ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ Herman's blog

On goal-setting

2024 has arrived and with it aspirations to "do better". That isn't to say 2023 wasn't a good year. Not by any means. But the earth has reached the specific point in its trajectory around the sun where we define the year as "new" again, and so we arbitrarily decide that it's the time to do certain things.

I like that. There's a lot of hate for New Years Resolutions™. Why choose this time of year to make a change? Any time will technically do. But humans are like that. We like round numbers, symmetrical shapes, patterns, and the beginnings of things.

At the end of 2023 my brother, partner, and I sat down at a local coffee shop and had a mini-retrospective of how the past year went. It was both a bonding experience, sharing the wins and hardships of the year, but also an external perspective which helped me recognise aspects of the year that I had previously overlooked. It was refreshing.

We then got to speaking about goals and resolutions for the new year.

Here's how I like to set goals:

  1. Keep the main focus on 3 goals or fewer
  2. Define what hitting these goals looks like
  3. Specify how I will achieve each goal
  4. Revisit the list a handful of times throughout the year to make sure I'm still on track (or whether my destination has changed)

This is similar to the SMART goal-setting system, where instead of just trying to do things that feel aligned with my goals, I'm instead proactive about the what and the how. I also find that having only 3 goals is much more sustainable, since reinventing oneself is neigh impossible on January 1st.

Here's an example of one of my goals for the year:

Spend more time with friends and nurture existing relationships

What does this look like for me?

It means that in a given week I will have the "full" feeling that comes with spending quality time with people I love. It means doing neat activities together and creating memories that I will look back on fondly.

And how will I achieve this?

The first step is to make plans with friends during the week. This could be dinner, or just a walk in the park. Thursday evenings are generally free (the alternative is finding something good on Netflix, which is getting harder and harder). If I try to make time for an activity with one or a few friends every Thursday evening, I'll already be in the green with this goal.

The second step is to nurture existing communities. I am part of a group of other bootstrappy founders who meet about once a month for a good dinner and chat. I find these dinners to be both stimulating and motivational (although the last one left me a bit tender the next day). So, explicitly making time for this and taking initiative in the organisation if necessary are both happy-paths.

The third step is to plan larger activities like getaways, hikes, or festivals. I'm off to a good start so far just arriving back from a particularly good New Years music festival up the East coast with a great set of people.

And finally make more time for video calls with friends and family who are in other cities or countries. A big reason "nurture friendships" is a goal for me this year is that there has been an exodus of friends from Cape Town over the past few years (mostly to the UK) and I miss them.

And that's how I goal-set. It's not a perfect system, but I feel it works well for me and it feels right.

Have a spectacular 2024!

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