Archive for the ‘Goals’ Category

Dont-Suck-the-Life-Out-of-LifeFor the last couple of years I’ve been very public with my annual personal goals, including progress reports along the way as to how successful (or not) I am in achieving them. I’m not going to run down item by item the goal list from last year. Suffice it to say that I met or exceeded some and didn’t achieve others. If you’re curious about what they were, you’ll find posts about them here, here, here, and here. Instead, I want to write today about the overall lesson learned from 2014 that relates significantly to the goal effort. Here it is:

Don’t be so goal oriented that you suck the life out of life.

My first time for setting a long list of personal goals related to body, mind and spirit was in 2013. It went really well, so it’s no surprise I did it again in 2014. But we weren’t many months into the year before I felt overwhelmed. All of the goals were in addition to my work and volunteer efforts, and it was simply exhausting to try to stay up with all of them. I needed more rest, more sleep, more down time not focused on a never-ending to-do list.

While I made a mid-year correction and lowered the bar on some goals, that still wasn’t enough to put me at ease. I still wasn’t getting enough sleep. I ended the last few months of the year choosing a couple of the goals most meaningful and worked on them while letting the others go. My body, mind and spirit needed the break. It was the right thing to do. I had put so much emphasis on a long, ambitious list of what I wanted to get done that I had succeeded in sucking the life out of life. Surely that wasn’t good for me or anyone else around me.

So I’m determined in 2015 to take a different approach to goals for the year. There will be no long list of goals for body, mind and spirit. I’ll still continue the personal behaviors that have by now become important regular habits (getting in 10,000 steps per day 3 days per week, reading through the Bible in a version or study edition different than one I’ve read before, and spending time weekly on 100 Bible memory verses). But the only other goals will be very simple – getting more sleep daily than I averaged in 2014 (trying for 7.5 instead of 6.5 hours nightly), finishing the books I intended to read last year but didn’t complete, and being more intentional about serving my church and others rather than setting self-focused goals.

I recall a sermon by my former Associate Pastor Kris Billiter from January 2014 when he suggested we set other-oriented goals rather than self-focused ones. That message stuck with me throughout 2014, so I’m taking it to heart. I want to be a better person – not just someone who does a lot of stuff. Drastically reducing self-focused goals and saying “yes” to opportunities to serve others while still reserving enough time for adequate rest will be my basic plan.

I’ve always been a task-oriented person. Plans and goals and checklists fit me well. That isn’t the case with all people. But there is a point where too many to-do items just suck the life out of life. I reached that point in 2014 and have no intention of doing so this year. In fact, I’ve already scheduled one day per week for vacation every week from January through March, plus a full week off in February for the heck of it. I’m writing this post on the first of those restful, stay-at-home days where I slept late, read, played with the dog, spent a couple hours at church helping with our youth program, and now am finishing a blog post.

2015 is off to a good start. You’re welcome to hold me accountable if you like. I hope your year is both productive and meaningful at a deeper, personal, more satisfying level than mere checklists can guarantee.

Don’t suck the life out of life. It’s too precious.

keep-calm-and-finish-strongI’ve been very goal oriented the past two years in publishing on this blog very specific goals in the categories of body, mind and spirit. The goals for 2013 were many and I was glad to accomplish nearly all of them. I started down a similar path at the beginning of 2014, but soon felt burdened by so many time-consuming goals outside of work and volunteer endeavors. By my March update I had reduced the goals a little bit, and by May I had decided to take a few months off from a couple of them entirely. My brain and my spirit needed a rest from the physical activity goals more than my body did. I still continued work on most of the goals, but filed a couple under “not gonna happen” and went on with life.

Now that we’re in the final third of the year and the end is in sight, I’m back in gear and ready to finish out the year completing those goals that are most important and putting aside officially those that aren’t. I’m already looking forward to a very different approach in 2015 which will not  have me listing all kinds of goals for body, mind and spirit. I’ll talk more about what it will include when the time comes.

With that background, here is where I stand with the original goals for 2014 and what my plan is to close out the year with each:

BODY

  • Average at least 10,000 steps per day every week. After taking the second quarter off from this, I’m back on track. My company has a 100 Day Dash going on right now until late November where we’re on teams recording and tracking steps daily. My goal for these 100 days is to never get less than 11,000 steps per day and so far I’ve done that. I’ll end the year strong and will keep at this pace until I reach our company’s top rewards program level which should happen around the end of the year.
  • Do a stretching routine daily. I started the year doing this faithfully but took a break after hurting my back. I never got back into the routine and don’t intend to for now. I’ll stretch before and after running, but not otherwise.
  • Run 365 miles for the year. I haven’t run 10 miles this year. I walk 5-6 miles a day between work and walking the dog, but I just haven’t gotten back into running. This goal will not be met. Walking will have to be good enough.
  • Average 7.5 hours of sleep a night. My average is more like 6.5 hours per night year to date. That isn’t enough. My body is calling for more and I have to find a way to make it happen. Of course, the 6.5 is more than years past, but I need more than years past.
  • Average no more than 45 hours per week for work. For the first year in the 11+ I’ve had with my company where I’ve tracked hours, I’m actually staying within the 45 per week limit. I’ve learned to adjust some things and manage my days differently to get to this point.

MIND

  • Author or co-author a book related to enterprise social networks. Now that we just completed the first year of the weekly Twitter chat I lead on enterprise social networks – #ESNchat – I’m planning on putting together a free e-book PDF that contains the first year’s chat archives plus a little background info on the experience. It’s the one and only book I’ll be responsible for this year, but I’m pretty proud of what it should be.
  • Write 100 blog posts. Earlier in the year I changed this goal to average one post per week instead of 100 for the year. Making that goal should not be a problem.
  • Set up Pinterest boards and pins to coincide with my blog categories and posts. In the interest of time, I abandoned this goal earlier in the year.
  • Reserve at least one hour per day for unstructured, unplanned time not related to any tasks or goals. I don’t track this and I know I don’t always accomplish it either, but I’m certain I’ve been better about allowing myself guilt-free free time this year. There is still room for improvement here, though.

SPIRIT

  • Finish reading The Apologetics Study Bible. I should be able to do this just fine. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve read Genesis – Isaiah so far, taking this one in order cover to cover.
  • Read these three major theology books: (1) Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem, (2) Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Gregg Allison, and (3) Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. To date I’ve completed the third book and am about 2/3 through the first one. I should be able to complete this goal as planned. I have to say that Grudem’s book is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. I’ve love to take part in or lead a one-year study of the contents of this book with a group of people.
  • Have a daily Bible reading and devotional time. I’ve missed days from time to time which is disappointing. Nothing should crowd this from my schedule. There is really no excuse for that. I must do better.

So there you have my goal update for mid-September 2014 – on track with some things, abandoned a few and modified others. At least I’m in that mode now of seeing the finish line for the year ahead of me and I’m working hard at a number of the goals to finish strong those that are most important.

What about you? How are you coming on what you set out to accomplish this year?

 

detourAny regular reader of this blog will know how goal-focused I am. I’ve written a lot about them throughout 2013 and early in 2014. I honestly thought that I was lightening my load a little for 2014 with my goals, but it turns out I was waaaaaaaaay off in that estimate! By the time of my March 1 goals update, I was already backing off a little. Now that it’s May 1, I’ve made even more reductions in the original plan for the year.

Why? Because being so goal-oriented above and beyond what is happening at work was simply making life too hectic and unsatisfying. I have yet to get the number of hours of sleep I want to average this year. I’ve failed far too many days reserving a single hour to relax and do as I please. I’ve felt an unnecessary weight on my shoulders and self-induced guilt for not being as up-to-date on my personal to-do list as I wish.

Frankly, I’m tired of all that. As the months have progressed in 2014, a few priorities have risen to the top that take precedence, while others will be reduced or eliminated if need be in order to preserve such simple things as sleep and a little unstructured time.

So here is what has changed recently and what stands out to me related to my goals going forward:

  • I have put aside the daily step goal of 10,000 steps at least through June. I averaged 18,000 steps a day for several months last year and hadn’t had any day with less than 10,000 steps since sometime last September until I recently decided to not care about my steps daily for a few months. That has been liberating. When my employer’s annual incentive program for steps kicks in again in July, I’ll make sure I do what it takes to maintain my current top rewards level, but I won’t commit to more than that going forward.
  • Previously I announced that I would reduce my blogging from the original goal of 100 posts for the year to one per week on average. I’m behind that adjusted goal since I only posted once in April, but I have a series of them planned that will easily catch me up to the one per week average. That’s still doable, but it was nice to take a break for a month.
  • I’m proud of myself for keeping my work hours to an average of under 45 per week this year. That saves me 8-10 per week compared to the past many years, so I’ll keep doing that.
  • The dream of writing or co-authoring a book on enterprise social networking is coming to fruition. May will be an important month for finalizing some plans with other co-authors who have agreed to participate. I’m very excited about that, but it’s going to be time consuming until it’s done. I’d like to wrap it up by late summer or early fall.
  • I’m behind somewhat on my reading goal, but not so much that some planned vacation times in May – July won’t catch me up.
  • I’m spending a lot more time managing my church’s Facebook and Twitter accounts than I ever dreamed I would – things not really taken into account in the year’s goals on January 1. This is incredibly important to me, however, so it is a high priority. It’s actually going very, very well which is encouraging. This is something I’m doing for others and not myself which is another reason it’s near the top of my priorities.
  • I love the weekly Twitter chat #ESNchat that I founded in September, 2013, but it is more time-consuming than I thought it would be. I’ll keep doing it, but it consumes on average an hour per day to pull off that one-hour-per-week chat. I’ll re-evaluate around the one year anniversary mark this fall following publication of the book mentioned above and another e-book publishing the first year’s chat archives.

This is the first of two planned vacation weeks in May (although only about half will really be vacation due to preparing for and speaking at a work-related conference next week in Philadelphia.) Two more weeks of time off are scheduled for June – one of which will be my periodic getaway to a monastery for a quiet time of reading and relaxation. It is apparent that I need to schedule two-week blocks off in order to actually take enough time off for other things. I’ll keep doing so until I’ve used up a majority of my bank of days off available.

While having a number of goals in the areas of body, mind and spirit was a nice approach in 2013, the goals for this year should have been fewer and more balanced between those that benefit me versus goals that benefit others. That’s the biggest takeaway so far for me as I ponder what changes to make in this mid-course correction. Deciding on the top few priorities for me (down time, sleep) while making sure that major goals also benefit others (my church, my profession) is the focus of this correction. And if this correction doesn’t balance things out, then more course corrections will happen in the months ahead.

Life shouldn’t be all fun and games, but neither should it all be work. This year – unlike last year – I’m not hell-bent on pursuing the original goals no matter what. I have adjusted and will continue to adjust as needed to find the sweet spot of how I spend my time. That’s hard for a goal-oriented person to do, but it seems best and most sensible.

I’m tired of chasing so many goals that I end up feeling daily like I’m missing out on life.

Progress ReportOn January 1 I listed a number of goals for 2014 categorized into the areas of body, mind and spirit. This is the same categorization I used for 2013 and it seemed to work well, so I thought I’d stay with it again this year. After two months of 2014, I want to give a progress report and share some thoughts on the plan, along with some modifications.

When setting the goals, I wrote: “I have a little apprehension about the above goals – a slight fear that cumulatively I’m not cutting back enough from 2013’s sense of overload. I will reserve the right to adjust the above goals if I find that they’re too ambitious.” Having lived the past two months with these goals in mind, I’ve concluded that a shift is needed if I am to do a couple of major things well. So my review of the original goals below will, where applicable, note changes in the plan going forward.

Part of the plan change has to do with the idea that the original goals were solely focused on me. A few days into the year my pastor preached on the subject of our goals for serving others. It dawned on me that I needed to be more specific about goals for service for others and that to do so may require reducing some of the other original goals. Also, apart from adding items about serving others, I think the first two months have proven the original list to be too ambitious, so rather than charge ahead stubbornly and wear myself out or get too frustrated, I’ll make some changes two months in to try to balance out my time.

There are some major daily things that I do that aren’t recorded in these goals because they are a part of my routine. That doesn’t lessen the time required to complete them, however, so I’m mindful of the amount of time those daily disciplines take in addition to the other goals listed.

With that intro, then, here is a progress report on my goals for the year:

BODY

  • Average at least 10,000 steps per day every week. I’m glad to say I haven’t had a single day of less than 10,000 steps since last September sometime.
  • Do a stretching routine daily. I did this daily for over a month and then have taken a break for a bit due to some back pain that I probably inflicted on myself from bad form in stretching. I’ll resume again this week and see what happens.
  • Run 365 miles for the year. Most of this running will happen in nicer weather which is not what we’ve had in Louisville, Kentucky so far this year. I’m keeping a record and will have time to achieve this once spring weather arrives.
  • Average 7.5 hours of sleep a night. I’m disappointed in my record here. I’m only averaging 6.5 hours per night – a little better than last year but not enough. That’s another sign I have too much on my plate and need to adjust because this is too important to ignore.
  • Average no more than 45 hours per week for work. Believe it or not, I’m so far successful in doing this in 2014. I can’t remember the last year I worked less than in the mid-50s per week for work. I’ve kept a daily record, though, and have kept the average so far at 43 per week. That’s good.

MIND

  • Author or co-author a book related to enterprise social networks. I made the first move in February to collaborate with a number of professionals in my line of work to write a handbook on our profession. The idea was well received and I’ll be following up later this week with others interested in being involved. I’m excited about the potential for this. It will be very time consuming, but worthwhile.
  • Write 100 blog posts. Even though the 100 figure is a lot less than either of the last two years, I’m going to reduce it effective immediately to one blog post per week instead. I’ve only written 11 posts this year, but it’s felt good to be at a less frequent schedule and to start writing for some other websites in addition to my own blog. Changing the goal to one per week with a couple of those a month being for other websites seems reasonable, especially in light of writing and/or editing one or two books this year.
  • Set up Pinterest boards and pins to coincide with my blog categories and posts. Given a lot of time, this would be fun to do, but I’m going to remove it from the list in light of being behind on more important goals. Maybe next year, Pinterest.
  • Reserve at least one hour per day for unstructured, unplanned time not related to any tasks or goals. I haven’t done this every day, but I’m also sure I’ve done it more days in each of the first two months of this year than was typical last year. That’s improvement, right?

SPIRIT

  • Finish reading The Apologetics Study Bible. This is going very well. I’m ahead of schedule on this and may cut back a bit in the number of chapters I’m reading daily for the month of March.
  • Read these three major theology books: (1) Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem, (2) Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Gregg Allison, and (3) Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. The first of these I’m reading is the third one listed. It’s the shortest of them all and I’m nowhere close to finished. It will probably take a vacation week of reading to help catch me up.
  • Have a daily Bible reading and devotional time. This has been a goal I would not allow to slip, so I’m glad to say this is on track. Except for one night in a power outage with no electricity, I’ve done this daily.

As mentioned above, it occurred to me early in the year that I should be more explicit in having goals in service to others. So a goal added in January beyond the list above was to spend at least two hours per week assisting with communication needs at my church – primarily social media via the church’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. I’m pleased to say that I’m working with these daily and thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in my line of work for the good of my church. It’s going very well and is where I find myself drifting in moments of free time because it seems like such a good fit for me. I know I’m giving more than two hours a week to it, but that’s OK.

So there you have it – my first goal update for 2014. Overall, I’m mostly pleased, although I’m behind on a couple and will permanently change or remove a couple more to make sure I have time for sleep, rest and serving others. The addition of doing social media daily for my church is a major addition not originally planned but of enormous importance to me, so I’ll adjust other things as needed to do that well.

What about you? How are you coming on your plans for 2014?

Happy New Year 2014I set a number of goals for 2013, most of which were achieved as reported in this end-of-year progress report. After careful consideration of what worked and what didn’t last year, and after determining some directions I’d like to go in 2014, I’ve settled on the following personal goals for this year, not including those for my work. Like last year, I’m categorizing them as related to body, mind and spirit, although there are a few that might cross over to multiple areas or not necessarily fit well into any of those categories.

One thing I learned in last year’s pursuits is that some goals can become such daily habits that you no longer really need to call them out as goals and bother with tracking them. A few that are like that for me now are keeping my weight at or below 145 pounds, reviewing weekly the 100 Bible memory verses that I chose several years ago to burn into my brain and heart, and writing handwritten letters to my sons twice a year. So even though I’ll still be doing those, they won’t be recorded and reported here. I want the public goals I share to involve pursuits that add a new challenge and interest.

After feeling like I tackled too much in 2013, I’m setting some goals this year that reflect a desire to have a little more down time and rest. To do so, that time has to come from somewhere, meaning I have to do less in some areas than I did in 2013. Here, then, are my personal, non-work-related goals for 2014.

BODY

  • Average at least 10,000 steps per day every week. I’ve averaged more than that since getting my Fitbit Flex in September, but 10,000 is an easy-to-remember goal and the threshold for earning maximum rewards from the HumanaVitality program offered through my company’s health insurance plan. That’s the equivalent of five miles per day, so that’s a healthy, reachable number that takes about an hour less per week than I’ve been doing the past four months.
  • Do a stretching routine daily. I have a nice set of stretching exercises that I do before and after runs that I’ve done for years, but I feel the need to do them daily for the value they bring, whether or not I’m running.
  • Run 365 miles for the year. I haven’t run regularly for a few years. I walk a lot and occasionally jog some while out with the dog, but I want to do better at running this year. I don’t care how these miles are spaced out throughout the year. I won’t try for one mile every day. Some weeks will yield more miles than others, and that’s OK. All of these steps are included in the 10,000/day in the goal above, and actually save time since I run about twice as fast as I walk.
  • Average 7.5 hours of sleep a night. My 2013 goal for sleep was six hours per night – more than previous years, but my body is telling me I need more. This will be very difficult for me to do because the time to do this has to come from elsewhere. Tracking it accurately with the Fitbit is easy, though, and I’m determined to work at it.
  • Average no more than 45 hours per week for work. I can’t remember the last year I worked less than 50-55 hours per week on the average, so this will be a serious challenge for me. I’ll have to be better at letting some things go and at training and delegating other colleagues and volunteers to make sure all still gets done. I’m placing this goal in the body category since consistently working too many hours takes more of a toll on my body and time available for other things than it does on mind or spirit due to how much I love my work.

MIND

  • Author or co-author a book related to enterprise social networks. It’s time I wrote a book. I would like to create an e-book related to my profession because I don’t think there is enough in print to help guide others whose roles are similar to mine. The weekly Twitter chat I lead on the subject – #ESNchat – is an incredible source of information and knowledgeable contacts, so by the time I’ve led that for nearly a year in September, 2014 I should have a wealth of information to write or collaborate with others to write a very helpful guide for those that manage enterprise social networks. I’ll probably just give it away online when written to get the info out there. I’m not planning on writing it for profit. Making a positive impact on the profession and perhaps getting some conference speaking engagements as a result will be adequate reward.
  • Write 100 blog posts. For 2012, I wrote a post a day – 366 of them. In 2013 that went to one every other day. For 2014, I’ll back that down once again to one every 3-4 days. Since I’ll be writing some substantive posts for other websites in 2014, those will take more time than I typically spend on posts for my own blog. To account for that added time, I’ll write fewer posts on my this blog, although I’ll post a notice and link here to posts I write elsewhere.
  • Set up Pinterest boards and pins to coincide with my blog categories and posts. I’ve wanted to do this for a long while, so I need to make it a public goal to hold me accountable for getting it done. With over 70 categories currently on this blog, the plan is to create one Pinterest board per category and then pin all relevant blog posts to each board. Once caught up with all posts going back to this blog’s beginning in 2011, pinning new blog posts will be a part of the publication process for each post in order to keep the Pinterest boards current. I’m thinking about devoting one of my vacation weeks in 2014 for this task.
  • Reserve at least one hour per day for unstructured, unplanned time not related to any tasks or goals. This may seem like an odd goal, but it’s tied to feeling like I didn’t allow myself enough down time last year. By making a goal of giving time to not working on some goals, I’m forcing myself to have more down time and enjoy some spur-of-the-moment activity. (Of course, not having structured time is actually working on this goal, but you get the point.) I’m putting this goal in the mind category since its purpose is to give me more mental breaks.

SPIRIT

  • Finish reading The Apologetics Study Bible. I started reading it late in 2013, but still have 95% of its 2000+ pages to read in 2014. Each 1-2 years I pick a different version or study edition of the Bible to read through. This is the current one I’m working on which will be my first complete read of the version called the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).
  • Read these three major theology books: (1) Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem, (2) Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Gregg Allison, and (3) Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George. All together, these three books total 2,400 pages of material that along with The Apologetics Study Bible will be a fantastic theological and apologetic emphasis for the year.
  • Have a daily Bible reading and devotional time. I’ve been too hit and miss with when I do my Bible readings and prayer. I want to develop the consistent habit of doing so daily without fail.

Some of the goals above save me time compared to similar efforts in 2013, while other new goals will, of course, require time not dedicated for those things in 2013. Cutting back my work hours to something more reasonable will go a long way toward finding the extra hours needed, as will taking advantage of the many weeks of vacation time I have or will have accumulated by the end of 2014. I also suspect the TV will need to be turned off more frequently in my man cave.

I have a little apprehension about the above goals – a slight fear that cumulatively I’m not cutting back enough from 2013’s sense of overload. I will reserve the right to adjust the above goals if I find that they’re too ambitious. I’m determined to make sure I have the free time and added sleep needed, so other things will have to go if necessary. Until then, I’ll proceed with the above goals and will report back here quarterly (not monthly as I did last year) on my progress.

What about you? What are you going to tackle this year?