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: 

  1. Give insight into the goals setting process (especially when things don’t work out). 
  2. Be accountable. 
  3. Refocus for 2022. 

My Approach 

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: 

  • Career 
  • Family 
  • Health 
  • Writing 

The next section looks at how goals in each of these areas went. 

Career 

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: 

  1. What has changed? 
  2. 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: 

  1. Settle into the team. 
  2. Understand the role and identify the requirements that will make me successful. 
  3. Network and build relationships with people to be more effective doing the job. 
Image from Pexels

Family 

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: 

  1. Be more compassionate to myself and recognise the good things I offer my family. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 

Health 

My long-term gym goals have been to: 

  1. Bench press 100kg 
  2. Squat 150kg 
  3. 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. 

Writing 

With achieving my long-term career goals, I decided 2021 was going to be the year to put more energy into my writing ambitions: 

  1. Publish a blog post every week of the year 
  2. Write four short eBooks 
  3. Submit one original article for consideration by an external publication 
  4. 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 

In 2020, I wrote the guide “Surviving the New Normal”, which I give as a freebie for joining my newsletter

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: 

  1. Publish 52 new posts on Wednesday for 2022. 
  2. Submit one article a month for consideration by an external website. 
  3. 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. 

Conclusion 

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: 

  1. Be more compassionate and understanding to myself, I have a lot of responsibilities, be proud of what I have managed to achieve. 
  2. Ensure to reflect more often – this is a good opportunity to recalibrate myself, get my mindset, and goals back on track. 
  3. Consider how sustainable a goal is to maintain and forgive myself if it gets put to the side while focusing on bigger priorities. 
  4. Recognise the problems beyond my control that impact progress.  Instead of dwelling on what can’t be done, focus on what I can. 
  5. When I fail make sure to reflect and learn from it, rather than dwell on it.

Happy New Year!

James @Perfect Manifesto

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12 thoughts on “2021 End Of Year Goals Review

  1. thanks for being so transparent with how you did with your goals for 2021 (I would say that overall you had tremendous success in terms of achieving your goals). I like how you have used what you learned in 2021 to help you set goals for 2022. Best wishes for a happy and productive new year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jim. Writing it down in this manner has been helpful to make me realise I haven’t done as bad as I thought.

      I’m going to continue my reflections throughout 2022, hopefully I apply the lessons!

      Wishing you a Happy New Year!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can empathise with a lot of what you say in this post James, particularly when your goals fall across different areas – creative, family, fitness etc. But you have done well, especially in getting the job you were aiming for and it is good that you recognise that the most important part of your life – your family – needs a little attention as relationships can be the one’s that suffer most when frustration in other areas of your life kick-in.

    I’m looking to aim in shorter chunks now, maybe targets for a couple of months at a time rather than a year-long punt. Then assess, then go again depending on how far I’ve got or what is or isn’t working. My own blogs like yourself have gone way off what I wanted a year ago, partly because I have ran out things to say and trying not to repeat myself!

    But mainly I want to enjoy the process more, particularly creatively, rather than just aiming for goals constantly. Sometimes that can sound like the go-to response when things aren’t going well but though goals can be great as soon as one is achieved we are always just looking to the next one rather than enjoying the journey.

    Have an enjoyable New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year Paul!

      Thanks I think a fundamental flaw with goal setting is they get treated like separate entities when in reality they can all impact each other along with your personal life.

      It’s a good to have shorter aims – I like splitting my goals depending whether they are small, medium or large and working in smaller parts for the latter.

      If you find goals a slog as they always need replacing it might be worth checking out systems – which is more about doing growth as an ongoing journey than finding the next thing!

      Please do share your blogs would love to check them out.

      Best wishes,
      James

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your advice James, I will check out systems and see what they bring. On a slightly different tack, I have re-developed the routine of going back to the gym in the last couple of weeks which I know you find helpful yourself. I’m also sticking to yoga, both of which I’m feeling the benefit from. I really must stick to both.

        I meant to mention how I understood what you were also saying about finding self-promotion awkward. A few months ago I wrote a blog on the subject that may resonate in some way with you.

        Here is the link, please don’t feel the obligation to follow me, I know how hard it is following several blogs, but hope you enjoy anyway: http://slicedyogurt.com/2021/09/27/the-fear-of-self-promotion-for-the-constantly-nervous/

        Paul

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      2. Thanks for sharing Paul, as you know I’ve now read and followed- great content!

        Good luck with keeping up to the routine if you experience any difficulties my advice is something is better than nothing. I now do one short gym session along with my other 3 because I struggled to commit to the day doing 1+ hour.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks for the advice and encouragement James, I did get a shoulder injury/strain last April which has been a real nuisance trying to manage, but thanks to great advice from my osteopath (the physio I first went to, not so much) I’m now back into a scaled back but effective workout and it feels good, so will be committing to it.

        And thanks for the comment on my posts, much appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on achieving some remarkable goals! Well done! I’m taking a little break from goal setting right now. I have achieved many of the goals I’ve set for myself and just using this time to coast for a bit! I’m still quietly working on things, but not at the pace I had set for myself before! Blessings to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Tamara. It’s good to take breaks and not constantly be working on goals, you can then have time to reflect and decide what your next priorities are.

      Just wondering have you looked into systems before? Basically it’s a approach where you have a setting ongoing mission without setting goals.

      For example a goal might be to lose 12lbs, whereas a system would be focused on living a healthy lifestyle to keep fit and eat a good diet.

      I use a combination of both using a system as a philosophy for what I want and goals to drive it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have! Previously I had switched from resolutions to writing end of year accomplishments and then using that to extract my goals for the next year. I set up my plans to accomplish those goals, which evolved into systems. I’ve internalized the process so now I can look at my week or month and just get myself in alignment where necessary! I don’t worry about whether I’ve fallen off the goal or not, because I just look at that particular step I need to accomplish on that path.

        For example, instead of saying that I needed to “get my finances in better shape” or “plan for my retirement”, I researched what would be a better vehicle for me to set up retirement income, being only a few short years away from it.

        I chose buying a multi family home to live in and rent out. In order for that to happen, I needed to start saving for a down payment so I made a budget to accomplish this step. I know that I need advice and help through this process so I signed up with a local nonprofit and took an online class they are offering. Next I asked a private Facebook group of entrepreneurs if it’s wiser to buy under my name or if I should form an LLC, and got some great advice. My next step on this plan is to go through the process of forming an LLC. I’ve been finding out how to analyze if a potential property has good ROI, so I’m quietly looking at the market in my target area.

        Having set up systems in my life previously, it has helped me to break down a big goal into a series of steps and to just do them without setting deadlines because my own inner clock keeps me on track, and I don’t feel stressed out when something else comes up in life needing my attention for a while for I know I’ll get back on track easily.

        I applied this same process to writing my books, and publishing them! Prior to having accomplished those goals I severely doubted myself and my abilities to do so, but having accomplished what had previously been told to me were “pie in the sky” goals, I now have the confidence that I have the inner resources to achieve what I set out to do!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s really good to hear Tamara.

        I’m starting to move across to systems, but using goals to help drive when they feel lagging.

        There is a definite advantage about not having a deadline, and moving across to a routine and making them a habit is definitely an advantage – especially when you doing something like writing a book.

        Thanks for sharing your experience!

        Like

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