It’s hard to believe but it’s been four months since my 8 Thoughts and 8 Goals post back on August 8th! When I re-read that post, I noticed two things – “I’m not much of a goals person” and “written goals are more powerful than spoken ones.” Well maybe I should have written them on paper instead of typing them, because they weren’t all that powerful…And I guess I was right about not being a “goals person.” I’ve only made slight progress on 3 of the 8 goals I set!
As I read each goal, I thought about how I “failed” most of them and I made a lot of excuses too. But I also thought about something I am pretty good at – solution-focused thinking. If something isn’t working, it’s not worth dwelling on the problem. It’s more productive look to the future and seek a new solution. A solution that builds on your strengths!
I’ve never set savings goals. Or net worth goals. And I don’t check to see if I met my goals in budget categories at the end of the month. Because that would require a budget – and we don’t have one of those either.
But I’m not in debt and I could retire early. So how did I get to this point without setting and meeting a whole bunch of financial goals?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a goal as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result” or “the terminal point of a race.” I never thought about putting effort into my finances. And I wasn’t in a race to early retirement.
I saved and invested some money from every paycheck. I bought and managed rental properties. I focused on learning. I worked hard. And I always earned more than I spent.
It’s just what I did. And what I’m still doing. It was my “settled tendency or usual manner of behavior” – or what Merriam-Webster would define as a habit.
For the next four months, I’m shifting my thinking to focus on habits rather than writing new goals. Hopefully some of these habits will “stick” and create long-term change –just like my habits with money helped me successfully reach financial independence.
Goal 1 – Fitness – Get to the YMCA and do at least two hours of strength training each week. FAIL – Not only did I not meet my goal, I realized hadn’t been there in 6 months. (We have been there a lot the last six weeks though!)
Habit – Keep Moving. The more I move, the better shape I’ll be in and the more motivated I will be to do exercises like lifting weights. It doesn’t have to be at the Y either. It can be done at home in just a few minutes with simple weights or your own body weight (push-ups) a few times a day.
Goal 2 – Nutrition – Try at least two new recipes a week! FAIL – Only 2 new recipes in the last 4 months! But we have shifted focus to eating a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet. We’ve really limited processed/junk foods and sweets. Our fridge is full of food now and our cupboard is lacking a lot of boxed junk.
Habit – Eat REAL food. By developing the habit of having different (and more) protein in our meals, we are likely to try new recipes because this is a change from our current diet. We are also eating more fruits and vegetables. We avoid foods in packages and all their hidden ingredients – including salt and added sugar! And we haven’t bought soda in months.
Goal 3 – Giving – As we downsize, give away as much as we can to people who could use the items. PARTIALLY MET! We gave away 5 bags of clothes and some small appliances we had sitting in cupboards when we started cleaning out this fall. Downsizing is a work in progress, so I need to think more broadly about this goal as I shift it to a habit.
Habit – Help Others. We can give more in many different ways. Money, time, “things”- and we don’t need to profit by selling things that others really need. We are very fortunate. We need to give freely in all areas.
Goal 4 – Routines – Have all the rental property paperwork revised. FAIL – Our units are all rented, so I’ve just set this goal aside for now because I am back to work full-time.
Habit – Simplify. I need to do this for more than not just our rental property paperwork. As we get ready to downsize, we will begin simplifying in terms of “stuff” – but I need to simplify in a number of areas and I’m hoping my new phone can actually help with that too! More on that in an upcoming post…
Goal 5 – Work – Work toward location independence while doing limited work in schools this year. TOTAL FAIL – I took a temporary full-time job in a school and I’m now contracted to stay until the end of June. And now they’ve asked about next year…
No new habit here – getting up and going to work full-time was a habit I was trying to break! This will require another post and a lot of thinking. If you haven’t checked out Physician On FIRE’s blog – I’d highly recommend it and his post on Financial Independence vs. Financial Freedom. Maybe I just have a serious case of One More Year Syndrome and a good doctor will snap me out of that! And if my brother is reading this – we need to chat about this over a glass (or bottle) of wine on Christmas!
Goal 6 – Reading – Read at least one book a month and focus on history. FAIL – But not because I haven’t been reading – I just haven’t read any books. I read every day and a goal like this negates that effort.
Habit – Keep Learning. How? Read, learn, think, and write every day. It doesn’t have to be about a specific topic. Sticking to things I’m interested in makes all the difference in my motivation. Surprised by that? I didn’t think so.
Goal 7- Travel – Take one trip somewhere other than our normal travel destination this winter. FAIL. With agreeing to work at school until the end of June, we’ll be heading back to our “snowbird” condo in Sarasota and hanging out at Siesta Key Beach three more times this winter. #FirstWorldProblem for sure. But I am adjusting the goal to a habit for this too.
Habit – Explore – How? Continue exploring our world no matter where we are. It doesn’t have to be in winter and it doesn’t have to be far away in a warm location. There are so many places we haven’t visited close to home. We just need to take action and realize the opportunities.
Goal 8 – Fun – The goal is to do at least two fun things each week – different than our normal routines and activities. PARTIALLY MET! We haven’t really done anything different than our normal routines and activities. BUT we when I read this again, it sounded like we needed to do something different to have fun! HOW SILLY! We can have fun everyday – it’s a choice we get to make. And we do. We have great friends (who sometimes read this blog) who we love hanging out with. We kayak, we enjoy dinner and drinks, and we can laugh about life just hanging out being us.
Habit – Choose happiness and have fun. Enough said.
I think a lot of people are highly motivated when they set goals and probably have a lot of success when they get started on the goal. But Jim Ryun (a three-time Olympic runner and the first high schooler to ever break 4 minutes in the mile) has a great quote about this – “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” I love that.
Keep moving. Eat real food. Help others. Simplify. Keep learning. Explore. Choose happiness and have fun.
Hey – I just realized that my new habit list could double for New Year’s Resolutions soon too. A two for one post today? Well no, I’ve never really done the Resolution thing either… So here’s to the habits and to a great weekend! In another four months, we’ll see what stuck!
Photo Credit: Alexas_Fotos @Pixabay.com