2019, business as usual
The original intention for this post was to look back at 2019 in the form of an annual review. End of year is a great time to reflect on what did and didn't go well, and correct course for the incoming year. Many of my peers publish reviews and it's always interesting, often inspiring, to see what others achieve with their precious time.
In my case, it was an unremarkable year. Unusually for me, I didn't set any goals at the start of last year. I had just turned 40 and it felt right to ease the pressure and keep the mid-life crisis at bay. As a consequence, no major changes came about and there's not much of note to share. Business and family life ticked along and I reached the year end in decent shape, albeit in much the same place I had been 12 months previous.
Writing for accountability
There are things I do want to change though. As my 5th decade gains momentum, I'm consumed with thoughts surrounding the bigger picture. How to ensure that my family and I are living the life we desire? Inevitably, there are areas that need work and I'm bang up for it. I'm ready to push on, think longterm and build foundations for the coming years. It's time to be more intentional across the board.
Through sharing my plans for the coming year, I hope for a level of accountability to help stay on track. I find it easy to embark on new endeavours, charging off into the distance with all the excitement and enthusiasm those early moments bring. Yet, I frequently don't see things through to a climax. I yearn to change this and make meaningful change. This post will give me something to lack back on, to measure against and reflect.
This year's theme: BE BRAVE
The idea of setting a theme for the year came courtesy of the Cortex podcast. A high-level theme at the mind's forefront helps to shape my approach to the year, guide decisions and ensure I'm acting true to my intentions. It's a little mental trick that I've found to be surprisingly effective.
This year, I intend to be brave. To not holding myself back due to a sometimes overwhelming distaste for discomfort. I want to grow in key areas and that means stretching myself. Embracing short term pain in order to get to the good stuff on the other side. My introversion will be tested as I rewire my brain to challenge my inner narrative. It will require me to leave the sanctuary of my cave more often. To connect, collaborate, contribute, and communicate more. It will force my hand when my hand quivers, and open doors I presumed closed.
To give an example of where this theme may lead, I committed my first act of bravery this week by booking a ticket to attend Hiut Denim's Makers & Mavericks Off-Grid event. It promises to be a fanastic experience and impactful in unforeseen ways. Tickets went on sale last year but as much as I wanted to go, I resisted the pull. The thought of landing in the middle of 100 strangers for 24 hours of unscripted interaction, is quite frankly terrifying. But that's 2019-me talking. 2020-me will embrace the fear and...
...I think you get the idea.
Goals, goals, goals
In contrast to last year's no goals approach, I've chosen to go all in this year with a set of highly structured Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Google have famously integrated this approach to goal setting, but it lends itself just as well to a Company of One.
I'm prone to extreme optimism when goal-setting and often over-estimate what is achievable in a given timeframe. To counter this tendency, I've narrowed my focus to 3 annual OKRs which will then feed down into a set of quarterly OKRs. True to the OKR philosophy, I've set objectives that will be a stretch and accept that 80% in an ambitious direction is better than 100% of stagnancy.
My Annual OKRs
Objective: Transform business for fulfilment and longevity.
- Double earnings.
- 6 new clients that have 'do good' principles.
- Launch a product.
Objective: Financial strength.
- Repay all personal debt.
- 7% of annual income invested.
- Weekly finances review with partner.
Objective: Be conversationally fluent in Welsh.
- Sustain hour-long conversation.
- Talk Welsh-only for a week of school runs with my son (already a Welsh speaker).
My Q1 OKRs
For brevity, I won't outline all my OKRs for this quarter, but here are a few to give a sense of how I plan to stay on track.
Objective: A personal website that engages target audience.
- Deploy key content pages (0/3)
- Home, About, and Services.
- Publish 12 audience-focused posts (0/12)
Objective: Develop accessibility expertise
- Publish 12 topic-focused posts (0/12)
- 20min daily, read and digest (0/60)
- 100% Lighthouse accessibility score on personal website (0/100)
- 100% Lighthouse accessibility score on Client 1's website (0/100)
Objective: Start investing
- Formulate strategy (0/1)
- 3 monthly contributions (0/3)
Objective: Get Welsh learning foundations in place
- 5min daily, Duolingo practice (0/80)
- Ask friend if we can schedule regular practice (0/1)
- Read 2 language learning books (0/2)
I'm tracking progress of these metrics using good ol' pen and paper, via my Bullet Journal. I'll review the completion statistics at the end of March and adjust course where necessary for Q2's OKRs. A serious amount of thought has gone into all this, so it will be interesting to see how the execution stacks up in comparison. It won't be easy but that's the point!
Annual Reviews for inspiration
My RSS reader has been awash with Annual Review posts of late. Cracking; I'm a sucker for all this introspection. It's interesting to see how people structure their thoughts e.g. by month, by area of interest, good vs bad, quantitive vs qualitative. Here are some that were particularly interesting:
Here's to a big 2020 for you all!