The last several years I have set goals, some of which I met, and some of which I did not. I like the practice of setting goals for the year ahead - it seems healthy. Though my goals are not at the front of my mind on a day-to-day basis, I like to think that they work on a subconscious level.
However, when I look back at the goals I’ve set in previous years, and how many I’ve missed, I question if it’s worth the time to even write them up. I recently reflected on what yearly goals mean, and how to make them valuable and accomplishable. I realize my goals were misguided for two reasons.
My Goals Were Too Grandiose
Writing a blog post each week, a goal I have set for the past two years, is too ambitious for me. I’ve never come close to achieving it. Once I inevitably fall behind, it becomes impossible to catch up, and I give up. It’s better to under promise and over deliver. Set realistic goals.
Set goals based on improving past performance.
My Goals Applied to a Person I Was Not
Last year I set a goal to better understand the Ember framework. But I don’t work in Ember. The goal fundamentally doesn’t match who I am. I would either need to change jobs and find an Ember position, or change current company culture to bring in a new framework, neither of which I feel strongly enough to do. Therefore, better understanding Ember is a bad goal.
On the flip side, the same logic applies to my previous goal of better understanding Rails. I did feel strongly enough to change jobs. It was a goal for the person I was, or at least the person I was willing to be. It was a goal I wanted to accomplish badly enough to accept the consequence of changing jobs. I proudly accomplished the goal.
Be realistic with who you are, and the consequences of your goals. Every goal has a tradeoff.
My Goal for 2016
I’m committing to writing 25 quality posts this year about Ruby and Rails. Simple.
- The goal is realistic. One post every other week is attainable. Yet, I’ll have to write more than in years past, improving on past performance.
- The goal is for the person I am. I work in Rails every day and I’m constantly learning something new. Writing about what I’ve recently learned adds additional depth to my new understanding, and clarifies thinking.
I’m excited to tackle this goal, but not overwhelmed. I feel I’m finally on the right track!