Reviewing Goals for January 2015

Summary: It's time to review January 2015's goals. Let's break it down and see what we can learn. (Tweet This!)

Every month, I set and review goals for myself. Last month, I explained how and why I was setting goals and the value of setting them on a monthly basis.

I set two personal goals and one business goal for this website. Let's see how I did:

January 2015 Goals

Goals - Baby, Funny
  1. Personal 1: Create a Rough System to Quantify and Track "Successful" Days

    I worked on a rough system to "grade" my days. I even improved it a few times. I'm not quite ready to share it, but I'm happy to describe it.

    As you might have guessed from my article earlier this week: Gamification is Your Key to Self Improvement.

    I have a spreadsheet with various categories (Health, Work, To-Do List, etc) which are broken down into activities (flossing, pushups, etc.). I then have a column for how many points each item is worth. For example, flossing is worth 200 points, pushups are worth 5 points. The points are arbitrary. I give more points to things that I think are more important so that I'll want to do them.

    I keep two running columns for each day... the short-term "to-do"/focus list and a general "feel" list. The general feel list is just a 1 to 10 subjective feeling for a few areas in my life. If I blew off the day to go sledding with the kids, I'm going to get a zero for work. On the other hand, I'll get an 8 or 9 for family. What I found is that I consistent scored almost the same amount of points every day. The only question is which categories the points were scored in.

    The biggest problem is that I only used the system 9 times the whole month. Of course that's 9 more times than I used it over the previous 2-3 years when I tried do something similar in the past. While it was far from perfect, simply setting the goal seemed to help. I went from tracking 0% of my days to 30% of my days.

    Grade C- (72)

  2. Personal 2: Lose 4 Pounds

    I started in at 175.5 pounds. According to my awesome Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale, I can see that I averaged 171.2 pounds for the week of Jan. 25-31.

    I nailed it! I even had a 1/3rd of a pound to spare.

    How did I do it? I simply was more mindful of what I ate. I didn't starve myself or anything like that. I simply had the goal in the back of my mind the whole month. That allowed me to replace a few snacks with healthy alternatives. I worked in about a dozen NutriBullet shakes (consisting of Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, and whey protein, and water) throughout the month.

    I wonder what I could have done if I had done any significant exercising other than walking my dog and bumped up the shake to be more of a daily snack. Sounds like food for thought on February's goals.

    Grade A (95)

  3. Be Better Now: Write 7 Guest Posts for Other Blogs

    This didn't happen. Not even close. I wrote half of a single blog post. When I had spare time, I put it to work making the website look a lot better. I recently wrote up next week's full monthly review for January, and I was shocked at all the little things I was able to accomplish on the site.

    There were a lot of design fixes and adding related articles at the end that hopefully keep attention when I do try to attract attention with other blog posts.

    Even though I clearly didn't get what I originally set out done, I still got a lot of very important things done for the site. I'm going to give myself a bit of a break on the grade. While it was poor execution, I think it was more a misguided goal. I'll take a little credit for doing a successful pivot.

    Grade C- (72)

Taking all three things into account, my average score is a 79.6... which I'll round to an 80 to squeak out possibly the lowest B- grade in history.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what the grade is... it's about the fact that I made steady improvement on a number of these things. I improved the system that I use to track how productive my day was and I actually used it several times. I really did lose weight. I improved the look and feel of the website.

That's a lot of improvement that wouldn't have happened if I didn't set goals. That's success by any measure.

(In a future post, hopefully this weekend, I'll draw up the goals for February 2014.)

Image Credit: Barbara's HD Wallpapers

This post involves:

Be Better Now

... and focuses on:

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Gamification is Your Key to Self Improvement

Summary: When you turn a chore into a game, it becomes fun. What if you did it for everything important in your life? (Tweet This!)

We've all been there. We've struggled with our productivity. I've been there. Let me tell you, when you build a website around a central tenant of being more productive this qualifies as "A Very Bad Thing."

When this happens, I realize that I have two choices. I could go through the list of the list of excuses or man up. Admittedly, I usually do both, go through the list of excuses and then man up.

Living the Video Game Life

Living the Video Game Life

It's one thing to know that I have to be more productive. Doing it is a horse of a different color. I need a way to stay motivated and accountable. The first thought that came to my mind is that I should take a commitment contract out against myself. This would help ensure that I stick to my plan. I was in the process of doing just that when I realized that would have to quantify my productivity. Remember that "Measurable" from our SMART Goals?

Fortunately, I happen to have a handy tool to quantify my productivity. I can simply refer to my prioritized to-do list. Each day, I will keep track how many points I've completed in a spreadsheet. I could even run some statistics on the data and create some graphs. The possibilities are endless.

Rate My Life

All problems are solved, right? Well not exactly. As we all known life intervenes with work sometimes. Last week, we had two feet of snow. Between shoveling and taking care of the kids, I didn't get nearly as much work done as I hoped. On my conventional business to-do list, this would have scored low. On my, "I'd like to not slip, fall, and spend a month in traction" to-do list, it ranked very high.

I have a lot of items like this. Walking my dog comes to mind immediately. I don't get any work done, but we both get exercise and he gets a fun trip. There are the times where I take some extra time make a healthy meal. This lowers my "work" productivity, but it is also a worthwhile trade off.

The last thing that I want to do is to become a slave to my productivity charts and graphs. I needed to do a little tweak. I created a spreadsheet for several areas that I want to be better in. I'd love to share it with you, but it really is far too rough, right now.

The categories were ones that were just off the top of my head - most of them pulled from the goals of this site: Money, Health, Productivity, Social good, and Family / Fun. The idea here is to rate myself each day on this criteria. If I eat tons of fast food and don't exercise, I'm going to get a low health score. If go crazy and buy a bunch of tablets for every room in the house, I'm going to get a low score in the money category (and perhaps an increased score in the "likelihood of getting divorced" column).

Currently, I have a Max Score, Today's Rating, and Today's Score column. As I've explained it thus far, I could just put a number from 1 to 10 for each day of the month, and have the same result.

My Life as a Video Game

My spreadsheet attempts to break down categories into specific tasks. So walking the dog gets points in both family/fun and health. I have exercise and diet tasks in the health category. If I have the best workout, I can earn 10 points there. If I have an excellent diet, that's another 10 points. I often forget to floss, so I'm giving myself an extra point. What I have now is a Health Category with a Max Score of 21. If I put in above average workout (6) with above average diet (6) and floss (1), I will earn 13 of 21 possible points. When I skip the gym, I likely won't get out of the single digits.

This is where living your life as a video game comes in. I want to score as many points as I can. In general, the more points I've score, the more productive my day is. There's even a word for it, Gamification.

As long as I keep the system in balance, this has been a great way to stay motivated throughout the day. Scoring points allows me to set measurable goals.

Perhaps best of all, I can put a reward system in place. Maybe scoring so many points earns me a beer or scotch at night. Maybe scoring so many points a month earns me $100 to buy some kind of technology toy. This is the next natural step, but I'm not there yet. We'll save that for another post for another day.

Photo Credit: Raja Nicholas Fletcher

This post involves:

Mind, Motivation, Productivity

... and focuses on: