So this time last year I set myself five goals for 2016. Time to see how I did…
Me and my girlfriend both sat down at the end of 2015 and thought ‘What the hell have we achieved this year?’ and we couldn’t really come up with anything. It was pretty depressing, thinking that a whole year could go by and you’ve got nothing to show for it. Plus I can be quite an aimless person sometimes and my priorities can change loads from one month to the next.
I decided that for 2016 I wanted to consciously set out with around five aims in mind – even if they weren’t hugely ambitious – and then spend my year trying to achieve them.
I realise that this sounds a lot like New Year’s resolutions (and it is) but I really wanted to make sure that I stuck with these goals and didn’t just forget about them in February.
Some of the goals were quite private at the time, so I kept this to myself.
What I did
I thought about what I actually wanted to achieve in all areas of my life (relationships, work, hobbies, admin, etc).
Then I wrote my goals down on a small laminated piece of card and kept it in my wallet, meaning I got a regular reminder about what I wanted to be up to. (That’s also why it looks a bit tatty after 12 months.)
It was quite liberating actually, because once I had consciously decided on what I did want to prioritise, I stopped feeling guilty about the things I wasn’t going to achieve (like getting fit, eating healthily, etc).
Here they are.
How I’ve done
Goal 1 – Get engaged. Well… I did get engaged to Sarah! Back in March at Tynemouth Priory. So a big tick there.
Goal 2 – Finish my novel. This was a real slog, and I had to set myself fortnightly deadlines to get anywhere with the first draft of my next novel. It turned into a bigger task than I thought and has ended up at 240,000 words. But, as I mentioned in this blog post about my latest novel, I did manage to finish it. In fact, not only did I finish a ‘rough’ and ‘raw’ first draft in September, but I’ve also written another autobiographical novel-length work since, as well as keeping a journal throughout.
Goal 3 – Get a new job. My current role at DWP was coming to an end in October 2016 and I was apprehensive about what I would be doing after. Early in the year I managed to secure myself a continuation of that job, but then I went one further and got a job as an Account Manager at a Newcastle PR agency. So tick!
Goal 4 – Finish the house. We moved into our place in August 2014 and I had this idea that within two years we’d have it decorated. There were a few things which I ticked off this year, including getting the bedroom floor sanded and varnished, and buying furniture for the back yard so we could spend summer outdoors. There’s always more to do with home improvements – and due to lack of money I couldn’t do them all – so this one got a solid half mark.
Goal 5 – Relearn the guitar. I got a guitar last Christmas so figured I should probably learn how to play it again (after a few years of dabbling in my teens). I took a term of classes at the Sage and learnt a few songs using the Ultimate Guitar app, but I admit that I haven’t persisted with this goal so I doubt I’m any better now than I was at the beginning of the year. I say this is a fail.
Overall: 3.5 out of 5
What I learnt
One thing that I did learn from this is that the more specific a goal is, the easier it is. Think about getting engaged or getting a new job – these are momentous life events which require a lot of effort, but they’re also very tangible so it’s easy to say if you’ve achieved them or not. In future, I’d go for goals that are specific and tangible.
Also, like I mentioned before, I learnt that consciously prioritising your life is liberating. It helps you cut out distractions for other things that you could be doing, because you’ve decided not to do them. Goals might actually help you stop feeling guilty about underachieving.
Roll on 2017.