2018 Goals Review—A Surprisingly Productive Year

Happy Holidays! I hope you’re enjoying the end of one year and are looking forward to the next one with its potential to grow and change for the better. For me, it’s a time of year when I like to reflect on the year that was as a precursor to setting goals for the year to come.

As I do each year, I’ll revisit some goals I set back in January and grade myself on how well I did or didn’t do. Most years my grade isn’t all that great. This year it’s surprisingly better than I expected before starting the review.

I’ve been sharing these goal review and goal setting posts since 2007/2008 and I often share that the exercise a worthwhile one. It helps keep me on track during the year when I’m not sure what to work on and it helps me set a new direction when I’ve gone off course. It’s an arbitrary time to set and review goals, but it’s something I find valuable to do each year.

If you’re interested here are links to all my previous goal review posts.

Next week I’ll share my goals for 2019, but today it’s all about the review and the better than expected grade that I earned.

My Goals for 2018

My overarching goal for 2018 revolved around setting priorities. I worked hard in 2017, but didn’t feel like I always worked on the things I thought most important. If anything, I was working based on the momentum of previous years and felt the most important thing for me to focus on was getting my work more aligned with my priorities as my business and goals have changed the last few years.

I listed time and productivity as secondary words, which I suppose I could list every year. I can’t think when I didn’t want to get more done in less time.

Here’s a reminder of the specific goals I set for 2018.

  • VanseoDesign.com
    • Publish written books
    • Write more books
    • Rethink this site
  • Small-Business-Forum.net
    • Find a new owner for the forum or shut it down
  • StevenBradley.me
    • Launch the site
    • Continue writing fiction
  • Productivity
    • Spend more time on productivity management
    • Make better use of all my devices

I’m happy to say I succeeded with both themes. I was able to shift my priorities to better reflect my current goals. I felt like I worked on the most important things all year. I also wrote a lot. I didn’t think I had, but I worked through an exercise that had me list all the things I wrote and the list turned out to be longer than I thought it would. Seems I was productive in working on the most important things.

On the other hand, all the order and productivity didn’t lead to a perfect mix where writing fiction is concerned, though that’s a thought for the coming year and not this past one.

My surprising productivity means a better than expected overall grade, though still far from perfect. Let me run through the details of each goal. I score each out of 1.0 usually in increments of 0.25 and I’ll add everything up at the end so you can see how I did.


I set three goals for this domain, one I completed, one I didn’t, and one I sort of did what I wanted to do.

Publish Written Books

My specific goal was to publish three books, two that were written (Sass and Flexbox) and ready in 2017 and one that I was going to first rewrite (Design Fundamentals). My plan was to create an Amazon Central Author page and sell all three books through their marketplace.

It’s easy to declare this goal an absolute success as I finished the rewrite, sent all three books out for copyediting, gave them a final proof myself, compiled each into a .mobi file, learned the necessary steps to sell digital books on Amazon, and then took the steps.

If that sounds like a lot, it was and it took me most of the year to complete it all. Still I finished exactly what I set out to do with this goal and it was one of my three most important goals for the year.

Grade: ( 1.0 )

Write More Books

All the time spent finishing the first goal took time away from completing this one. I originally expected the rewrite of Design Fundamentals to take about two months, three at the most. Try seven. I shouldn’t be surprised since the original edition took a few months longer than I thought too.

The extra months took time away from writing any new books this year. That’s zero of my semi-realistic goal of three and my unrealistic hope to write four books last year.

It wasn’t all just the rewrite. A few unexpected opportunities took some time away and writing to maintain this site also consumed time I wanted to put toward this goal, which I have to consider a complete failure.

Grade: ( 0.0 )

Rethink This Site

My business has changed the last few years as I’ve changed from being a freelance web designer and developer to a full time writer. My specific goal was to work out a better publishing schedule to give me back some time to write other things.

At the start of the year I thought I might need to take a break writing for this site. I didn’t think it would be long, maybe a month or two at most. Instead, I was able to come up with a way of scheduling posts that allowed me to write a little less, but still maintain the site all year. I mostly bounced back and forth between a couple of series and published them as multiple mini-series to allow for a few extra skipped weeks here and there. Here are the total number of posts I published on the site each of the last two years, including this the final post of 2018.

  • 2017: 37 posts published (3.0833/month, 0.7115/week)
  • 2018: 30 posts published (2.5/month, 0.5769/week)

As written, I completely succeeded with this goal, but I think the details for how I did it were somewhat lacking and the problem the change was supposed to alleviate is still there, even if to lesser degree.

While it wasn’t part of the stated goal I also wanted to spend some time rethinking other aspects of this site, which presents itself to the world in a way that promotes me more as someone offering freelance design and development services than someone who instead writes about those topics. The site is due for a redesign and I wanted to start thinking about it last year.

I can’t say I’ve done this beyond a few random thoughts I’ve had throughout the year (like redirecting to another domain I own, stevenbradleydesign.com). I’m putting some time into rethinking the site this month, but I’m going to deduct a half point for this goal even thought I did complete it as specifically stated.

Grade: ( 0.5 )


The lone goal for this domain was freedom from having to run it and be responsible for it any longer in order to free up time for other things.

Find a New Owner for the Forum or Shut it Down

My one goal for this domain was to part with it. I had a very definite and fixed-edged signal to know when it was complete. I’d either still own it or I’d have passed it on to someone else or failing that, just shut the site down.


I always wanted to pass the forum on to one of the other administrators. Over time, as my interest waned, his didn’t. He’s clearly been the most invested person on the forum the last few years. We spoke at the beginning of the year and he asked if I could wait a month. Then he asked if I could wait another month and I had a brief thought he might change his mind.

The moment didn’t last. He figured there would never be a perfect time and we just went ahead with the switch that was mostly handled by our then mutual hosting company. I kept an eye on things for a week or two, but he had everything under control and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone for me to back off. It felt weird at first, but the feeling didn’t last long. It was time for me to move on to other things that are more important to me now.

Weird or not, the goal was another success. Thanks Harold for taking over.

Grade: ( 1.0 )


My two goals for this domain were essentially the same ones I set the year before and my success was also pretty much the same.

Launch the Site

I think I’ve been listing this as a goal for a few years now. How did I do? Well, it’s the last week of the year and still no site so there’s that…

However, I did set in motion a few things that will force me to launch the site sometime in the spring and I’ve begun the process of rethinking from where I left off to rework the design, develop it, and finally launch the site.

I’ll mention more details in next week’s look ahead post, but the gist is that I signed up for a course about developmental story editing, which will lead me to become a certified editor within a certain marketplace. The certification will help me sell fiction editing services, which I thought would be harder to do without a site than with one.

I’ve started to rethink content for the site, mainly as to how to integrate the editing services. I’m also rethinking the design some because of the changes to the content and also because of some technical advances in HTML and CSS in the time since I developed the previous iteration of the design.

I’m being a little generous with my grade of 0.5 for this goal mainly because it’s been so difficult to even reach this point I thought I’d reward myself.

Grade: ( 0.5 )

Continue Writing Fiction

There was no specific goal with this one. The idea was for me to continue with my self-education and practice writing fiction as well as work on different stories I hope to eventually publish.


I didn’t write as many short stories as I would have liked, but I worked on a novel all year. I signed up for one online course this summer that pushed me to analyze one novel (The Sun Also Rises) and three movies (Bridget Jones Diary, The Martian, Fight Club) according to a specific method and complete with spreadsheets and logic.

I spent most of the year analyzing a draft of a novel I’d written the previous year and began writing another draft a couple of months ago. Everything else, every other goal for the year, was subservient to this one and so I’m happy to say this goal was a complete success.

I also set aside time for directed writing practice, specific exercises I chose or devised to help me practice one aspect of writing fiction.

Overall, I set up coursework for practice, analyzed a previous draft of a novel, gained a deeper understanding of story structure through intensive study, crafted a structural spine for another story draft, and am now currently in the middle of writing the draft built around the story spine I constructed this summer based on analysis from the first part of the year.

Grade: ( 1.0 )


A general goal I admit, but one I can and often do set each year whether I mention it here or not.

Spend More Time on Productivity Management

This goal was mostly about me making better use of the app Things after downloading the latest version and getting back into productivity management at the end of 2017.

Another success.

I wrote about productivity and my use of Things throughout the year and I’ll likely write another post or two next year as well.

I’ve made Things and productivity part of my daily and weekly routine in ways I haven’t in years past. Every Friday I wrap up the week with a review so I plan out what I’ll work on the following week. Every morning I look over the tasks I’ve scheduled and reevaluate the day based on how I’m feeling and how much work I did or didn’t do the day before.

Every week is a back and forth between the order of scheduling time to work on specific tasks and projects and the chaos of dealing with the fluidity of life and the necessity to be flexible and embrace change each day.

Despite publishing seven less posts on this site, I was more productive overall in 2018 in how much I was able to write. It’s just that for the moment more of my writing isn’t being published on purpose while I sort out how to do a few things behind the scenes. And I credit Things and greater attention to productivity management in general as reasons for being able to keep me on track so I could write as much as I did.

Grade: ( 1.0 )

Make Better Use of All My Devices

This is another of those on again off again goals I set from time to time and one that usually ends in complete failure. That’s kind of what happened this year, though not quite.

I’ve realized some of my failure with this goal isn’t all my failure. It’s partly the failure of tech companies to deliver the mobile/portable products I want and which I think I can be more productive using. I don’t say that to blame others for my lack of success, but because the understanding is helping me to let go of some ideas about how I want to do this and to look more at what I can do and decide how much of it will be useful. It’s a slight distinction I know, but one I think may help get me to change.

In fairness I have been using my phone more this year than in previous ones. Often, it’s to manage my tasks in Things. I find it helpful to remind myself throughout the day what I want to work on that day and the next one so Things on my iPhone was certainly part of my writing productivity this year.

The last month or two, I’ve also made more of a concerted effort to do a few things on my phone that I would more typically do on my laptop. I’m not doing this for any short-term productivity boost, but to slowly make it easier to transition.

I’m giving myself 0.5, which is higher than I deserve, but I did a little more with this than I usually do and thought I’d give myself another feel good quarter point to close things out.

Grade: ( 0.5 )

Overall Grade

Overall that’s a grade of 5.50 out of 8.0 (1.0 + 0.0 + 0.5 | + 1.0 | + 0.5 + 1.0 | + 1.0 + 0.5). I took some points away from one goal, even though I completed it as stated, and I bumped up a couple of other goals since I did more both than I have in years past. I think that’s a fair compromise.

You might remember I set eight goals in 2018 specifically for the easier math converting the grade to a percent. 5.50 divided by 8.0 equals 0.6875, which I think you’ll allow me to round up to 69% and agree that math thing didn’t work quite as well as I expected. 69% is not a great grade if I was taking a class in school, but one of my better scores for these review posts over the years.

It was also better than I thought I’d do when I started reviewing my January goals a couple of weeks ago. I knew there a few things I didn’t do at all, but I forgot to consider how much I did get done. Even more my 1.0 scores were for the goals I considered most important this year keeping in-line with my overarching goal to better prioritize my work for the year.

Closing Thoughts

2018 was a pretty good year for completing my goals, not perfect, though no year ever is. I completed what I considered the most important goals for the year and I made progress with others throughout the year.

I put more of my time into writing fiction in 2018 and followed some unexpected opportunities toward that end, which I’ll talk about next week. I shed one part of my old business model to free up time and I figured out how to free up more as I began selling books beyond this site taking another step toward a career writing and publishing.

I also learned that productivity is not the only end goal and reminded myself that sometimes the slow twisted path is the more appropriate one to take, but again that’s a topic for next week when I share my goals for 2019.

Happy holidays! I hope you enjoyed whatever holidays you may have celebrated recently or will celebrate throughout the coming year. And I wish you an early Happy New Year! May we both accomplish all our goals in 2019.

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