March 20, 2024 - My 2023 Hierarchy of Fulfillment Report Card

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My slightly redacted 2023 Hierarchy of Fulfillment

For the past several years I've been iterating on a goal setting framework whose intent is to help me align how I spend my time to the things that hypothetically yield sustainable fulfillment through experiences of novelty and awe. I refer to this framework as my "Hierarchy of Fulfillment". It borrows concepts from Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Covey's 7 Habits, and David Allen's Getting Things Done.

When I close a calendar year, I look back at what I set out to do versus what I actually did and give myself a report card. I do this informally as part of setting the new year's goals and try to adjust according to what is more realistic, however I also want to apply a "grade".

As a very personal document, I can't share an unredacted view of 2023's Hierarchy of Fulfillment, but I can summarize each of the sections, sum the Score, apply a Grade, and try to glean insights. Read how the Hierarchy of Fulfillment works for further context.

Report Card:

Area Score Grade
5.0) Purposeful Experiences of Novelty and Awe 5.5 / 8 B+
4.0) Strengthen Social Bonds 4.3 / 10 D
3.0) Resources for Living 4.25 / 9 C
2.0) Capabilities of Self 1 / 5 D+
1.0) Infrastructure of Self 5 / 8 C+

As a strictly self-graded report card, I can be as harsh or generous with my assessment as I think is appropriate, so the quantitative Score is objectively based on the number of complete items within the Area, but the Grade is my own weighted assessment given the relative importance and impact of the items in that area.

5.0) Purposeful Experiences of Novelty and Awe

As the pinnacle objective of the framework, I'm fairly happy with the experiences I had in 2023:

There were only a couple things I didn't complete, but one of them was out of my control, and the other wasn't as important or timely as I thought at the beginning of 2023.

I think a B+ (maybe even an A-) is a fair assessment for accomplishments in this Area.

4.0) Strengthen Social Bonds

In this day and age, and particularly at this stage of my life, forming new social bonds is difficult to make happen for all the reasons one would expect. So creating and strengthening social bonds has to be an intentional outcome of how I spend my time.

So whether it was spending time with or supporting members of my family, creating or strengthening friendships, or networking for work purposes, I achieved a moderate amount, but still not as much as I feel like I should have.

Some of this was outside of my control, as COVID disrupted our own plans more than once, and the availability of people in our network. Still, I don't feel like I made sufficient progress in building or strengthening my geographically local set of friendships and am continuing to find tactics to do so.

I gave myself a D Grade on 4.3 / 10 Score. Enough not to fail completely, but not nearly close enough to my objective.

3.0) Resources for Living

While this Area has a lot to do with creating resources, it also has to do with maintaining and managing those resources, whether it is an investment account, the homestead, or anything that is a store of value to draw on for living.

In 2023 I did a lot of work cleaning up the various investment accounts and starting to balance my holistic portfolio. I also improved the processes around our household budget and made some maintenance investments to retain and sustain the value of my homestead.

Although I only scored 4.25 / 9 on this area, many of the specific items I had wanted to accomplish were not urgent, though they were somewhat important. They may become urgent unexpectedly in the future, and that is not desirable. I gave myself a C Grade in this area because I accomplished the things that were both urgent and important.

2.0) Capabilities of Self

Although this area could be about developing Capabilities of Self for any reason, for 2023 I thought about this Area as investing in skills that provide diversification of skills to earn income.

In 2023 I wanted to earn another Aviation rating, but I found myself more interested in learning the Rust programming language and how to code collaboratively and professionally. So while I did complete some code projects (eg: DungeonCrawler, TaskWarrior), I haven't yet proved it is a skill that I could be compensated for. If I'd focused on getting my next rating in Aviation, I think the job prospects would be nearly immediately clear.

I scored 1/5 in this Area, and Graded myself a D+. I'm proud of all I accomplished in learning Rust and completing software development projects, but the intended outcome of this Area was about diversifying skills for Income, which I failed to sufficiently prove.

1.0) Infrastructure of Self

Infrastructure of Self is the underlying pre-requisite for all the other Areas. It includes physical health, energy, mental clarity and focus, etc. There is always something to work on here, and at this stage of my life, when time is as scarce as it has ever been, it is important to try to develop a good set of habits and address some of the areas I've been neglecting.

In 2023 I set out to develop a better sleeping habit, relax or meditate for 5 minutes daily, read and revisit short articles for positive thinking, and to Create Time and Capacity for Living. That last one basically means "don't burn myself out, and to remember to 'stop and smell the roses'".

I scored 5/8 on these areas by because many of the items in my list were easy. There were some more challenging objectives I set for myself ("3 Runs and 2 HIIT Workouts per week") that I missed pretty badly compared to years before. I think a C+ is a fair assessment given the outcomes I was targeting.

Overall Grade

Overall, I think I did a decent job compared to what I set out to do. A pretty good job considering the headwinds I faced. A great job compared to what I'm told most others expect of themselves. So maybe a C+.

When building objectives for future years, I think it will be important to clarify what is an aspirational goal versus what is actually needed. Further, clarifying what the outcome expected of any particular Area should be for that given year should help me not only to choose better projects, but also focus me to the ones that have the highest incremental contribution to that goal - deprioritizing or delisting the others.