Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012: A look back

"Blog Challenge: What do YOU believe you can accomplish in 2013?" - Cricket Walker, V7N Blogging Tips and Challenges question of the week

"Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." - Les Brown

Good question, Cricket.  Short and meaningless answer: just about anything I set my mind to.  That truly is a meaningless response, though, because the underlying question still isn't answered.  What is it that I'm going to set my mind to?  In other words, what are my goals for 2013?

Hold on there just a sec, though.  One important principle of goal-setting is that you start with a look at where you've been and where you are.  After all, you wouldn't just start giving directions to the local store without identifying the location from which the person you're directing is starting from, would you?

Well, okay, I know some people who would, but let's assume you're not one of those.

I've written a blog post or two on the SMART method of goal evaluation before: goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-sensitive.  I've trained leaders on the importance of SMART goals.  Typically in that training I include a hands-on real-world type of practical exercise in which we evaluate some goals for that particular team.  It always goes roughly the same way: Specific and Measurable are pretty easy to evaluate, and then all hell breaks loose on Achievable.  There's always somebody who preaches the moon philosophy stated above, which is fine if you're into the practice of sitting down at the end of the year to brag about how many lofty goals you didn't quite make.  Put simply: moon-goals are great for my motivational writing, but they're crappy for my annual performance evaluation.

At the same time, there's always a realist in the group, someone who not only objects to moon-goals, but screws up their face into the "I just sucked on a lemon" expression when you start discussing stretch goals.  You know--those are the goals that are achievable in the foreseeable future, goals that don't require shooting for the moon, but still they're goals that will require nearly perfect execution of a nearly perfect plan by everybody on the team.

"But what if somebody messes up?" *more facial imitation of lemon-sucking*

"There's no if; it's a when.  We know we're imperfect, but we can build some contingency into the plan."

"We do that every year, and then the contingencies fall through."

Then the moonie speaks up: "But if we shoot for the moon...."

"Then we have longer to fall, and we still end up with our head stuck in a mud bank."

See?  This is probably one of the most difficult discussions to moderate through, but the benefit of doing so is the team that becomes much stronger through the process.  The key to successful moderation?  Figuring out where you're starting from and what's gone right/wrong to get you there.


My turn.  2013 goals will follow later, but for now, let's look at what I've done in 2012.  Mostly, anyway.  Out of respect for my boss and co-workers I'm going to leave the work discussions at work, but here goes with the rest:

Didn't win the lottery.  Didn't get out of the apartment, though frankly that wasn't really one of my serious goals.  Did survive a couple of bouts of pneumonia and three broken ribs and a broken collarbone.  Gained, rather than lost, a few pounds.  Got a couple of chronic health issues (hypothyroidism and sleep apnea) under treatment.

Finished my PhD.  'nuff said, man.  Been working on that thing since early 2007.  Haven't gotten people at work retrained to call me "Doctor King" yet, though.

Authorpreneurly (hey, I made the word up in the first place; it's up to me how the suffixes get added, right?):
Self-published three works, all in early 2012.  Numbers aren't in for December yet, but as of February through November I'd sold just over a thousand copies of my work, nearly 100 of those in European markets.  I've had nearly 200 copies borrowed in the Kindle Online Lending Library, which actually pays nearly as well per copy as selling it does.  I've had some strong promotions, too.  All totaled, I'm hoping to cruise past December 31st with just over 13,000 copies of my works in readers' hands.  That number's not going to get me onto any bestseller lists, but it's not bad for Year 1, right?

The Blog:
I've had a tough time with the blog this year.  In 2011 I started in late February and racked up 201 posts by December 31, 2011.  But I've slowed down in 2012; this post you're reading now will be number 92 for the year.  Viewership is up, though; in 2011 I had just shy of 7,000 visits, compared to well over 10,000 to date in 2012. 

All things considered, then, I've accomplished a lot in 2012.  And more importantly, now that I know where I've come from and where I am today, my goals for 2013 shouldn't be too hard to craft off of this list, right?

Heh--we'll see.  Here goes.  More to come, later.

Questions for you, though, while I'm away working: have you taken the time to look back over the last year and see what you've accomplished yet?  Did the activity reveal anything? Does it give you a hint as to how to barrel into 2013? 



  1. Thank you Stephen, you have given me some ideas of how to set some goals.

  2. Very entertaining - no wonder you are a success!!