Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Winning While Failing: My 2015 Annual Review

Winning While Failing: My 2015 Annual Review
Image courtesy of mrpuen at

This past week I did my personal annual review.

I have always been contemplative at this time of year, thinking about my goals and making resolutions for the New Year. Last year, I formalized the process, based on an idea from Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Non-Conformity.

As part of the process, he suggests looking back over the past year, as well as looking forward. He also recommends coming up with ways to measure your progress, as you go along. When I set up my goals for 2015, I had the metrics. I had accountability, blogging about them (here, here, and here). I scheduled in the deadlines as well as monthly updates and quarterly reviews (also as advised).

So, did I reach my goals for 2015?
No, I did not. Not even close! There were several reasons (excuses) for this. The main one was an unexpected move across the country, occupying significant energy and brain cells from April through September. Health was also a factor at times.

So, if I didn’t reach my goals for the year, I failed, right? No, I didn’t do that either. I learned something from the measuring and looking back that I had previously been missing. There was concrete evidence that although not where I had wanted to get to, I had made progress on most of the objectives I had set for myself. And, as the saying goes, slow progress is better than no progress!

This is an important step on my journey away from all-or-nothing thinking!

Another key lesson was to adapt the goal-setting process to be more appropriate for my life. While one of the elements of establishing S.M.A.R.T. goals is making them measurable, for me that would be better as a range of numbers rather than an absolute. As an example, in 2015 my aim was to cross fifteen items off my bucket list, next year that will be between three and ten.

This is still measurable but would allow some wiggle room for things that I cannot always control, like my health. In a year that is already looking unpredictable, even by our standards, I am also setting more modest ambitions for 2016. If the erratic nature of life is one of the factors that derails my efforts, I think it’s best to take that into account from the start.

The things I want to achieve in the coming year will be similar to this past one – maintain my health, write and travel. These will likely be my focus for most years from now on, with the variables being how, what and where. With no need for a complete re-direct, I can build on what I did accomplish this year amid whatever challenges life has in store for the new year.

Finally, a reminder from my journal to not make resolutions starting January 1st. If I am to make any at all, I should go for April 1st when winter, and all the Holiday stress and excess, are over. This piece of advice is from February 28, 2015, by which time last year’s resolutions were well and truly broken, so I think there is some wisdom to be had there!

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