It is the twelfth day of the twelfth month and thus time for the final review of those goals I set myself on the second day of the second month, commonly know as Groundhog Day. I had set myself three goals, read a story, a poem, and an essay everyday; write a short story every week; and run a 5k.
We will start the review with the last as it is the one unqualified success. I ran the Miles to Margaritas 5K back in June. My time was not great, at —, but was a little below what I expected based on my training runs. I have not maintained the fitness and would need to start again, much to my regret. The goal, however, was achieved.
The middle goal, to write a short story a week, has been a disaster. I have finished one short story a year. Like many writers, my most impoverished writing skill is the ability to put my butt in my chair and pound out words. I can pound out words, as my winning NaNoWriMo shows, but after having written daily for all of November I have written all of three days in December. Again, I can achieve but not sustain.
The first goal, to read a short story, a poem, and an essay daily, was in between the others in terms of success. As I discussed I was going to grade it and the story writing by percentage. There are 314 days, inclusive, between February Second and December Twelfth. I have completed all three pieces of reading 102 of them, a score of 32%, a clear failing grade. The heartening thing is the days are spread throughout the year. There is a spare day here and there but most of them are in chunks. The longest chunk, of forty-one straight days, ended when I did not complete all the reading on December second. In addition, there were several days when I completed one or two the readings but not all three. Because I was able to maintain the habit more and restart it after lapses, in fact today is the second day of a new streak, I consider it the most successful of the three goals.
During the year I read Scott Adam’s How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. One thing he discusses is that goals can be defeating. Until you achieve it you are saying you are insufficient and after you achieve it you have a “what’s next” moment. Instead, he suggests having systems instead of goals. The idea of systems over goals resonated with me. It is why I consider the reading the biggest success. Despite the low percentage of days read, there is now a system starting to firm in terms of picking volumes to read through, knowing the next volume as I finish the current one, and doing the reading early in the day all contribute to success.
In contrast, I achieved the goal of running a 5K, but there is no system in place to keep me running. The real impetus, a desire to to complete a triathlon and reduce my blood sugar. A system of training, even if I didn’t complete the 5K, would help get the things I want more than a one off 5K has.
When New Year’s comes and I start working on my 2019 Groundhog Day plan there will be a bigger focus on systems than one shot goals. Once again, I think I will aim for three with two focused on writing and one on physical development.
For now, it is the holidays. Time to enjoy and not worry too much about the success over the year. It is done.