The year is no longer new and novel. I’ve stopped accidentally writing “2010” on my checks, though I still double-check the date before sealing envelopes. New Year’s resolutions often don’t last past the first month of the year, so it’s time to see how “average” I am — how much I am like the typical American who doesn’t stick to the lofty goals set at the beginning of the year. For the record, I don’t see dropping goals as a problem, because setting the goals, and thinking about the type of person you want to be or the accomplishments that mean the most to you, is almost as important as reaching those goals. The better those goals are, the longer it will take, too.
As usual and expected, I’ve already had some successes and not-yet-successes in 2011. Here is how I’m doing so far in comparison with my goals for 2011.
My income for the goal is to earn $100,000 more than I earned from just my non-day-job revenue last year. January was a promising month. I don’t know if I’ll be this lucky later in the year, but I’m taking this as a good sign. A quick introspection: if you look at the words I used in the last sentence, I’m attributing January’s success to external, uncontrollable forces like luck. I should continue to see my success as a result of my hard work and focus, and possibly a seasonal trend.
When I set my goals for net worth, I noted that the bottom line will be slightly out of my control due to how much I have invested in an unpredictable stock market. It’s not completely out of my control — I could change my investments or pull my money out at any time. I won’t, though. I accept the short-term volatility in the stock market in return for a chance at excellent performance over time. I’ll publish my net worth report shortly. With the S&P 500 up 1.49% on the year as of writing this article, and with significant income this month and limited major expenses, I expect to see a health increase since December.
With my investments, I receive a score of “didn’t succeed yet.” I should have opened my Individual 401(k) by now, but I haven’t finished with the applications and forms. Thanks to my delay, I missed a better opportunity to buy into the stock market. Now that I’m between 401(k), I’m not gaining the advantage of automatic investments. I resolved to invest 10% of my income to retirement, and I haven’t yet put this in place a system for ensuring I accomplish this.
I set a goal for myself to take a little more time out of my life for photography. Specifically, I directed myself to have at least two photography sessions each month. Some of my plans in January were thwarted by a number of snowstorms, and I preferred not to take my photography equipment out in the bad weather. I managed to fit only one outing in January, taking photographs of a friend’s band performing at a local cafe and bar. I do have my second shoot of the year, a portraiture session with a vocalist, scheduled for this week. Just like a flexible budget, three shoots in February can make up for the one shot in January.
I have good news with my health goal. I resolved to lose fifteen pounds in 2011 through more exercise and better nutrition. I’ve already lost five pounds. I mentioned I’ve been tracking my exercise with an Android application, and it helps me see how, once again, the weather is thwarting me from getting done what I want to get done. I haven’t been running as often as I’d like (three times each week) due to snowstorms. However, this is just an excuse. If I wanted to, I could run in the snow. I could buy a treadmill. I could shovel my way to a local gym. I need to get back on track in February and lose another ten pounds or more.
Although I’m not meeting all of my goals yet, I still believe it’s better to have these goals and continue working towards them rather than what seems to be a new trend: eschewing goals because typical Americans give up within a month. I don’t know any typical Americans. Everyone I know is a unique individual who has their own motivations, desires, and challenges. While it’s likely that, on average, people trend towards “typical,” that’s not how it works when looking at any one individual. It may be popular to forgo setting goals this year, but overall, those who set goals and think about their ideal identity have a much better chance of working towards their ideal than those who give up before they start.
Did you set goals or resolutions this year? How are you keeping up?
Published or updated January 31, 2011.