Ask the Readers: Are you reaching your goals?

Remember when 2014 was new? I'd rather not think about it, but more than half the year is behind us already and we're moving into fall fairly quickly. For me, that's a good time to start thinking about whether I'm reaching my goals for the year and what I need to do to correct my course.

I would like to be in a position to tackle a “single resolution” every year like J.D. Roth did in his Year of Fitness in 2010. I like the fact that, when you eliminate distractions and focus your energy, it reduces your stress level. That makes a lot of sense, but I don't fit the criteria J.D. mentioned where “nothing else mattered.”

In my situation, there are a number of things that really matter to me, so I decided to concentrate on a small set of goals at the beginning of the year and prioritize them. (I don't call my goals “resolutions” either.)

I'm excited about the progress I've made on my highest priorities so far; but if I want to finish strong, I need to make sure I'm on track with those goals and then reassess to see if I can devote time and energy to meet some of the other goals on my list. Here's what I think I should do to reset the sails:

  • Revise my map
    My biggest priority for 2014 (and beyond) is to stay healthy through exercise. So my husband and I set out to ride our bicycles nearly every day. But I had to scale it back for a few weeks in February and March because of an injury to my foot, so I've only logged 1,658 miles in 84 rides so far this year.  With 16 more weeks left in the year, I could actually log another 1,920 miles if I dedicate myself to 20 miles a day, six times a week. I've done three rides this week already, so I need to revise my map again to do a little better.
  • Redouble my effort
    I've actually been resting on my laurels a bit. But 1,658 miles is a lot of miles, and sometimes I do slack off. And another thing is I love my jam-packed days, but not getting enough sleep can easily derail me from getting out for my ride in the morning. So if I'm going to reach six rides a week, I'll have to manage my time better and redouble my effort. I want to make a budget for my time so that I can reallocate it between what I have to do and what I want to do. I also want to think about the little habits that I've let creep into my life that distract me from my goal.
  • Rekindle my passion
    I need to remember why I'm doing this. Whether I have to remind myself how I felt when I hurt my foot or think more about how great I feel after a 20-mile ride, I need to find some way to reconnect with the fact that I can't reach my other goals if I don't have my health. I have to say that I absolutely love riding my bike now, but that wasn't always the case. I'm just very persistent! But because of that persistence, I have built confidence just like J.D.'s fitness trainer explained:

“'Honing [sic] in on one challenge and overcoming it can give you a tremendous feeling of success,' Limbaugh writes. This can help boost your belief that you can overcome other obstacles.'”

It's great to be able to eliminate distractions and devote yourself to a single, all-encompassing goal like fitness. But again, fitness is just my highest priority this year. I also set out to increase my savings, spend time with family, take some online courses, and organize my home office. Out of these four, I'm only two for two, so I'm going to rethink each of my other goals as well. It's embarrassing to admit that I haven't moved my savings to an online account yet! So I'm going to do my research (like we always encourage you to do) to help us increase our savings. Beyond that, I'm going to start planning the holidays and work harder to organize my home office so I'm all set for tax season next year.

Are you thinking about how the year is going and what you need to do to reach your goals? Do you plan to make some corrections to your course? What's on your list?

More about...Health & Fitness, Planning

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AMW
AMW
5 years ago

I also do yearly goals….2014 was the year of tying up loose ends. I’m doing pretty good. Finished a two year degree in a year. Now to paint that bedroom, make the curtains, and refinish a coffee table. I have about four months left and I think I can do it.

I have already have 2015 goal, going to work on health. Particularly more sleep and more excersize.

Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com
Jay @ ThinkingWealthy.com
5 years ago
Reply to  AMW

That’s impressive finishing a degree in half the time. Congrats! I’m in the same boat as you with health though… Desk jobs aren’t great for the waistline!

Jay

Stephanie
Stephanie
5 years ago

As my chiropractor said today… “Sitting is the new smoking”

Curtis@PayOffMyRentals
5 years ago

Goals are important, but so is finishing what we start. Good reminder post. I met my goal last year to pay off a rental house and I’m well on my way to paying off the second of three (likely by Feb of 2015). Large goals like paying off $177,650 in mortgage debt in 42 months can seem quite overwhelming at times, but if we plot a careful course and stick to the smaller incremental goals (like the 10 yard stretches that ultimately lead to the touchdowns), we will get there. Giving up midway or failing to realize goals will set… Read more »

Debi
Debi
5 years ago

Congratulations on making a commitment to being fit. My husband and I made fitness a priority 4 years ago and now it’s not something that we even think about. It’s just something that we do. I’ve not felt this strong and healthy in many years. The mental health bonus of reduced stress levels after exercise has really been an added benefit. There’s nothing like an endorphin buzz to keep your energy level up. Keep it up!

Debi
Debi
5 years ago
Reply to  Linda Vergon

After about 9 months I started noticing that if I missed going to the gym for a few days I’d miss it and look forward to the next time I could get there. I think a lot of it depends on the specific gym. At ours the vibe is very upbeat and non-competitive. Everyone encourages you to just have your best workout, not what they feel is the best for you. There’s always help too, if you have a question about what should I be doing if I want this result, etc.

sarah
sarah
5 years ago

Twice you said “revise my map” but you never explained what it means.

Elissa @ 20s Finances
Elissa @ 20s Finances
5 years ago

I’m doing okay! My budget is in check and my savings in order. I just need to maybe save a bit more. Always good to check in.

Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
Michelle at Making Sense of Cents
5 years ago

It’s crazy how quickly 2014 is flying by. I feel like I haven’t been doing too well in the goals department. Our main goal right now is to watch our spending a little more closely so that we can save more for our next home.

Megan
Megan
5 years ago

We had really big financial goals this year. We had dreamed 5 years ago of paying off the $160k law school loans within 5 years. We also wanted to pay off two car loans. So my husband found a better job in another state a couple months ago, we sold our house and paid off all the loans with the profits! Next step is to start investing, which I suppose could be our 2015 financial goal. We are still pinching ourselves that there are no more loans.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
5 years ago

I’m meeting my goals but as usual these are faster accomplished on paper than in reality where there are always unexpected obstacles. Must practice patience and have contingency plans (“prepare to be wrong” say the Heath brothers). Here’s an example; my summer garden fell through this year– we had seedlings going indoor, etc. Brought a backhoe to dig a trench, but we dug it too deep (3ft). Needed to buy a lot of topsoil to fill the trench, and this required a trailer. Went to get the trailer but someone had put an old car on top of it (which… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
5 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Hi Linda, I had seedlings going for kale, lettuce and basil (all died). I had other plants in mind I mentioned to Kristin when she posted a gardening article earlier this year. I’ve forgotten the whole list now but my guideline was to get plants that are worth the money (e.g. bell peppers) instead of stuff I can get cheap (e.g. carrots). Alfalfa was easier because it grows well in this region and can be planted in late summer, whereas an intensive garden requires purchased topsoil + garden soil (black gold) OR megatons of soil amendments, and then it had… Read more »

Stephanie
Stephanie
5 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I’m totally new to the idea of gardening now that I’m moving from an apartment to a house, but I started reading Square Foot Gardening and it’s pretty interesting. Have any other PF peeps tried this method? Hoping to build my first square next month.

Ely
Ely
5 years ago

I prefer to focus on one large goal per year; that way I don’t get sidetracked or overwhelmed. I had a finances year, a fitness year, a finish-school-sane-year, and so on. This year set out to be a creative year and has gone very well. However, an expensive sick dog and some creeping weight gain suggest that fitness and finances will need another pass in the coming months.

Tom@TheCoghlanTeam.com
5 years ago

I make new goals every year. But the best goals I’ve ever made were with changes in habits rather than aiming for specific targets or achievements. So, for example, I don’t plan on losing 10 pounds as a goal. Instead, my goal this year was to eat better – more fruits, grains, nuts, etc. and less processed or fast food in my diet. I used to eat Bagels, Toast, Doughnuts, McDonalds, etc. for breakfast. Now I eat lots of fresh fruit and a little granola. I used to eat big lunches with subs and chips. Now I eat humus, dipping… Read more »

Vanessa
Vanessa
5 years ago

I like this approach. I’ve never been able to make goal-setting work for me. When I choose a specific target I set myself up for failure because I make the target too ambitious. Like having an absurdly high savings rate when I don’t have an income that can come anywhere near to supporting it. Then I feel like a loser for not meeting the goal. I am incapable of setting realistic goals so I focus on overall trends instead. I record my net worth every month in a spreadsheet. Hopefully it’s always bigger this month than it was last month.… Read more »

Debi
Debi
5 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

Keep up the good work. Perseverance always pays off for me. Remember the tortoise and the hare. Be the tortoise!

CJ
CJ
5 years ago

2014 was the first year I have stuck to a new year’s resolution – pay off my student loans by the end of the year! After receiving my first raise and some stock from my in-laws, crunching the numbers revealed that with a few sacrifices, it was a completely attainable goal! We’re considering reaching that goal early this month by selling the stock and using a little of our savings, which will bounce right back next month because we will be DEBT FREE!!! The thought brings me so much joy! I probably wouldn’t be paying off the loans this quickly… Read more »

Linda Vergon
Linda Vergon
5 years ago
Reply to  CJ

The first step is daring to believe. Congratulations, CJ. I’m so happy for you!

Anna
Anna
5 years ago

I think this blog would be a lot more enjoyable if the writers would stop treating JD Roth like some sort of religious idol. Nearly every article quotes JD, or uses JD as some kind of example, or reveres him like a celebrity or deity. It’s great that he started this blog, but he didn’t exactly “get rich slowly” and his nouveau-riche story isn’t really relevant to the rest of us anymore. It feels like this blog is just The Cult of JD sometimes and it is much less enjoyable to read because of that.

Matt
Matt
5 years ago
Reply to  Anna

I agree. I came to this site in apparently the post-JD era. I’ve read some of his old stuff and honestly, he comes across as smug. I don’t mean any offense, but I really have trouble relating to his writings.

Getting rich quickly by selling a blog, then divorcing my wife and traveling the world to attend frugality meet-ups does not sound like something I relate to.

Jabong Coupons
Jabong Coupons
5 years ago

I would like to actually read a article which gives practical solutions more than being motivational. Not to demean this article in any case

cheers

Simon Cave
Simon Cave
5 years ago

Focus on few goals at a time is definitely the best way to focus one’s energy appropriately

Kat
Kat
5 years ago

I break my goals down into short-term (this year or next), medium-term (next 3-5 years), and long-term (5-10+ years). This helps me make sure I’m meeting my immediate goals as well as planning for the future. There are also ongoing goals that I want to maintain, like exercise, career growth, and healthy eating. Here’s what my goals list looks like: Short-term goals for 2014: 1. Fully fund a Roth IRA: check! 2. Get a promotion: check! 3. Replace 25-yr old vehicle with newer used vehicle: check! Paid cash from the savings fund I started 3 years ago specifically for this… Read more »

DreamChaser57
DreamChaser57
5 years ago

The title and first sentence of this post was captivating! It is difficult for me to gauge our progress because I cannot remember if I even made any goals at the start of the year. This is problematic for two reasons, either I did not keep my goals at the forefront of my mind by actively plotting a course toward attaining the goal or I did not review goals enough to internalize them. I think I would have enjoyed this article more if it delved into ‘personal finance’. I am really thirsty for content in this area. Most posts here… Read more »

Omar
Omar
5 years ago

I use a separate online piggy bank to help reach my goals it withdraws from your account based on frequency you set it to, it earns 1.00 APY if interested I can email you the referral link, ( We earn $10 a referral up to $1,000 ) so if seriously interested email me at [email protected] , the incentive is you get more for your money by using a retail card when you redeem your goal or you can just get your original amount plus the 1.00 APY once you reach your goals your choice

Jerome
Jerome
5 years ago

I still remember being free of debts for the first time and being petrified. I was so afraid that I would do something stupid with the extra money I suddenly had that I decide to pay three months of rent up front. This solved the “problem” for one month when I had even more money left over as I had no rent to pay. I took out all money and gave it all to my very frugal wife who at that moment was studying abroad. This repeated itself for 6 months and than I started investing in the stockmarket. Which… Read more »

lmoot
lmoot
5 years ago

Yes! It is SO important to do a check-in with yourself to make sure you’re on track. Or if you have completed the goal(s) you set out to do, that you have come up with some new ones. I don’t listen to the naysayers who point out that it’s great to be gung-ho about something but it doesn’t usually last….that is precisely why you need to get back the fire again; it’s normal for there to be a natural waning and as long as you have no disillusionment about that, you will be prepared for when it happens. Good luck… Read more »

Sara
Sara
5 years ago

Goal setting is a struggle for me right now. In January I decided that a really wanted to focus on relationships with friends and family. That’s a pretty nebulous area, since it’s harder to quantify. In February my husband and I decided to get divorced. So a lot of my goals and things I want to do seem stuck on hold – I’ll do X when he moves out, or I’ll be able to save up for Y when the divorce is final. Yet at the same time, I can’t be stuck in the waiting game, I need to move… Read more »

Clara
Clara
5 years ago

I accomplished some big goals this year so far. Paid off my student loan (graduated last year); paid for a new-to-me car. Biggest goal is that I am about to close on a house and I have begun putting more money into emergency fund, ira, and the car fund after meeting the other goals. Still to be achieved goals for 2014: $5000 in car fund; max out my IRA contributions. I think they are doable if my house does not turn out to be a money pit. I don’t think it will be because I have had an inspector, two… Read more »

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