Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Goals, old and new

Posted on 22 December 2008 29 comments

Article illustration for Goals, old and new

On the first day of this year, I wrote a post about my goals for 2008. As the year now draws to a close (where did it go?!?), I thought now would be a good time to reflect on some of those goals and make some more for 2009.

Goals I achieved

  • “Write a book, or a chapter in a book” – I’m putting the finishing touches to my first book over the next few days and it’ll be published by SitePoint in March. Expect to see details soon!
  • “Speak at least 4 events” – I certainly did! And in 2009 I’ll be speaking at even more.
  • “Work out” – Thanks in part to me spending two months in Norway over the summer, I’ve managed to get into shape this year… although I expect Christmas food will put paid to that!

Goals I didn’t achieve

  • “Release a new version of this site” – I think it’s fine that I didn’t achieve this, since I still made some significant updates and I don’t feel that the new design I’m working on is quite there just yet.
  • “Unveil my top secret, super-sexy, uber-cool new project” – This was temporarily shelved because of commitments to the SitePoint book, but it will be making an appearance in 2009!
  • “Release another album (or at least an EP)” – As you’ve no doubt read, this will be happening early next year as well.

It’s interesting looking back on those goals, because they don’t include my decision to go freelance, which was probably the biggest decision I’ve ever made, and also what I would consider to be one of my main achievements this year. It gave me the freedom to live life the way I wanted to (like being able to live abroad for two months), it allowed me to take on the kind of projects like those described above, and I’ve honestly never been happier in terms of working life.

Goals for 2009

  • “Achieve the three failed goals above” – Obviously!
  • “Speak at at least 8 events” – I already have 8 planned (I’ll announce the rest soon) and one or two more on the cards, so achieving this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • “Fit in more travelling” – This will be helped hugely by the speaking events!
  • “Not fall victim to the current financial climate” – It’s going ok so far. Fingers crossed!
  • “Buy a house” – Having temporarily decamped to Shropshire since we returned from travelling, my girlfriend and I are planning to get our own place again as early in the new year as possible. In all likelihood we’ll be heading down to Oxfordshire, getting a decent place to rent, and then – if we’re happy there and finances are ok – we’ll be aiming to buy our first house towards the end of the year. Again, fingers crossed!

And you?

The original post got some great responses, with a lot of people sharing their own goals, so I hope this one generates the same! As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Oh, and before I go (as this will probably be my last post until January), I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Thanks so much for all of your support, encouragement, and participation in 2008. It means a lot to me! :)


  1. Dave Kirk

    Dave Kirk

    22 December 2008 @ 05:27PM #

    I was thinking about this the other day. I didn’t really set any goals for this year, however, for 2009 I have set the following goals:

    1) Help my daughter settle into her 1st year of ‘big school’ – I’m already nervous about it and it she doesn’t start until Sept ‘09!
    2) Launch my personal / portfolio site
    3) Learn Ruby on Rails
    4) Learn to play the guitar (need to get a guitar 1st :-) )
    5) Attend my 1st web conference (FOWD already booked up – I’m also attending you workshop)

    So there we have it, should all be achievable, but if I can only achieve 1 then it would be the 1st one listed!

    Merry Xmas to everybody and all the best for the new year. Time to forget all of the problems from 2008 and look forward to what 2009 can bring!

  2. Andi Farr

    Andi Farr

    22 December 2008 @ 05:39PM #

    I wouldn’t worry too much about not releasing your new site – this layout remains one of my favourite sites on the web today. I never quite get over how much stuff you manage to fit into every page, without it ever becoming cluttered or difficult to read. Obviously looking forward to seeing whatever comes next, but not in any hurry to see the back of this one :)

    For next year’s goals, is it not cheating a little to put ‘speaking at 8 events’ when you’re already booked in for that many? Cheeky. But congratulations, it’s a great start!

    For me, I plan to attend at least one event – not quite so ambitious, but we have to start somewhere. First thing is to find a new job and somewhere to live in the North East – that should be a fun start to the year!

    Anyway, congratulations on a succesful year – hope next year is even better for you. Have a great Christmas!

    Take care, Andi

  3. Jez


    22 December 2008 @ 06:24PM #

    Interesting Cheers Elliot.

    Random question but what program do you use you organise yourself, i.e the one in the image at the top of this post. Looks good and i’m after something to better sort myself out.

    Cheers :)

  4. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    22 December 2008 @ 06:51PM #

    Thanks for the comments and Christmas wishes, chaps!

    @ Dave Kirk: Your first goal is a very admirable one… and far less self-indulgent than mine. Hats off to you, sir!

    @ Andi Farr: Yeah, I suppose it is cheating. But I did have it as a goal before those events were booked (I guess I should’ve mentioned that) so hopefully it qualifies! ;)

    @ Jez: That’d be the rather excellent Things. :)

  5. Jack Franklin

    Jack Franklin

    22 December 2008 @ 07:14PM #

    Hmmm, great post, and I can’t wait for your book by the way! Big admirer of yours here ;)

    I’d like to get good AS results, which is my first priority, learn to drive and pass all exams first time (17 in May) and try to keep writing 1 tutorial a day for my new tutorial website. And keep my forum growing, hopefully turn it into the No1 forum for its area.

    Oh, and become famous :D

    Merry Xmas Elliot and all :D


  6. Ryan Merrill

    Ryan Merrill

    22 December 2008 @ 07:46PM #

    Great insight on your goals, Elliot. Good luck meeting all of the ones you have set for yourself. I’m sure you’ll be able to do them.

    Can’t wait for your new book. Looking forward to the details as to what it’s about.

    As for myself, my goals:

    1. Launch personal portfolio site/blog
    2. Learn jquery
    3. Learn Ruby on Rails
    4. Land a reliable, challenging Web design/development job — the most important

  7. Jez


    22 December 2008 @ 07:48PM #

    Awesome Cheers Elliot.

    Happy Chrsitmas to everyone :)

  8. Dave Stevens

    Dave Stevens

    22 December 2008 @ 08:06PM #

    “Not fall victim to the current financial climate”

    I understand where this one comes from, as I was concerned to read all these headlines that said “Stocks to fall through ’09” and “Don’t put your money in Stocks” – I don’t know what you did, but the big boys are out to get you it seems.

    Joking aside, thanks for posting up your goals again – I’m taking it as inspiration to post my own on the ol’ blog when I get a moment. Congrats on those achieved for ’08 and have a Merry Christmas and an even more successful 2009!

  9. Rick Hurst

    Rick Hurst

    22 December 2008 @ 09:15PM #

    I’ve just blogged about my plans for 2009 here:-


  10. SOS Media Web Design

    SOS Media Web Design

    22 December 2008 @ 09:33PM #

    I can’t wait to start playing with the new font software

  11. Andrew


    22 December 2008 @ 10:26PM #

    Great goals Elliot and congratulations on meeting many of them. I also like the screenshot of Things; for me at least that helps me to accomplish many of my smaller goals throughout the week.

    As for me, my goals would be to continue to improve my personal site/portfolio as well as learning more about using the 960 Grid System for design. After learning the basics it has fascinated me and I just want to create random designs to see what is possible with it.

    Congratulations and here’s hoping to a great 2009!

  12. Tevi


    22 December 2008 @ 11:19PM #

    Good post! you’ve encouraged me to write down and publish my own (design) goals for 2009:
    1. Build a Drupal 6 site
    2. Write a children’s book
    3. Learn jQuery
    4. Build a new big website where I’m the client – come up with a good idea!
    5. Get one of my designs listed on a design gallery

  13. kevadamson


    23 December 2008 @ 01:27AM #

    I really want to get my new site design live. Tis in the hands of my programmer mate, so trying to be patient :P

    Good luck with all yer shnizz for 09 :)

  14. Max Weir

    Max Weir

    23 December 2008 @ 01:50AM #

    Well done on reaching the goals that you did achieve, I’m all for having a goal list from the start of each year and working towards achieving each of them as much as possible.
    I haven’t done this previously but next year I will most definitely plan ahead for 09, I’m actually quite excited about planning goals for each year and think it will definitely be a motivating factor for me.

    Thanks and merry xmas to you and your loved ones.

  15. Kai


    23 December 2008 @ 05:07AM #

    Hey Elliot,

    thanks for sharing your goals. Big fan of your stuff!

    My personal & professional goals would be:

    1) Finding a way to cure my RSI plagued right arm (any suggestions?)
    2) Moving from Germany to Melbourne in Australia (happening in 3 weeks!) and hopefully settling in alright
    3) Finding like-minded people as skilled and creative as yourself in Australia
    4) Redoing my portfolio site
    5) Launching at least 1-2 more personal projects
    6) Working less and on more interesting projects than now

    Keep it up Elliot and good luck with finding a nice place for yourself and your GF. I’d love to get an apartment in Melbourne, but real estate prices are pathetically high right now…


  16. Gary


    23 December 2008 @ 08:27AM #

    I never get around to setting goals, but since your post got me thinking, here’s what I’ve come up with:

    In no particular order -
    1) Redesign/code/actually take an interest in, my portfolio-type site.
    2) Start that blog I keep meaning to do – talk to me about the web in real life and you can’t shut me up, you’d think I’d find something to write about!
    3) Finish the personal project I’ve had on hold for the last year.
    4) Stop undercharging, in order to work less and live more.
    5) Get the Adobe certification for ColdFusion.
    6) Launch, or at least make some headway into the creation of ‘the’ web app. Whatever that turns out to be.
    7) Meet some of the people I admire in the industry.
    8) (ongoing) learn more about everything I do.

    Hurrah! I did it…
    Good luck one and all with goals for 2009, and a Merry Christmas!

  17. Dan


    24 December 2008 @ 08:33PM #

    1. Launch new version of my blog.

    2. Learn JQuery to a point where I can use it in projects

    3. Get a DSLR of my own and take more photos.

    I’m sure there’s more but they were the ones that called out to me. :)

  18. Chris


    26 December 2008 @ 05:20AM #

    I think it’s great to set yourself targets!

    1. Finish Degree
    2. Launch Portfolio Site
    3. Work on my to do list…

    Thanks for the insite Elliott Looking forward til hearing you at FOWD 09!

  19. Jack F

    Jack F

    28 December 2008 @ 10:24PM #

    Well I already re-designed my portfolio, was bored yesterday.

    New ambition is to get a Mac, but might have to save up for a long time :P

  20. Melek


    30 December 2008 @ 07:20PM #

    I always forget to setup goals for the new year, so i’m going to do it here and now:

    1. Learn something new every quarter (ie – WordPress, Joomla, improve CSS, etc.)

    2. Take a training class (I took one last year and was sooo inspired. Plus it helps me get other ppl’s points of view…you don’t get that much when you work alone).

    3. Reach out for more clients instead of relying on the ones you have now. Sure the money is good, but do i really want to be doing site maintenance all day instead of design? not really.

    4. Get more consistent exercise. I tend to go in spurts…so this year, minimum of 2 1-hour sessions a week. 3-4 would be better.

    5. Stay on top of taxes and expenses as they come in instead of waiting til December to compile them. I try to improve on my tax strategy every year…I’m getting there!

    I think that’s enough for now! Thanks for the inspiring post.

  21. eddai


    31 December 2008 @ 02:44AM #

    hms..since benig interested in blogging recently, i will be getting more familiar with css, php.
    these are enough for me now:)
    good lucks to everyone for accomplishing their goals ;)

  22. Chris W.

    Chris W.

    31 December 2008 @ 02:48AM #

    My feeling i this: if you meet all your goals, you’ve given yourself low expectations of what you can achieve.

  23. Samantha Warren

    Samantha Warren

    31 December 2008 @ 08:25PM #

    Thanks for this post.

    Since I first read it, I have given my goals for the next year a lot of thought. I have thought about it at work, in the car, and on walks. Everywhere I have gone your post has stimulated more thinking on about what I want to accomplish in 2009.
    I recently sat down and started a list in my sketchbook… it got too long to share but here are some highlights…

    Take a Letterpress Class.

    Become more experienced using Expression Engine & Wordpress.

    Seek more offline forms of inspiration, & use my Diana+ to take photos of it.

    Launch the redesign of my blog.

    Be a more organized teacher.

    Drink more water, take more walks, and get the hell away from the computer when I need a break ;-)

    Elliot, congrats on your achievements in 2008, and I look forward to seeing you accomplish even more in 2009!

  24. Jack Osborne

    Jack Osborne

    31 December 2008 @ 11:53PM #

    Excellent post Elliot, it made me write my own.

    My goals and aims are the same as many people above, so I’m not going reiterate what has already been said. If anyone is interested in seeing my post, you can find it here.

    Hope everyone has a brilliant year. And Elliot, I hope eveything you’ve got planned works out great, especially the book and ‘mystery app’

  25. Jina Bolton

    Jina Bolton

    01 January 2009 @ 03:40AM #

    Writing a book was on my list, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Glad it’s happening for you, though. ;)

  26. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    08 January 2009 @ 04:07PM #

    Thanks for the comments, everyone! And also: thanks for sharing your own goals and for sending all the nice wishes my way. :)

  27. Julian


    13 January 2009 @ 03:38PM #

    Which programm is shown in the picture on top of the post?
    Looks nice!

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