Looking back on 2019

The check in – did 2019 matter?

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Looking back on 2019

Let’s talk about 2019. Did you crush it?

If you’re like me, you achieved all of your goals in 2019 and even got a few extra things done…Right?

Um…ok, reality check. When I wrote Conquer 2019 last January 1st, I really didn’t discuss any sort of resolution or goal setting, but I remember thinking, “it sure would be nice to achieve all of my goals this year.”

In reality, I didn’t really achieve all of my goals in 2019. In fact, there’s a common theme among the goals I missed – lack of specificity. Anytime I wasn’t specific with a goal, it’s difficult to determine if I achieved it. Note: If you just thought, “duh”…yeah, I get that.

However, is being specific really the most important thing? Do we have to keep score on everything in order to feel successful?

You see, it might feel tough for me to claim victory for reading “x” number of books last year, since I never gave a number to that goal. Don’t get me wrong, I managed to read a number of good books this year. I reference a bunch of them in my post Picking the next book. However, my average ended up being less than one per month. I could easily fall into a failure trap by believing I should have done more.

I might look at that and feel like I could have learned more, or maybe even wrote a few more book reviews for this blog. But, since I did not reach what would basically be an arbitrary number, does that really mean I failed?

There were also goals related to work. While many of them went well, I might slip into a similar failure trap because I didn’t always quantify them. It’s not that our team didn’t have goals. One successful example was to complete training for all of our IT teams in Agile project management practices. Not only did that go well, we also trained up an additional trainer (which was not a specific 2019 goal).

Whether it’s work, family, Toastmasters or whatever else, looking back I can make one of two choices. Either see the successes for what they are, or do some subtraction from some higher number and say, “I missed my goal…I failed.”

I’m not suggesting specific goals aren’t valuable. They certainly can be. One example is that I want to set a goal to read a book each month. If a month goes by and I haven’t had time to read a book, it would remind me to think about prioritizing that in the coming month. I shouldn’t let myself sweat the miss, or try to double up to catch up. Instead I just make time in the next few days to pick a book and download it (I’m an Audible guy) so that I can make the goal next month.

So to the real question: Do you need to make a list of goals or resolution for 2020?

I think the answer is yes, but with a qualifier. Instead of trying to set yourself up for future self-loathing, take a more realistic approach to it.

1. Look at what you accomplished in 2019.
2. Determine what you might want to tweak. (i.e. my reading 12 books example)
3. Tell someone who isn’t a judge (you know who I mean) what you want to do, and ask them to ask you about the goal periodically (but not daily!). Note: it might help for this person to have a similar perspective on that goal.
4. Give yourself a break when you miss a milestone.
5. Plan to review and reassess that goal around Memorial Day. And yes, that may mean turning a “12 book” goal into a 10 book goal.

Final note…Celebrate your successes as you go, (i.e. “I finished a book this month”) and don’t fall into the failure trap when, really, you’re probably crushing it!

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