The last time I shared my personal goals and plans with Consumerism Commentary readers was at the very beginning of 2011. I went so far to declare that 2011 would be the year that everything changes, a subtle homage to a television program called Torchwood. Anyway, I was right; in 2011, my life changed, but not as dramatically as one might expect with the events that transpired throughout the year.
My goals for that year focused on my business income, net worth, and investments, as well as savings and charity. After all, this is a site where I discuss financial issues, so the goals I shared included that aspect of my life. I also wrote about my health and hobbies, two important parts of my life, as well. I didn’t share information about my personal relationships, as I thought that might have been a little too personal for this site — and that most Consumerism Commentary readers wouldn’t be interested in hearing about that anyway.
For reference, my net worth at the beginning of 2011 was $538,223 plus the undefined value of Consumerism Commentary at the time. By the end of the year I sold this website, and I’ve avoided being specific about my net worth because the company that purchased the website and business wasn’t interested in publicizing the amount of the sale.
It is now three years later. I’m financially independent, though I continue to work, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Except for investments, I’m leaving much of my nest egg alone. I plan to continue to live off income rather than my savings until I get tired of that approach to living. With that in mind, I can share some of my financial plans — and plans for the non-financial aspects of my life — for this coming year.
1. Grow my consultancy business.
I am offering my time as a private consultant to two types of clients. The first type includes other bloggers who are looking to take their websites to the next level. The ideal client of this type is passionate about a topic, is willing to put a lot of work into their projects, and has all the traits of strong leadership. In order to make myself available, I’m only taking a few clients this year, and I’m highly selective about who I choose to work with. And the choice isn’t about money; I’m not looking to maximize my income from other bloggers, I’m just looking to ensure the people I work with have as much as my availability as possible. You can read more about my blog business coaching and mentoring at lukelandes.com.
This coming year, I also plan to work with at least one corporate client on a formal basis, advising on optimizing their relationships with the broader blogging community through content partnerships and social media.
2. Explore forming a non-profit organization.
At a conference last summer, I accidentally announced that the “next act” of my life involved starting a non-profit organization. I felt obligated to explore that idea after thousands of people heard me make that declaration live, but I didn’t lie. I feel strongly about the importance of non-profit organizations, particularly in the financial industry.
Since the summer, I began exploring what it would take to set up a non-profit organization. Creating an organization from out of nothing is surprisingly easy. But to build the organization into something that does everything I want it to do at a high level of achievement, including fundraising without paying a shady company to handle that side of the business and representing the organization publicly, requires a dedication that can consume the rest of my life on a full-time basis.
What I need to determine this coming year is if the time I have to dedicate to this endeavor is better spent creating a new organization that tackles the issue of financial literacy in a manner not explored by other organization in a search for effectiveness. The other option is to join the board of directors of another organization, keeping me involved in decisions on a different level. I also don’t want to leave behind my passion for the arts, and it would be great to be involved with an arts organization at a deeper level.
3. Determine the best use of my donation to my undergraduate university.
I set aside some money this year that I will contribute to my alma mater. I’ve written about this issue, most recently asking whether colleges and universities are worthwhile charity recipients in the first place. I want to be very careful about how the money I donate is used, particularly because I feel the money should be used to create opportunities for students who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to have them.
A representative from the development department of the university has been in touch with me, and among the two of us and the head of the academic department I’m targeting, we’re going to come up with a plan that makes sense for everyone.
4. Take advantage of investment and business opportunities.
A friend of mine has approached me with an investment opportunity in a spin-off of his current business. The prospects are exciting. It’s not exactly a business I’m passionate about, but it could prove to be a good opportunity, with major shared profits down the road, if the business plan comes to fruition. If the business does not begin picking up speed quickly though, I could lose most of my investment. There’s a lot of risk, but an almost unlimited upside after a few years.
I thankfully have advisers I can turn to when I have opportunities like these. They can help me analyze the business plan and work out the details. Because this is a friend, I’m also concerned about the emotional repercussions of business disagreements. But he and I both have a similar experience when it comes to relationships. Our best working relationships have always been with people who have been friends first, business partners later. Still, I wouldn’t do anything without considering opinions of experts without an emotional attachment.
I’m also working closely with several other bloggers who have been through the same sales process I’ve been through, and we’re planning some new projects for this year. I’m excited about these plans and I’m looking forward to sharing the details with readers and other colleagues once there’s something concrete in place.
5. Continue my personal training and improve my nutrition.
I’ve now had a personal trainer for more than six months. But with a lot of travel and personnel changes at the gym, I often didn’t have the three sessions a week I was looking for. The last few months, my schedule has been more-or-less locked in with a new trainer, and it’s going well. I’m not sure I’ve seen the progress I’d like to see, although I am in much better shape than I was when I started.
One missing piece right now is my nutrition. I still don’t like cooking, much less cooking for just myself. More and more, I want to be as healthy as possible, so I have a strong personal incentive to work on this piece of my health puzzle.
6. Build my personal relationships.
I haven’t written much about my personal relationships on Consumerism Commentary. While I’ve always been forthcoming with my financial details, at least until this website became a major part of my financial situation, I’ve been reluctant to share much about my romantic relationships — well, relationship. Not long ago, I ended a long-term, long-distance relationship, that spanned nearly the entire history of Consumerism Commentary.
And except for four or so months during the darkest period of my life almost twelve years ago, I’ve never been single as an adult. I seem to have maintained only long-term relationships. And having been single for about six weeks, it’s not a situation that particularly suits me.
I have the flexibility to travel and see friends living across the country. One of my plans for the new year involve taking advantage of that flexibility. It’s hard to make a plan that involves building relationships because it depends on the involvement of other people, but I’ll at least be open to new experiences.
7. Continue working with photography.
Over the last few years, I’ve derived a lot of pleasure from taking photography classes and working with a photography teacher on a one-on-one basis. Portraiture seems to be my favorite type of photography. I enjoy working with the subjects, models or otherwise, and developing and printing in the darkroom is very satisfying. I plan to continue portraiture photography in the new year.
I’m not limiting myself to portraiture, though. I am planning to develop a series of photographs for a gallery, but I have a long way to go. I’m slowly building confidence in my photographic skills. I recognize that this will never be a profitable endeavor for me. Everyone with a smartphone is a photographer these days, and it makes it harder for professional photographers to justify their existence.
Like usual for me, this is a lot to contemplate for the year. I’m still young, at least in my opinion, and there’s a lot I want to do with my life. You’ll notice that nowhere above are there any “S.M.A.R.T. goals.” I am frequently examining my life, but I have no interest in turning my passions into a series of metrics. These are guidelines for traveling on the path of my life, designed to keep me moving in the right direction.
What are your plans for the coming year? Do you have any resolutions or goals?
Updated April 13, 2016 and originally published December 31, 2013.