Johannes Thönes

Software-Developer, ThoughtWorker, Permanent Journeyman, Ruby Enthusiast, Java and Devils Advocate.

My 2016 Personal Futurespective

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A few people asked me to share the agenda for this year’s personal retrospective.


This year, instead of focusing on what happened, I wanted to focus on the future. Therefore it’s a futurespective rather than a retrospective.

I create a custom agenda for every big retrospective. This one was created for this year, exclusively. For a different example for a year 2015 retrospective have a look at this writeup from my colleague Pat Kua. If you need help creating yours feel free to reach out to me.

You will notice that the agenda’s focus is creating a vision for my life in the future. I have been making very good progress with smaller goals from retrospectives in the past, but I felt it was time to more big picture.

“The best three days of my life” (Day one)

I first imagined, how the best three days of my life could look like. These three days are in a glorious future - not necessarily in 2016. I didn’t want to restrict my imagination.


  1. Brainstorm circumstances and events that should take place within these three days. As a result I have a big collection of ideas that could form the three best days of my life. One of this events, for example, was giving a keynote at a conference.
  2. Create a schedule of the events. Remove obsolete ideas or circumstances. Fill in the gaps in the days. The result will be a schedule of how the best days of my life could look like. As an example, I chose the keynote to be on Friday at 10:00am (day one1).
  3. Write an essay about these three days. The result will be a story of the three days. Writing a story helps to make it more real. To make it more vivid, I also imagined less relevant facts - for instance a concrete topic for the keynote.
  4. Analyse the underlying needs of the events and circumstances captured.

Find goals for 2016 (Day two)

On the second day, I reviewed some retrospective material and created goals for 2016. It was helpful to do the second part while the material from the three days was still in mind.


  1. Read the last retrospective letter and review events since the last retrospective.
  2. Reflect on life patterns that I want to change. Use the 5 Why’s to understand the root cause and how they could be changed.
  3. Brainstorm stretch goals2 for the year 2016. The goals need to be in relation to the needs identified on day one.
  4. Select a maximum of two stretch goals for 2016.
  5. Assume when I fully reach the stretch goal, it is a status 5. Also assume that the current status is a 0. Write up all statuses from 5 to 0 with one or two sentences. The result will be two big goals and also smaller steps to get nearer to these goals3.
  6. Create a plan for a weekly heartbeat retrospective to support the achievement of these goals.
  7. Summarise the retrospective by writing a retrospective letter for this retrospective.


I’ve now done this futurespective and gained some interesting insights. I also have two stretch goals for the new year4. I noticed while executing this plan that I also need space for goals besides the two big ones. Amongst the four I selected is learning to draw and start to learn more from other people rather than books. But, none of the side goals is a stretch goal.

Hope this writeup was interesting or useful to you.

  1. Of course the best three days of my life have to include a full weekend ;-)

  2. Stretch goals are goals you don’t know to how achieve easily, but they are somewhat in reach. Something like learn a foreign language you don’t know at all - not impossible, but a lot of effort in a year. I like to have stretch goals, because they give you a direction where you want to go. To actually reach something, I find it useful to have a few SMART objectives to be the first steps to reach the stretch goals.

  3. I got the feedback that this 5 statuses for a goal are hard to grasp. I will explain this exercise in a separate post. So stay tuned!

  4. Both of the stretch goals are personal. So no public sharing, sorry.