2012 Personal Year In Review

by Mike Shea on 15 April 2013

"I didn't mean to take up all your sweet time. I'll give it right back to ya one of these days."

- Jimi Hendrix, Voodoo Child

Reading someone else's personal 2012 year-in-review is about as interesting as listening to them describe their latest colonoscopy procedure. That image firmly in mind, I give you a self-absorbed look at my own successes and failures in 2012 backed by data. In my attempt to give you something valuable, I leave you with three potentially useful observations:

  1. Following daily goals and habits makes me happier than focusing on big year-long resolutions.
  2. Digging into data and metrics helps me focus on actual behavior instead of assumptions.
  3. It's easy to spend all our time tweaking and not enough time actually doing this stuff.

The rest of this article describes the daily goals I've decided are important to me and the metrics I've recorded to determine my success. If this is of little interest to you, please, move on with my blessing to something more relevant to your own life.

Relooking at the Ben Franklin Chart

In the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin used to keep a little book containing his 13 virtues. I read about this in his autobiography back in 2005 and I loved the idea. Based on this idea, I came up with a list of ten goals I wanted to accomplish every day. Though focused daily, each of them aimed me towards a larger state of being I want to achieve. Unlike Franklin, I track successes instead of failures. Over time I hope to build each of them into a habit I no longer need to even think about. My daily goals include:

Each week, during my weekly review I write a list of these ten things on the left side of the page in my Moleskine notebook. Across the top I put the dates for the next seven days. Each day I fill in the checks for the goals in which I succeeded in the previous day. In practice, I often forget and end up filling it in at the end of the week.

In the beginning of 2012 I transcribed these check-marks into a giant spreadsheet and analyzed the data to determine monthly and year-end totals. Here are the results by month in a heat map:

daily_goals_monthly_analysis

Guess in which months I took vacations.

These ten daily goals are useful ways to look at the rest of the metrics I recorded this year. These sources of data include Omnifocus, AT&T, Amazon, LoseIt, Twitter, Facetime, my daily goal spreadsheet, and my own websites.

For books, games, and TV shows, I also included a score of my enjoyment on a scale from 1 to 10.

Let's look at the list.

Read

Books read: 10: Mistborn (8/10), Cloud Atlas (8/10), Wool (8/10), Great by Choice (7/10), Joe Golem (8/10), The Wind Through the Keyhole (9/10), Snow Crash (10/10), Ready Player One (10/10), The Hunger Games (6/10), 11/22/63 (10/10).

Daily checklist markings for "Read": 231 (63%)

Create

Words written on Sly Flourish.com: 42,979 words total in 50 articles.

Words written on MikeShea.net: 11,648 words total in 12 articles.

Words written for the book The Lazy Dungeon Master: 34,205 words. 280 copies sold in December 2012.

Words written for D&D freelance assignments: 6 assignments, 34,227 words

Tweets from mshea: 875

Tweets from SlyFlourish: 3,195

Total D&D books sold: 672

Omnifocus actions completed for Sly Flourish: 433 (18% of total actions)

Daily checklist markings for "Create": 249 (68%)

Work

Work-focused Omnifocus actions completed: 985 (41% of total actions)

Daily Checklist Markings for Work: 230 (63%)

Relax

Video Games Played: 7: Dishonored (9/10), Borderlands 2 (8/10), Assassin's Creed Revelations (7/10), Batman Arkham City (8/10), Mass Effect 3 (9/10), Super Mario 3D (7/10), Journey (9/10).

Shows Watched: 62: Sons of Anarchy (7/10), Breaking Bad (10/10), Walking Dead (8/10), Spartacus Blood and Sand (7/10), Game of Thrones (8/10), Castle (8/10), Mad Men (10/10).

Omnifocus actions completed for "Relax and Enjoy Life": 79 (3% of total actions)

Daily checklist markings for "Relax": 309 (85%)

Love

Coffees enjoyed with Michelle: 162

Calls to Mom: 52 (528 total minutes)

Facetime calls with Mom: 47

Omnifocus actions taken to support family and friends: 188 (8% of total actions)

Omnifocus actions completed for home and family care: 143 (6% of total actions)

Daily checklist markings for "Love": 311 (85%)

Befriend

Dungeons and Dragons games played: 73 (44 home games, 7 one-shot games, 12 games played in my friend's campaign, 6 games played at D&D Experience, 4 games played at Gencon)

Calls to my friend Ben, the Stay-At-Home-Dad: 259 (4,391 total minutes)

Calls to other friends: 47 (671 total minutes)

Omnifocus actions taken for running D&D games: 269 (11% of total actions)

Daily checklist markings for "Befriend": 235 (64%)

Simplify

Daily checklist markings for "Simplify": 233 (64%)

Benefit

Daily checklist markings for "Benefit": 109 (30%)

Note: An easy way to complete "Simplify" and "Benefit" on the same day every day is to pick one thing I have in my possession and leave it out for people to take at work. I could do a big bunch of this a few times a year, but a daily habit with just one item reinforces the behavior.

Eat Well

Number of days I recorded calories in LoseIt: 276 (76%)

Average calories recorded per day: 2,330

Highest weight recorded: +7.7 pounds from 1 January 2012

Lowest weight recorded: -9.9 pounds from 1 January 2012, measured on on 21 March 2012

Total weight fluctuation: +17.6 pounds from lowest to highest

Omnifocus actions taken for health and well being: 199 (8%)

Daily checklist markings for "Eat Well": 132 (36%)

Exercise

Stairs climbed at the office: 56,400 (24 stairs a floor, 5 floors twice a day, 5 times a week, 47 weeks of the year)

Calories burned climbing office stairs: 9,024 (.16 calories per stair)

Miles walked with Jebu (70% with Michelle): 913

Daily checklist markings for "Exercise": 231 (63%)

2013's Focus: Eating Well

I plan to continue focusing on my ten daily goals in 2013. In particular, I want to focus on "eat well". Other daily habits I want to reinforce include:

The 2013 Checklist

I've decided to tweak my checklist a little bit, eliminating a couple of items that didn't really do much and adding a couple more specific ones I want to spend more time on. Here's the new list:

If I cared to, I could combine write, code, and game into "create" and be down to six. Create is pretty fuzzy, though, and I'd rather lean towards specific so I know what I've done. I started using this checklist in March. We'll see if it sticks.

Measuring a Life Well Lived

Each of us has a limited amount of time in our lives. How we spend that time will determine how well our lives are lived. Humans are terrible at self-evaluation so we have to fall back on ways to measure our output. It's often difficult to break out of our busy daily lives and focus on what is most important. Focusing on small, specific, and daily goals seems to work better for me than worrying about larger goals. These small goals lead me to my own definition of a life well lived.

How will you measure the happiness and success of your life?

Send comments to mike@mikeshea.net or follow @mshea on Twitter. If you enjoyed this article, please use this link to Amazon.com for your next online purchase.