Why I Flushed My Annual Goals Down The Toilet

How are your New Years Resolutions going?

It’s almost the end of February. Maybe you’re on track – maybe you’re off track. Maybe they never got clear enough to set, or maybe you intentionally decided not to set any at all.

Whatever your case, odds are you at least thought about 2018 and how you wanted it to be different than 2017.

I have a tradition.

Every year, in the quiet week after Christmas but before New Years Eve, I take some space and think. I sit in our brightly lit living room as the snow is softly falling outside. I look out the window – usually with a cup of black coffee with steaming rolling off it – and make a decision.

What one incredible thing do I want to accomplish or learn in the next 12 months?

Making this one decision each year has helped me learn and grow personally into areas that would have never happened organically.

In the past, some of these goals have included:

  • Read 100 books in a year.
  • Complete a competitive triathlon.
  • Become an incredible cook.
  • Run 5 kilometers in less than 20 minutes.
  • Learn to camp by myself in the winter.
  • Learn to paint.
  • Create a habit of reading the entire bible in a year.

This year, I flushed my tradition of setting huge annual goals down the toilet.


Goals like this require an intense amount of focus, time and resources. At this season of our lives, with a toddler running around and baby #2 on the way, setting the time and energy aside to achieve goals like this offer a pretty limited return on the investment.

They are fun, stretching, and good for me. But, they take focus away from my family. And they are primarily self motivated…

Instead, this year, I decided to do something different.

Over the last year, I’ve identified some areas of my life that just aren’t running optimally. Small things that cause friction here and there between Sarah and I, or cause me stress, or take up mental energy that they shouldn’t.

This year, instead of a single huge ambitious goal focused on personal achievement or development, I decided to make 6 strategic shifts in areas that are causing friction either for me individually, or for us as a family.

The shifts I want to make are:

Move from Reactive to Proactive.
As new parents, our first priority was to…. survive. We’ve done well on that. As a father, I want to start moving from a reactive role, one where I am trying to best react to what is happening around me, to one where I am proactive and predictive.  As much as that’s actually possible…

From Coasting to Growing.
In the season of life we just came out of, finding time to nurture our relationship with God became a real challenge. Peaceful morning devotions became predictable chaos. In this next season, I’m going to try new ways of leading Sarah and I to grow spiritually.

Time and Space Management:
From Disorder to Order.
I give myself so much stress in this area it’s not even funny. I crave order, however I despise the need to devote time to creating order instead of being productive. This is the year I close that gap.

Digital Connectedness:
From Random to Purpose.
Ever caught yourself spending too much time on your phone, not even really knowing what you are doing? Peeking in the inbox after hours? Bringing work home in the shape of a smartphone? Losing time? Depriving yourself of sleep? Me too.

From Panic to Plan.
That may be a little over dramatic, however, when Sarah goes on maternity leave this year, it will be our first time as homeowners truly on a single income. That’s intimidating. We will need to make shifts in our decision making in order to make that a sustainable reality.

From Fuzzy to Focused.
I love the feeling of being “in shape”. It brings a clarity and sharpness that cannot be replicated. After almost two years of being run over by the bus of new fatherhood, it’s time to get that feeling back.  With baby steps.  No pun intended.  

Each of these shifts will require small changes in habits and behaviours over time. Experiments that may or may not succeed.

They’re not massive goals.  But they’re meaningful ones.

I’d love for you to be on the journey with me for two reasons:

  • You’ll have great ideas that I won’t. If you have made shifts in any of these areas – please share them!
  • Putting it in writing brings clarity and accountability.

I’ll write more about the shifts I plan to make in each one of these areas, I’ll share what I’m learning and would love to learn from you.

I’m already a little down the field on some of these and am super excited to share what does (and doesn’t) seem to work for me.

I’d love for you to let me know what has and hasn’t worked for you.

At the end of the year I’ll follow up and let you know how they all went!


Justin according to Sarah – thrives at almost anything he applies his head and heart to. He never stops learning, and loves dreaming up new challenges to grow himself. His introvert ways give him incredible insight into life’s obstacles, of which he’s had his share. But best of all, Justin fully engages in his relationship with God, our marriage and the beginning of parenthood. Oh, and he spoils us with great coffee and cooking!