Every December I spend several weeks meticulously going over the previous year. I feel like an accountant going through the books line by line looking for trends, correlation, and highlights.
What went well?
What didn’t go well?
I pull out my goal book and look through everything—the numbers I’ve tracked, the notes I’ve taken, and everything that will help me get the full picture of why I accomplished some goals and why others dropped off.
It’s one of my favorite exercises. It’s a chance to give an accounting of my activities. What did I do with the time I was blessed with? Did I do what I said I would? Was I close? Did something happen that altered my goals?
Here’s how 2015 looked based on the nine goals I set at the start of the year:
The theme changed after I started my new job at Singapore American School and I moved from creation to capacity-building. It was the perfect theme for the new job and new responsibilities. SAS is fast paced (like everything in Singapore) and the expectations are high. I learned I was capable of much more and that in order to succeed I would need to grow and develop, quickly. I am really grateful for the chance to grow.
Read 30 books.
No. I only made it to 15. Check out my 2015 book overview here.
300 commonplace quotes/stories.
I’m at 280 at the moment. So close. Not sure what a commonplace book is? Check out this piece by Ryan Holiday.
Not even close. At the moment it looks more like once/month. Yikes.
100 percent hometeaching.
Nope. Missed a few months in there. I think I ended at 80 percent for the year. This should be easy to fix next year.
Daily Book of Mormon study.
Nope – I’m at 217 days right now.
Get out of debt.
Yes. Nailed it! This goal felt so good to hit that I even decided to write about it here.
$5,000 in liquid savings.
Yep. We’ve always been careful about saving money, but we send the majority of it into our IRA and HSA accounts. This year we set out to save extra cash on top of our usual savings funnels so that we can pull from it if something urgent comes up.
100 gym days.
Nope. (81 days – I swear one of these years I’ll get to 100)
Send birthday cards.
Not even one. This might be the worst I’ve ever done in the birthday sphere.
I know, I went 2/10.
20 percent completion isn’t anything to brag about. But imagine how this review would look if I hadn’t measured anything? It would be me saying things like, “yeah I’m pretty sure I was close on this,” or “I definitely remember I did this a few times.” That’s how I used to look at my goals. (if I even remembered the goals I set after January)
“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.” (President Thomas S. Monson, Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, 101)
I began tracking my goals and conducting an annual review in 2007. This is my ninth completed book and annual review. The book helps me measure my performance and the review is my opportunity to report. I don’t always accomplish everything I set out to do, but measuring and reporting on my goals has significantly improved my rate of achievement.
The newest addition to my annual review is actually something that I’m going to implement on a quarterly basis throughout the year. The Hot Shot Review. Former Cinnabon president, Kat Cole stepped away from work one day every quarter and ran through an exercise where she imagined a new hot shot taking over her job. She then asked:
What two or three things would the hotshot look at in my recent performance and say, ‘that’s completely unacceptable’?
I’m applying this beyond my professional life and am looking at several different areas:
inconsistent in offering more words of affirmation
distracted time together (phone, computer, just letting my mind wander)
less than 100 percent hometeaching
They are simple things a hot shot would come in and say could be easily fixed. If this pretend hot shot can fix them, so can I. Cole mentioned that she does this exercise quarterly to make sure she stays competitive professionally. It may seem weird to think of competing for my place as Leah’s husband, or Amelia’s dad, but it works perfectly. I know Leah had plenty of guys interested in her that would love to have been with her. It’s up to me to show her that she made the right decision. Amelia will have lots of other adults in her life as she grows up, (teachers, church leaders, extra curricular leaders, etc.) it’s up to me to be the type of dad that she can be proud to have.
“What’s past is prologue.” (Shakespeare)
Before you jump into goal setting for 2016, take some time to really dig into the past so that you can create the right future.