Tag Archives: annual review

Momentum, Processes, Goals, and Sisyphus

I steeled my will to go to the gym and spend an hour on the elliptical machine.  It wasn’t exactly quality cardio, but I did get it done.  Probably helped me to sleep and is building momentum toward more and better training.  I seem so far removed from even being able to think about getting fit for an ultra.  However, getting out and doing something every day is the first step.  Getting momentum going is what is key at this point, rather than a state of fitness at a future date.
I’m finding this is true in other disciplines as well.  Reading.  Writing.  Counseling.  The temptation is to think in terms of goals completed.  This can be depressing, as my thinking tends to drift toward how far away I am from the goal and how much effort it will take to get there.  Unfailingly, this turns out to be an exercise in self defeat,  as I ponder the Sisyphian labor involved in reaching this milestone.  It works much better for me to hold the goal loosely, and instead, work on the process that should move me toward that outcome, and every day continue to take the steps necessary to move toward the objective.  “Success” seems to be more of an exercise in taking disciplined steps to move things along on a number of fronts rather than arriving at a “Eureka”moment.  Momentum is key to continuing to be faithful in this discipline.  What you do when no one sees is what turns your endeavors from brainstorms or ideas into reality.  When momentum accrues, the labor no longer seems Sisyphian, and the process becomes the focus rather than the outcome.   496164907155199844_338ba033584f
I still shudder to think of some of the minimum objectives I need to achieve to keep the status quo.  I don’t know why the word “goal’ is such an intimidating word, why it screams “failure!”  It’s possible that in challenging oneself, there must be a strong possibility of failure.  Otherwise, the endeavor wouldn’t really be a challenge.  However, my slothful self doesn’t quite see it that way.  Even my wife hates it that the word “goal” is such a taunt to me.  I even felt this way when I was competing in cross-country and track in high school and college,  I surpassed a significant number of seasonal goals.  It’s probably the distance from starting the process to completing the process, only to do it all over again.  It can quickly get into the mentality of “can you top this?”  Such an equation puts a person under a great deal of pressure, because there comes a point when every achievement can’t be built upon, or the point of diminishing returns for one’s effort is reached, and it is folly to go beyond this point.
Tagged , ,

Theme for 2015

2015 Annual Theme: “Change the Script!” It seems that I’ve built a life script of making excuses instead of working to bring out the best in me and those around me. In order to begin to bring out the best in me and in others, the script that plays in my head, I need to change the script that “writes” my life. Instead of striving to achieve a breadth of goals a mile wide and an inch deep, I choose to focus on areas that bring the greatest joy, satisfaction and return on investment.

Have you developed an annual theme that captures your desires in coming year?  I would love to hear from you!

Tagged ,

2015 Annual Plan

2015 Annual Plan

Last week, I shared my 2014 annual review.  Putting forth what I learned in 2014, here is my annual plan for 2015:

Long term desires:

  • Keep current work and life situation.
  • Initiate more in relationships – network in areas of commonality.
  • Become more self-aware and take better preventative measures to maintain good mental health.
  • Continue to educate myself and develop my craft.
  • Travel more
  • Family vacation
  • New York City at least once.
  • Weekend away with my wife.
  • Running goals
  • Ultras
  • Overall fitness – strength, stretching,


How to structure to move forward: Minimalize. Essentialize. Throw out about 90% of old key result areas.

Moving forward:



  • Live a more consistent Christian life
  • Devote myself more to prayer
  • Incorporate more books and audio to enrich my soul
  • Work harder at going from Biblical insights to application
  • Become more self -aware and take better preventative measures to maintain good mental health.
  • Initiate more in relationships – network in areas of commonality.
  • Be more conscious of the preciousness of time and act accordingly
  • Cut about 90 percent of the to do list
  • Do things that matter as opposed to spending large amounts of time in what amounts to trivia




  • Initiate more communication and planning with my wife
  • Continue to live within our means.
  • Continue to slightly accelerate paying on house
  • Rebudget in light of income changes– how much to keep contributing to in retirement vs. current expenses and short- term savings.
  • Initiate more and work harder to keep and improve relational ties among children.
  • Reduce book inventory in garage by 90% — go through one box a week – keep, sell, give, toss.
  • Initiate working together with my wife on more projects.

Teacher/Ministry Partner:

  • Continue to focus on the joy and excitement of my calling and its resounding affirmation.
  • Actively seek out ways to get better at my craft.
  • Love my students, my texts, my coworkers, and my parents well.



  • Keep focus on teaching, administrating, and prayer.
  • Keep focus on supporting our lead pastor and the session.
  • Work more on “on the spot” shepherding.



  • Goals were too ambitious last year (I did enter 4 races and finished two, rather than entering 5 and finishing 5). Decide on some events and do those only.
  • Rediscover the wonder and enjoyment of endurance sports.
  • Work on maintaining and enhancing overall fitness. Maintain an average of 5 times a week of cardio exercise.




  • Look into how to move into writing for an audience from zero to some.
  • Develop another reading plan to unfollow. Or look at old ones. Push toward 50 books per year.
  • Continue to seek to maximize time through reading and audio.
  • Expose myself to a steadier diet of positive authors and speakers who can speak into my life.
  • Develop writing skills.
  • Develop audience


Note: Just about all of these are process-oriented rather than SMART goals. As I move ahead in the year, I will need to tweak current processes and put new ones in place as occasions arise to move from vision into action.

Looking ahead, what are your desires for 2015?  How do you plan for a new year?  I’d love to hear from you!


2014 Annual Review

2014 Summary: For my wife and I, this was a year of many transitions. My wife’s beloved grandmother, who loved me like one of her own sons, was called home to glory this past summer at 96 years old.  Our oldest son got married in the summer, and our youngest son went off to college, leaving us as empty nesters. To “prepare us for this,” our daughter studied abroad in Great Britain.  My sister moved in with us as she needed more care later in the summer. I started to transition into a larger pastoral role in our church. Then it became apparent that the “puzzle” of my own desires, God’s call, our family’s interests, our educational nonprofit, and church fit together better with me in a smaller role in the church and a larger role at our nonprofit. In the aftermath of all these things, I experienced a significant episode of depression required medical care and a break from church responsibilities. So, there were a number of goal set for 2014 that were not achieved. A result of this is a re-evaluation of goal-setting and annual planning for 2015.

2014: What went well?

  • Completed 1 100 K run (Iron Horse, February, 19:18)
  • Completed 1 12 hour race (Azalea, November, 40 miles)
  • Completed 46 Books (7 more than in 2013):
  • Preached 20 times at our church
  • Taught a summer class at our church
  • Taught full time for 2013-14
  • Taught a seminar for our Tutor Training, “Teaching Like Jesus”
  • Taught half-time for the Fall of 2014, moving up to ¾ time in second semester 0f 2014-15.
  • Our nonprofit remained self-sufficient and was in the black. My wife continues to do an incredible job managing it.
  • We were able to go as a family to our oldest son’s college graduation in New York, along with Mom.
  • Went to Colorado for our oldest son’s wedding. My wife, with much help from our extended family and our in-laws, put on a rehearsal dinner for the happy coupe that was a smashing success. We acquired a daughter in law who is a great blessing to our son.
  • Our oldest son found full-time, professional employment and loves his job.
  • Our family was also able to go on vacation in Orlando
  • My wife, youngest son, and I attended a Teacher’s Conference in Orlando
  • I was able to obtain better medical care as a result of some health issues
  • We stayed out of debt and were able to live within our means.
  • We upped contributions to retirement by ten times our monthly while not going into debt. This may not be sustainable but it feels great to be overachieve this much on one of my goals.
  • My health has improved with blood pressure and cholesterol being managed well.
  • We went through a trial period at the church of me taking on many of our lead pastor’s responsibilities and our lead pastor cutting back. With the elders, we determined not to press forward with this arrangement. So my vocational situation is settled for the first time in a decade.
  • Our daughter continues to make progress toward college completion. She successfully completed study abroad, staying on track for four year graduation, and is looking at grad schools.
  • Our youngest has matriculated at college in New York City and has made a good adjustment.
  • I’m not having to work most evenings for the first time since we’ve started our educational nonprofit.

What didn’t go well?

  • Felt overextended with work, church responsibilities, and extended family.
  • My sister needed additional care because of the effects of cancer and moved in with us in September. Even while suffering greatly and losing much of her independence, she has been a blessing to us in many ways with her childlike faith, positive attitude, and joy in the midst of suffering.
  • My depressive episode in October/November was a big setback. However, it also brought about good medical care, counseling, and brought out the love of my family, our elders and church family.
  • Had as many DNFs in ultras (2) as I had finishes, but I learned a lot from both of them. Training was sporadic so this could have been expected.
  • My prayer and spiritual life was sporadic. Not what I would like.
  • It’s not that the trial period of assuming more responsibilities didn’t go well, but it became apparent that the “work/life” balance was unsustainable.

Bottom Line on evaluating 2014: In a year that felt like “failure,” there were an astounding number of successes. It’s important to keep “the big picture” in mind rather than to dwell on the negatives.

What went well with you in the past year?  What lessons did you learn?  I’d love to hear from you!


2014 Theme: Take Permission!

Back after a long absence!  It’s a new year.  My theme for this year is “Take Permission.”  I’m indebted to Andy Traub of for the idea.  “Take Permission” encapsulates so many things that I want to put into practice this year.  The concept is that it’s as if we are waiting for someone to give us permission to what would be good for us and beneficial to others.  We need to take permission instead of waiting for someone else to give permission

I’m taking permission to develop my walk with God.  I’m taking permission to spend time in prayer and in the Scriptures.  This is something that is not just going to happen on its own.  What people want to “give permission” for are activities with tangible returns.  Developing your walk with God may not have immediate, tangible returns, but it is something worth doing.

I’m taking permission to develop myself.  For too long, I’ve allowed the unstated expectations of others to rule and direct me.  I’m going to develop character and competence, knowing that time devoted to this is never wasted.

I’m taking permission to write.  This is another solitary pursuit that may not have immediate, tangible returns, but one that is worth pursuing.

I’m taking permission to reach out to people.  It’s time for me to take the initiative to reach out and build friendships rather than waiting for other to do so.

I’m taking permission to say “no.”  By saying “no” to others, I can say “yes” to the things that are important.

Tagged ,

Annual Review

Below is my annual review for 2012.  I publish this, not because I think I did a great job or had an enormously successful year, but so that if you are looking to do something like this, this is a way to do it.  I’m sure there are better ways to do this, but I thought I start with what I have.  I would enjoy any comments or feedback that you would like to send my way.

2012:  What went well?

Determined to preserve current life situation — place, income, lifestyle

Completed a marathon with Hannah (Charleston, January)

Entered Chattanooga Stage Race and completed first stage under cutoff time

Completed 2 50 K races

Signed up for a 50 mile race

Personal best in Half-Marathon

Read 27 books

Preached 23 times

Organized church missions conference

Taught Getting Things Done seminar at Providence Extension Program  (the organization I teach for) annual meeting

Taught six classes at Providence Extension Program with perfect attendance

Support role in new Providence Extension Program campus start

Augmented GTD with life, long-term goals, annual review, and planning

Started 10 chapters per day Bible reading plan

Started journaling consistently

Organized and executed church missions conference

Stayed Healthy

Got Hannah off to college

Stuart had excellent SAT score

Started blog

Contentment level = highest ever

Did a better job identifying the onset of anger and preserving mental health

Stayed out of debt

Started contributing to retirement again


What didn’t go well?

Both Amy and Hannah were hospitalized this summer

One of my classes needs a redesign

My income went down so Amy has had to work more

Got cable?

%d bloggers like this: