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.
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.
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.
I'm committing to writing 25 quality posts this year about Ruby and Rails. Simple.
I'm excited to tackle this goal, but not overwhelmed. I feel I'm finally on the right track!
Written by Alex Brinkman who lives and works in Denver, but plays in the mountains.