It’s January 3rd and I already feel behind on 2019. Most of the bloggers somehow managed to write their year-end recaps at the end of year.
On the positive side, I created my 2018 Goals and Plans in February. In comparison, I’m doing quite well.
In last year’s article, I listed a bunch of quick excuses why I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted in 2017. I was the main care-giver for a 3 and 4 year old. I spent a lot of time reading politics. I was being sued for defamation, which can be a multi-millionaire affair… not like a 30 minute Judge Judy thing that you might expect.
In recapping 2018, much of the same was true, except that the boys are a year older. Oh and I won that lawsuit! For the first time in about 6 years, I have no pending defamation lawsuits… and I didn’t lose a single one. One thing that I’ve learned in the process is that, for independent publishers, there’s no such thing as freedom of speech against large corporations. The legal system hasn’t evolved from antiquated state laws that were better designed to protect big news media such as HBO or the New York Times.
Sorry about the rant, but one New York woman was sued for a million dollars due to a negative Yelp review. It’s cost her more than $20,000 to defend initially and spiraled out of control for just talking about the case.
Let’s move on…
Last year I shared the Four Burners theory:
Essentially you imagine your life is a stove with different burners. They represent family, friends, health, and work. The theory is that to “be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. To be really successful you have to cut off two.”
I don’t really believe it’s healthy to cut off any of those burners (especially the “health” one, because that would be the definition of unhealthy). I believe in trying to find a balance among them all. I know that I won’t be Julian Michaels (health) or Jeff Bezos (money), but I don’t need to be. I like to think you define successful yourself.
To make this analogy more difficult, none of these burners include any time for yourself. It is very important to read a book, watch a favorite show/movie, meditate, journal, or enjoy your favorite hobby…
… So, I’ve got to manage five burners, which is now two more than I should have to be successful.
For the past few years, the gas in my five burners has been about 45% family, 35% work, and 10% myself, 5% health, and 5% friends.
I’m not sure that’s a good mix. I’m curious what your mix is. (Let me know in the comments.)
I decided to break down my goals and plans into different areas.
I’m going to give myself a grade of C in Productivity. That might be overly generous too.
My plan was to do the following 4 things:
- I will be more organized and reduce clutter. I’ve let too much pile up over the last year or two. It’s time to reduce and simplify.
- I will plan my most productive day. Again, having a plan is a good thing. Executing on it is better. That’s going to be the hard part.
- I will stop fighting poor technology. In an effort to save money, I fought my old computer that had too little memory. It often meant waiting up to 30 seconds for a new Firefox tab to load. (I have a Firefox tab hoarding problem.) I have already solved this by buying a new computer. Now things are fast. I’ve found that I’m am more productive, but the real time spent is often in that browser tab, not just waiting for it to load.
- I’m going to try to use the Pomodoro Technique. I think that structure will help me get more done.
I got a little more organized at the beginning of the year and during the last couple of months of the year. We got some Ikea Kallax shelving units and it has made a huge difference.
We need to do a better job of getting rid of stuff though. By “we”, I mean “me.” My wife has continued to sell outdated kids toys on Ebay and at church yard sales. I need to be more active in these areas. Perhaps more importantly, I just need to let stuff go. It hurts me to see good functional stuff go into a landfill. It hurts me less if it goes on Freecycle, but then I think, “Shouldn’t I have been able to get a few dollars for that?”
I don’t remember planning my most productive day and I only did the Pomodoro technique about a dozen times.
The new computer did help with the fight against old technology. Unfortunately, now that it has the memory to handle hundreds of Firefox tabs, I now have hundreds of Firefox tabs. My computer is a victim of Parkinson’s Law.
Essentially, I need to consistently use the systems that I think will work for me.
I felt like I didn’t have competitive fire going into 2018.
Throughout the year I felt like I had gathered a little more motivation, but it still isn’t where it needs to be. I’ll give myself a grade of B-. This isn’t a great goal because it is so subjective, so maybe I’ll do better in making my 2019 goals.
If you have any suggestions, please reach out in the comments.
Last year, I made a note that because this is a blog about money, I should have quantifiable money goals. Unfortunately, I do not.
With much of our money in real estate and the stock market, I’m piggybacking on whatever the market does. That’s been a great thing for quite a few years. Alas, 2018 wasn’t a good year for stocks. However, our real estate did better. I’m saving the full financial analysis of 2018 for a future blog post, but I think we did quite well considering.
Since it’s foolish to make a money goal about things you don’t control, I put my focus in another area:
Charting Energy Gal’s Retirement
Few people realize that this blog was created in 2006 as an answer to my wife’s ability to retire early due to her military service. I didn’t want to work another 20 years. I wanted to spend that time with her traveling or whatever it was we found interesting.
The difficulty is that my wife’s military status gives us a great discount at a great school for the kids. Retirement likely means that income in cut substantially while those expenses double. It’s a big decision, bigger than the typical, “Can I Retire?” question that people have.
One of my goals of 2018 was to help navigate that nearly impossible task. While there are still plenty of questions to be answered, I’m giving myself my an A- on this. Financially, a few things fell into place for me and it looks like they’ll stick for some time. It could close the gap. We’ll have to run some numbers and see where things stand.
Blog, Health, and Personal Growth Goals
I lumped these all together when I made them in 2018. It’s appropriate that I give myself a failing grade at all three together in 2019. I didn’t grow my blog traffic 20% like I had hoped. In fact, it might have shrunk. I didn’t lose those 10 pounds. Our December vacation to Aruba torpedos that. (Not that I would have achieved it anyway.) I didn’t join Toastmasters as it meets at night on a day when my wife works late.
We went to Orlando twice. One we had already planned before the start of 2018. The other was for the annual FinCon conference.
We also did our annual Block Island trip. I love getting away from deadlines and even technology for a bit.
Finally, there was the aforementioned Aruba trip at the timeshare my wife bought a long, long time ago.
We’ll probably have around the same amount of vacations this year. For the most part they’ll probably be to the same places for a variety of logistical reasons. I think in 2020 we’ll start to change things up.
I’ll give myself an A on this part, simply because it’s the one area that seems to have went exactly according to plan.
2018 was the first year that I tried this kind of format in setting goals. I should have planned some goals better. I definitely could have executed better. For 2019, I want to add goals for what I hope to teach the kids and what kind of activities we’ll do.
I want to get some of these goals to be more specific and more quantifiable. I want to be able to break them down so that each quarter or even each month, I’m moving forward on some kind of plan.
And hopefully, I’ll be able to get those goals together by next week. That would put me far ahead of the February pace of last year.