year.
Write four short eBooks
This gave me the taste for writing longer content, but I only managed to write one: How Confident People Stay Motivated.
Submit one original article for consideration by an external publication
I’ve wanted to share my work to a wider audience for a while, so decided to put my fears about rejection to one side, and started to send things out at the start of the year.
Like with the publication schedule, I lost a lot of my writing enthusiasm, and stopped after three months.
Following a review in October, I reviewed my writing schedule and agreed to pick this goal up again. I’m pleased to say I’ve started submitting again in November and hope to keep up with this throughout 2022.
You can check out where I have been published on the page Featured Elsewhere.
Be more effective at promoting my work on social media
I am terrible at hyping myself, always have been. I’ve read a life time’s worth of blog posts saying – if you want your words to be seen by a wider audience, then get on social media.
Despite my reluctance to ‘not bother people’ I’ve started putting more effort in to share my work, and created a blog ‘brand’ Twitter account.
I find self-promotion really awkward, and my enthusiasm for Twitter goes up and down, as I don’t want to consume all my time looking at the little validation machine.
However, some good achievements:
- Record number of referrals coming through from Twitter, thanks to my efforts to shamelessly plug my work in post sharing threads.
- Record numbers of views from Facebook, which is pretty impressive as I don’t engage on that platform.
And a flop…
I setup a Pinterest account last year, but have since abandoned it because it felt like nothing put a pointless effort to spam the platform with images thrown together on Canva, just to get links to my post. I was posting one link a day, but read if you really want to blow up, you need to be putting ‘pins’ on 12 times a day. F*** that! I do have a day job…
Maybe someone wants to educate me in the comments why Pinterest is good for bloggers, because I think it’s a total waste of time!
Writing goals for 2022
My goals stay pretty much the same, at least until I’m confident I can manage balancing a work-life-writing schedule:
- Publish 52 new posts on Wednesday for 2022.
- Submit one article a month for consideration by an external website.
- Promote my work more effectively on social media (and set actual targets)
My big learning has been to keep a control of my ambitions – I simply set too many writing goals which I didn’t have the time to commit to. I’m going to approach 2022 with the intention that if things are going well, I’ll set additional writing goals, such as writing the ebooks.
2021, is the first time in several years I felt I’ve floundered in my self-improvement.
I achieved my long-term goal to become a project manager, but felt lost in the direction where to go next.
The stresses and strains of 2021 have impacted my mood and motivation and made me feel lacking as a father and husband, and in my aspirations as a writer.
Finally, the lockdown’s caused by coronavirus, my own health and my gym undergoing a paint job, have impacted the progress towards achieving my lifting goals. I feel optimistic these can be achieved with a clear run.
Takeaways for 2022
As I close this post, I realise there are some things I can take away to avoid the errors I experienced in 2021:
- Be more compassionate and understanding to myself, I have a lot of responsibilities, be proud of what I have managed to achieve.
- Ensure to reflect more often – this is a good opportunity to recalibrate myself, get my mindset, and goals back on track.
- Consider how sustainable a goal is to maintain and forgive myself if it gets put to the side while focusing on bigger priorities.
- Recognise the problems beyond my control that impact progress. Instead of dwelling on what can’t be done, focus on what I can.
- When I fail make sure to reflect and learn from it, rather than dwell on it.
Happy New Year!
James @Perfect Manifesto