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  • Writer's pictureHarshal

Six Months In: The Reality of New Year's Resolutions

Personal Journey of Planning, Prioritizing, and Pursuing Goals

It was six months into the year when I wrote this. New Year's resolutions play an impressive game of hide-and-seek with us. My yearly planning approach included regular reviews to seek out those elusive goals, but isn’t that recursive?

I rolled up my sleeves to see if I could spot where they were hiding!

⚠️I have shared my personal goals in this article. They are mostly unedited, so they reveal a lot. Don’t read the specifics if it makes you uncomfortable.

I share my goal-setting framework and some tips to seek your hidden New Year’s resolutions. I share my personal goals because a real example makes the framework real and tangible. A Lorem Ipsum example doesn’t help in the same way.

 Reviewing how 6 months flew by. Mid-year review.
Reviewing how 6 months flew by. Mid-year review.

Yearly Planning Approach To 2023

I followed Sam Parr’s annual planning approach and thought of 2023 in 6 buckets.

  1. Family

  2. Fitness

  3. Finance

  4. Mind

  5. Adventure

  6. Other

I created an ordered list to remind me of their relative priority. Family first. Miscellaneous goals last.

 6 parts of annual plan - with family on top. Kept Other as the least important part.
6 parts of annual plan - with family on top. Kept Other as the least important part.

1 - Family goals

At the start of the year, I set these goals:

  • Time with my son is quality time

  • Carve out times on weekends with family even if no friends

  • Carve out times on weekends with son outside of meals with defined start & end

  • Time with spouse: one weekday date, WFH weekday lunches, WFH weekday walks, company for coffee.

  • Decide plan for baby #2

How did I track against these goals?

  • I stay focused with my kid when I am with him. I don’t get distracted from household chores, work, or phone.

  • I do family outings if there are no friends plans.

  • I split my weekends into 8 chunks of time from 5am to 10pm. I ensure at least one chunk every weekend is decided to my son. Even if we have many social plans on that weekend.

  • I do one weekday date, date-style lunches, and post-lunch walks with my spouse. On weekends, I give her company for coffee.

  • My spouse and I decided on a plan and trigger events for another kid.

What helped me stick to these goals?

  1. One of these was about making a decision. I had that discussion early in the year to avoid delaying it.

  2. I added “family lunch and walk” to my weekday calendar. Similarly, I added once a week time block for “coffee and loving out loud”, which means we want to be mindful and explicit of having a relationship check-in.

  3. My son keeps me honest on weekends. I can see him yearn to spend time with me. At the same time, family meal times does not satisfy him. I keep this in mind and take out time to spend with him.

2 - Fitness goals

At the start of the year, I set these goals:

  • Minimize eating desserts.

  • Reduce dirty eating

  • Maximize days without workout injuries. consistent warm-up and cool down. Pause when injured.

  • Have a bed set that enables me to Sleep well.

How did I track against these goals?

  • I reduced eating desserts unless I am a big fan of that dessert. I also had dinner with friends where I didn’t order desserts. These were new things for me.

  • I skip workouts or stop them in between after an injury. I have consistent warm-up and cool down routines.

  • I am mindful every night about getting good sleep. I experimented with simple fixes like a rolled towel under my waist to expensive options like buying an expensive pillow in the US and bringing it back with me in my check-in luggage.

What didn’t work?

  • I could not reduce “dirty eating”, i.e. eating outside of my usual meal plan. More on the dilemma between fitness fanatic and feasting foodie here.

  • I continue to face injuries from workout. Although my actions match my resolutions, my outcome is hard to measure. Did I reduce the injuries vs what it could have been?

What helped me stick to my goals?

  • I made my identity of a fitness fanatic. I would rather eat clean and be muscular than feast on foods.

3 - Finance goals

At the start of the year, I set these goals:

  • Decide on the future of SCT and my employment by 1 June 2023

  • Reduce spend on restaurant food

  • Use my money to buy me time.

  • In SCT: Follow the money.

  • Identify sources of energy consumption at home.

What worked well and how?

  • I create weekly plans for my business (SCT). These help me think about the future. I was able to decide on my priorities by June 1. I will write more about weekly planning process in another article.

  • I continued using money to outsource whenever possible to freelancers or house help. I used money to buy myself time with these hires. Contributors to the success of Spark Creative Technologies are spread across Ireland, the UK, Portugal, the USA, Canada, Venezuela, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Hungary. More on delegation here.

  • I ran benchmarks on energy consumption and added energy monitoring in our home. The analysis and monitored worked well. My goal was to identify sources of consumption. I got insights into that. I did not keep a goal of reducing energy usage. I wrote about that here.

What didn’t work?

  • I was unable to prioritize only work that “follows the money” in my business. I spend time in marketing instead of prospecting. I did market research but not sales. I did relationship building but did not seek clients. I realized these often. Realizing it helped me rethink my priorities. These challenges influenced my change in career focus.

  • I was unable to reduce my spend on restaurant food. We took a few action steps. We reduced pampering each other by buying more food. We reduced the number of items we buy at a restaurant. I choose to eat at home on weekends instead of food touring. More on the dilemma between fitness fanatic and feasting foodie here.

 reducing restaurant spend continues to elude me. One day’s bank transactions screenshot showing 15 restaurants.
reducing restaurant spend continues to elude me. One day’s bank transactions screenshot showing 15 restaurants.

4 - Mind goals

At the start of the year, I set these goals:

  • Destress before bedtime to Sleep well

  • Prioritize effectiveness over efficiency. Spend time only on the most important things.

  • Redacted bullet point.

  • Mindful eating at meals.

What worked well and how?

  • I was able to stop work by 8:30 or 9:00 pm every night. This enabled me to start thinking about other things that are not work-related. I also have long chats with my spouse before sleeping off, which helps me destress and get a good sleep.

  • I spend time every week identifying priorities. I’ll publish an article on that process too. Using Linear to store a backlog of ideas helped me not worry about completing everything on my mind. It helped me prioritize only the most important at any time.

  • I don’t watch videos, read books, or listen to podcasts/music while eating food. I am able to mindfully eat. I wrote more about mindful eating in fitness fanatic vs feasting foodie article.

5 - Adventure goals

At the start of the year, I set these goals:

  • Improve my dance moves - take 10+ more dance lessons.

  • Marketing - Be known well by my audience.

What worked well and how?

  • I increased my speed of publishing content. My goal in writing more is to be known well. I don’t want to be well-known amongst a broad population. I want to be known well amongst my readers. More on increasing the speed of content creation here.

What is pending?

  • I took about 10 dance lessons in 2022. I haven’t taken any in 2023. I haven’t acted on this. I have neither added any calendar reminder to make this happen in 2023. Thanks to this review, I now have this on my mind.

6 - Other goals

I wanted minimum miscellaneous goals. At the start of the year, I set one goal.

  • Have a well-functioning smart home with high WAF.

I succeeded at this goal. Due to the end-of-life of a feature in the Samsung SmartThings smart home hub, I had to migrate my smart home to Home Assistant. I wanted to ensure my smart home functions well. The home network works well. It has a high WAF - wife approval factor. I’m glad my current smart home is much more resilient than before and has a better UI through apps and remotes. The result of these is a higher WAF. SAF - Spouse Approval Factor is an alternative phrase. Another part of the smart home challenge was our home networking challenge. How to ensure reliable internet to a home spread across 3 floors, a back garden, multiple video conferencing simultaneously, and 78 internet-connected devices? How to reduce interference with 100+ Zigbee devices? I’ll publish another article on that topic since our debugging notes are in a Google doc.

Anything Else?

Would you like to compare notes on weekly planning? I have an article coming up on it here.

Do you have any suggestions for succeeding in the goals I failed above?

Do you have a different way of planning your months and years? Let me know your thoughts.



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