An Admission of Failure: My Annual Review and 100th Post

100 by Chrisinplymouth

This is late in coming, but it occurred to me recently that we had missed our annual review this year. It turned out to be somewhat fortuitous though – this came out to be our official 100th post since starting Road to Epic. It seemed fitting then to have my annual review now and see where I’ve succeeded, where I’ve failed and what things I need to change for my next year on Earth.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about when I say ‘annual review’, you can find last year’s annual review here along with a quick explanation.

First, let’s look at last year’s list of goals.

Last Year’s Goals

These are some of the things I intended to accomplish before I turned 25. The ones that are stricken through are those which I actually accomplished.

Road to Epic Goals

  • Reach 4,000 unique visits per month.
  • Stick to our Tuesday/Thursday post schedule for the entire year.
  • Write at least one guest post for another blogger per month.
  • Complete and implement a custom theme for the site.
  • Finish at least three of the RtE side projects I’m considering.

Health/Fitness Goals

  • Have my bodyfat percentage tested by a reputable facility (BodPod etc.)
  • Learn to complete 5 free-standing handstand pushups.
  • Learn to deadlift at least 350 lbs.
  • Run a mile in under 5 minutes.
  • Complete one marathon.
  • Attend a Crossfit gym for at least one month.

Travel Goals

  • Spend time in at least 4 different countries before next year.
  • Return to China and Korea.
  • Spend at least two weeks in Japan, preferably one month.
  • Attend the Wik Family Reunion in Chicago.

Language Goals

  • Have at least one conversation with a native speaker per week in Korean and Japanese.
  • Finish reading the first Harry Potter book entirely in Japanese.
  • Read one entire book in Korean.
  • Re-Learn Mandarin Chinese to fluency in 6 months.
  • Learn 1,000 Mandarin Chinese words in 30 days.
  • Make a short video in either Japanese or Korean.

Financial Goals

  • Earn at least $4,000 per month off of our own projects.
  • Completely pay off our debt (minus our mortgage) which currently amounts to around $9,000.
  • Find and explore at least two new sources of income.
  • Sell at least 30 unnecessary possessions.
  • Secure an investor for one of our non-blog side projects.

Miscellaneous Goals

  • Write an entire novel in 30 days.
  • Film a Parkour video.
  • Construct a set of Sasuke/Ninja Warrior training equipment.
  • Rejoin a martial arts school.

So by the numbers, I’d say it was not a terribly successful year in terms of these goals. Out of 30 total goals I met 10 of them for a success rate of 33%. I got close on some of them, like the post schedule and Japanese practice, but I’m not counting close. I’m going to call that an overall failure. There’s nothing wrong with failing, it’s how we get better at things. So let’s start by looking at what things I did wrong.

The Mistakes

  • Loss of Focus – When I look at the goals that I was actually successful at, they’re all the ones that I set up systems to continue to track. Some of them, to be honest, I completely forgot about after a few months. Looking for investors ceased to be a goal since we decided to set that project aside, and I totally forgot my plans to refresh my Mandarin.

    The lesson learned from this is that if I’m going to accomplish the goals I set for myself I need to have reminders. Constant and persistent reminders seem to be the only way to keep me on track.

  • Missing Small Steps – One of the other problems I notice in many of the areas I failed in is I never set up small goals as stepping stones to lead to the big ones. Having these smaller goals makes a big difference, particularly if you’re like me and you tend to procrastinate on projects where the path to the goal is a little hazy in favor of ones where you know what you need to do next.

    I’m not saying that having big, ambitious goals is a bad thing. In fact I tend to prefer those kind. I think it’s best though to make sure to have clearly defined intermediate goals to build up to the big one.

  • Insufficient Discipline – I lack discipline. I really do. I’m working on it, and there have been lots of things I’ve been doing to improve my discipline, but I still don’t quite have enough of it. If I don’t keep a close eye on myself I hit the end of the week and find that all of my time has been spent reading, goofing off or playing video games and I got absolutely nothing done.

    That’s a big problem. It’s the reason we got rid of our TV. I’ve tried going completely cold turkey though and I can’t manage that either. The trick is going to be finding the right balance between work and play.

The Successes

  • Well-Tracked Fitness Goals – Fitness was one area where I was particularly successful. I credit this in large part to fitness apps like Fitocracy which make tracking a breeze. As I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times, what gets measured gets managed. Having a clearly defined record of progress, not to mention the social and psychological boost of earning points, made sticking to my plan and reaching my goals easy.

  • Collateral Benefit – There were a lot of successes and failures that led to other tertiary benefits that I wasn’t expecting. Exploring other income sources led me to focus a lot more on my writing which led to the publishing of one of my short stories, something I intend to continue working with. Additionally all the training drastically improved my flexibility, something that wasn’t a strict goal but was definitely a benefit. In others, failure didn’t mean no gain at all. For example I may not have hit a 5 minute mile, but I got my time down from just over 10 minutes to right at seven minutes per mile. While technically a failure, it’s still a big improvement.

What I’m Changing This Year

  • Bigger But Fewer Goals – I think part of my problem was I just set too many goals and then didn’t keep track of them all. I could remedy this by having some way to remind myself of all m goals all the time, but I think it’ll be easier for me if I just pare the list down instead. For that reason I’m going to pick six big goals that I intend to accomplish before my next birthday instead of a long list.

    Having that small list should make it a lot easier for me to stay focused on my goals and not completely forget any of them like I did last year.

  • Smaller Goals Set at the Beginning of Each Month – Even though I know better, I didn’t break my big goals into small steps and then distribute them through the year. That was one of the reasons I didn’t do too well. This year I’m going to pick a handful of small steps / goals at the beginning of each month that I can complete before the end of that month that will bring me closer to my big year goals. Divide and conquer and all that.

  • Focus on Improving Discipline – Like I said before, I have some serious discipline issues. I get distracted easily and if I don’t feel like doing something I have an extremely hard time justifying doing it even though I know I should be. I waste tons and tons of time on things that don’t matter and don’t really help me in any way.

    I’m not saying I want to be a productivity zealot, I recognize that trying to make every moment as productive as possible would essentially suck all the joy out of life. There is a time and a place for fun and relaxation and not doing anything. I just do it too much. I have a handful of tactics I’m going to test out this year to see what helps me the most to resist my bad habits.

This Year’s Six Goals

  • Launch two RtE projects.
  • Reach a combined squat/deadlift/bench press of over 1,000 lbs.
  • Go on an international trip.
  • Complete six months of focused Mandarin study to get back to where I was.
  • Earn enough from side projects to be self-sufficient.
  • Write at least 5,000 words per week.

I have a lot of smaller monthly goals too, both that build up to these and that are just standalone things I want to accomplish. With the changes I’m making we’ll see if this year turns out more successful than the last.

How have you been doing on your yearly goals? Share with us in the comments!

Photo Credit: Chrisinplymouth


Adam is a former English teacher turned personal trainer and writer. He’s addicted to learning, parkour and martial arts. In addition to being a voracious bibliophile Adam’s fascinated by anything related to health, fitness and language. When not studying or training he can usually be found curled up with a good piece of fiction. You can e-mail Adam at Adam@RoadtoEpic.com