My 2015 Report Card

Last year I wrote an extensive plan for what I wanted to accomplish in 2015. If you’re interested, you can download the Word document.

As part of developing my plan for 2016, I decided to grade myself on how well I achieved my 2015 plan. I know report cards can be stressful for some people. I personally view grades not as judgments, but as feedback on how I performed. Grades are a convenient language for me to rate myself and identify areas for improvement.

How did I do? Overall, I would give myself a C+. I achieved most of my important goals, but fell short on many others.

Below you can see the details of my report card, as it relates to my 2015 plan. I’ll be using this to improve how I plan the upcoming year.

If you’re interested in conducting your own annual review, check out Chris Guillibeau’s How To Conduct Your Own Annual Review, or see examples by reading Sacha Chua’s 2015 In Review or James Clear’s 2015 Annual Review.

Themes

Words provide touchstones that allow us to define and connect with the story arcs of our lives.

For 2015, I chose one word for each major part of my life and two phrases for the year. My grades for how well I lived up to my themes are below.

Phrases

B Scene Change
I’ve spent 12 years running Lab Escape and am ready for something new. For the first half of 2015, I want to focus on wrapping up old projects and preparing the stage for the next decade of my life. To do this, I want to avoid any new activities or projects.
I sold Lab Escape, which was the top priority. I avoided some new projects, though I started teaching swing dance and joined two boards. I still have much to purge.
D Restart Passions
I’ve put passions on hold while running and trying to sell Lab Escape. For the second half of 2015, I want to re-start a few of those passions as side projects.
I lacked the energy and motivation to re-start projects. I did start meditating and mostly continued exercising, eating and sleeping well.

Words

A+ Business: Strengths
I want to stop mitigating my weaknesses in sales and management and putting energy into low value activities like accounting, legal and support. I want to focus on my strengths: creating new paradigms, asking the right questions, figuring out what matters, developing insightful strategies & building great products.
Most of my activities now are focused on my strengths.
D Professional: Giving
I want to give value to others more. For 2015, I envision doing this by writing more articles on my blog that can help people, and by re-connecting with people in my network to offer insights and connections.
I planned to write 10 posts and publish at least 6. I wound up writing and publishing only 3 posts. While I reached out to about 35 people last year, I fell short of my goal of 60 people a quarter.
D Community: Reconnect
In 2014, I stopped participating in the local community to focus on selling my business. In 2015 I’d like to reconnect with the community & slowly start providing advice and leadership again. My priorities in 2015 remain reconfiguring my life, so this will be at a lower level of involvement than in the past.
I reconnected with only a few people. Though at the end of the year I joined the Venture Asheville Elevate program, a mentoring program based on MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service, which is starts in January 2016.
A Personal: Movement
I want to increase the movement of my body through dance and my location through travel. Dance gives me such joy. I want to dedicate more time to it this year and possibly expand into tango. For travel, I want to define new ways to travel with Audrey—via home exchanges, working while traveling or sabbaticals.
I expanded dance in a different way than I thought—by starting to teach swing dance once a week. Audrey and I took a swing cruise together and got to travel some while working remotely (not nearly as much as we had hoped).
B Foundation: Focus
I want to reduce distractions and the time I spend on low-value activities. I want to increase my focus when I’m in foundational activities, minimize multi-tasking and maximize the value of those activities.
I reduced my distractions, though not as much as I had hoped. Near the end of the year, I started breaking some of my rules aimed at ensuring focus.

Objectives & Key Results

My Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) were a hybrid with S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific. Measureable. Achievable. Results-Focused. Timely). Objectives in OKRs should feel uncomfortable & ambitious. Some of mine were, some weren’t.

A Business
I aim to finish the sale of Lab Escape or switch to consulting to ensure I meet the below objectives.
Sold Lab Escape in Feb 2015
A O: Maximize Product Development & Strategy
For work, I’d like to focus on product development and business strategy. Last year I spent 70% of my business time trying to sell the company and only 22% on product development.
A+ KR: In Q2, spend at least 50% of my time on product development & business strategy Spent 64% of my time
A KR: In June, spend at least 70% of my time on product development & business strategy. Spent 63% of my time (90% of target)
A+ O: Minimize Sales & Management
I dislike most sales and managing people. I’m okay with supporting sales and managing self-directed people like Jim & Dmitry, but any new role I take needs to have a minimal level of sales & management. Though for the first half of 2015, I expect my sales time to increase to help any potential acquirer.
A+ KR: In Q2, spend no more than 30% of my time on sales & management. Spent 10% of my time
A+ KR: In June, spend no more than 15% of my time on sales & management. Spent 6% of my time
B O: Minimize Customer Support
While I don’t mind doing customer support occasionally, I dislike the need to be constantly available. It prevents me from taking breaks & vacations. I may need to provide support for customers after acquired, but I want to work to offload this over time.
A+ KR: In Q2, spend no more than 20% of my time on customer support. Spent 2% of my time
A+ KR: In June, spend no more than 15% of my time on customer support. Spent 4% of my time
F KR: By June 30, have at least one other person who can answer basic customer support questions. Still no replacement by the end of 2015
B O: Eliminate Accounting & Legal
While I can do accounting and legal work, I don’t enjoy it and it doesn’t leverage my strengths. Part of selling Lab Escape is getting rid of the administration work of running a business.
B KR: In Q2, spend no more than 1% of my time doing accounting & legal Spent 3%
A KR: In June, spend no time doing accounting & legal Spent 0.5%
B O: Redefine Work Environment
I want to take what works in my current work environment and remove what is not working. What I don’t like is being continuously on, being paid poorly, having to switch contexts repeatedly and the uncertainty. I want to aim for more project/sprint work, be better compensated, have long periods of focus and more stability. I’d like to keep my schedule flexibility; the control I have over the vision, my time and my tasks.
D KR: By April 1, be making a competitive market salary or equivalent compensation Salary lower than market, but not awful
A+ KR: By April 1, have a stable contract or job with a reliable payment stream Have stable job
B KR: In Q2, have at least 3 sprints with rest periods in between to work on re-factoring, learning, etc. Refactored & learned, but fewer rest periods
A+ KR: By June 30, take a 1 week vacation without needing to check e-mail or voice mail (cruise?) Took swing dance cruise
D Professional
In 2014, I spent less than 1% of my time doing professional activities. I wrote only 3 posts on Fast Fedora. In the first half of 2015, I want to re-ignite my daily habit of networking, write more blog posts and give back to people.
D O: Network Daily
I want to get better at building & maintaining relationships. For the first half of 2015, I will reach out to 1 person from my existing network per business day.
Strong start, weak finish
D KR: In Q1, reach out to 60 people in my network Only reached out to 28 (48% of target)
F KR: In Q2, reach out to 65 people in my network Only reached out to 3 (5% of target)
D O: Write Blog Posts
I have a series of posts about personal improvement and how to sell a software company that I want to write. I may not publish all of them in the first half of 2015, but I’d like to write them.
D KR: In Q1, write 5 blog posts and publish at least 3 Only wrote 2, published 2 (53% of target)
F KR: In Q2, write 5 blog posts and publish at least 3 Wrote & published none
D Community
In 2014, I pulled back from all community involvement to focus on selling my business. In the first half of 2015, I want to nurture some of those relationships, but hold back from participating until I have more time.
D O: Nurture Relationships
To nurture relationships, I plan to grab lunch or coffee with people and catch up on what they are doing.
D KR: In Q1, meet with at least 5 professional contacts in Asheville Only met with 2 contacts (40% of target)
F KR: In Q2, meet with at least 10 professional contacts in Asheville Only met with 2 contacts (20% of target)
B Personal
For the first half of 2015, I want to focus on prepping the next scene of my life. This involves streamlining my home and increasing options for relaxation, and testing the idea of travel and a vacation.
C O: Improve Home
I have 3 projects I’d like to see done in 2015: hire someone to build a custom spice rack, install a new deck and install a hot tub.
D KR: By April 1, have a custom spice rack installed in the kitchen that holds all our spices. Built in Oct 2015 & installed Jan 2016, 9 mos behind schedule
N/A KR: By May 31, have a new deck built. Decided not to build a deck this year.
B KR: By June 30, have a new hot tub installed and working. Installed Oct 2015, 4 mos behind schedule
A+ O: Take a Dance Cruise
I’ve never taken a cruise, and it seems the perfect opportunity to test whether I can travel and take a true vacation from work, while introducing Audrey to swing dance. There’s a Lindy Hop cruise leaving New Orleans to the Bahamas from May 3-10th.
A+ KR: In May, take the Lindy Hop cruise with Audrey. Took cruise. Tons of fun.
C Foundation
In 2014, I did a decent job of exercising, eating healthy and sleeping. But I failed in my word for the year: purge. In 2015, I want to continue my healthy habits while purging unneeded stuff and activities.
C O: Purge Physical Stuff
I want to finally get rid of most of my paperwork, books, CDs and cassettes by scanning what I want to keep, then getting rid of the physical copies. Likewise, I want to get rid of my broken and unused stuff to free up mental and physical space.
A KR: By January 31, quantify the amount of paperwork, books, CDs and cassettes I have
A KR: By January 31, identify broken and unused stuff to get rid of
A KR: In Q1, send 75% of books to be scanned
C KR: In Q1, scan & shred, or just shred, 40% of paperwork Finished by end of 2015. 9 months behind.
F KR: In Q2, scan & shred, or just shred, remaining 60% of paperwork Still in progress.
D KR: In Q2, digitize all remaining CDs & cassettes Organized, but did not digitize
A KR: In Q2, send remaining 25% of books to be scanned Finished in July, 1 month behind.
F O: Organize Digital Stuff
Scanning will only create a larger number of files to manage. I still don’t have my media organized. To set the stage for the next act, I want to have all my files organized.
F KR: In Q1, identify all the locations of existing digital files: music, photos, documents Not started.
F KR: In Q2, collect & organize all digital music, making it tagged and accessible in iTunes Not started.
F KR: In Q2, collect & organize all digital photos Not started.
D KR: In Q2, combine all backups into a single backup location Still in progress.
D KR: In Q2, combine all archived files into a single archive location Still in progress.
C O: Reduce Low Value Activities
In 2014, I spent 17% of my time doing maintenance activities, 5% in discretionary activities and 34% of my time sleeping. While these activities have value, I’d like to reduce the time I spend on them. In analyzing my time, often these activities take longer than they need to due to distractions. Most of my effort in reducing the time spent will be on minimizing these distractions.
Had initial success, but let distractions creep back in
A+ KR: In Q1, spend only 3.5 hours on maintenance activities daily Spent 3.5 hrs in Q1; worsened to 3.8 hrs by Q4
F KR: In Q1, spend only 0.5 hours on discretionary activities daily Spent 1.2 hrs in Q1; improved to 1 hr by Q4
C KR: In Q1, spend only 7.5 hours sleeping daily Spent 7.8 hrs in Q1 & Q4
B O: Continue Exercising, Eating Healthy & Sleeping Well
Last year I spent an average of 40 minutes per day on exercise activities (including prep & wrap-up). I cooked most of my own meals and slept an average of 7.7 hrs per night. In December, I tracked my sleep for 21 nights, waking up an average of 14.2 times for an average of 22.8 minutes awake. I want to continue my exercise and eating patterns, add more strength training to my exercise & improve my sleep.
Habits worsened near end of 2015
A KR: In Q1, do a cardio or yoga exercise every day Exercised 82 days (91% of target)
A KR: In Q1, do a strength training exercise every day Exercised 77 days (88% of target)
A KR: In Q1, eat a Slow Carb diet on at least 60 days. Ate diet on 53 days (88% of target)
C KR: In March, track at least 20 nights and average waking up no more than 10 times for no more than 15 minutes per night. Tracked in Feb, stopped by March

Priorities

More important than what I achieved is how my achievements aligned with my priorities. At the beginning of 2015, I did a paired comparison of my objectives for the first half of 2015. My priorities, with their associated weights and final grades are below.

Grade Area Objective Weight Score
HIGH PRIORITY
B Foundation Continue Exercising, Eating Healthy & Sleeping Well 13 10
B Business Redefine Work Environment 11 8
C Foundation Purge Physical Stuff 11 8
C Personal Improve Home 10 8
MEDIUM PRIORITY
A Business Maximize Product Development & Strategy 9 7
D Professional Write Blog Posts 8 6
B Business Eliminate Accounting & Legal 7 5
A+ Business Minimize Sales & Management 6 5
D Professional Network Daily 6 5
LOW PRIORITY
B Business Minimize Customer Support 4 3
C Foundation Reduce Low Value Activities 3 2
A+ Personal Take a Dance Cruise 2 2
D Community Nurture Relationships 1 1
F Foundation Organize Digital Stuff 0 0

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