Up until about two years ago, if you had asked me about how good I was at making and keeping goals, I would’ve said I was pretty lousy. Other than keeping my goal to practice Spanish on Duolingo daily, almost every other goal I set only lasted for a few weeks. Journal writing? One-again-off-again. Daily scripture study? A bit better, but only because I was ok with counting it if I only read a verse or two. Almost nothing else stuck.
Then, right before the pandemic hit, my church rolled out a goal setting program for the children and youth. It was based in part on a scripture from the New Testament about how Jesus improved as he grew to adulthood:
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.Luke 2:52
The basic idea for the goal setting was to focus on four areas of personal progress: Intellectual, Physical, Spiritual, and Social. They’d encourage the youth to find things they wanted to work on in each of the categories, set goals, and then work on them, on their own, with their family, and with their youth groups. The pandemic hit right after the goal setting program was launched, but in 2021, they tried renewing interest in the program, and it gave me the idea that I ought to try it out.
So, just like we were encouraging the youth to do, I decided to set some goals in each of those four areas. I also decided to set goals that were longer term ones, like setting the goal to try Noom out for six months, or to see if I could get to the point where I could jog a mile by the end of the year. I realized that setting goals over a wider period of time allowed for some chance to catch up if life threw a curveball (like SBIR proposal silly season at work, or deciding to quit my day job and strike out as a consultant, or the whole family getting sick for several weeks, or deciding to move houses, etc.)
And for the first time in my life, I actually had some real success with my goals in 2021. I could look up the notes, but long-story short, I got into decent physical shape for the first time in my adult life, finished reading an almost 800pg book in Spanish, and also made progress in most of the other areas. I didn’t accomplish all of my goals, but I made enough progress that I decided to try it again in 2022. Without further ado, here were my 2022 goals in each of the four categories, and how I did with them.
2022 Physical Goals
- Be able to do each of the five advanced-level Home Workout app bodyweight exercise sets with full reps and proper form: At the start of the year, I had been using this bodyweight exercise app that works on abs, chest, arms, legs, and shoulder/back for about half a year, and was getting to the point where I could kind of do things at the basic level. By the end of the year, I hadn’t quite made it all the way to my goal, but was up to ~2/3 the reps for each exercise set at the advanced level. Though my form is sometimes crappy on some of the newer exercises. All told, I did 94 bodyweight exercise sessions this year. I didn’t meet my goal 100%, but I made pretty solid progress towards it, and frankly for exercise new year’s resolutions, I think I did pretty good.
- Run at least one 5K per month, and get down to <30min time: I also didn’t nail this one 100%, but also made really good progress. I think I did 5ks at least 9 out of the 12 months, and got my best time down to 32:10 at this year’s Thanksgiving race in Louisville. More importantly, I got the boys to do the same None-to-Run program I did in 2021, and all three of my teenagers were able to get to the point where they could jog a complete 5K. It took all summer and most of the fall, but getting to that point with all of my teenagers was really fulfilling. All told, I did 53 jogs this year, including 5Ks and none-to-run jogs with the boys, which worked up to 5Ks over several months. While I didn’t get my time down under 30min, like I wanted to, I did get some solid advice on how to do so, by working on increasing my aerobic threshold — which entails running for long distances while keeping my heart rate in the 130-140bpm range. I bought myself an Oura ring this year to help with heart rate monitoring (though I wish it would give you real-time feedback during the run instead of just a post-run heart-rate chart), though I ran out of time to start doing the aerobic threshold runs, and decided to refocus my efforts on my first body-weight exercises goal.
- Get to the point where I could do 5 chin-ups in a row: This one ended up being a lot easier than I had expected, and I think I achieved this in late January or early February. I think the max number I got to before I called it good was like 8 chin-ups in a row. For someone who had never been able to do a chin-up or pull-up as an adult before 2021, I felt that was pretty good.
To summarize, I only got one of my three physical goals all the way completed, but did really well on the other two, and made significant progress. I ended up doing jogging or a body weight exercise over 40% of the days this year. More importantly, I was able to help my boys also do better at getting regular exercise, and building their strength and endurance. I’m pretty happy with how I did in this category in 2022.
- Read the full Old Testament plus the Book of Moses and Abraham from the Pearl of Great Price: My church for Sunday School and family gospel study rotates each year between the Old Testament/Pearl of Great Price, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants. In 2022, we were doing the Old Testament/Pearl of Great Price again, and I had only ever read the Old Testament all the way through once before, so I decided to try to read it through all the way this year. This isn’t the kind of goal you can just binge makeup at the end, but I’d check myself every few months to see how I was doing and if I needed to increase or decrease my reading rate. In the end, I finished the last page of the Old Testament this morning. All told that was 1226 pages. In parallel, a few days or weeks into the year, I decided I also wanted to read the Book of Mormon all the way through this year too, and finished that this morning as well. That’s another ~540pgs (including introductory pages).
- Always have a temple appointment scheduled, no more than 1 month out: Temple attendance is a big part of what we do as latter-day saints, and I had done only a so-so job of attending regularly in the past, so I set this goal. In the end, I did okish. I think we ended up going a total of 5 or 6 times this year. We sometimes had to reschedule when illness or other things got in the way, and I often had the “schedule next temple session” on my weekly to-do list for several weeks in a row before I actually got it done. I didn’t really come close to achieving this one, though I do think having the goal did probably make a significant increase in the number of times I was able to attend with Tiff and/or the boys.
- Do something meaningful for each ministering family at least once per quarter: My church assigns every family a pair of “ministering brothers” who are there to be their friends, to be someone they can count on to be there for them when life gets difficult, to encourage them, etc. Me and one of my sons, James, are assigned as a ministering companionship, and I’ve often been less than satisfied at how well I’ve done serving others. Hence this goal. I’m not sure I found meaningful things for every one of them every quarter, but having this goal definitely reminded me to try and be more involved. One of the brothers I had been ministering to had a horrific motorcycle accident this spring that he’s been slowly recovering from. He’s a fellow engineer, so we had the idea of tricking out his wheelchair with omnicasters, as a way to enable him to get around easier in cramped quarters in his house. In the end they didn’t work as well as we had hoped since a lot of his house was carpet, but we really enjoyed trying it out, even if that particular experiment wasn’t successful. I’d say that while I didn’t hit this 100%, I also felt like I did decently well, and it was a significant improvement over what I had managed in the past.
So, as with Physical Goals, there was only one that I completed 100%, but we had a good time working on the other goals.
Ironically, this category was the one I probably did the poorest at.
- Read at least 3 books per quarter, with at least one parenting-related: I didn’t do very well at this. I started a lot of books, but didn’t actually finish many, other than some books on tape we listened to as a family during our summer road trips. We did listen to/read most of two parenting-related books though. One on a learning disorder one of our boys have, and another on different personality types.
- Write at least 2 substantive blog posts per quarter: I think I may have written 3 or 4 substantive blog posts this year between Selenian Boondocks, my new Starbright Engineering blog, and this one. I had a lot going on this year, with leaving Voyager, starting Starbright, and then joining Gravitics, but this is definitely an area I’m still doing poorly in relative to where I’d like to be.
- Develop and present a business plan/investment request: I also didn’t get this one done. At the time I set the goal, I was the VP of On-Orbit Servicing at Voyager, and I thought this would be me putting together a business plan/investment request to go after a satellite servicing product and/or service offering at the Voyager level. But I ended up leaving Voyager in May, and spent the summer chasing a promising startup idea. I figured that would be what I’d build the business plan on. But that idea required convincing a friend’s company to license some technology to apply it in a field that is outside of their main focus area, and I was unable to convince him. My old Altius cofounder Colin Doughan then recruited me for Gravitics, as a product strategy lead, and while I’ve been doing customer discovery and trying to build a story for some potential product/service offerings, what I’ve been working on is still a long way from a full business plan.
Anyhow, as I mentioned above, I don’t feel like I did really well at the goals I set in this category this year.
- Invite at least one friend, neighbor, or coworker per week to do something meaningful together: This one was inspired by a talk from one of my friends who is currently serving in the presidency for the Denver Colorado North Mission. He pointed out that a lot of us live more and more isolated lives, and that we need to be more active in inviting friends to do things. Whether it’s a catchup call or text conversation, doing lunch together, going on a walk, doing a double date, or whatever, just getting in the habit of inviting people to do things together can help us introverts get out of our comfort zone. On this one, I think I did okay. I don’t think I did something meaningful every week, but I did end up spend a lot more time deliberately making time to spend with others this year because of this goal.
- Original Goal: Spend at least 2 day sin a place where I have to speak Spanish. Updated Goal: give a talk in Spanish: I’ve been studying Spanish on Duolingo for about 8yrs now, and last year I finished reading El Libro de Mormon in Spanish. But I still really feel inadequate when it comes to speaking Spanish. So I wanted to set a goal to force myself to get good enough at speaking Spanish that I would get over that hump. In the fall though, an opportunity opened up where I could give a talk in Spanish to a Spanish Speaking congregation in our stake. It ended up being a really great experience. I had to write the talk out in English first, and then work through the translation, but when the other speaker that Sunday reviewed the talk for me (he was a native Spanish speaker whose parents were from Mexico), he said I did a really good job, and only had one or two tweaks to suggest. It was a neat feeling to realize that I’ve now had the chance to share the message of the gospel in four languages (English, Tagalog, Pangaletok, and now Spanish). I didn’t do my original goal, but I feel like the alternate I came up with was successful.
- Take Tiff out on meaningful dates at least 2x per month: Once again, this is one that I don’t think I hit every single month, but having the goal definitely did increase my efforts to find fun things to do. Sometimes they ended up turning into family activities (like going to see I Heard the Bells in the movie theater), but we also had a fun weekend getaway down to Albuquerque, and went to see My Fair Lady at the Beull theater down in Denver. Not to mention breakfast or dinner dates at some fun restaurants.
All told, I think I did ok in this category. I didn’t knock all of these out of the park, but was able to find a good substitute for my second goal, and having my other two goals definitely improved my social life versus not having them.
I’m still learning how to be a goal setter/achiever, but I’ve really enjoyed this framework. Even if you’re not religious, I think you could adapt the “spiritual” goals in a way that was meaningful. And while only a few of the goals were ones that I completed 100%, I feel like this year was pretty successful overall on a goals front. With tomorrow starting 2023, I need to give some thoughts to new goals that build on what I’ve accomplished this year. But I wanted to give some accountability for how I did in 2022 first.