As an amazing 2009 fades into the sunset, it’s time to review my progress and look forward to the year to come. Am I a better person than I was a year ago? (I believe so.) How can I be even better at the end of this year?

As in 2008 and 2009, I’m not setting resolutions for 2010. I’m setting goals. When I set goals, I don’t feel like I’m trying to become somebody new; instead, I’m trying to achieve something that the current J.D. wants. This method has been very successful for me, so I’m not about to tamper with it.

I’ve also been successful at limiting myself to just a handful of major goals each year instead of creating a huge list. Last year, I had three primary goals. This year, I have only one.

My goals for 2009
Let’s start by looking at how I did with my goals for 2009. I had fair (but not complete) success:

  1. I wanted to save $5,000 for a new car. I knocked this one out of the park. Because of a happy set of circumstances (refinancing the house, saving more than I’d planned, setting aside more for taxes than I’d needed), I was able to buy a used Mini Cooper in April. It’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. A lot of times, material purchases disappoint, especially if they’re things you’ve coveted for a long time. No buyer’s remorse here. I love my car.
  2. I wanted to ride in Cycle Oregon. I didn’t do this. I didn’t even come close. But I did walk the Portland marathon in October. I’m pleased with this, even if I didn’t meet my stated goal.
  3. I wanted to “make better use of my time”. Uh — right. This goal was lame because it wasn’t SMART. A good goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timed. This wasn’t any of those things. Ironically, it’s probably fair to say I achieved this ill-defined wish. For the past three months, I’ve been a working machine. Too much so, in fact.

I also met all of my secondary goals except for teaching myself about small-business accounting. (Turns out I’m happy to pay my accountant to know this so I don’t have to.)

My goals for 2010
This year, I have no major resolutions that involve money. This may be the first time that’s ever happened. But there’s a reason for it: I’ve worked hard to meet my previous financial goals in recent years. I’ve set targets, met them, and find that I don’t have to worry about them. (Maybe this is part of being in the third stage of personal finance?)

In fact, I only have one major goal (or resolution) for 2010. Around our home, I’ve dubbed 2010 “The Year of Fitness”. My only goal, to which everything else will take a back seat, is to quit messing around and actually lose 50 pounds. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. (But this time, I’ll keep the weight off.)

As soon as I turn in the final chapter of Your Money: The Missing Manual (which should be in about ten days), I intend to live and breathe fitness. It’ll be slow going at first, and I’m sure I’ll stumble. That’s okay. I’ve learned a lot from my financial journey that can be applied to my health. (And who knows? Maybe I’ll start writing at Get Fit Slowly again…)

As usual, I have some secondary goals this year. I want to:

  • Fully fund my retirement accounts. This is an annual goal, and I try to meet it as early in the year as possible so that I have no excuses.
  • Teach myself French. Kris and I have the Rosetta Stone French course, and I’d like to complete it before we leave for France next autumn. That’s an ambitious goal, but there you have it.
  • Sell a second book. This time, though, I’ll make sure my contract gives me breathing room so I don’t have to sacrifice everything else in my life while I’m writing. (The past three months have had no balance.)
  • Spend more time with friends. No, this isn’t a SMART goal. It’s as nebulous as can be. But I have some specific plans to make sure I’m making my relationships a priority.
  • Finish Proust. My friends joke about my fondness for Proust, but I love his writing. I’ve put off finishing Remembrance of Things Past for more than five years. I’ll read it all in 2010.

As I said, 2009 was an amazing year, and 2010 looks like it could be even better. For one thing, my dream of world travel will begin to come true. I’ve already booked trips to Belize, Alaska, France, and Italy. There’s a chance I’ll end up in Texas, Alberta, and Washington, D.C. during the year. Maybe it’s time for a new blog: See the World Slowly?

What were your goals for 2009? Did you meet them? And what goals are you setting for 2010?

This article is about Planning, Psychology, Real-Life, Self-Improvement