This upcoming year has probably been the most difficult in terms of setting my goals and intentions. My yearly goal review is comprised of goals I hit, progress I’ve made, interesting surprises that surfaced over the course of the year, and new people that came into my life – so it was no surprise that reviewing 2020 was like no other. While I wasn’t able to hit any of my race goals due to organized races being cancelled, I was still able to push myself in different ways.
I want to be real with you – I feel a bit awkward and uncomfortable sharing these details publicly. There’s a sense of vulnerability and I also feel like I’m bragging in a way by listing everything I did last year. However, when I seek out ideas for goal setting or read other bloggers that I admire, I really enjoy reading the accomplishments they’re proud of and appreciate some concrete examples. These examples, in turn, help inspire new ideas for myself and even provide a new perspective on some of my existing goals. With that being said, here are some tangible accomplishments in 2020 that looking back, I’m pretty proud of:
Goals/Progress Made in 2020
- Hit day 1,000 of running consecutively and passed the 3 year mark
- Hit a new PB on an 8k /5-mile treadmill run: Ran it in 30:32 pacing 3’49/km
- Increased my savings/investing rate to a total of 40% of my income
- Increased my overall income by 145% year-over-year
- Increased my website visitors by 564% year-over-year
- Increased my website views by 488%
- Increased my Medium story views by 111,695 (up 335% from 2019)
- Wrote 24 blogs posts total (hit my goal of 2/month)
- Ran my first full marathon on the treadmill (42.2l / 26.1 miles in in 3:03:52)
- Moved across the province from Toronto, ON to Calgary, AB
- Led my first Zwift virtual tempo run sponsored by Under Armour
- Generated additional income doing something I love to do: write. While I’ve been writing my blog posts out of pure enjoyment, it was an unintentionally amazing side effect to generate some decent-sized income from my writing which I hadn’t anticipated.
- Read/Listened to 48 books: a surprisingly interesting split of 24 audiobooks and 24 physical books. Last year I really diversified my genres with a combination or classics, psychological thrillers, non-fiction, fiction, and biographies.
Goals I Didn’t Accomplish
As mentioned previously, my race-related goals were moot due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, I also didn’t hit my 100 book/year goal. After a few months of rapid reading (consuming 1-2 books/week), I noticed that I wasn’t really absorbing the content/remembering what I read; quality over quantity my friends. I shifted focus and really slowed down, focusing on consuming the content and reflecting on/applying what I learned rather than streamlining through books. Some of the books I read were also well over 300 pages (Leonardo DiVinci, Sapiens, Ben Franklin, Crime and Punishment etc.), which took a bit longer to get through. In addition to the 48 books, I also dug my teeth into some online content, reading hundreds of blog posts and articles on finance, self development, productivity, performance, and running. I was able to exceed all my savings/investing goals, hit my blog post goal right on the mark, and also sold my car (not really sure why that was on there in the first place, but farewell to my little Equinox).
This exercise always helps me gain some perspective on my goals, while also reflecting on the entire year as a whole. It’s easy to just remember the big milestones or short-term gains, but by taking the time to really cogitate on the entire year, new memories will emerge and give you a more holistic picture. For 2021, I’m improving my goal setting exercise by explaining why I want to achieve each goal; adding some emotional intent to remind myself why each goal is important to me. It’s one thing to jot them down from where you’re currently at, but it’s another to explain your frame of mind when setting them. Last year, for example, I chose an arbitrary savings goal for my RRSP and TFSA contributions. Looking back, I have no idea why I wanted to achieve the goals and where I even came up with these numbers. I might have just pulled this randomly from a finance article and took it at face value. As mentioned previously, I’m sharing my goals publicly so that I can hopefully help inspire you, as the reader, to come up with ideas of your own. Or perhaps you have similar goals, have been down this road before and can share what you’ve learned with me. Also for one more purely selfish reason: to hold myself accountable.
I tried going vegan for a month a few years back, but only made it to the 20 day mark before throwing in the towel (mad respect to vegans, this isn’t easy). While I want to try veganism again eventually, I think going vegetarian for a month is a more feasible goal and will help me come up with new recipes and dishes, experiment with my energy levels, and hopefully save money. Consuming meat is starting to lose its appeal to me as I get older; I’m finding it increasingly harder to digest. I’m an ‘all or nothing’ kinda gal, so eliminating meat for 30 days will force me into the routine of preparing more plant-based meals and incorporating those dishes into my diet after the challenge is finished.
Finish a book draft
In 2018, I set an overly ambitious goal to write a book. I stuck to a strict writing schedule of 500 words per day for a few months. After exceeding the 100-page mark, my passion and zest for the book and its content completely dissipated. I decided to abandon the project altogether. In December 2020, a book idea naturally emerged and excited me. I finish the first draft of my outline at the end of December and am really excited about the creative direction this time. I want to fall in love with the process and not just the outcome. For me, it’s a new type of challenge; navigating my way through the process of research, writing, and finding my own distinguished voice. I have friends and family to help guide me through the process and I’m aiming to finish my first book draft by the end of 2021.
6 months alcohol-free
I’ve gone for prolonged periods of time without drinking any alcohol and for me, the benefits have been so apparent. However, I haven’t undertaken a long-strip of sobriety that lasted more than a few months – bring it on, six-months. This exciting new chapter compliments a lot of the goals listed throughout this article, supporting my health, financial and cognitive pursuits.
Hit the 4-year mark of consecutive running
From a mental standpoint, my streak has been challenging to keep up this past year. From losing my organized race plans and the purpose/motivation in some of my training, I’ve focused more on maintenance, which can be monotonous. But I’ve learned a powerful lesson: showing up and pounding the pavement or treadmill every day – whether I feel like it or not – has helped me prioritize how running makes me feel. Even if I don’t feel like running, I still lace up and get out there because I know it gives me mental clarity, makes me a happier person and that it’s contributing to a more long-term goal: be the best runner I can be. I continue to give myself that time every day to reflect on problems, come up with creative ideas, and from a performance perspective, help me become a better, faster runner.
Save and invest half my income
Last year, I managed to save/invest 40% of my income. This year, I want to move the needle further and get to 50%. Eventually I want to get into the super saver zone of ~60%, but need to set realistic goals based on my expenses and ensuring I’m still allocating a healthy budget to invest in my current happiness. I also try to invest 5% of my income into self development activities (books, online courses, etc.) and might bump that up closer to the 10% mark as I’m thinking of joining in my first paid mastermind group in the Spring.
2021 race goals
I put this one a bit lower down the list as it’s dependant on the evolving situation with COVID. I want to run one marathon and two ultramarathons (100k + 100-mile distance). These races are TBD, but I’m thinking I’d like to tackle the Toronto Marathon for the 5th time (pushing for a new PB), Niagara 100k, and Javelina Jundred 100-mile or Sinister 7 100-mile.
1 long run per month (+21k/13.1miles)
Long runs give me the opportunity to push myself and also relax. Sounds counter-intuitive? Let me explain. I usually plug in a good audiobook to let my thoughts wonder or I’ll run with others and engage in meaningful, deep conversations. Albeit challenging, I always feel a strong sense of accomplishment after coming back from a long run. My goal for 2021 is to get in at least 24 long runs over the course of the year.
Scale back on social media
I’m sure this is a goal that most people regularly set for themselves, but actually reducing screen-time is a harder feat that anticipated. While I’ve been posting pretty consistently over the past 3 years on Instagram, I’m finding it to be time consuming and not as rewarding as writing more in-depth articles. I’m not a good photographer, don’t like being on video, and struggle with producing innovative, short-form content at a high frequency. I found last year that my captions continue to get increasingly longer and would be more suited for a full article vs. IG newsfeed post. While I’ll still be engaging in social media, I do want to scale back quite a bit this year with less frequent posting and switching gears to delivering value through longer form, research (and science-backed) articles. Disengaging from social media and the digital world can be healthy for everyone – unplugging and re-engaging with the analog world is therapeutic. Hard, but therapeutic.
Overall, I’m excited about the goal list I set for myself this year. Adding some notes on the “why” behind each goal reminds me of the emotive purpose behind each of them. I can come back to this list throughout the year to remind myself why I set them in the first place, but also realizing that circumstances and mindsets can change. It’s good to refer back to your list and realize that these aren’t rigid goals, but they’re malleable based on your current reality. I never beat myself up if I don’t accomplish a goal, but take it as an opportunity to evaluate why I didn’t reach it. Sometimes it just comes down to losing interest or realizing there are more pressing or aspirational goals to tackle first. I like to keep these goals loose and flexible and encourage you to do the same – agility is a good thing.
A quick note on accountability. I decided to share my goals publicly this year to keep myself accountable to sticking to these commitments. In addition to posting publicly on my blog and sharing my progress, I’m also planning on doing weekly check-ins with my good friend Kristie (AKA my accountability partner). Over the past year, we’ve scheduled weekly calls to go over each other’s weekly and yearly goals, helping brainstorm ideas, and exchange resources whenever we can. Kristie has been going through the process of writing a book this year so I know I can learn a lot from her as I go through the process myself. If posting publicly isn’t really your thing, I’d suggest finding someone to help keep you accountable, but more importantly, supports you while you’re working towards your goals.
I’m looking forward to engaging in some new challenges, continue developing my writing and maintaining my training. While in the past, my goal setting emphasis has been in the fitness/health realm, this year I’m focusing on more creative challenges with the goal to help improve my idea flow. Writing is my way of connecting with you guys and it feels truly fulfilling. My suggestion to you is to find new ways to challenge yourself and explore paths you’ve been curious about. For me, that’s going vegetarian and staying sober for prolonged periods of time. Journaling how you’re feeling and what you’re learning during longer challenges is a great way to really reflect on whether this is a change you want to incorporate permanently in your life. I wish you guys all the best in 2021 – despite all the adversity we may continue to face, we can still come up with personal goals to pursue and make the most of this time. What do you want to achieve this year? If comfortable, feel free to share in the comments below 🙂