2017 Goals Review—Looking Back On The Year That Was

Happy Holidays. I hope you’re enjoying the season and looking forward to the start of 2018 next week. As I do each year, I want to spend the last post of 2017 reviewing the goals I set in January. I’ll grade my success or lack thereof as I talk about the year that was and whether or not I accomplished my goals.

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been writing these review and subsequent goal setting posts for about 10 years. If you’ve read some of my previous review posts, you’ll know I don’t usually achieve most of the specific goals I set out to do.

I do learn a lot about myself and my business and while I don’t always complete my stated goals, I do tend to get a few other things accomplished throughout the year as my priorities change.

In case you’re interested, here are my previous goal review posts going all the way back to 2007.

As I say each year, I find the exercise of reviewing and setting goals to be valuable in keeping me focused and moving in the direction I want my life to travel.

Next week I’ll talk about my goals for 2018, but today is all about grading 2017 and I have a feeling my grade this year won’t be a good one.

My Goals for 2017

When I set goals at the start of the year, my overarching theme was to create more assets. Since I claim to make money selling my writing, it stands to reason I should have some writing to sell. I set a number of goals for the year, but the main one was to get some books written and I think I did well with this general goal.

A secondary theme focused on the words time and priority. I didn’t set any specific goals around this theme of productivity and perhaps unsurprisingly I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked.

Here’s a reminder of the goals I set, organized around each of the domains I run.

  • VanseoDesign.com
    • Publish More Books
    • Make Use of Content Audit
    • Site Improvement
  • Small-Business-Forum.net
    • Make a Decision
  • StevenBradley.me
    • Launch Site
    • Publish Regularly
    • Continue Writing Fiction

A running theme throughout these review posts is that I rarely get as much done as I’d like. I could say it’s a lack of time, but the reality this year is that I didn’t set priorities well. I was always working, but I wasn’t always working on what I consider most important and as usual I attempted to do more than I could realistically do within the given time.

I spent too much time working on things that were priorities when I offered freelance services, but shouldn’t be priorities now. I was able to establish and maintain a good writing rhythm, but I was never able to figure out how to incorporate other projects into the mix.

With that said, let’s get to the details.


I set three major goals for this domain, each of which I managed to accomplish to varying degree. I also managed to get a few things done that I didn’t list at the start of the year.

Publish More Books

Yep, pretty much done. I didn’t specify a number of books to write at the start of the year, but in my mind I wanted to finish two new books along with a second edition of my Design Fundamentals book. Both of the new books are finished.

The first is an edited version of a few series about Sass I started writing a couple of years ago and finished last November. I treated the all the series as a working draft and made a couple or three more editing passes to turn it into a book. I also set some basic formatting which I’ll use in other books and I came up with a basic design for the cover that can be reworked for other books.

Second was a book about flexbox, which I started a few years ago, but had to stop to write CSS Animations and Transitions for Adobe. I started to work on it the year after, but again had to put off and then I ignored it entirely for another year. A few months ago I treated what I’d written as a draft in need of updating and improving and reworked a lot of it.

I’m only now getting to the second edition of Design Fundamentals. I’m reading through the book and making notes for how I want to proceed. My plan is to work on it in January and finish sometime in February.

Part of the reason for not finishing it this year is because I spent more time writing the performance series on this site than I expected. That, in combination with a few unexpected life demands pushed the work on the flexbox book back a few months, which didn’t leave enough time to work on Design Fundamentals.

Grade: (0.75) I finished two of three books and started on the third.

Make Use of Content Audit

Yes and no. In January I did remove a lot of content that no longer fit the site. I also spent time looking through my content audit notes from last year to decide what books I could write using content already published here. Obviously the Sass book was one, but I have a handful more series that I plan to turn into books over the next couple of years.

That said, I never made time to think through how I want the site to evolve. I thought about it here and there, but not with any real focus in which I’d gather all my thoughts, write them down, and make decisions for how to proceed.

Grade: (0.5) I did finish some of what I set out to do with this goal, but not all of it.

Site Improvements

Not so much. I listed four specific things and only worked on one of them (removing the forum from this site).

I didn’t improve the book section. I also didn’t work on the archives page or the site navigation, though in fairness, the last didn’t need any work beyond removing the forum link.

I did make a few improvements that I didn’t list. I worked with my host to move all my sites to a new server, which allowed me to set up HTTPS in the checkout process of this site. I also implemented a few changes based on the performance series I worked on during the year.

Grade: (0.5) I only did one of four listed goals, but I was never sure they were things I planned to work on. I did finish several other site improvement tasks. Points off are mostly because I didn’t make changes to some of what I specifically listed as a goal.


I had one goal with this domain, to decide whether or not I wanted to keep running the forum. I decided it’s time for someone else to run the place. I think that’s what will be best for both me and the forum.

In truth, I knew what my decision was to start the year and my goal was secretly more about accepting the decision than making it. It took about half the year, at which point I asked another member of the forum if he wanted to take it over.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t at the time, though I plan to make the offer again, possibly before you’re reading this.

Regardless of his answer the second time, my decision is made and in 2018 I’ll either find someone to take over the site, sell it, or shut it down.

Grade: (1.0) It wasn’t a difficult goal to complete, but I did complete it as stated.


I set three specific goals for this domain.

  • Launch a site
  • Publish regularly
  • Continue writing fiction.

Overall I didn’t do too well, except for the most important of the three goals, writing fiction.

Launch Site

Nope. I never made any time to work on the site, despite looking at a mockup of a typical page every day. It’s open in a tab in one of my browsers and serves as something of a home page. I have thought about some changes I want to make, but I spent exactly 0 minutes actually working on it.

In part, it’s because launching the site will require more than just launching the site. It’s a commitment to write for the site and I didn’t see where I would make the time this past year, which happens to be the next listed goal for the domain.

Grade: (0.0) I can’t even rationalize or justify a tenth of a point for this one.

Publish Regularly

Yes and no. No in the sense that no site launch meant there was no place to publish to the site. Yes in the sense that I have continued to regularly write and publish a newsletter, which I emailed every three weeks.

I have thought about what kind of content I’ll eventually write for the site when I do launch it. I think what I’ve been writing in the newsletter is a better fit for the site and I have ideas for how to change what I publish in the newsletter, but those are thoughts for 2018.

Grade: (0.25) I did regularly publish the newsletter which counts for something.

Continue Writing Fiction

Absolutely yes. I’ve started most every day this year working on some fiction project or another. I spent the early part of the year analyzing a draft of a novel I wrote in 2016 to prepare for another draft. I decided it need more work and then took some time away from the novel.

The time away was used to write a bunch of short stories before turning my attention once again to the novel. I’m also working on revising one of the short stories based on some feedback given to me by friends who’ve read it.

One thing I haven’t been able to do as well as I’d like is incorporate multiple stories into a larger fiction writing process. Again, there’s that lack of time or poorly set priorities.

I have several stories going, but generally fail to make time to work on more than one on any given day. I don’t think the issue is that I can’t work on multiple stories at once, but rather that it takes all my morning fiction time to work on one and all my afternoon time is devoted to everything else I’m trying to accomplish.

I did learn quite a bit and feel like my understanding of story has grown significantly, though this is more of a long term self-improvement sort of goal and not one I can entirely say was successful without the proof of finished stories.

Grade: (0.75) I could reasonably give myself 1.0, but I’ll deduct a quarter point for not being able to better incorporate multiple stories at a time into my fiction writing process.

Overall Grade

If you’ve been following along, I set seven specific goals for a total of 7.0 points. When I add up the points I gave myself I end up with 3.75 (0.75 + 0.5 + 0.5 + 1.0 + 0.0 + 0.25 + 0.75), which is a grade of 53.57% and not particularly good.

With some of the goals time probably had little to do with why I didn’t complete them. I’ve been listing some of the same site improvements for several years and I fail to do them each year. That has nothing to do with a lack of time.

However, a lot of what I didn’t do this year did result from an inability to better prioritize my time. Again, I spent too much time on things that were priorities in the past, but shouldn’t hold the same priority anymore.

On the positive side, my overarching goal for the year was to create more assets and I did accomplish that, even if I didn’t quite finish as many books as I hoped I would. On the negative side I failed completely where productivity (time and priorities) is concerned.

I’ll have more to say about both next week.

Closing Thoughts

Writing fiction is the priority for me now, but I haven’t treated it that way. Everything else I work on is now meant to support this one goal, but I often treated supporting goals as more important.

The biggest lesson I learned is that I try to do too much and need to make more time for the things that are priorities. More fiction means less of something else. I’ll talk more about this next week when I set my goals for 2018.

Once again, happy holidays. I hope you have a Happy New Year this weekend and come back on Tuesday ready to accomplish all your 2018 goals.

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