Photo by M Angie Salazar on Unsplash

At the beginning of 2020, I set myself some big goals for the year. Not something I could achieve in the next couple of months. But big scary goals. Goals that at some level may be outside my ability to achieve them.

I set those goals and subsequently got off to a terrible start. For three months I barely scratched the surface of at least three of the four goals. So at the beginning of April I reviewed and reaffirmed what those goals were. Reaffirming my pursuit of them.Reviewing My 2020 Goals
A review to help revive my 2020 Goals to focus on achieving great outcomesmedium.com

After reviewing what the goals were, it was time to take a hard look at my progress. Without a focus on the goals for the first three months, it was rather dismal.2020 Goals — Progress Update
Time to lay my progress out on the table and see just how far behind I am.medium.com

The result for April has only been a slight improvement. One goal is ahead and the rest are falling behind.


My Goals and current progress

The four goals I set at the beginning of 2020 are below. They cover three areas that I identified as important to me this year. Alongside each goal I summerize the progress as a percentage. First my current position, followed by the previous position at the end of March.

  1. Writing: Write 1 million words. Current progress 2.99% up from 1.44% at the end of March.
  2. Publishing: Publish 500 posts. Current progress 8.40% up from 5.00% at the end of March.
  3. Earning: Earn over $100,000. Current progress 2.83% up from 0.99% at the end of March.
  4. Walking: Walk 7 million steps. Current progress 33.67% up from 25.37% at the end of march.

In setting these goals at the beginning of the year, I wanted to give myself a genuine challenge. It would seem I have definitely achieved that at least. Because of my lack of focus I have significantly increased the challenge.

From the very beginning I published these goals publically. I wanted to create public accountability for me to at least share my journey. Irrelevant of whether anyone is watching or following. Whether I achieve the goals, I will share the journey and at least from now put in the effort required.


Goal Tracking

My ethos around what I track and how I track it is to try to keep things as simple as possible. The last thing I want is to spend more time recording the details than working on the goal.

Even though I do only track rather basic details, I try to manipulate that data to tell me something. With the data, I can see where I am at and how I am progressing.

I also try to add as much context as I can to the data. Because the data only shows one aspect, whereas my thoughts can help to give a different view on the data.


1. Writing: Write Abundantly — 1 Million Words in 2020.

April has shown a significant improvement over the previous three months for writing. Unfortunately, that has not been at a level that gets meaningful results. But it is a move in the right direction.

The Numbers

On a monthly target of 109,505, I only achieved 15,550 words for April. Brining my total words written in 2020 to 29,999. I would need to have written 331,506 words to be on track, but this leaves me 301,507 words short. My progress is 2.99% of the total goal, so still a long way to go.

To achieve my goal by the end of the year, I need to reach a target of 121,250 words or more per month. This equals around 2,975 words per day on average.

Looking at these numbers, the goal is looking a little out of hand. It could become insurmountable. However, my approach is that I will continue working towards the goal until the end of the year. If I get to the end and have not achieved my target, that is the outcome.

Challenges

The first three months of the year were challenging. A lack of focus and getting to caught up in the developing global COVID-19 situation got me off track.

In April I found the challenges were a little different. I tried to sit down and complete writing tasks almost every day of the month. Yet this still only resulted in 15,500 words. I have identified two primary reasons for the lower word count.

The first challenge is one that I have talked about many times in my writing. It is the writing I do that does not get counted. This post is a brilliant example.

The first draft came to around 2,400 words. However, on working through the edit I will probably rewrite at least between 1,000 and 2,000 of those words. In a technical respect, I will have written between 3,400 and 4,400 or more words, but will only record the last word count. Tracking anything but the last word count just gets too difficult and time consuming.

I also write some rather lengthy social media posts, comments and responses. This writing is not exactly publication quality, but I do still consider it writing. However, I do not add this into my count. Over the year it might be a noticeable portion towards the goal, I am not entirely sure.

The second challenge is something I will label the “writing hangover.” I often find that after one day where I achieve a lot, the following one or two days I struggle to achieve anything. One such day was the 20th of April, I completed three stories, writing 2,128 words. However, in the following two days I bounce from draft to draft, without as much as adding a complete paragraph.

My so called “writing hangover” probably does not exist. It is some block in my mind that is the cause. I know I can produce written content day after day. Because in 2018, I wrote and published daily for 90 days in a row. So I just need to find that block and work out the best solution to overcome it.

Forward Steps

With what I have just shared in mind, I need to take some form of action. If I continue on the path of the past months by the end of May I will need over 4,500 words per day. There are three steps I will take towards trying to avoid this situation.

The first step is to work on getting close to the daily required word count. In April I barely averaged 500 words per day. I would like to see this at a minimum reach over 1,000 words per day on average. It would be nice to reach the daily required word count every day. I am also a realist and going from 500 words per day to 4,000 words per day is a big jump.

The second step is to ensure that each month is better than the last. This approach works well for incremental growth. However, I am hoping for some big jumps in the next couple of months and to continue that through.

The third step I want to implement is to work on decreasing the number of drafts by the end of the month. At the end of April, I had 103 drafts in various stages of completion on Medium. I will not put a limit on creating new drafts as required. But I want to end the month of May with less than 103 drafts.


2. Publishing: Publish Prolifically — 500 Posts in 2020.

My goal to publish 500 posts is rather reliant on my goal to write 1 million words. Thankfully, I am just a little further ahead on the publishing side, but not by much. And I am still well behind where I should be with this one.

The Numbers

In April I needed to publish 52 stories to be on target. I finished April with 17 stories published, a shortage of 35 stories. My total stories published currentl this year is at 42, or 123 behind where I should be. As a percentage of progress that is 8.4%.

Moving forward to achieve my goal by the end of the year, I need to publish 58 stories per month. This equates to around 2 stories per day on average.

Even though the numbers are still higher than I would like, I am more confident in this goal than my writing goal. I hope that my idea to reduce the number of drafts for my writing goal this month will provide some impact on this goal.

Challenges

The greatest challenge for publishing new content is writing the content. While I have increased my total writing in the last month it still has a long way to go.

Ideas are not the problem. I am constantly adding to my drafts or writing ideas down. The problem is expanding those initial ideas into a fully fledged story. When I think of an idea, I play with different angles of how to write it. However, by the time I get to writing it, I might get two or three paragraphs in and lose a sense of direction with the story. A challenge I am working to overcome.

Forward Steps

There is one main step that I would like to take with my publishing. That is to take more stories from idea to published. This means that I need to put in a little more time with each idea I have. I need to flesh the idea out and get a through line for the story upfront. If I wait until I am writing the story it’s difficult to remember what I was thinking.


3. Earning: My Best Year Earning — Earn over $100,000.

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

My Earnings for April has been artificially improved. At the beginning of the year I was never expecting to be at the point I am now. I expected to go head on into a few new business ideas. Then everything with the COVID-19 pandemic hit and many of those ideas at least for the moment are not workable.

So at the end of March I applied for Jobseeker (unemployment). As I saw very limited chance of any business ideas I had getting a start it become unavoidable. At least in the immediate future to enable me to pay essential bills.

There is no way that unemployment will help me in any big way to achieve this goal. So I need to do a bit of thinking and get a business going. Something that will start generating the level of income I need to reach $100,000.

The Numbers

In April I needed to earn $10,997.77 to ensure I reached the goal. However, my total income for the month was $1,810.67, a shortage of $9,187.10. This brings my income for the year to $2,830.74. I need a total of $97,169.26 or $12,146.16 per month to achieve my goal.

The income came from five different sources;

  • Cash for Cans — $70.90
  • Bank Interest — $5.01
  • Money Found — $12.35
  • Writing — $0.30
  • Income Support — $1,722.11

Challenges

The greatest challenge I face earning this year is establishing what will work. There has been such a significant change with many things since COVID-19 started. What could have been a potential profitable business four months ago, may not be at the moment.

Even some sources of income that I have been making are not possible or limited at the moment. One is Scrap Metal, even though I did not make a lot from this, the prices are so low at the moment; it is not worth the time. Likewise, cash for cans is much more limited as several places I received containers from are not operating.

Forward Steps

In the coming months there are several opportunities I am looking at. One is selling a lot of unwanted items I have around the house. I did a soft start to this in March when I sold one item, but I have so much to get rid of and much of it has some value. I would like to set a goal to list at least 50 items in May.

The other opportunity at the moment is looking at service based business. I think there will be a range of service-based businesses which offer an opportunity in the coming months. What specific services and how this plays out will be something to share in coming months.


4. Walking: Wander Widely — Walk over 7 million steps.

Looking at the four goals I set myself, this one is the easiest for me. The past five years have seen me complete some significant walking. However, I have struggled to reach beyond 6.5 million steps in a single year.

The most steps I have recorded in a single year were 6.43 million in 2016. While over the past three years I have achieved between 6.1 and 6.2 million steps.

The goal this year is just 10% higher than my best year prior. But to achieve that, it requires more dedication. To walk 6.43 million steps in a year requires an average of 17,600 steps per day. While walking 7 million steps the required average is just over 19,100 steps. The extra 1,500 steps a day is a lot on top of an already high average.

The Numbers

In April I walked 580,513 steps, which bring my total for the year to 2,356,951 steps. Giving me a daily average of 19,478 steps and puts me about 42,000 steps ahead of my goal.

Achieving a goal like this is not about hitting a target every day. It is about ensuring you maintain the average over the longer term. Almost every week I will have one or two days below the required average. But I also have one or two over by enough to make up the difference.

Challenges

Considering the walking I have already been doing over the past five years, this goal present very few challenges. There are days that feel like a much greater challenge. But it just comes back to ensuring the balance is generally above the requirement.

I have made some changes to my plans for walking because of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. I am doing a significant amount of walking at home instead of away from home. Along with delaying any ideas about longer bush hikes or such.

Forward Steps

For this goal, the best steps forward are just that more steps (pun intended). There is no reason to change what I am doing if it is already working.


Summary

The month of April showed some improvements in progress over the previous three months. My writing, publishing and earnings goals have all had better increases in April than the previous three months combined. While my walking goal has shown continued progress as expected.

As I move into May, I hope to build some additional momentum. I have been underperforming in the work needed to achieve these goals and I want to change that. It would be nice to achieve at least the minimum needed for the month on the goals. So that if nothing else I do not go backwards. But there is also plenty of lost ground to reclaim from the first few months as well.