Publish a Book, Build an App, Play the Piano: My 2016 (and Beyond) Goals

After sharing my full list of 2015 goals last January, I got a really amazing reply that caused me to reflect a bit on how (and why) I set my yearly goals. Here’s the key snippet:

I’ve reached a point where I want to do less, but do those things well. I’m a list maker at heart, and often I find myself unconsciously making a bucket list, and then feeling overwhelmed. So, I sit down and decide what are the three things that I MUST do this year. That pleases my soul.

Love it!

That’s set me on a bit of a different path for thinking through this year’s goal list. I’ve never been a very big stickler for completing goals at all costs. (As you will see below, I met less than 1/3 of my goals from this past year.) But I think there’s some real value in this mindset shift where it’s less about these milestones and targets and more about the journey, no matter where that journey takes you.

Overview: How I (usually) set goals

I do a version of Chris Guillebeau’s life list, which I explained in detail last year. The tl;dr version:

  1. Write down everything you might ever want to do ever
  2. Break it down into measurable goals with approximate deadlines
  3. Group things into 1-year, 5-year, and lifetime goals

Bonus: Write down stuff you want to stop doing also

Here’s a look at last year’s goals and what got done (and what didn’t).

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2015 year-in-review

How I did on my one-year goals:

  • Publish a book about my dad
  • Play a song by ear on the piano
  • Participate in National Novel Writing Month
  • Manage the family budget
  • Memorize the book of James
  • Visit Seattle (✓) – Yes! Spent a long weekend with friends there
  • Write something new every day (✓) – Grateful for the opportunity I have at Buffer that helped make this one happen :)
  • Exercise five times/week
  • Strengthen my faith once per day by reading, prayer, or meditation
  • Go vegetarian for one month  (✓)
  • Contribute to Edward Jones retirement savings (✓)
  • Get a picture published on the Yahoo weather app
  • Write Lindsay a poem
  • Create and publish an iOS app
  • Build a WordPress theme (✓)  – Here it is!
  • Build a Ghost theme
  • Take Demian Farnworth’s writing challenge
  • Observe the 7 sacred pauses
  • Follow the food guidelines in Anticancer
  • Take a parenting class (✓) – Loved it :)
  • Climb the hill behind my house or my mom’s house, watch the sunset
  • Finish reading Divine Conspiracy  (✓) – One of my favorites of 2015

A few 5-year & lifetime goals I managed to knock off, too:

  • Move to a new house in East Boise (2017) (✓) – Yes! Moved in November
  • Read 52 books in a year (2017) (✓) – 59 books!
  • See mewithoutYou play “Oh, Porcupine” (2020) (✓) – Saw them play (they didn’t quite play the song I wanted, but I think I’ll count it anyway)
  • Get a DNA test (∞) (✓) – Yes! Did a 23&Me test, found out I’m G2G

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New this year! The 3 things I MUST do this year

My life list for 2016

Here’s my giant list of things I’d like to do, updated for 2016

  • Publish a book about my dad
  • Learn to play the piano
  • Build an iPhone app
  • Do the 7 Sacred Pauses
  • Give to charity: Pets, brain cancer, Seattle Pacific University
  • Volunteer at the local animal shelter
  • Memorize the book of James
  • Play more board games
  • Visit Seattle
  • Kayak the San Juan Islands
  • Go whitewater rafting
  • Get a Master’s degree in something
  • Exercise daily
  • Pray/Bible/meditate daily
  • Build a draft board with Evan for a Madden game
  • Ski more
  • Mountain bike more
  • Go through dad/son activity books with Evan
  • Build a robot using an Arduino board
  • Be a one-car household
  • Attend a Presbyterian church regularly
  • Play on an organized sports team (e.g., city league)
  • Start a game/sports night
  • Try curling
  • Hike the Foothills
  • Contribute to retirement
  • Pay off the house in 10 years
  • Get a Polaris ATV
  • Write Lindsay a poem
  • Build a WordPress theme
  • Build a Ghost theme
  • Read 52 books in a year
  • Play bridge
  • See more concerts
  • Write stuff on my website
  • Take a parenting class
  • Get a health checkup
  • Get a blood test
  • Find a doctor
  • Play in a card/board game tournament
  • Find and follow an English Premier League soccer team
  • Write Boise State stuff again
  • Make a password that’ll change my life
  • Make lunches for Lindsay and Evan
  • Keep my cactus alive
  • Update Evan’s website with pictures/quotes
  • Monetize my blog
  • Meet the neighbors
  • Do intermittent fasting more consistently
  • Try a meal replacement mix for a month
  • Attend a U.S. soccer game
  • Visit Switzerland with my mom
  • Spend a month each summer in a new place
  • Ski at 20 new places

Take the overall list and break it down into measurable goals with an approximate deadline.

  • Publish a book about my dad and have it appear on Amazon (2016)
  • Play a song by ear on the piano (2016)
  • Build an iPhone app and have it appear in the App Store (2016)
  • Do the 7 Sacred Pauses every day (2016)
  • Give to charity: Pets, brain cancer, Seattle Pacific University (2021)
  • Volunteer at the local animal shelter (∞)
  • Memorize the book of James (2016)
  • Play Cosmic Encounter with a group of friends (2016)
  • Get Thai food in Seattle (2016)
  • Kayak the San Juan Islands (∞)
  • Go whitewater rafting (2021)
  • Get a Master’s degree in something (∞)
  • Be active more days than I’m not (2016)
  • Build a draft board with Evan for a Madden game (∞)
  • Ski Sun Valley (2016)
  • Ride my bike into downtown Boise (2016)
  • Go through The Dangerous Book for Boys with Evan (2021)
  • Build a robot using an Arduino board (∞)
  • Be a one-car household (2021)
  • Listen to 10 sermons from First Presbyterian Hollywood (2016)
  • Play on an indoor soccer team (2021)
  • Start a monthly game night with friends (2021)
  • Join a curling club (2021)
  • Hike the Foothills (2016)
  • Contribute to retirement account (2016)
  • Be on pace to pay off the house in 10 years (2016)
  • Get a Polaris ATV (2021)
  • Write Lindsay a poem (2016)
  • Build a WordPress theme (2016)
  • Build a Ghost theme (2021)
  • Read 52 books in a year (2016)
  • Win a game of bridge against real people (2021)
  • Play Rook at least once (2016)
  • See Underoath in concert (2016)
  • Write an article per month on kevanlee.com (2016)
  • Take a parenting class (2016)
  • Get a wellness checkup (2016)
  • Get a blood test (2016)
  • Find a primary physician (2016)
  • Play in a Hearts tournament (2021)
  • Know the score of every Crystal Palace game (2016)
  • Write a weekly Boise State football article (2021)
  • Make a password that’ll change my life (2016)
  • Make lunches for Lindsay and Evan (2016)
  • Keep my cactus alive for the entire year (2016)
  • Publish at least one picture/quote to Evan’s website each week (2016)
  • Earn $1 from my personal website (2016)
  • Know the names of all our immediate neighbors (2016)
  • Do intermittent fasting more consistently (2021)
  • Try a meal replacement mix for a month (2016)
  • Attend a U.S. men’s soccer game (2021)
  • Visit Switzerland with my mom (2021)
  • Ski at 20 new places (∞)

One-year goals: This list gets reviewed a few times a year, and I create next year’s goals each December. I break this list down into further specific categories. Some of mine are Writing, Health, Business, Friends, Family, Service, Travel, Income, and Giving.

  • Publish a book about my dad and have it appear on Amazon (2016)
  • Play a song by ear on the piano (2016)
  • Build an iPhone app and have it appear in the App Store (2016)
  • Do the 7 Sacred Pauses every day (2016)
  • Memorize the book of James (2016)
  • Play Cosmic Encounter with a group of friends (2016)
  • Get Thai food in Seattle (2016)
  • Be active more days than I’m not (2016)
  • Ski Sun Valley (2016)
  • Ride my bike into downtown Boise (2016)
  • Listen to 10 sermons from First Presbyterian Hollywood (2016)
  • Hike the Foothills (2016)
  • Contribute to retirement account (2016)
  • Be on pace to pay off the house in 10 years (2016)
  • Write Lindsay a poem (2016)
  • Build a WordPress theme (2016)
  • Read 52 books in a year (2016)
  • Play Rook at least once (2016)
  • See Underoath in concert (2016)
  • Write an article per month on kevanlee.com (2016)
  • Take a parenting class (2016)
  • Get a wellness checkup (2016)
  • Get a blood test (2016)
  • Find a primary physician (2016)
  • Know the score of every Crystal Palace game (2016)
  • Make a password that’ll change my life (2016)
  • Make lunches for Lindsay and Evan (2016)
  • Keep my cactus alive for the entire year (2016)
  • Publish at least one picture/quote to Evan’s website each week (2016)
  • Earn $1 from my personal website (2016)
  • Know the names of all our immediate neighbors (2016)
  • Try a meal replacement mix for a month (2016)

Five-year goals: This list gets reviewed once a year and contains some of the “big things” you hope to do in the near future. Note that as some of the goals on the one-year list are completed, other goals from the five-year list shift down.

  • Give to charity: Pets, brain cancer, Seattle Pacific University (2021)
  • Go whitewater rafting (2021)
  • Go through The Dangerous Book for Boys with Evan (2021)
  • Be a one-car household (2021)
  • Play on an indoor soccer team (2021)
  • Start a monthly game night with friends (2021)
  • Join a curling club (2021)
  • Get a Polaris ATV (2021)
  • Win a game of bridge against real people (2021)
  • Play in a Hearts tournament (2021)
  • Write a weekly Boise State football article (2021)
  • Do intermittent fasting more consistently (2021)
  • Attend a U.S. men’s soccer game (2021)
  • Visit Switzerland with my mom (2021)

Lifetime goals: This list gets reviewed once a year and includes everything that you want to do, but either don’t have a timeline for or will take a long time to accomplish.

  • Volunteer at the local animal shelter (∞)
  • Kayak the San Juan Islands (∞)
  • Get a Master’s degree in something (∞)
  • Build a robot using an Arduino board (∞)
  • Ski at 20 new places (∞)

TO-STOP-DOING LIST, 2016

The best way to stop spending time on unnecessary distractions is to make a “to-stop-doing list.” This is better than a to-do list, because it helps you see what’s bringing you down. Your to-stop-doing list is exactly what it sounds like: a list of things you simply don’t want to do anymore.

  • Check the mail every day
  • Shop in real stores
  • Eat sugar

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