As we go into the New Year, Jon and I started to make our resolutions for 2016. It didn’t take very long to realize we were going in very different directions with how we were looking at our financial goals for next year. So rather than give one list, we each wrote our own New Year’s Resolution posts. Emily’s will be posted today, Jon’s on Friday.
Like a lot of people, I generally make New Year’s resolutions each year. I don’t usually talk about them to others though, and rarely have I actually met them. In the past, the process has generally gone something like this:
I resolve to lose weight. I watch what I eat for about a week. Then I stop. Then I diet for about a month. Then I stop. My weight stays the same.
Now I have lost weight in the past, but not as a New Year’s resolution. If I lost weight, it was usually because I committed to a more specific program with actionable steps and some accountability. When I actually lost weight, everyone around me knew I was trying to lose and I had regular weigh ins to monitor progress.
That’s almost the opposite of what happens generally with my New Years Resolutions.
So this year, I will set some resolutions for 2016 but they will be the SMART kind:
To stay focused, I plan to track my progress through the year on the monthly State of the Blog wrap up to help with accountability. Each month, I’ll try to list whatever progress made with each of my goals. By doing this, I hope to stay more motivated through fear of admitting failure and by recognizing incremental progress.
Emily’s Resolutions for 2016
Goal number one is to increase my activity level.
I’m not going to say get more exercise, because that hasn’t worked for me as a resolution in year’s past. However, increasing activity seems a more achievable and specific goal to set, and thanks to Jon I have a great way of measuring it.
Jon gave me a FitBit Charge for Christmas this year. It’s a fun toy, and I’ve spent the last couple of days checking my steps, looking for stairs to climb in our one story home and watching my sleep patterns.
Now I have a way of measuring my activity level by the number of steps and active minutes I rate each day. (My current level is probably about slug. Maybe sloth.). For the first month of 2016, I want to increase my average daily steps to 5000 (about half the daily recommendation, but more than my current average). Then I want to increase my average daily steps by 500 a month until I reach 10,000.
Is it Specific? Yes. Measurable? Definitely. Attainable? Yes, Realistic? Yes. Time Bound? Yes.
Goal number two is to increase the number of income streams coming in.
Right now we have some rental income, some dividends and interest, and work income. In order to save more or start paying down mortgages faster, we’ll need more income.
Now is this a SMART goal? No. it is the same type of vague resolution I’ve failed with in the past. Let’s restate this resolution:
Goal number two is to set up at least three income streams related to this blog, by setting up an advertising program, pursuing paid writing opportunities and creating and selling one blog-related product.
Well, that’s a little better. More specific. No numbers though (although I suppose going from nothing to something is a milestone of sorts.) Is it realistic? I think so. Is it time bound? Maybe, in that I want to do these things in 2016. The goal isn’t as well defined as my activity goal, though.
Meeting goal #2 will involve doing some other improvements to the blog that are more specific too, and those I may be able to turn into actionable goals.
- Continue to grow traffic on the blog, by posting three times per week, improving my writing through practice and being active in the personal finance community and on social media..
- Get and stay at least two posts ahead on the blog to allow for better time management and flexibility, by writing extra posts the first two weeks Little Bit is back in school.
- Settle on and implement standard graphic templates for the blog to improve the blog’s appearance.
- Continue to tweak the website for better performance and usability.
Those are all specific actions in order to improve the website.
Goal number three is to continue to work on keeping my spending in check.
Again, if I’m going to save more or pay down mortgages faster, I can’t inflate spending. I also think there are some areas where we can continue to improve.
Keeping my spending in check is another resolution that probably needs more elaboration in order to meet SMART criteria. In order to keep my spending in check, I’ll need to
- Continue to pay off credit cards each month and not establishing any new debt.
- Have at least one no-spend month next year to remember to be grateful for what we have, exercise our resourcefulness and clean out our pantry/freezer.
- Continue to track and monitor our spending with our spreadsheet, updating at least twice per week.
- Continue to track our net worth with our spreadsheet on a quarterly basis.
- Continue to work on reducing our food expense to a more reasonable level.
- Make sure any clothes bought for me are only to replace clothing that is no longer viable due to wear and tear.
So, there are my goals for 2016, modest though they are. If I can meet my modest resolutions over the next year, then maybe I’ll have the confidence to try for bigger ones in 2017. For now, I’ll just count any progress in actually keeping a New Year’s resolution as worthwhile progress indeed.
So what are your goals for 2016? Do you keep your resolutions small or do you set resolutions that make you really stretch your resources to meet them?