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  • Writer's pictureHarshal

Year In Review: A Transparent Look At My 2023 Goals And Resolutions

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

Insights And Frameworks You Can Learn From One Personal Journey To Set Goals And Change Habits.


If you are reflecting on your year or planning for the next, you will find useful tips and stories in this post.


As 2023 draws to a close, I reflect on the year. In this post, I'm not just sharing tips – I'm opening up about my personal journey with goal setting in 2023. I've first shared my framework and goals here. While I'm proud of meeting 62% of my 2023 goals, there's a lot of room to improve.


I use my personal goals as examples because they make the framework more real and understandable. A Lorem Ipsum example doesn’t help in the same way.

Reviewing last 12 months and progress on personal goals.
Reviewing last 12 months and progress on personal goals.

Yearly Planning Approach To 2023

I used Sam Parr’s annual planning method and thought of 6 areas in 2023.


  1. Family

  2. Fitness

  3. Finance

  4. Mind

  5. Adventure

  6. Other/Miscellaneous


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

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

1a - Family First: Tips To Fulfill Your Family Goals

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” - James Clear, source


Here are some tips to help you reach your family goals:


  • Schedule time for goal: Goals that aren't regular can be forgotten. Set aside time for them. When you write your goals, also decide when to work on them. For example, I decided to talk about "plan for baby #2" early in the year after setting that goal.

  • Incorporate into routines: Make goals like weekly dates or family meals part of your routine. For example, I made my weekly dates and weekday walks happen by creating recurring reminders for them in my calendar.

Recurring reminders for writing, reviewing priorities, family dinner, lunch and walk, dance, and ‘the one thing’. Blocks for family outings.
Recurring reminders for writing, reviewing priorities, family dinner, lunch and walk, dance, and ‘the one thing’. Blocks for family outings.

1b - Review Of My 2023 Family Goals

Here’s how I did with my 2023 goals:


  • "Time with my son is quality time.": I focus on my kid when I'm with him. I do not work or use my phone when I am with him. I tell him if I have to do household tasks and invite him to join me.

  • "Make time on weekends for family, even without friends' plans.": Before, I worked on my business if we had no social plans, and my wife looked after our son. Now, apart from plans with friends, I do one family outing every weekend.

  • "Carve out times on weekends with son outside of meals with defined start & end.": I spent a dedicated time with my son every weekend. This goal was hard because my son always wanted more time together. Ryan Holiday, in The Daily Dad, says any time is quality time, even the garbage time.

  • 🌓 "Time with spouse: one weekly date, WFH weekday lunches and walks, and company for coffee.": We had many dates and lunches together for regular check-ins and togetherness. But changes in work hours and family health incidents affected our plans for some months of the year. I developed an interest in coffee and tea to give my wife company.

  • "Decide on a plan for baby #2.": My wife and I made our decision early in the year. We will not need to revisit the discussion for a few months.


2a - Staying On Track: Tips For Adherence To Your Fitness Goals

“You can't improve what you don't measure,” - Peter Drucker, source.


How can you stick to your fitness goals?


  • Measure your progress: Measure your activities or metrics. Measure things like weight, body measurements, food, steps, or sleep.

  • Learn beyond: Read books or listen to podcasts about your goals. Your knowledge and reading efforts will boost your motivation towards your goals.

  • Prevent Injuries: Minimize your workout injuries by stopping to exercise at the first sign of potential injury. Prioritize muscle safety over muscle stimulus.

  • Reframe goal as a habit: Define your goal as a habit. Use apps like HabitNow to maintain streaks. How can you build a streak for your habit and keep it unbroken?

  • Set mini-goals: What is the 2mins version of your goal? Establish a 2-minute version of your goal that you can accomplish every day. Doing your goal daily strengthens your identity, for example, as a Fitness Fanatic. Having that identity makes you more likely to continue working out and stay fit.

  • Journaling: Write a daily journal. Use tools like Diary with Lock to reflect on your progress. Think of this like a sprint retrospective, but at the same recurrence as your goal (daily instead of once in two weeks).

My diary journal entries in Diary++ App.
My diary journal entries in Diary++ App.

2b - Review Of My 2023 Fitness Goals

Here’s how I did with my 2023 goals:


  • 🌓 "Minimize eating desserts.": Success was mixed. I cut down on desserts for several months, especially when I aimed to trim my waistline quickly. However, for the rest of the year, I often overindulged in sweets, even ones I didn't really like. More on my struggle between fitness fanatic and feasting foodie here.

  • 🌓 "Reduce dirty eating.": I did well with clean eating on weekdays, following my nutritionist's meal plan. But weekends were different - I became a Feasting Foodie. I ate whatever I wanted, straying from the plan. Moderation is hard. I tried to compensate with salads, fruits, and vegetables, but it wasn’t enough. On successful days, my motivation was my big-picture aspiration. Now, I've made a checklist of habits to help me stay on track on weekends. 

Successful weekday habit streak. New checklist to help tame the weekend feasting foodie.
Successful weekday habit streak. New checklist to help tame the weekend feasting foodie.
  • "Have a bed set that enables me to sleep well.": My sleep isn't perfect, but I experimented with various methods. I concluded that I did not need any more bedding purchases. I tried eye masks, body pillows, knee pillows, towel rolls, different types of pillows, white and brown noise, chamomile tea, hot showers, soothing music, and reading before bed.

  • "Maximize days without workout injuries. Consistent warm-up and cool-down. Pause when injured.": I did well here. Previously, I struggled with tracking this. Now, I've maintained a 100+ day streak of injury-free workouts. I paused when I sensed an injury and adapted my workouts by switching to bodyweight exercises or walks on those days. Regular stretching on break days helped, too. I used the HabitNow app to track my streak, keeping me motivated. Even when sick, I did simple exercises for at least 2 minutes.

Working out every day since I started tracking. 126 days of workout or walk.
Working out every day since I started tracking. 126 days of workout or walk.

3a - Tips To Strike Gold With Your Finance Goals

Some tips


  • Act quickly: Research shows that spending a long time on a decision doesn't necessarily make it better. You might think of more factors, but your decision wouldn’t be any stronger. Quick decisions can be just as good. Another Harvard University study says that sleeping on a decision can make you more confused, not clearer.


3b - Review Of My 2023 Finance Goals

Here's how I did with my 2023 goals.


  • "Deciding the Future of SCT and My Employment by 1 June 2023.": I brainstormed this by 1 May. But, after talking with a mentor, I started doubting my decision. My decision is still similar to my first thought, but I've been unsure for months. I noted my thoughts in this post and asked friends for advice.

  • "Reduce Spend on Restaurant Food.": I cut costs by ordering fewer items at restaurants. We didn't reduce our visits, but we spent less per visit. I write about balancing fitness fanatic and feasting foodie here.

  • "Use Money to Buy Time.": I continued using money to outsource whenever possible. I hired freelancers and house helpers. I also bought software to speed things up. Learn more about my approach to delegation here. I'll also share how I save time on meal prep soon.

  • 🌓 "In SCT: Follow the Money.": I partly did this. When I got new customers for my resume checker and job hunt coaching, I focused more on those. But I didn't do outbound prospecting. I worked on marketing but not prospecting. I did market research but not sales. I did relationship building but did not seek clients.

  • "Identify sources of energy consumption at home.": I tracked our home's energy use and compared it against benchmarks on energy consumption. I added real-time energy monitoring. I achieved a stretch goal of reducing energy consumption by building smart home automation, like turning off heating in rooms vacant for more than 15 minutes. This and other changes reduced November's energy costs by 40%.


4a - Mind Matters: Tips For Achieving Mental Wellness Goals

"Extraordinary results happen only when you give your best to become the best you can be at your most important work." - Gary Keller, source.


  • Efficacy over efficiency: Find your most important thing vs. ways to be productive (producing more work). What's the one big thing you need to do today? Reading "The One Thing" by Gary Keller, "Indistractible" by Nir Eyal, and "Deep Work" by Cal Newport will help internalize this approach.

  • Start with why: If you want to get up early, consider why. What do you want to do with that extra time? Start by making your wake-up times more consistent across days of the week. Then, change your wake-up time gradually.

  • Habit formation: How can you turn a resolution into a regular habit? Make it something you do at a certain time, on certain days, or when something else happens.


You can check out the flowchart from Charles Duhigg, the author of The Power of Habit.


4b - Review Of My 2023 Mind Goals

Here are my 2023 goals and progress:


  • "Destress before bedtime to sleep well.": My sleep isn't great, but in my daily routine - I relax before bed and stop work at 9 pm. I spend time with my wife and read books before sleeping. More on my 2022 books list here, and my 2023 reading review is coming soon.

Sleep tracking to check sleep time (quantity) and score (quality).
Sleep tracking to check sleep time (quantity) and score (quality).
  • 🌓 "Prioritize effectiveness over efficiency. Spend time only on the most important things.": I create weekly plans for my business (Spark Creative Technologies). I often choose my "one thing" for the day and focus on it. But, other days, I get lost in a sea of tasks without clear direction. I wrote about my weekly planning process here.

  • ❌ “Focus on sensate time with wife.”: I failed at this goal because my wife and I could not fit it into our routines. We prioritized other activities, like organizing parties, booking vacations, or sleeping early for fitness. Although our time was focused, I consider it a failure as it was inconsistent for most of the year.

  • "Mindful eating at meals.": I don't watch videos, read, or listen to podcasts/music while eating. I focus on my food. Read more in my post on fitness fanatic vs feasting foodie.


5a - Adventurous Aspirations: Tips To Set And Achieve Adventure Goals

Think of your adventure goals as stretch goals. These goals help you in self-actualization


Tips

  • Integrate routines: Find ways to build a routine around your habit. Every new goal should fit into your current life choices. Emily Oster's book, "Family Firm," offers great frameworks.

  • Specific goals: Make your goals actionable and measurable. For instance, change "dance more" to "take 10+ dance lessons" or "perform in a group dance."

  • Social commitment: If possible, make a social pact as your goal. For example, performing a dance with your dance class cohort on stage. This increases your chances of success and enjoyment of the process.

  • Set direction: Define your 'Commander's intent' or 'North star’ direction. When unsure of specifics, set a general direction like "be known well."

  • Define anti-goals: Define what your goal is not a.k.a “Anti-goal”. This can help make your goal more concrete. For example, "be known well, not well known." You can also use this approach in setting your team culture. I wrote more on team culture here.


5b - Review Of My 2023 Adventure Goals

Ever since my undergrad at IIT, I knew dancing was not my strong suit. I had a simple goal. I didn't aim to be the top dancer in a dance-off. I just wanted to avoid being the one everyone looked at with disdain when I hit the dance floor. My goal was to have just enough skills to manage at a party. I started taking dance classes in 2018. I began with Salsa Rueda in San Francisco and then Hip-hop in Dublin. By 2023, I was more intentional in improving my dance moves.


Here are my 2023 goals and progress:


  • "Improve my dance moves: take 10+ more dance lessons.": Achieved 5+ through Steezy and aiming for 10+ by year-end. Steezy helped integrate hip-hop into my routine. I used Emily Oster's "Family Firm" book to think of all the logistics to make this goal fit my family life.

  • "Marketing - Be known well by my audience.": I didn't aim for broad fame, but for recognition among my readers. I wrote 52 articles, one each week of 2023, on Substack. I wrote once or twice every week on LinkedIn. These steps helped me share my thoughts widely. Here is my round-up of 2023 posts.


6a - Beyond The Areas: Tips on Other Goals

Minimize other (miscellaneous) goals. If a potential goal does not fit one of the 5 priority areas, it may not be important enough.


6b - Review Of My 2023 Other (Miscellaneous) Goals

Here is my 2023 miscellaneous goal and progress:


  • "Have a well-functioning smart home with high WAF.": Successfully upgraded to a smart home with a high Wife Approval Factor (WAF). After several challenging months, we achieved a smart home that fits our needs. It offers convenience, security, and more.


I could minimize my miscellaneous or ‘other’ goals to just 1 this year. This ends the descriptive review of my goals.


2023 In Numbers: A Quantified Review Of My Goals

I completely met 13 (62%) goals, partially met 6 goals, and failed to meet 2 goals this year.

Distribution of met, partially met, and failed goals in each goal area.
Distribution of met, partially met, and failed goals in each goal area.

Share Your Thoughts And Strategies

Would you like to compare notes on weekly planning? Here are my thoughts.


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? I would love to know your thoughts.


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