When Personal Goals Don’t Go To Plan

As you may know if you’ve been following my blog for a while I’m a big fan of personal goals. Although I’ve ammended my process along the way (I no longer set a goal longer than 3 months) I still believe in this and start each quarter consolidating what I want to achieve over the next three months. I’ve found this method to be incredibly successful and it’s really helped me achieve things this year I didn’t believe was possible.

However, the best laid plans don’t always go as we’d wish and for a number of reasons Q4 has been very difficult. Goals create transparency (remember I am a scrum coach after all), and they allow reflection. I want to share my experience publicly in the hope it helps other people following a similar goal setting methodology.

What do we do when we set ambitious goals but the universe conspires against you? Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

In October I published my Q4 goals. For context this is what they were and this is where I’m up to (wth about 3 weeks to go):

  • Take 2021 Book Count to 100 – I’m currently listening to book 100
  • Pass AWS Security Specialist Exam – Booked for the 17th of December
  • Take  SPS ExamPassed!
  • Build a Lean Coffee Website – Not started
  • Publish a Short Story with the Donuts and Dragons Team – Not started
  • Paint my Lannister army of A Song of Ice and Fire miniatures – Done!
  • Paint my Warhammer 40k Salamanders – In progress (the primer on the last tank is drying as I type this)
  • Finish the core pages of the CKD Site – Not done
  • Pages Get Weight Down to 215lbs (really this time) – Nope, shall we say stress eating and takeaways have taken over?
  • To hit a financial goal I’ve set myself – Had a large unexpected financial expense

So a real mixed bag. There are a few unexpected curveballs (such as the financial one) however many of these are because I’ve lose nearly a month due to a very very tough few weeks. We’re still going through this so frankly who knows what’s going to happen between now and the end of the month.

But wait a minute… Isn’t the whole point of Scrum to be able to inspect and adapt when circumstances change!?

I conduct weekly reviews and have been monitoring my progress against these goals (yes, I have a burn up chart for most of them). I knew which ones were at risk and I knew which ones I’d failed completely.

This tracking creates transparency, the weekly review creates an opportunity for inspection and adaption much like a Scrum Team’s Sprint Review. I had the choice of sticking my fingers into my ears and mumbling to myself and then throwing up my hands at the end of Q4 saying there was nothing I could do. But these are my personal goals – there isn’t really many more important things to achieve (current crisis aside).

So what did I do?

Firstly the following goals can go:

  • Build a Lean Coffee Website
  • Publish a Short Story with the Donuts and Dragons Team
  • Finish the core pages of the CKD Site

These are represent a large investment of time for relatively low return. They’re either speculative (the LeanCoffee site) or promotional (a free short story to publicise Donuts and Dragons). I can still choose to do any of these things in the future (I would really like to write that story and finish my CKD site). But they don’t have to be done right now. What is time limited and very important is the AWS exam.

So I’ve adapted. By not splitting my focus over those additional three goals (which seemed perfectly realistic two months ago) I’ve maximised my chances of delivering the most important one. The AWS Security Exam. That gives me more time and focus towards it and (hopefully) increases my chances of passing. Now I just have to see what happens next week!

Anyway – that’s what I do when my personal goals don’t go quite to plan and how I create transparency, inspect, and adapt when required. Not just with my Scrum Teams but in my personal life.

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