Happy New Year everyone! January has arrived and now we’ve all got to get used to writing 2017 whenever we write the date. It’s always a bit weird at first, isn’t it? With the holiday season behind us, it’s time to get back into the swing of things and get excited about what’s to come over the next 12 months. If you haven’t set any resolutions for the new year, I encourage you to think of at least one personal goal in each of the following three core themes.
- Financial independence
There are a gazillion different goals you could come up with, but you really can’t afford to ignore these three themes. Here’s why.
3 Themes to improve your lifestyle this year
Health. Right around this time last year, I wound up in the hospital unexpectedly. That experience really taught me never to take my health for granted. It also taught me the importance of completing medical evaluations and trusting the advise of my doctors and nurses.
When life is busy, I know how temping it it can be to delay or cancel medical appointments. But if you ever have a feeling that something might be wrong or if someone you love thinks you should get a checkup, please stop what you’re doing and make the time to go see a doctor. It could literally save your life. Everything else can wait.
Health is one of those things that is so easy to take for granted until we get sick or start having medical issues. Instead of being reactive with your health, get proactive this year instead. Make smarter meal choices, get up and stay active, hydrate with water vs sugary drinks, reduce stress and improve your sleep habits. Your body and mind will thank you!
Happiness. Some people are naturally happier than others. These “bubbly” souls were born with a perfect blend of hormones and optimism. Their constant smiles, laughter and energy brighten every room they step into and they spread happiness without effort. Even when they’re faced with a difficult task or something unpleasant, they still manage to smile and make the most of it. If you know someone like that, go give them a hug! They’re gems we should never take for granted.
For most people, myself included, our moods tend to fluctuate. We tend get grumpy or irritable when things don’t go exactly as planned. That not only negatively affects us, but pushes those around us away. The more unstable you are, the harder it is to maintain strong relationships. And the weaker your relationships get, the less happy you’ll be. Simply being more aware of our emotions and changing our perspectives can help regulate our moods and bring more happiness into our lives. Happiness is a choice after all!
Think of three to five things in your life that are impeding your happiness and brainstorm some ways to fix them this year. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish if you set your mind to it. Find the good in everything you do and your happiness level is sure to rise.
Financial independence. I spent most of my childhood growing up in a lower middle class household with a single mom. Money was a major reason my parents split up and they still struggle with money issues to this day. The upside is their failures motivated me to do the complete opposite. I became financially independent relatively quickly after graduating from college and love all things personal finance related. Instead of fearing I’ll run out of money when I’m older, I hope to have more than enough to live an awesome retirement and leave a generous legacy for my future kids and grandkids.
I hope you will spend some time this year looking at your own finances. The sooner you become financially independent and start setting net worth targets, the better. Financial security reduces so much stress and provides endless opportunities. Set some specific monetary targets for saving, paying down debt and adding income streams this new year. It’s better to start early and start small than to not take any action at all. Saving 20 bucks here and there may sound immaterial, but it does and will make a difference over time. Browse through my personal finance category to get your feet wet and build your knowledge base and then dive deeper on Financial Samurai.
Also, if you want an easy way to track your own net worth for free, sign up with Personal Capital. They’re a one stop shop to quickly link your checking accounts, savings accounts, investment accounts, mortgage, student loan debt, credit cards, etc. all in one place. My favorite Personal Capital features are their Portfolio Fee Analyzer tool and Retirement Planner. They’ve got a lot of free financial tools to help you manage debt and grow your net worth that are definitely worth checking out.
Final results of my goals from last year
There’s a philosophy that says if you complete every goal you set each year you didn’t set the bar high enough. Perhaps that’s just a way to make the vast majority of us feel better for not trying hard enough, but I tend to agree. We achieve growth by trying to achieve more than we’re currently capable of and learn a lot from our failures in the process. Overall, 2016 was quite a successful year for me even though I only rate 3 out of my 7 goals as successes.
- Grow my net worth by $75,000 – success! My latest net worth is $1.2 million.
- Pick up 2 new freelancing projects – push. I got one new gig that’s still live and wound down another.
- Migrate my photo libraries – fail. I started on this late in the year and am only about 35% done.
- Eat slower and more mindfully – push. I still tend to eat too fast at times, but my awareness has improved.
- Donate or declutter 8 bags of stuff – success! I knocked this out of the park and plan to continue this year.
- See family at least once a quarter – success! I spent a lot of quality time with both family and friends.
- Learn 3 tap dancing routines – fail. I dropped tap class to focus on my a cappella chorus instead.
Now it’s time for 2017 goals!
I’ve come up with six personal goals for this new year that encompass the three core themes of financial independence, happiness and health. I think each of these goals are within my reach if I can stay focused and manage my time effectively. I’ve come to embrace the fact that my to do lists will always be full and I probably won’t get to do every single thing I want to this year. But, as long as I’m learning, working hard and getting a few things done every day I’ll feel good. I hope to make fewer decisions for greater happiness as well. I’m excited about picking up new skills, expanding my knowledge, staying healthy and continuing to grow my own little empire. Now, here are my goals for the new year.
Invest $10,000 a month. Last year one of my income report goals was to invest $5,000 a month. I’m doubling that to $10,000 a month for 2017. I have some CDs maturing next year and some residual cash still sitting in my accounts that I want to deploy throughout the year. It’s hard to know what to expect in the markets with the new presidency, but many analysts are predicting about 2% growth in the U.S. I hope to make more than that by staying diversified and continually looking for new opportunities to invest.
Expand my personal finance writing portfolio. Last year I spent a lot of hours outside of Untemplater writing investment articles in third-person for one of my clients. This year, I plan to shift my focus towards broader personal finance topics written in first-person. Writing about investing was a great learning experience for me, but it was also quite time consuming, somewhat dry and also pretty draining due to the amount of research involved. I’m looking forward to being able able to produce more articles written in my own voice on a broader range of topics. I plan to continue my publication rhythm on Untemplater and also produce at least two additional PF articles a month in addition to my other freelancing projects.
Setup contingency plans for my business and assets. I’ll be headed into my late 30s this year (gasp!) and it’s time for me to get serious about protecting everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve thus far and that which I plan to obtain in the future. I hope to live a long and healthy life for decades to come, but I also want peace of mind that if anything were to happen to me unexpectedly, my assets will be passed down and handled in the best way possible for the sake of my loved ones. I want to find a trustworthy estate planner and get solid plans in place by June.
Connect with new friends in my neighborhood. I wrapped up all of my freelancing projects last year that involved commuting downtown and am working solely from home this year. As a result, my day-to-day interaction with friends has shrunk. I plan to join a new women’s social group this month and hope to make some new nearby friends in the process. It’s much easier making regular plans with friends who live close by and I’ll also need some fun reasons to get out of the house.
Record clips for 1SE more often. If you don’t have the 1SE (1 second everyday) app on your smartphone, it’s really worth checking out. This app lets you easily string together 1 second video clips (or photos) over the course of 1 year. You can make shorter or longer videos if you want, but the app’s objective is to capture daily glimpses of your life over 365 days. So much happens in 1 year and this app makes it fun and easy to remember all of it. I want to get in the habit of recording daily clips and stay on top of compiling my videos each week. It’s pretty priceless to be able to watch past years of your life in only six minutes.
Improve my cooking skills. I don’t completely suck at cooking, but I’m certainly not great at it either. It’s been years since I’ve had a cooking related goal and I’m well overdue. Now that I will be solely working from home, I want to experience the fun and rewards of cooking again. I also want more control over what I eat. There are some amazing restaurants where I live, but I highly doubt they’re using organic ingredients or free range, grass-fed meats. I’ve already cut out most processed foods and want to increase my consumption of foods free from MSG, hormones and artificial ingredients. I want to learn 3 new signature dishes and figure out how to make at least one killer sauce. If you have any great recipes, please share!
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Untemplaters, what are some of your personal goals for the new year? Do your goals encompass health, happiness and financial independence? Which theme is most important to you this new year?