Denis Gobo tagged me in his post about his 2010 goals, and challenged a few of us to gauge our success for 2010 too by revealing our yearly goals and how we did. I should have seen it coming, because he tagged me on this before.
I’m all over the Getting Things Done philosophy, which involves setting some 50,000 foot goals to keep your overall life on track – but my GTD 50,000 foot goals aren’t “goals” in the way we usually think of goals. They are:
- Be very financially secure.
- Be a fantastic partner for Erika.
- Enjoy life while I can.
- Be strong and healthy.
- Be a good son and brother.
- Be a good Catholic.
None of those can be crossed off, so to speak – I’m never done enjoying life or being very financially secure. These are big-picture guidelines, more of a compass direction than a map destination. Underneath each of those 50,000 foot goals, I’ve got a series of – wait for it – 40,000 foot goals, then 30k, and so on, getting more and more tactical.
I’m not so anal-retentive that all of my day-to-day tasks are mapped up all the way through the list. Because I know my 50k goals, it’s easy for me to know at a glance whether an incoming task maps up to the big picture, or whether it might not be something I should take on. Every couple of weeks, I go through my task list just to be safe (called a GTD review), and make sure nothing snuck in when I wasn’t really thinking straight. I re-prioritize things, decide to postpone things indefinitely, and so on.
My big picture (the 50k foot goals) are very static – they haven’t changed in years – but the lower you get in altitude, the more the landscape changes from month to month. Having a really solid grasp on the direction I want to go helps me be more flexible when new opportunities arise. If someone presents me with an opportunity or if I get a wacko idea, I do a quick gut check: does this match up to my 50k foot goals, and will it skew the amount of time I spend on each goal? For example, I often turn down new clients that need help RIGHT FREAKIN’ NOW because if I took it on, I would spend less time with Erika and I would enjoy life less.
Having said all that, let’s look at what I checked off under some of the big-picture goals this year.
Be Very Financially Secure
Life threw me a curveball when Quest asked if I’d like to pursue the Microsoft Certified Master of SQL Server program. This hadn’t been part of my life’s goals, but I said hell yes because it would make me more valuable. I busted my hump studying, so saying yes to this temporarily threw my goal system way out of whack. I sacrificed some of my other goals in order to make this happen.
After I passed, life threw me another curveball when Microsoft reworked the MCM. They decided to offer it to the public without the Microsoft-based training component, which meant that I could offer MCM training myself. I looked at this as a gold mine opportunity – if I moved fast, I could write MCM training materials and make a lot more money doing training. I had absolutely zero interest in leaving Quest initially, even after I got my MCM, but the MCM program changes meant I had to think fast. Leaving Quest was tough, and leaving the security of a full-time salary job was especially tough. If I hadn’t been working on this particular GTD goal for a few years, I wouldn’t have been able to give up the salary and health insurance.
Be a Fantastic Partner for Erika
I’ve committed to Erika that I’m only going to travel one week per month on average. I struggled to keep this in 2010, and I didn’t do as well as I’d have liked when I mixed consulting and conferences. In 2011, I’ve had to say no to some really attractive events like SQLRally because I just can’t be gone all the time, and I don’t make money at those events (or SQLSaturdays). If I have only one week away per month, and I have to decide between making money at a client or losing money at an event, I gotta take care of business. (See the first GTD goal.)
Erika’s wanted new furniture for a while, so we refurnished the whole house this year. The last bits and pieces, a pair of mirrored nightstands, arrive Friday 12/31.
I did other stuff but I’m not posting that here. Mostly involved a turkey baster, a clown suit, and a videocamera.
Enjoy Life While I Can
This one suffered a lot during my efforts to pass the MCM program and start consulting, but I managed to sneak a few boo-yahs in.
I never would have predicted that Tim Ford and I would have launched SQLCruise. It came out of nowhere – I was so sick and tired of Seattle in the winter (seriously, PASS, what the hell are you thinking?) and was desperate to go somewhere fun at the right time of year and talk SQL Server. This was one of my most fun weeks of the year.
I’ve always wanted to learn more about photography, and this year I finally broke down and bought an interchangeable-lens camera, a couple of books, and subscribed to photography magazines. I’m slowly upping my game here, and I really enjoy this as a hobby.
Be a Good Son and Brother
By chance, I found out Dad had always wanted to go to Alaska, so I surprised Dad & Caryl (my stepmom) with their first cruise – an Alaska one out of Seattle. We had a wonderful time, saw bears and eagles and whales, oh my.
I took Mom on her first cruise this year, a 5-day one out of Miami. She had a blast (just like I hoped she would), and in 2011 I’m taking her on another cruise for her birthday.
Again this year, I made a point of telling my parents in person how much I love them, and how thankful I am for how they raised me. I’ve learned that I need to do that every single year because I learn something new every year. This year, I found out my mom feels guilty for spanking me. No, Mom, that was not a bad thing, and yes, I deserved it, and it make me a better grown-up. (I’m a big believer in spanking, although it’s easy for me to say in public because I don’t have any kids. Your kids, though, they need a swift slap across the bottom. Especially you, the lady in Oysy the other night. For crying out loud, if you can’t control your damn kids, take them to Chuck E Cheese, not a sushi restaurant. You’re not doing any of us any favors, including your kids.)
I sucked as a brother this year. My sister and her husband are hilarious, and I gotta hang out more with them.
Looking up at this list, almost none of it was predictable on 1/1/2010. I’ve done annual goals in the past and been nothing but disappointed because life changed my plans along the way. Life kept throwing me curveballs, but because of my GTD 50k foot goals, I was able to knock some of ’em out of the park.
I do have some things at the top of my to-do list at the moment that I’ll share, though:
- Build more training material – I’m taking my game up a notch and writing sessions that really make me proud. This maps up to my financial security goal.
- Get a maid – Paul & Kim have a personal assistant, and seeing her in action, I was sold. I talked Erika into letting us get a cleaning service in for starters. This maps up to me being a better partner, plus enjoying life.
- Improve my accounting – I’ve been using a web-based accounting package, and I’m switching to Quickbooks. I hate accounting, but as an entrepreneur, you gotta do what you gotta do. Also maps up to my financial security goal.
- Start podcasting – I’m working on a new way to share my interests with you in an easier, more enjoyable way, and that maps up to me enjoying life and financial security. Stay tuned!
To learn more about GTD, check out how I use 50,000 foot goals.