How Not to Suck at Setting Annual Goals

December 31, 2014

I was inspired by @lauracshum’s blog post on her annual goals for 2015 ( Her organization and the ambition of her goals are fun to read and will certainly be helpful for her.

This inspiration led me to think about how best to use annual goals. Most people who know me, know that I have about zero ambition. I truly enjoy the process of work and whatever results from that work is fine with me. Things generally work out when I put the work in. Being rich, famous, having a good reputation, or some other professional destination do not seem like worthwhile goals—too dependent on the perceptions of others. But goals are useful in deciding what activities I want to spend my time on. Saying “no” is only useful if you have a strong “yes” in mind (I think that is a Stephen Covey phrase, but am too lazy to look it up). My “yes” will be focused on achieving these goals. I should say “no” to all requests that do not help me to achieve these goals. So goals help with the development of time management decisions.

I am also a fan of SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Goals also serve to keep one accountable. And because I am posting these goals—publicly accountable. There are so many things I want to do or think that I should do, but these all seem challenging and reasonable. Borrowing liberally from Laura’s organization, here are my 2015 goals:


• Lead the School/Applied Child Psychology program at McGill University to CPA accreditation in 2015
• Increase the applicant pool to our program to over 125 applicants in 2016
• Build a stronger level of community support for the program by involving alumni, community leaders, sessional instructors, and field supervisors in the development of the direction of the program
• Reduce the turn-around time for manuscripts to School Psychology Forum ( to a median time of less than 35 days. FYI–I am the editor of this journal.
• Increase outreach and strategic placement of School Psychology Forum
• Do one extra activity, idea, or task for every class session, lab meeting, or supervision session


• Submit more than 8 manuscripts to refereed professional journals in 2015
• Complete the first draft of the book “Children with Genetic Disorders at School: Translating Research into Practice” with Prof. Ania Jankowska for Springer
• Submit 3 proposals for external funding
• Continue outreach efforts to expand data collection throughout North American schools.
• Develop remote data collection capacity

• Have a successful Spartan Race run in May 2015
• Consistent 5 day per week workout schedule
• Consistent 6 day per week healthful eating schedule
• Be under 15% body fat by year’s end
• Average 7 hours of sleep per night

• Teach Indie (our dog) a new trick every month
• Completely unrushed time holding my wife every day
• Appreciate and support the wonderful adult that daughter #1 has become (and tell her)
• Make sure that daughter #2 knows how impressed and proud I am at how she is negotiating a challenging adolescence—and provide all of the supports that she needs
• Get and engage in a hobby (considering renewing my knife throwing activities and/or start writing a novel) weekly. FYI—drinking fine wines and cocktails really should not be a hobby
• Socialize with non-academic friends at least once per month
• Be present

We will see how I did next December.

S.R. Shaw


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