On October 8, 2018 I will turn 25, and thus complete the 25th year of my life. Just about one year ago I made a list of the goals, or activities, I wanted to accomplish this year.
I believe I mentioned in My 24th Year. why I chose my birthday as the starting point for my goals (and not Jan. 1) but simply put, it is because it's more personal to me. It also is convenient, seasonally speaking, because the fall is a great time for reflection. So, here is a recap of that endeavor.
Sometime in the summer, I believe July, I became very overwhelmed with all the things I was trying to accomplish. My goals had put a lot of pressure on my day and the schedule at work wasn't getting any shorter. However, before I get too much into that I will list the goals I made last October.
- Complete my PGA Level 2 portfolio and pass my test
- Scored a 72 on a golf course while playing with others
- Saved $4,000
- Give a golf lesson in Spanish and pass three different proficiency tests
- Written 52 Letters to People in My Life
- Completed the Next GST Level
- Swam One Mile
- Advance Beyond Just a White Belt (in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)
- Bought plane ticket to leave the country
I began doing too much, I thought, so I made a list of all the things I was trying to accomplish.
I had to reevaluate what I truly wanted to get done, and which goals that perhaps needed to take a back seat (or be thrown out of the car). I began to contemplate my goals list, what it has done for me, and other pros and/or cons.
This evaluation led me to reconsider my conception of failure, and how I may work to set up my goals differently next year. For example, goals require time. Time is a limited resource and over the course a year, or a day, that time has to be allocated. Also, over the course of a year, aspects of life can change direction, and that new direction may pull time from a goal (or completely change that goal) in a way that would cause failure of that original goal. What is born from that perceived failure is life for a different goal that will continue into the next year. This pivoting is cause for a reevaluation of failure.
The pivoting that a goal undertakes isn't always a failure, but in a positive light it can be viewed as a progression. Letting go of projects or goals that will no longer advance life in a desired direction is a way to avoid the sunk cost fallacy. In a more negative light, I realized it can be a lack of discipline or commitment as well. However, we may not know which one it is till later down the road.
Anyway, sticking with a goal that will no longer advance my life in a way that I deem necessary (as deemed necessary by myself when I wrote the goal) seemed ridiculous. It begs the question, "How much am I allowed to change over the year?" Looking at next year, I hope to explore the possibility of more 6-month goals and 3-month goals, or a mid-year scheduled evaluation that doesn't make me feel so locked in to a commitment I made many months ago.
With that being said, let's work down the list! Spoiler alert, if you didn't already guess, I didn't achieve all of them.
Complete my PGA Level 2 portfolio and pass my test
At the end of My 24th Year I was flying down to Florida for my Level 1 seminars. The Professional Golf Association (PGA) program has three levels, and the progression in between levels looks like this;
- Before each level you travel down to Florida for a week of seminars.
- After that, you begin the work-experience portfolio for that level.
- After the portfolio is completed it is submitted for faculty review.
- If the portfolio is approved, or denied and sent back for corrections.
- Then the person can take the Level 1, 2, or 3 Battery, depending on where they are at.
The most difficult thing about passing the levels is time and money. Time is required to complete the portfolios, and key time frames to travel to Florida. I was mostly able to come up with the money because the golf courses I work at help pay for the levels.
This year, I had made it a goal to essentially get through two levels. An aspiring PGA member is allowed 8 years for the program, and people that complete it quickly do so in about two years. Two levels in a year isn't unheard of, but there are a lot of factors that can hinder that progress. I was proactive about getting my Level 1 portfolio done, and was on a bit of time crunch because I had to have it done in time to register for the seminar that was in between the end of time in California, and moving back up to Washington (sometime in April).
The only hiccup I faced for Level 1 was not passing one of my tests. The testing center was almost an hour and half away in Riverside, CA, and the van that I was driving was on the fritz. I had to learn how to replace the spark plugs so I could get to the test centers to pass a test before the seminar deadline hit. I changed the spark plugs, which didn't work immediately, but then changed a coil and was able to get to Riverside and pass my test.
The portfolio for Level 2 went a lot like Level 1. I put in the time to consistently get the workbook done. It was approved in five days (they say it could take a month) and I scheduled the test for the week after the portfolio was approved. I was more realistic in my approach, and expected to have to retake a test or two.
Miraculously, I kept passing tests (there were four). I passed one test literally right on the number. It soon became all too apparent that August 9 could mark the day that I completed another goal on the list. It's nice that the test gives you an immediate response on how you did, so I knew right away after that last test that I had finished Level 2.
It was a ten month process, which was more continuous than some of the other goals, so having this one off my shoulders gave me a feeling that was a little more special.
Scored a 72 on a golf course while playing with others
I practiced a good amount down in Palm Desert, but never really put together full rounds. When I did play full rounds I didn't seem to 'have my swing'. I shot a 38 on the front nine at Toscana with four birdies, but turned around and shot a 52 on the back.
I put in a lot of practice hours down there, but probably should have played more rounds to better my scoring. By the time I got to Manito, back up in Washington, there was still hope. I had shot a 78 fairly early in the season, and thought that I was putting in decent practice hours. I played a few more rounds, but never really found anything else in the 70s. I played some good golf, and improved some aspects of my game, but I didn't score that well. By the time July came around I was pretty discouraged with this goal.
I probably should have played more full rounds. I lacked the commitment to play a couple rounds of golf a week, added to my practice time, and I predict I would have gotten closer to that number. What was difficult was many times when I had free afternoons, mornings, or days off I found that time being used for other things. When I considered going out and playing golf, many times there was something else that got picked first.
I added the 'playing with others' part because that usually ups the pressure on the course. However, even playing by myself I couldn't string together that many holes.
I stopped trying to reach this goal later in the summer. I still practiced every now and then, and tried to enjoy my time out on the course, hitting the best shots I could, and letting go of that elusive 72.
I had cooked up this number based off of a couple of other items on the list, and a few projections. This goal was actually quite easy to achieve and I believe I reached it sometime in the first half of the year. My post on making a budget, I believed, helped me cross this one off the list.
Give a golf lesson in Spanish and pass three different proficiency tests
I began to get nervous in July looking at the next couple months in terms of getting some of these goals done. In light of new desires, and a revisit to the sunk cost fallacy, I chose to pivot away from my Spanish practice.
When I reflected on why I wanted to learn Spanish in the first place, I realized that my path didn't go through that part of town anymore. Adding to that, it was taking away a little bit of time and head space from other activities that still needed attention.
This is, plainly interpreted, a failure. I did not give a Spanish golf lesson, but I was given a golf lesson in Spanish. I didn't pass literacy tests, but I got a lot better at building sentences in different tenses, listening to spoken language, and comprehending the written language.
Spanish phrases still pop into my head now and again, but this goal never became so necessary in my life that it's priority level bumped it up to something I would expense more effort on. So after many podcasts, videos, and a few Skype sessions I say goodbye to this little beauty. I can still speak a little Spanish, and understand chunks of it, but unfortunately this goal did not get checked off.
Written 52 Letters to People in My Life
I won't write too much about this goal, because I had already written a little bit about it in the post “Written 52 letters of appreciation to people in my life”.
Although I wrote many letters, and sent some out, I didn't send them all out. Only partly because I wouldn't know who to send them too. Some were written abstractly, but others, may never reach the people they were written to. However, just writing the letters had a positive effect on how I view certain aspects of my past. It put into words the thoughts that may have been wandering around astray, or half formed in my head. It usually resulted in a few tears, and was good appreciation practice.
This goal was necessary because it required a different kind of perseverance. It didn't require physical strength, financial fortitude, or perfect execution. It called for an emotional examination, which my goal list would have been pretty incomplete without.
I finished writing my 52nd letter in the summer.
Completed the Next GST Level
GST stands for Gymnastics Strength Training as it is taught by Coach Sommers by video course, here. The website offers GB Fundamentals (which I bought and started last year) but also offered Upper Body, Lower Body, Core, Hand stand, etc. I wanted to purchase one of the levels (they aren't what I would consider cheap), and complete it this year.
HOWEVER, in December when I was getting ready to purchase the next level, they started offering GB Unlimited. This was only $30/month and gave me access to all the different types of workouts instead of just one. This changed my focus from completing just one level to working on consistent practice over the course of the rest of the year.
On the website, there is a calendar that shows what days I completed certain videos. There were some days that I did most of the Thoracic Bridge video but didn't check it off because I couldn't do the last 8 minutes of it. As of September 11, I had done GST on 153 days throughout the year. Below are pictures (or videos) of some of the end ranges that I was able to achieve;
Middle-split straddle hold.
One concept that is stressed in the videos is that consistency is more important than intensity. This was another reason for modifying my goal, and giving myself a modified 'pass' for this list item. Something to note, I felt that I didn't do the Upper Body, Lower Body, and Core videos as much as I should have. The schedule that is suggested only has those things once a week, but they are usually pretty short segments. I feel now, later in the year, that I should be doing those segments twice a week.
Swam One Mile
I had no idea how bad I was at swimming until I started working towards this milestone. I got in the pool at a gym in Spokane before I moved to California and had swam a couple times but could only do one to two lengths before having to stop (25m pool).
It made me really question why I was doing this. I reminded myself that I had thought it would improve my shoulder health, it was a tempting skill acquisition, and it was (and should always be) seen as an experiment.
Just after I moved down to California, I came across the answer (just as reticular activation would predict). The answer was Total Immersion. I was able to listen to Terry Laughlin (founder) talk about the techniques he taught (he has since passed away I believe) on The Tim Ferriss Show, and on other video and written courses that are available. I instantly got better at swimming. I didn't go from zero-to-hero, but I saw the light. I could not give these techniques a stronger recommendation.
I had started swimming in the mornings at the Palm Desert Aquatic Center (an outdoor Olympic size pool) in the winter after I moved down to the Palm Desert, CA in November.
That was really cool. I would get there when it was still dark, and as I swam I would see the sun rising and the light hitting the surrounding mountains.
I bought a punch card there for something like $70. I don't remember how many visits I was given, but I know that I was able to complete the goal with about half the punches remaining.
I also don't know how fast I swam the mile, because that wasn't as important to me. I didn't have a set day that I was going to try and get to that distance. I remember that I needed to swim about 32 or 33 laps to get there, and I counted them as down-and-backs which made it 16 (a smaller number). I swam eleven (or 22 laps) one day and thought, "Hm, that wasn't too difficult."
The next time I had a day off (only important because it meant I wasn't in a rush) I resolved to see how I felt, and if I felt good I would go for the mile. Swimming is cool in that way. If you get into a rhythm it's actually difficult to stop, and as I would swim I would get better at my breathing/stroke which allowed me to swim longer (hence why people swim for an hour or two hours).
The laps ticked away until I was certain that I would reach my mile-long goal. Then, just because I could, I swam one more down-and-back, bringing my total to 34 laps. This goal took a relatively short time to cross off the list. I have hardly swam since then, but remember many of the basic techniques that are required to swim effectively. I also became more comfortable being in water.
Advance Beyond Just a White Belt
I had started training in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu for a couple months when I first moved to Spokane last summer. I liked the work-out, the people that went to the gym, and the feeling that I was building up some kind of self-defense skills. I didn't join a gym when I moved to California, but had made a goal to "Advance beyond just a white belt" this year.
I restarted my training in June this year (after I moved back up to Washington), and felt like a complete beginner again (because I still was just a beginner when I left). However, after a little bit of consistency, and getting choked-out A LOT, I started to feel better about the way I moved and defended myself.
There's not really a clear moment or benchmark that determines when a stripe is earned. Your skill depends on your attendance, of course, but after that it takes some getting noticed by progressing.
On August 13, I had noticed the instructor (his name is James, and I think he started the gym. He is a black belt, and super nice guy. I really respect him) watching me roll with another white belt (the other white belt had some stripes). This wouldn't be unusual except for the week before he had said something to me during a drill along the lines that I was moving really well. At the end of class I was exhausted and had tweaked my neck but noticed he had the tape for giving out stripes next to him. I couldn't be that certain that James even knew my name, because there are so many students at the gym, but during his closing he said looking around, "Where is.. Jarrett?"
People started to applaud, as is customary, and before I knew it I had achieved a goal for this.
It's just a small piece of tape, but being a white belt means you are losing most of the time. Peoples' knees are on you, they're laying on you, you get submitted in ways you didn't know were possible, and there's a lot of sweat and effort involved. There will be plenty more struggling in the future, because I'm still very much a beginner, but having something to show for it really feels special to me.
Bought plane ticket to leave the country
This was the last goal that I attempted to cross of the list this year. I think this was actually on my goals list last year. I remember why I put it there too. Malcolm Gladwell was asked what advice he would give to 20something-year-olds. His response was along the lines of, leave North America now. Not to move away because it was going to hell in a hand basket, but because a 20something needs to develop perspective. That is why it is on the list two years in a row.
And on September 24, my girlfriend and I booked a seven-day trip to Austria. Just like that, it was done! We didn't need to get too much into the details because it's not till next year, but that made it easier in some aspects. It also made it easier that I had made the previous savings goal (with a trip out of the country in mind), and had met that savings goal.
I had a few smaller goals that I did not list, some more personal than others, but a couple are listed below;
- Track Sugar, Then Reduce
- No Alcohol in February (which I completed despite my Aunt and Uncle donating a cooler full of beers to my roommate and I one week before I reached my goal).
I had goals that I have come to understand are necessities in my life that are tracked on a checklist app called Way of Life. This app was used as a daily checklist for some activities including Meditation, Reviewing Goals, making sure I kept up on my physical training activities, etc. Below are the yearly totals by month showing some consistency I had in a few of my most successful categories.
There is probably a little bit of cheating that happened, due to the skip option, but for the most part it's pleasing to track how many times these activities are done in a week, month, or year.
(Green is good, red is bad, and gray means I 'skipped' for that day).
I used this app for smaller habits too, like getting back into wearing my retainer, or getting up when my alarm goes off. The journals can be added or archived depending on what someone is focusing on at different times.
Looking to the next year..
As I mentioned at the beginning, I don't think I should have so many 12-month goals. I want to do more six month goals, and possibly look at a scheduled reevaluation period.
It's funny, how halfway through, or with a few months left, I start to brainstorm and think about what I want to put on the list for the next year. I get excited with what else I can commit to, or result I could achieve, in the next year. Who knows what I may truly learn, or encounter in the next year. However, my goal list is a decent direction (not the only direction). It's said best by Jordan Peterson in his Maps of Meaning lectures;
“[...] you start by aiming at the star that you can see and not the dimmer one that you can yet hardly perceive.”
My goals list consist of the stars that I can see and surely other dimmer ones will become clearer to me later.