Managing and achieving goals… or not
Ministry of Testing do this thing called the bloggers club. Each month there’s a prompt, and the challenge is to write a blog post based on that prompt.
I want to take part this year, as motivation for doing more writing. I’ve got, like, two days left to make it for this months topic. Cutting it close, eh!
Reflecting on goals
The subject is managing and achieving goals. Which is a bummer, because I’m a serial non-achiever of goals.
Here are some goals I set for myself and failed to achieve last year:
- I attempted a 30 days of testing challenge, and only got half way.
- I started a programming project that I really wanted to get finished - but I’m not even close.
- I set a weight loss goal - didn’t happen.
- I wanted to learn a musical instrument - but I just didn’t find the time.
- A couple of other generic things. “Blog more” and “Be more involved with the testing community”. Things that started out great, but faded as the year went on.
This is a list of failures! It’s a pretty demotivating thing to think about - all the things I didn’t achieve!
The rear view mirror
In November last year, there was a panel discussion at TestBash New Zealand. Someone asked the panel: “how do you know you’re doing a good job”? After some reflection, my friend Moss posted this thoughtful answer.
I recommend reading the whole post, but the bit that stood out to me is this:
I know I’m doing a good a job when I look in the rear view mirror. When something comes along and you go “Oh, if this had happened 3 months ago, before we did X, Y or Z, it wouldn’t have gone so well”
This speaks to me, because it’s important to take time to reflect. Not just on goals, but on everything that’s happened over the course of a year.
Goals and achievements aren’t always the same thing
When I think about the things I did achieve last year:
- I MC’ed two international conferences from my basement, and spoke at a third.
- I contributed a chapter to a book on testing.
- I ran two trail marathons.
- I started a side gig test coaching, and a testing newsletter to go with it.
- A cute video of my kid got retweeted by Neil Gaiman on Twitter. I know that’s not really an achievement, but it was cool :)
All things I’m proud of! But none of them were goals I set at the start of the year. Some of them weren’t even options.
So what I’ve learned is - goals are great, and it is good to set goals and try and achieve them. But, it’s also important to look back - like a personal retrospective - and take stock of the things that I have achieved.
Because, well, goals and achievements aren’t always the same thing.
I might set out to achieve one thing, but achieve something else instead - and that’s OK.
I want to be proud of what I’ve achieved, regardless of what I set out to do to begin with.
I hope the same goes for anyone reading, and I hope that it’s helpful. Would love to hear about what you have achieved in the last year, or last quarter, or last week. Especially if they weren’t things you set out to do to start with!