Back in January, I created a list of 10 goals for 2019. I’m not normally a goal-setting type of person, but I thought it would be interesting to try out.
I divided my goals into 3 categories: Financial, Business/Professional, and Personal. I tried to make them “SMART” goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound). This way it would be easy to measure my progress and whether I was achieving my metrics.
By publicly posting these objectives, I would be forced to hold myself accountable, and maybe this would influence my behavior for the better.
Did it work? Hmmm kinda, I guess.
Without further ado, let’s see how I’m doing at the halfway point of the year.
1. Increase savings rate to 65%
Status – 65% savings rate
Last year our savings rate was 58% (calculation detailed in this post). I assumed that our income would increase by 3-5% in 2019, and we could easily reduce our annual spending by 5% as well. Hence a 65% savings rate target.
So far, we’re right on pace. We had a couple windfalls (unplanned bonus, solar installation rebate), and a couple unexpected costs, especially in the home maintenance department.
If anything, I would project that our 2H 2019 will look better than the first half. Maybe we can even get close to 70%? We’ll see.
2. Build cash balance to $25,000
Status – $14,000 (56% complete)
If we didn’t decide to install central air to the tune of $17,000 in May, we would have already achieved our savings goal. That being said, I’m still projecting that we’ll get there by year’s end.
We finally opened an Ally savings account, which will earn us a cool 2.2%. The plan is to build up a cash reserve in the savings account which can fund other investments in the future (market drop, debt retirement, real estate investing, etc…)
Business / Professional Goals
3. Outperform expectations at work while shirking further responsibility and mentoring junior chemists
Status – On Track
As mentioned in the original post, this is not a SMART goal, but I wanted to include some work-related objectives.
Man, my attitude toward my career has changed so much in the past year or two.
I’m starting to feel like Peter from Office Space at this point. For one, I’ve stopped caring at all about office politics, jockeying for promotions, and the drudgery/bullshit of corporate life. I come in, do my work, complete the necessary objectives, and go home.
I’ve started focusing much more on big picture problems that my department is facing. The nice thing about working in R&D is that I can go off on a tangent and deep dive into theoretical work whenever time allows. That’s pretty much all I’ve been doing the last couple months, working on fundamental problems with no known solutions. I’m actually having fun doing it too.
I’ve also been giving all credit for my group’s achievements to the junior chemist that reports to me. Since I will never vie for another promotion here, I don’t feel the need to take credit. She, on the other hand, needs the recognition to begin climbing the career ladder. So I’ve been having her deliver all of our reports on new developments and milestones, and I tell anyone who wants to listen that she’s doing great work. Hopefully she’ll have a quicker climb than I did. Or if she doesn’t, hopefully she’ll go find a better job!
4. Test a side hustle strategy or two, earn $500
Status – complete(ish)
In terms of dollar amounts, I’ve brought in approximately $3,500 so far this year from the Brewpub gig, selling old crap and even flipping a couple items on Craigslist.
However, I haven’t actually developed a new side hustle venture, or a new source of income.
It’s not for a lack of thought. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and preliminary research on potential side businesses I could start or develop. My main problem is that I don’t think I can dedicate the time to most of these opportunities.
A full time job, and a toddler, are really restrictive of my time.
I’ll keep thinking about potential gigs, and hopefully I’ll create a new income stream by 2020.
5. Blog – publish 36 posts
Status – 39% complete
I’ve published 14 new posts in 2019, including this one. Sometime (immediately after) I set these goals, I decided that weekly posting was causing me undue stress, and it wasn’t in my best interest to continue the output at this frequency. At that point, I opted to take a more relaxed approach to blogging.
I’m obviously still interested in writing, tracking my progress, and sharing occasional deep dives on a topic that interests me. But I’m not going to follow a schedule, or make sure I have a post ready every week (or every other week, for that matter).
I am, however, thinking about writing some shorter format posts. Stay tuned to find out if I actually do it.
6. Walk 3,650,000 steps
Status – 1.7M steps (46%)
I averaged approximately 9,300 steps a day through June. My daily averages were much higher in the spring than during the winter, as one might expect. Now that the summer is here, I’m easily beating my steps goal nearly every day.
As I mentioned in the original 2019 goals post, the steps totals are not critical to me, they’re just a good proxy for making sure I keep my activity levels up. Especially during the colder months, I find myself in hibernation mode too often.
This year I’ve also been focused on quality of sleep and drinking less. It’s difficult to resist the fancy craft beers in my fridge around dinner time, not to mention the kegerator! However, doing beer-less weekdays most of the time has improved my weight, sleep, and given me more energy to complete other tasks.
7. Win a homebrewing competition / medal
Status – fail (zero entries)
I totally failed at this one, so far. There are two reasons for this failure:
The first reason I just mentioned above: I’ve been drinking less beer this year. If I only drink beer on the weekends (or when I leave the house), I’m obviously not going to be brewing as much. In fact, I’ve only home brewed 2 beers in 2019.
The second issue is that both beers I made were not faithful to the style guidelines they would be judged against. In other words, they would get shit scores. The Pilsner I made in January did not feature German or Czech hops, and the Pale Ale I brewed in June is too hoppy/bitter to be a Pale Ale. Also, hoppy beers don’t keep well, and thus it’s difficult to submit them to competitions without impeccable timing of the brew.
There’s still hope for this goal, though. I will be brewing a Saison in the next month, which is one of my specialities and has won me awards before. I also have a Russian Imperial Stout from early 2018 that has matured well, so I can possibly submit that later this year.
8. Read 12 books
Status – 10 books read (83% complete)
I’m crushing this goal so far this year, and my pace of reading has even been accelerating. How I’ve been able to read so much more in 2019:
- Getting up before 6AM every day
- Cutting social media and extraneous news out of my life (see #9)
- Making sure to read a little bit every night after dinner, even if it’s just one chapter
I’m also proud to say I’ve only spent $18 so far this year on books (Chad Carson’s Retire Early with Real Estate). Everything else has come from the library and/or free Amazon Prime reading lists.
What kind of books do I read? Almost 100% non-fiction, divided between business/money, personal development, and history/biography.
My favorite book so far this year? Fantasyland by Kurt Andersen. It basically explains why America is completely insane, why we believe in so much stupid shit, and how we tend to create our own ‘realities’.
9. Kill the noise: quit social media and the 24 hour news cycle
Status – 90% success
I’ve been on a continual improvement journey or most of my adult life. As you can read in my path to FI, I’ve been working to incrementally optimize every aspect of my life for at least the last ten years.
The thing I have often neglected? Optimizing my time and intake of information.
I have spent countless hours consuming various forms of information over the years. Whether it’s reading newspapers, watching cable news networks, or pouring over scores of investing articles on Seeking Alpha. Business and investing news has especially been a vice of mine.
Finally, this year I’ve succeeded in cutting the (digital) cord.
In January I sold all of my stocks and invested the money in index funds. I stopped reading investing articles all day, and stopped listening to CNBC. I deleted Facebook and Instagram from my phone, so I’m not tempted to go on a mindless scrolling spree.
The net result? I have so much more free time, my mind feels decluttered, and the mild sense of anxiety that I often felt is largely gone.
Sure, I can’t talk about Trump’s latest escapades around the water cooler because I don’t know what’s happening. But honestly, I’m better off not knowing day-to-day political bullshit.
10. Break the routine / do something new every
Status – (somewhat) successful 67%
I guess I should have realized that it’s difficult to introduce new activities every single week. Between a full-time job, parenting, and the general demands of life, it’s not easy to break the routine so often.
At the same time, I feel like I’ve taken a lot more opportunities to get uncomfortable, as I put it in my original post.
Examples: I’ve attended some social events this year that I would normally decline. I’ve made an effort to get to know some people (coworkers, acquaintances) whereas I might not have bothered in the past. I also accepted an invitation to speak at my high school on careers in the STEM field.
Still, I feel like I can do more. I’d like to volunteer more time, get to know more people in my town, and expand my social network in other ways as well.
Maybe it won’t happen every week, but steady progress is what’s important.
How are your goals holding up so far in 2019? Have you made any big changes? What are your biggest challenges?