Mentality this year
I absolutely love this quote by James Clear in Atomic Habits.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems and processes.”
Up until now, most of my goal setting in life has always focused on the outcomes I hope to achieve.
As I approach this year, I’m really trying to turn change my mentality from focusing on where I want to be and instead focusing on the processes, habits, and systems it will take to accomplish those outcomes!
If there was one word that I hope describes my 2019 it would be consistency. I’m more convinced than ever that the key to hitting your goals, changing your life, and making progress is consistency.
- Anyone can diet for 2 weeks, but not everyone will eat healthy as a lifestyle
- It’s not hard to write a few blog posts, but publishing great content for years on end takes endurance and passion.
So my goal this year is to be consistent. I want to consistent in the way I pray with my wife, work out, write, and spend time with people.
And consistency really comes down to creating habits.
For my 2019 goals, I still have a number of outcome goal like losing 30lbs, increasing our income by $10k, and growing our net worth to the six figure mark! But in the quarterly goal setting & reports, I’ll be focusing on the habits, actionable steps, and short-term goals to accomplish these long-term targets!
2019 Goals & Habits
My 10 Overarching Year-long Goals:
1. Diet down to 230
My main health goal for 2019 is to diet down to 230lbs. I’m currently sitting at about 260 so I have quite a ways to go!
I’m hoping to break this 30lbs up into a few shorter diets with some maintenance phases in between!
2. Write 500 words a day for a total of 180,000 words
This is one of my key process goals for 2019! At the end of the day, growing a blog comes down to content. When I think about the long-term goals for this blog, creating a bank of high-quality, detailed, and helpful content is the cornerstone to build around.
My primary focus for the blog in 2019 is building out this content library. The hope is to
When people show up to my blog a year from now, I want them to spend an hour binge-reading articles.
My goal for ALL of 2019 is to write an average of 500 words a day. Over the course of an entire year, that’d be just over 180,000 words published!
This definitely is an ambitious target, but I’ve been on a roll for the last two months!
Some people might see this and think that I’m just trying to crank out as much as possible: It’s true. I am.
But I don’t think that means that quantity will come at the expense of quantity. The majority of these posts are highly detailed, 2k+ word guides to help visitors to the blog find the answer they need.
Over the past few months, I’ve already begun to see my writing skills improve and I trust that over the course of writing daily that these will develop even more!
3. Increase income by $10,000
At this point, we don’t have a ton of discretionary spending left to cut except for our car loan and PMI. The only “fluff” spending at this point is our eating out budget.
For us to continue increasing our savings rate, the key will be to increase our income.
- My full-time job
- Wife’s FT job
- Extra income: this blog hopefully someday
Our hope is to each land a 3-5% raise this year and then position ourselves for bigger raises in 2020!
A $10,000 income increase would help us break the six figure mark for our combined income!
An extra $10,000 invested over the next 30 years would give us an additional $900,000 by the time we look to retire! That’s the power of increasing your income.
4. Increase Retirement savings by +27,500
Even though we just bought a house, we are still committed to saving each month for retirement! If we can stick to our budget, we should be able to still save $2k+ each month into our various accounts.
- Max my wife’s 403B ($19,000) + 4% match
- Back fill my 2018 Roth and fill my 2019 Roth ($6,000) + $150/match
Even if the stock market stays perfectly even, we should have around $70,000 saved for retirement by the end of 2019!
5. Track & Increase our savings rate from 25% to 35%
Our current savings rate hovers around 25%!
Over the next 12 months we hope to increase this to around 35%! We should have our car loan paid off in Q1!
In a few weeks we’ll be launching our Savings Rate Challenge and I’ll be sharing with you guys our 1-2 Punch Strategy for increasing our Savings rate!
6. Grow blog to be earning $500/month
At this point I haven’t written any posts describing my blogging strategy or goals! I do hope to be earning an income from this site someday–to further reach our own financial goals and to increase our ability to give to the adoption and gospel related causes we care about most.
I have a few ideas on how I’ll end up reaching this year-end goal, but step #1 is to focus on creating content that helps people take control of their finances, get out of debt, and build a foundation for their financial future.
7. Maintain a 3.9 GPA
I totally recognize that a high GPA is an area of pride for me, but I can’t help it! I love school and deeply desire to excel. There’s a good chance that I apply for doctoral programs in the future and a solid seminary GPA is crucial for this.
My GPA is currently sitting at 3.92. I’d love to maintain this throughout the year and slowly build towards a 3.95 to graduate with highest honors!
8. Net worth of $100k
This last target is more of a fun-metric. Our net worth is a combination of cash, investment accounts, and home equity. At the end of the day, we can’t control how our investments perform, but we can control how much we’re able to save each month.
If we’re successful in sticking to our habits, we should have no problem crossing the $100k net worth target this year!
First Quarter Goals: Outcomes & Habits
In light of those eight year-long goals, I’ve crafted a handful of specific goals that I want to accomplish in the first quarter of 2019. At this point, I’m a week or so into January and already I’ve noticed the benefit of having a more focused list and timeframe for these goals.
When you give yourself 12 weeks to accomplish something instead of 52, you don’t have the luxury of fall-back time. By breaking the year into quarterly chunks, I know I’ll accomplish more.
Some of these goals are one and done to-do list items. Others on this list are habits I hope to make part of my daily and weekly routine. Lastly, some are small outcome goals that will lead to the bigger, year-long outcomes.
1. Initiate regular job performance reviews
I’ve been with my current employer for almost three years now and have never had an official job performance review. I know that some people hate having to sit down with a boss and review their performance, but personally, I love it.
Job performance reviews give you the chance to demonstrate the value you bring to the table, propose new ideas, and admit weaknesses in a way that asks for feedback and training.
My hope is to meet with my boss on an every other month or quarterly basis for these. Yearly reviews to me don’t work as effectively because there is too much to cover and things are forgotten.
With quarterly reviews, I’ll be able to get feedback much more regularly while demonstrating value more regularly. This is essential to positioning myself for a raise this year or next.
2. Pay off our car loan ($3,700)
A couple of years ago my wife got in a car accident and we were stuck buying a car without any savings built up… Not fun! We’ve been able to pay the loan down from $19,000 to around $3,700 and we’re hoping to knock it out in the first few months of this year!
If we do, we’ll be able to cut our monthly spending by $328! The plan is to use these savings to funnel into my Roth IRA (goal #12 below)!
3. Look into a side hustle that isn’t blogging
This was one of my goals for 2018 but unfortunately I did not make much progress on this front. I’m still committed to making this happen and I have a plan to get there. I’m hoping to report back on this in my first quarter update!
4. Pray regularly with my wife
In 2019 I’m hoping to pursue my wife and love her with more intentionality (as much as I hate that word!). It’s too easy to treat marriage casually and when we both have a million things on our to-do list, it can be easy to get into bad ruts and rhythms.
One of our favorite ways to spend time together is in prayer. This keeps us in sync, improves our communication, and helps us to be patient and gracious with one another. Prayer is also one of the ways we want to be loving and caring for others well.
I’ll be honest, goal setting for marriage & faith is weird. It almost seems too mechanical for something that should be natural. But I’ve also started to realize that my natural disposition is to be lazy with marriage and drift in my spiritual disciplines.
That’s why I’m trying to put some habits in place for both that I can track until they become more natural and part of my daily rhythm. It doesn’t mean that these things won’t take continual effort, but as the habit becomes more and more reinforced through practice, I hope it will become more natural.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making something a checklist of it is something you want to prioritize more.
5. Develop mentor / discipleship relationships
In my 2018 year-end review, I mentioned that I made some great progress in this area in 2018, but that I still had so much room to improve on.
As a youth pastor I spend a lot of my time investing in students, but would love to have a handful that I lead in a more focused way. It’s easy for my time to get focused on preaching and programs, but I really want to lean more into discipling others.
A few friends and I are reading a book together, Transforming Discipleship, and I’m hoping it will give us a good framework for discipleship relationships.
6. Put together a “just-in-case” folder for my wife
This was another goal of mine last year and after reading this incredible story, Losing My Husband and Financial Security to an Unexpected Death, on SmartMoneyMamas, this is a huge priority for us.
My wife and I equally contribute financially to our finances, but I am the primary steward of where the money is going and what our strategy is for long-term planning. Even though this has worked for us (because I love this stuff and she’d rather tear her eyes out), it ultimately isn’t smart planning. There’s a good chance that we end up purchasing Chelsea’s ICE Binder!
7. Lose 15 lbs
Over the past 6 months, I’ve made some great lifestyle adjustments to be healthier but those haven’t translated to weight loss because I haven’t consistently reigned in my eating choices.
The goal by the end of Q1 (March 30th) is to weigh in at 245, which is just over 15 lbs from where I am right now! This means I’ll need to lose just over a pound a week.
Habits that will get me there:
- Meal prepping on Saturdays
- Walking 10-20 minutes a few times a week
- Avoiding restaurant eating/drinking blow-outs
8. Change banks from Wells Fargo
Ever since the big scandals with Wells Fargo, I’ve been meaning to switch to another bank! Now that we’ve closed on our house, it’s time to move our funds elsewhere.
- We’re hoping to move our savings account, sinking funds, and emergency fund to Ally or another high-yield online bank.
- Move Roth IRA to Vanguard
This will end up saving us on fees and earning 100x more interest over the long-term!
Anyone out there have any suggestions on a bank for our general checking?
9. Double SEO traffic
In August of last year, my blog finally started to see some traction with SEO (google traffic).
I’ve seen some people in the blogging world go on rants about how focusing on SEO means that you aren’t focusing on helping people. I understand the sentiment that we should be writing for people instead of algorithms, but I think this complaint falls woefully short.
When people go to google, type something in and press “search,” that means they are looking for an answer to a problem they have or something they need.
In theory, Google’s rankings reflect the most helpful resources that are available on that search request.
If 8,000 people arrive on my site through google and I’m able to sufficiently answer their question–isn’t that helping them?
My goal for the first quarter is to double my sea rch traffic!
Here’s a quick snapshot of my last 8 months!
As you can see, things really took off in September and have been steadily climbing since. The big dips in November and December are obviously due to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In December, I had 6792 sessions from google, so my goal for March is to hit 13,584!
10. 25k sessions in one month on the blog
My goal by the end of this first quarter is to have reached 25,000 sessions in one month! This might seem arbitrary but it would allow me to qualify for Mediavine which is a higher quality ad network.
I never plan to inundate my site with ads for a number of reasons. But until other strategies are in place, this will be the first rung of my blog income ladder I hope to start out on.
If I do end up doubling my organic traffic, then this goal would certainly be within reach!
11. Write 500 words a day
Nothing else to add here! This is one of my year-long, daily habits that I want to execute on.
12. Retirement Savings
In the first quarter of the year, we are hoping to back-fill my 2018 Roth IRA while automating our retirement savings to max both my 2019 Roth ($500/monthly) and my wife’s 403B ($1,541/monthly). The plan is to use our savings from paying off the car loan and hopefully a tax refund to knock this out.
If we hit these numbers, we’ll have saved around $7,700 into our retirement accounts by April.
I’ll be posting my Q1 review the first week of April!
If you have any advice on any of my goals, I’d love to hear them!
What are some of your goals for 2019? Any new habits you’re hoping to put into practice?