Measuring the “Success” of a Year

Dear Jack,

I made a list of some pretty specific goals/resolutions I wished to attain this past year, and did a good job of keeping them in front of me (literally: I laminated and posted them in my shower, at work, and various locations throughout the house).  So it wasn’t as if they were out of my mind – I was constantly looking and striving for these goals.

And I achieved about half of them.  Does this make 2010 a non successful year because I didn’t achieve all my goals?  Does it make 2010 a successful year because I achieved half of them?  Would I have achieved as much without having the goals?  Did the goals distract me from doing other things?  I’ve been reading a fair amount lately about doing a “year in review” time of reflection and measuring what we learned, what we achieved, and what we would do different – and I see a lot of value in doing so.  However, I’m confused in how exactly to go about doing this.

Looking back at my 2010 goals/resolutions, I had various levels of “success.”  Some goals were aborted for various reasons, and replaced with something else.  Other goals I simply just didn’t achieve.  And others were achieved, with some even being doubled.  Some of the most exciting parts of this year were unimaginable in the beginning of the year and weren’t even on my goal radar.  How do I measure the success of all this?  I don’t think we really can.

The phrase “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey” comes to mind.  I think I made strides towards becoming a better person, all around, not because I achieved certain goals and/or resolutions or didn’t achieve them, but because I was intentional in the process of personal development.  This was the first year I could recite my year’s goals/resolutions at the end of the year, and I think there is tremendous subconscious power in this.

So, moving into 2011, my rough draft of goals/resolutions so far has consisted of five categories (professional, spiritual, family, financial, and physical) with one character trait and two specific, measurable goals for each category.  I want to focus in on developing those five character traits, and then use those traits through the combined 10 accompanied goals (5 categories x 2 goals/category).  It’s a nice blend of the subjective and the objective, and a good question I’ll be able to ask myself at the end of next year is “Have I become more ___ in this area of my life?” and “Did I accomplish ___ in this area?”  I’ll be less concerned with the answer to the second question as I will be to the first.

I urge you to consider your own goals, Jack, and to be intentional in self improvement in all the areas of your life.  I don’t have a whole ton of data to support this claim, but from what I’ve found out in life, those who are intentional tend to be a lot more successful – however you measure and define that word – in their life’s — well — intentions.  Till next time, Jack



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