Goal-setting is a blast. Goal follow-through is something else.

I don’t lose much sleep over wayward goals. They simply float away, far from mind. So what’s the value in setting them at all? I find it to be a rhythm and reset, a way to check in with myself and see what I want to accomplish at this particular point in time, knowing full well that what I want to accomplish might change as soon as next week.

Besides, I’ve done it for seven years in a row now. Can’t break the chain!


You can see previous years here: 20132014201520162017, 2018, 2019.

My goal-setting framework. Credit to Warren Buffet.

Warren Buffett. Fun fact: He owns Dairy Queen!

I’ve been doing a variation of the same goal-setting framework for seven years now: listing out everything I might possibly like to do and then organizing and ranking all the goals. This year, I’m evolving things to include a nod to Warren Buffet’s famous “two-list” goal-setting framework.

Warren Buffett’s “Two-List” Framework

  1. Write down your top 25 goals.
  2. Move your most important five goals to a separate list.
  3. Work on those five goals.
  4. Avoid the other 20 goals at all costs.

In past years, my initial list ends up being waaaay more than 25 goals, so I’ve got my work cut out for me to narrow things down in 2020. Also, I’ve never been great at avoiding any goal at all costs. That will be a stretch.

So with a nod to my past seven years of goal-setting and with inspiration from Warren Buffet, here’s how my new process looks:

  • Step One: List all the things I might like to do
  • Step Two: Get specific about each thing. Turn them into SMART goals
  • Step Three: Group the goals into one-year, five-year, and lifetime goals
  • Step Four: Categorize the goals
  • Step Five: Pick one goal from each category to focus on. Avoid the rest.

Here goes!


tl;dr – My main goals for 2020

Here’s a summary of the goals I ended up with after going through the goal-setting exercise. The full results of the exercise are below, if you want to keep scrolling.

1. Start a new blog and publish 1x per month

If you’ve read any of my past years of goal-setting, you might notice that I really enjoyed my days of blogging. I’d love to get back to it in some way, keeping in mind the very good advice that a hobby should be something that doesn’t pay the bills. I will be glad to make something that in no way will be able to pay the bills. :)

2. Plan a family vacation to Europe

I’ve had the incredible fortune to travel lots of places with Buffer. I’d like to bring my family along for this year’s trip to Europe — they’ve never been!

3. Meditate daily for 28 days

Last year, I had a Headspace subscription and used it sparingly. I’d like to change that this year. Everyone keeps saying that mindfulness and meditation are life-changing; time to see if they’re right!

4. Pick a date and time for a sabbatical

I’m very lucky to work at Buffer where teammates can go on a six-week sabbatical after working there for five years. My time has arrived, so I’m excited to get something scheduled!


My goal-setting framework: The exercise

1. List all the things I might like to do.

  • Work for myself
  • Write another book
  • Run a blog like I used to do
  • Travel with the family outside the U.S.
  • Ski 20 times a year
  • Memorize the book of James
  • Meditate / pray every day
  • Practice the seven sacred pauses
  • Play in a card game tournament
  • Read better business books & faith-based books
  • Monetize a blog
  • Make my own game (video or board)
  • Visit Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, or Iceland
  • Volunteer somewhere
  • Eat less sugar
  • Fitness something or other
  • Have a rockin’ social media presence
  • Get more traffic to my website
  • Get back into photography
  • Get better at the piano
  • See the chiropractor
  • Take a sabbatical
  • Live until I’m 100

2. Get specific about each thing. Turn them into SMART goals.

  • Buy a new domain name for a new business
  • Submit a book proposal to 50+ literary agents
  • Start a new blog and publish 1x per month
  • Plan a family vacation to England
  • Track all my skiing on a skiing app
  • Memorize the book of James
  • Meditate daily for 28 days
  • Create a reminder card for the 7 sacred pauses
  • Compete in a card game tournament
  • Take a business book reading challenge
  • Earn $100 from a blog via Carbon Ads
  • Create a game that someone (not related to me) plays all the way through
  • Plan a trip to Iceland
  • Volunteer my time to help empower young people
  • Eat no processed sugar
  • Lower my body fat % by half
  • Get 10,000 followers on Instagram or become a LinkedIn Influencer
  • Grow blog traffic year-over-year by 2x
  • Take 500 photographs in a year
  • Schedule a chiropractor exam
  • Pick a date and time for sabbatical
  • Track daily exercise 5x per week

3. Place them into timeline buckets: one-year goals, five-year goals, forever goals.

One year

  • Start a new blog and publish 1x per month
  • Plan a family vacation to England
  • Track all my skiing on a skiing app
  • Meditate daily for 28 days
  • Create a reminder card for the 7 sacred pauses
  • Take a business book reading challenge
  • Eat no processed sugar
  • Lower my body fat % by half
  • Grow blog traffic year-over-year by 2x
  • Schedule a chiropractor exam
  • Pick a date and time for sabbatical
  • Track daily exercise 5x per week

Five years

  • Buy a new domain name for a new business
  • Submit a book proposal to 50+ literary agents
  • Volunteer my time to help empower young people
  • Earn $100 from a blog via Carbon Ads

Anytime

  • Take 500 photographs in a year (∞)
  • Compete in a card game tournament (∞)
  • Memorize the book of James (∞)
  • Plan a trip to Iceland (∞)
  • Create a game that someone (not related to me) plays all the way through (∞)
  • Get 10,000 followers on Instagram or become a LinkedIn Influencer (∞)

4. Categorize the one-year goals

  • Hobby: Start a new blog and publish 1x per month
  • Family: Plan a family vacation to England
  • Health: Track all my skiing on a skiing app
  • Health: Meditate daily for 28 days
  • Health: Create a reminder card for the 7 sacred pauses
  • Hobby: Take a business book reading challenge
  • Health: Eat no processed sugar
  • Health: Lower my body fat % by half
  • Hobby: Grow blog traffic year-over-year by 2x
  • Health: Schedule a chiropractor exam
  • Work: Pick a date and time for sabbatical
  • Health: Track daily exercise 5x per week

5. Pick one goal from each category to focus on. Avoid the rest.

  • Hobby: Start a new blog and publish 1x per month
  • Family: Plan a vacation to Europe
  • Health: Meditate daily for 28 days
  • Work: Pick a date and time for sabbatical

How I did last year (2019)

Here is everything I said I was going to
… and what I actually did.

Main goals

  1. Submit three book proposals
  2. Record 10 episodes of my own podcast

Well, I went 0-for-2 on my main goals. I didn’t come close to the book proposals goal, although I did have a bit of clarity into just how far off I was — the three book ideas I had all seem less obvious to me than they did before. Might be time to go back to the drawing board.

I did record one episode of a new podcast. My takeaway: Podcasting is hard! Or, at least podcasting is hard in the way that I was trying to do it.

Here are the rest of the goals and the ones that I accomplished in 2019:

One year

  • Submit three book proposals to 50+ literary agents
  • Publish 13 episodes of a podcast on iTunes
  • ✅ Read five long books
  • Re-read 10 of my favorite books
  • Build a new WordPress theme
  • Submit a WordPress theme — that they accept!
  • Get 10,000 followers on Instagram
  • Become a LinkedIn Influencer
  • ✅Play a song by ear on the piano
  • ✅Have an eye doctor appointment
  • Track daily exercise 4x per week

Five years

  • Get 1 paying customer to a new product I’ve built
  • Publish 12 new articles on a brand new blog
  • Plan a trip to Iceland
  • ✅Ski 20 times a year
  • Meditate daily for 28 days
  • Practice three of the seven sacred pauses every day for 28 days
  • Earn $100 from a blog via Carbon Ads
  • ✅Try a new haircut (color or style)

Anytime

  • Memorize the book of James (∞)
  • Compete in a card game tournament (∞)
  • Create a game that someone (not related to me) plays all the way through (∞)
  • ✅Own a dog (∞)
  • Volunteer my time to help empower young people (∞)
  • Eat no processed sugar (∞)
  • Take 500 photographs in a year (∞)
Posted by:Kevan Lee

VP of marketing currently living in Boise, Idaho. I work with the lovely folks at Buffer. You can join my email list to get an inside look at marketing and branding and team-building in tech.