Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 in Review: Assessing Last Year’s Goals

Setting goals is a good way to focus one’s efforts.  However, goals are no good without reassessment afterwards.  We therefore need to reexamine 2014’s goals before setting new goals for the coming year.
These were my goals for 2014:

Goal: Average under 8:30/mile in a half-marathon.
Status: Not met
This picture is from the 2013
Woodruff Y-Tri.  It's been awhile
since I've been on a podium.
2013 was a heavy year for triathlon training and competition.  I was burnt and exhausted by the time fall rolled around, and as we headed into the offseason, I was more than ready for a break.  I usually define the offseason as “that period of time between the end of triathlon season and whenever I feel like getting back into training before the next season starts,” but a funny thing happened in 2014.  I never felt like going back.  I wound up scaling way back on my workout routine and taking the entire year off from competition.  In retrospect, this was a good idea.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and more importantly, it kept me from getting burned out long-term.
Running a half at an average of 8:30/mile is still a sound, aggressive goal, but I’m not sure I’m going to attempt to commit this much effort to running again.  I’ve been enjoying being back in the pool lately, and I’d quite like to focus more of my efforts in the water.  I’m not yet sure what that’s going to look like, but it’s been quite a while since I set any sort of swimming goals.  Perhaps it’s time.
Goal: Run all year without injury.
Status: Not met
I ran reasonably well in 2014, averaging two runs per week through most of the year.  As fall rolled around, I began thinking about triathlon again, and I’ve been running more since then—without injury.  That’s good.
What’s not good is that I got bit by a spider in August, and it put me in the hospital for a week with an antibiotic-resistant infection in my right leg.  Granted, that’s not exactly a running injury, but it still threw off my training, making it infinitely harder to maintain any kind of long-term running rhythm.
As the end of the year rolls around, I feel like I’m running okay, but the goal was to improve.  I can’t say that I’ve improved.
Finish my book and get it ready for publication.
Status: Met
Sneakatara Boatman & the
Priest of Loki
is out now for
the Kindle.
I finished the short story “Sneakatara Boatman and the Priest of Loki” just before Christmas last year.  I then went straight into writing “Sneakatara Boatman and the Crown of Pluto,” thinking that I needed the whole thing to be ready before going into publication.  Test readings and other decisions showed that this wasn’t the case, however, and I ultimately decided to put The Priest of Loki out as an ebook by itself.  I’m still re-writing “The Crown of Pluto,” and I plan to get it out by the summer.  That shouldn’t be a problem, and I’m satisfied with the progress that this project has made.  
I finished “Crown of Pluto” months ahead even my most ambitious timeline and have since invested more time than I’d planned in re-writing.  That’s a luxury, and I consider the whole project to have been a success up to this point.
Establish “Family Game Night” as a weekly thing.
Status: Not met
We failed this one badly.  Everybody in the family likes games, but there’s always so much going that we never manage to sit down together and play.
It pains me to say it, but I’m not sure that this was ever a realistic goal.  Looking forward to 2015, we’ll have to talk seriously about how we approach Family Game Night going forward.

We did exactly one Family Game Night in 2014.
Reconnect with West Point and with some of my classmates
Status: Met
This wasn’t a stated goal at the end of 2013, but we put a lot of time, money, and energy into the effort, and I feel like it paid dividends overall.  I went to four Army football games, got back in touch with a healthy handful of my classmates, and generally started feeling like a “better” graduate.  That’s good; it makes me feel more connected and more grounded in who I am and who I want to be.
Hannah's performance as Annie was
the highlight of 2014.
It’s not news to me that 2014 was no banner year in terms of its accomplishments.  It was by no means a bad year, but with the exception of Hannah’s turn as Annie in her school production of Annie Jr., this was more a year in which we kept on keeping on than it was a year of triumphs and tragedies.  The kids are doing well at school, Sally’s doing well with “Art and the Artist” and with her career as a physical trainer, and I wrote a book, but that stuff was all strictly within the terms of our expectations for 2014.  Hannah was the only one who really exceeded the standard, and for as much as I am proud of her, it’s still her thing, not mine and not Sally’s.  We both set our own goals independently, and we don’t take credit for the things our kids do.

As Sally and I were discussing just the other night, we have a good marriage.  Neither of us takes that for granted, nor are we unaware of how rare and difficult it is to stay legitimately close and connected as a couple over the course of a life lived together.  However, life still has its challenges, and if the state of our marriage isn’t—usually—one of them, that doesn’t mean that we don’t still struggle.  Thus, whatever other goals we set, it’s implied that we’ll continue to focus on our relationship with each other.  Without a strong marriage, the rest of our lives are meaningless and empty.  
That said, two out of five goals met, and one of those wasn’t even a real goal… That’s piss poor.  I’ve been feeling for months like I’m not doing anything with my life, and now here’s the proof.  I’m not sure what 2015 is going to bring, but it certainly needs a more focused effort than 2014 got.
I guess, then, that my first goal for 2015 is to make the coming year successful.  Granted, the year’s success depends entirely on the way that “success” is defined, but that’s the purpose of setting goals.

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