On New Year’s Day, I shared my three primary goals for 2008:

  1. To save a $10,000 emergency fund.
  2. To lose 40 pounds.
  3. To write a book about personal finance.

Some readers thought setting only three goals for the entire year was “pretty weak”, but this has enabled me to remain focused, and to spend a little time every day working toward each objective. How am I doing? Let’s find out.

Save a $10,000 emergency fund
I got a jackrabbit start toward this goal by saving my Christmas bonus from work. Somehow I had managed to accumulate $1500 by January 9th before I discovered my car needed repairs. How much did those repairs cost me? $1500. Ouch! Now I’m back where I started, but I’m not giving up.

For the short term, I need to save aggressively to pay the taxes I know I’ll owe for 2007. Once I’ve met that obligation, I can turn my attention to saving the $10,000. This is a huge goal for me. I’ve never had anywhere near $10,000 in savings before. (In fact, $1500 was my record high.) If I can do this, I’ll feel much more confident about my transition to full-time writer.

Lose 40 pounds
I’ve made slow, steady progress toward this goal. So far, I’ve lost six pounds. I’m not hitting the gym or starving myself — I’m simply eating smaller portions and making healthier choices. (Applying terminology from personal finance, I’ve become a frugal eater.)

I’ll continue making these gradual changes until mid-March, at which time I hope to incorporate an exercise regimen. (Which is the dietary equivalent of increasing my income.) I’m pleased that Get Fit Slowly has been an excellent source of inspiration, both for me and my readers. I want that site to help people improve their fitness the way this site has improved their finances.

Write a book about personal finance
At the start of the year, I thought it would be great to write a book about personal finance. In the past two weeks, I’ve spent nearly ten hours talking with bloggers, agents, and published authors, exploring the pros and cons of such a project. “Do it!” some said. “Don’t do it!” admonished others. I listened to everyone, and after considering all of the advice, I’ve decided that I will write a book.

I have no illusions: a book will take a lot of time and probably won’t make much money. But I believe it’s the right choice for me. I’m a writer. It’s what I do. I’ve always wanted to publish a book, and now I have that chance. (Though admittedly I never imagined I’d be writing a personal finance book!) The next step is to pick an agent, and to work with her to craft a proposal that draws upon my strengths.

Less is more
One month into 2008, I’m pleased with my progress. By limiting my attention to three primary goals, I’ve been able to give each one the attention it deserves. I’m not trying to accomplish them all at once, either. Instead, I’m taking slow, steady steps in the right direction. I keep my goals in sight, even when I experience setbacks. I’m confident that I’ll meet each of these objectives — and that confidence keeps me motivated.

This entry is part of the MBN Group Writing Project for January.

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