The statistics for New Year’s resolutions are disheartening. About half of us make resolutions, mostly about money, weight, work, and relationships. Of those resolutions, only a quarter make it past the first week of January. Only 46% make it past the first 6 months. One in four people fail every New Year’s resolution they set.
So why bother setting these yearly goals? The statistics also suggest that setting a goal and making a plan to reach it mean you are ten times more likely to achieve it compared to someone who doesn’t explicitly state their goals.
It was hard to figure out goals for 2010. Much like in 2009, where there was so much uncertainty (Would I quit my job and go to school full-time? Would I find a new job? Would we move?), there are a ton of unknowns this year. Chad still hasn’t found work, and while I’m still optimistic, I can’t make a plan based on anything. He could get offered a job in January, or it could take a few more months. The offer could be comparable to his salary in LA, or he might have to take a paycut. I’m still a fan of him going back to school full-time (although I think he needs to do it for a better reason than just that he hasn’t found a job yet), but if he chooses that path, it could be a significant blow to our savings.
Anyway, the best way to do badly in 2010 is to let uncertainty paralyze me. Therefore, here are my 2010 goals, presented as though nothing will change. If something does change, they can always be revised!
1. Max out my 401K.
Accomplishing this should be relatively easy. I’m currently set up to have the correct amount taken automatically, so I would have to make an effort to go in there and change it. I don’t foresee that happening unless there’s some sort of emergency.
2. Max out both of our Roth IRAs.
If Chad doesn’t find work, our income will be laughably low (which is when the Roth is most effective). If he does find work, saving for retirement will still be important. This is one goal that’s unlikely to change, unless we find ourselves in a situation where we need liquid cash.
3. Combine our savings accounts.
Seeing the big picture will help us in any future goal setting. I expect his cash savings to be about even with mine.
4. Save $5,000 in addition to Roth IRA contributions.
This is about $3,000 more than I projected we’d be able to save this year. However, by keeping discretionary spending low and with some of the overtime opportunities I expect to have this year, I think we can make it.
5. No buying new clothes until April.
I mentioned that Chad signed us up for a 10 mile run, along with his parents and his sister. I don’t want to embarrass myself by not finishing, so I intend to train. Hard. It’s probabl that being on a regular running schedule will help me shed some weight (at least some of those pesky holiday pounds), so buying more clothes at this size isn’t that smart.
Since I know myself, I know I’ll only start to get antsy if I say I can’t buy anything new. Therefore, the ban will be only on clothes. I can buy accessories (shoes, belts, jewelry) and possibly a new winter coat if I find a decent one on sale.
6. Earn $1000 on top of wages from my job.
I suspect that most of this will come from savings account interest, but I’d like to try to find an additional stream of income, whether it’s through an additional part-time job or through the blog.
1. Exceed expectations on my year-end performance review.
More importantly, exceed my own expectations. That might sound weird, but I tend to not try as hard as I probably should. Usually I can skate by because I’m smart and technically knowledgeable, but just because I can slack off and still impress my bosses doesn’t mean I should.
2. Create at least one new tool to do my job.
I actually already have an idea what I’m going to do for this, the only question is how to implement it.
1. Average at least 2 posts per week.
No major life changes coming up this year, so no excuses!
2. Increase traffic by at least 50%.
If I’m thinking of trying to earn money with this blog, it makes sense to drive more traffic to it. To accomplish this, I will start by doing the following:
a. Posting more. Any blogger knows that you get more visitors on the days you post. I prefer the bloggers who don’t have long stretches of time between their posts, and I’m sure others feel the same!
b. Enter carnivals. I always assumed that carnivals were something you were chosen for – if you wrote good content, others would magically discover it and link to it. If the difference between my favorite posts and my popular posts is any indication, I need to make sure more people see those posts I really like.
c. Comment more. That makes it sound like I’ll be leaving lots of useless comments for the sole purpose of being more popular, but that’s not actually true. The only reason I’m not doing this now is that the computers at work won’t let me leave comments on blogspot blogs (weird, right?). This just means that I have to carve out time at home to read & comment!
1. Read 10,000 pages in books.
This is roughly one book per week. I did the read-50-books-in-a-year challenge in 2007, but I read a lot of crap that year. This way, I’ll be more motivated to read worthwhile books since I won’t worry about screwing up my average by choosing longer ones.
2. Run the whole of the 10-mile race in April.
I can totally do this if I stick to the training plan I have in my head. I think there are enough incentives to actually doing this (the thrill of victory, the mockery of Chad’s dad if we don’t, his offer to pay for our entry fees only if we run faster than a 14-minute mile, and having to admit to the whole internet of my failure) that I’ll manage to stick to it.