Tag Archives: self-improvement

My 2016 Goals – April Update

Feeling left out since I'm a non-Cali financial blogger. HA!
Feeling left out since I’m a non-Cali personal finance blogger. HA!

FINALLY DONE WITH SPRING CLASSES. And it feels so good. The end of this last semester seemed to drag on forever and with the new job, I felt like I haven’t had any time to do much of anything around the house lately. It’s been really nice to catch up on stuff these last few days.

Become a Morning Person

No change from last month – so we’ll hold the status.

Still a work-in-progress because lately I have found late nights to be really productive time for me, especially with school. I would say I still get graded an “I” for incomplete on this one. Still a lot of work to do here.

Run 365 366 Miles this Year

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April was a good running month. I’m sure it was the furtherest farthest (yes, I’m good at grammar) I have ever run in a month because…

Run 2 10Ks & Run my first half-marathon

1 10K Down. 1 Half-Marathon Down.

First Half-Marathon Complete! I clocked in at 2:00:51 for my first 13.1 – which is about a 9:12 pace per mile. My initial goal, a while back, was 2 hours. I definitely reevaluated that lately because I felt like my comfortable running pace for long distances was a bit slower. With that said, I felt really good on race-day and didn’t really hit a wall until mile 12. Overall no complaints and I was very happy.

I’m taking it easy these next couple weeks, but I want to step back in and likely run another half-marathon this fall and push myself a little harder. So this goal may need to be modified for the better.

50 First Dates

A couple of fun trips to Costco and random going out for frozen yogurt lately has been the highlights here. I need to up my game, which should be pretty easy to do now that I have a repreieve from school. Our wedding anniversary is coming up and probably a long weekend trip, as well, likely to Denver.

Make at least $7,500 profit from side hustle-y things

No change here – falling off the pace for my initial 2016 $ goal, but there are only 24 hours in the day. Need to go on an eBay binge here pretty soon. If you list on eBay, you know what I’m talking about. One of those days where I just go hard and list stuff all day.

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Read at least 12 Books (yes, from start – finish)

In the middle of a couple of audio books right now. I’ve also thrown around the idea of running to audio books but haven’t done that yet. I’ll report back to see how that goes.

Increase Net Worth by 35% (About $65K)

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We are now on pace to beat our net worth growth goal for the year. Nothing really of note has occurred in the last month or so just the automated savings doing its thang. May might be a bit of a rough month, as we just got a new fence this week (ouch $$$$). But, that thing is nice and makes me really want to up my yard game.

Until next month!

-TFG

My 2016 Goals – January Update

January is over and that new year’s resolution feeling has fully worn off by now. Are you changing your habits or did you make empty promises to yourself that you haven’t kept?

Let’s see the progress on my 2016 goals below:

Become a Morning Person

I’m embarrassed to say, but as a grown-ass man I click the snooze button WAY too much. I am still working on getting into my routine that will get me up and productive earlier in the day. The last week or so I have tried to move my alarm to a place where I can’t reach it in bed and I think this has started to help, but still a lot of work to do here to break old habits.

Run 365 366 Miles this Year

I realized that 2016 is a leap year so February 29 is gracing us with her presence this year. In the spirit of keeping with the average of 1 mile per day I’ve upped my number to 366 miles.

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All in all, not a bad way to start out the year on the exercise side of things. January included a total of 10 runs for 33.8 miles total at sub 8:50 average pace. I don’t particularly love running on the treadmill but intervals are good to do from time to time. It also helps me understand my natural pace and try to push/change my natural pace.

Run 2 10Ks & Run my first half-marathon

I’ve started to zero in on my dates for my first 10K (end of March) and half-marathon (mid-April). I have no doubts of running 6.1 miles right now in the shape that I’m in, but still have to work on the mental aspect of running 13.1 miles. So plenty of work left to do here in the coming weeks and months before the half.

50 First Dates

Success in the first month of the year! Highlights include an evening staying in to discuss 2016 financial goals, finally catching Star Wars 7, our too often trips to Costco & the grocery stores, and shopping for some clothes for an upcoming trip to Hawaii –
BE JEALOUS! 😉

Make at least $7,500 profit from side hustle-y things

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Relatively slow start out of the gates here for January. On the eBay side of things, I listed so heavily in Q4 of last year, I’ve had a bit of a hangover. I’ve gotten a decent amount of inventory to Amazon these last few weeks. The biggest thing I am interested to see is what my margins look like once I get my FBA Amazon action really moving. Historically, I have averaged 45-50% margins on eBay. I highly doubt I will hold that high of a margin on Amazon. But it’s also much easier to send things to Amazon in bulk than to list on eBay individually. The other category is mainly some LA Laker’s tickets that I snagged up for Kobe’s retirement tour and re-sold. More to come on that later.

Read at least 12 Books (yes, from start – finish)

About half way through Smart Couples Finish Rich  and currently listening to The Power of Habit on audiobook. I’ll give my thoughts on each when I am through with them.

Increase Net Worth by 35% (About $65K)

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As we all know, it was a rough month for equities across the globe. Just remember that sometimes volatility is good for us over the long term. I expect 2016 to be a bumpy road with plenty of ups & downs in the market. I still expect to max out my HSA, pay down my mortgage, save in pre and post tax retirement accounts. Nothing to see here.

 

-TFG

MY 2016 GOALS SUMMARY – THE BIG 7

I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I suppose creating a list of my 2016 goals is similar. Perhaps a bit less cliché (but is it really?!).

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There is something about writing goals down that makes me push towards them harder. Maybe it is just getting them out of my head and on to a piece of paper, or maybe it is posting them online in hopes that sharing them with a bunch of strangers on the internet will help keep me more accountable. Either way, I highly encourage you to WRITE DOWN (like with an actual pen, not invisible ink) some goals for the upcoming month, quarter, or year. Even if is just a few. Start small, if necessary, and grow from there. Figure out a way to track your progress and check-in regularly. That’s my plan and we’ll see how it goes this year. I will be updating my goal charts monthly. Here are my 7 big goals for 2016.

Become a Morning Person

If you haven’t seen my post on what my current schedule is and where I want to be: check it out. This goal is a hard one to quantify, but there is a reason that it is listed first. Waking up early will help me become a MUCH more productive person and help me achieve my other goals this year and for many, many years to come.

Run 365 Miles this Year

The 365 isn’t significant, other than it really just means that I average at least 1 mile per day. I didn’t want to set this bar too high, as I am not necessarily focused on the arbitrary number, but more the general improvement in my lifestyle and exercise routine. I would expect that I run 2-4 times a week, but that’s not enough by itself. I also will be looking to strengthen my core through some of my wife’s ridiculous work-out at home routines and other weight exercises.

Run 2 10Ks & Run my first half-marathon

I have run 2 10K races in my life. I trained really hard for the first a few years ago and I felt like the journey did my body well. The second time around, I guess my mindset was, been there, done that, because I didn’t train as much. But I did gain something from that race. Because I had done it before, I knew how hard I could push my body and actually ended up with a better time than the first time around (both around 53 minutes). My goal this year is to run to 2 sub 50-minute 10Ks and my first half in under 2 hours. Lofty time goals but go big or go home.

50 First Dates

Okay, get the cheese ball out. But seriously, I want my wife and me to spend more time together. I really mean being engaged with each other. Stipulation here is that if we are watching TV or on our phones, it doesn’t count as a date. It will help that we are on the same schedule, since she doesn’t work during the middle of the night anymore!

Make at least $7,500 profit from side hustle-y things

I’ve got my eBay store, small-time ticket brokering, and recently started with the Fulfillment by Amazon path. If I have time, I am also looking to get some side consulting and/or tutoring going as these types of ventures are nearly pure profit other than the time that I invest in them. Last year I was too focused on sales volume, this year the focus needs to be on the cost-benefit analysis of my time vs. the profit that comes from the activity.

Read at least 12 Books (yes, from start – finish)

And no my accounting & economic textbooks for my spring classes won’t count. As I disclosed last month, I am great at cracking open books, but not good about finishing them. Exhibit A – I did not read Smart Couples Finish Rich last month fully, so that was a fail! Need to do a better a job of carving out time daily or nearly-daily to read. I am a creature of habit.

Increase Net Worth by 35% (About $65K)

Both Financial Samurai and I believe the market will take a slight decline in 2016. If I get a positive return on my investments in the next year, it will just be gravy. I’m not counting on it and honestly not worried about it, either way. With that said, I can still save money in my 401K, ROTH, & HSA accounts, pay down my mortgage, and increase other after-tax savings. With increases of about 31% and 32% respectively each of the last two years, a 35% net worth increase is a bit lofty of a goal, but I like challenges.

 

Notice that my blog is not in my top 7 goals this year. I only have so much bandwidth and I love reading and writing about personal finance. Ideally, I have a goal of posting every week this year, but I need to be realistic about my priorities. I think this is another underrated part of goal-setting. Making sure you prioritize what is in front of you and executing on the highest priorities. If you get to the lower priority goals, AWESOME! If not, pick yourself up, realize you can’t do it all at once, and re-evaluate your priorities next time, if necessary.

Stay tuned next month for updates and goal charts. What are some of your goals this year? How do you plan to achieve them and what are the biggest obstacles you see in the upcoming year?

How Am I Doing on My Goals – Month 1 Report Card

So it’s been a month and a half since my initial post on setting some new goals. Below is my month 1 report card. I’ve been watching a lot of Breaking Bad Seasons 4 & 5 lately, so that can’t be a good sign…

Average 4 Work Outs per Week: A-

Until this week (final exams & final projects), I think I did a pretty good job with this one. I’m going to have to figure out how to fit in 4 workouts as the winter is a comin’. But no excuses: set a goal & execute.

Average a Blog Post Every 5 Days: C-

I’m just going to be real honest with myself here. I can come up with a lot of excuses, but at the end of the day, writing hasn’t been on the top of the totem pole of priorities for me this last month and a half and it will probably stay that way for the next “extended period of time”. I need to re-examine this goal as we go into the New Year and come up with specific, yet reasonable goals. This is the 6th post in 46 days, so by my count that is a post about every 7.7 days.

Average $60/day of new product posted on eBay Store: B

Again, until these last few weeks (as school has ramped up), I’ve done a pretty good job executing to my goal here, but lots of room for improvement. Over the last 90 days, I have sold over 90 items for a total of about $3,350 sales. Definitely one of the best holiday seasons that I’ve ever had and it all is based on the amount of product listed. I’ve also started my journey as an Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) seller. The reason I am so interested in FBA, is because I can continue to source my items, but then send them to Amazon warehouses and not have to worry about individually listing & packaging items. Of course, only certain items will qualify, but time is my most valuable asset right now. FBA helps to give me some of this valuable resource back. I’ll continue to provide updates as I get more into the FBA world!

Enjoy life with wife & dogs: A-

I think we have a done a pretty good job of staying relaxed and spending time as a family. My wife recently transitioned her job role and timing (use to work nights, but now works days), so we are getting use to the new routine. It’s a big change and it will take some time to get use to it.

Maintain School Work: A-

This has taken away from a lot of my other goals in the last 2-3 weeks, but my classes are pretty much winding down and there shouldn’t be any big hiccups here. The A- is for the likely A- I will get in my marketing class.

Read an Interesting Book: F

Complete Fail. I haven’t even opened an interesting book in the last month (Marketing Management doesn’t count – HA…). This goal was too vague and so I need to pick a specific goal to make this happen. By December 31, 2015 I will read Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach. It’s been on my list for a while now and my copy is just staring me straight in the eyes when I walk by it every evening.

My New Daily Routine Goal: D-

Another terrible grade here. If you aren’t familiar, my goal was to transition my routine from this:

  1. 7:30 AM: wake-up
  2. 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM: work
  3. 5:30 PM – later: do stuff

To this:

  1. 7:00 AM: wake-up
  2. 7:15 AM: work out / walk dogs & shower
  3. 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM: work
  4. 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM: eat & chill time
  5. 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM: school work / ebay / write
  6. 9:00 PM – 10:30 PM: wind down & in-bed by 10:30

I think my wife’s transition to early mornings will help. I have always been a night owl, but there is no denying that morning people are usually much more productive people. I’m a creature of habit, so if I can create this habitual daily improvement, I know I will improve my productivity by all accounts.

So there it is – my month 1 report card. Some ups and some downs, but if I look at things on the whole, I have to say slightly disappointing. I’ve always aimed for A’s and B’s on report cards (not a big fan of the C’s get degrees expression).

Keep your eyes out for a revamping of this update next month. Similar to how other bloggers focus on net worth growth (don’t worry – I track that too), I am working on a comprehensive list of goals to track and update monthly! Just in time for 2016.

Daymond John’s Live Talk

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Daymond John speak live. If you’ve never heard of him (do you live under a rock?!), Daymond John is the founder of the apparel line, FUBU, and an investor on the hit reality show, Shark Tank. He was a great speaker and extremely captivating. He spoke about his life up to this point and gave some insightful thoughts incorporating 5 main points into the story (naturally these points spelled out S-H-A-R-K).

S – Set a Goal

Daymond worked as a waiter at Red Lobster in his 20’s. He talked about how he learned how a business worked from this job and a bit about the art of selling. I also thought he had an interesting viewpoint about when he decided to actually pursue his own apparel line. He said he was 100% sure he could go back to being a waiter if he failed, so what did he have to lose? I thought this to be a profound statement. Do you have a great idea or the urge to run your own business? What is holding you back from making the leap? For me, the answer to that question is focus, but setting a goal is a good start.

H – Homework

If you are old enough, you might recognize the picture at the top. That is LL Cool J rapping for a 1999 Gap commercial. What you may or may not know is that LL Cool J just happens to be from the same Queens neighborhood as a Mr. Daymond Garfield John. What you also may or may not know is that LL Cool J is wearing a FUBU hat and snuck in a slick, “For Us By Us” (FUBU) lyric into this Gap commercial. The Gap marketing folks didn’t do their homework on the up & coming urban apparel market. And FUBU was handed one of the biggest, accidental marketing campaigns of all time (FO FREE!).

A – Amor

Amor is spanish for “Love”. Everything is a balance in life and this is the one that I definitely felt for Daymond because it was clear that though I’m sure he loves his family, he became extremely busy building a FUBU empire in the early 1990’s and 2000’s and probably did not devote enough time for his family. This struck me because I am always trying to think about prioritizing the problems & things going on currently in my life. It’s a personal decision, but for me, everything I ultimately do in life is for my family’s well being and security. For Daymond, it could have been too, I don’t know. Whatever your priorities, it’s important to remember them & nuture them.

R – Remember, You are the Brand

If you’ve ever seen Shark Tank, you might agree that the sharks have bought into some pretty terrible sounding ideas and they have also passed on some pretty great businesses. But as Daymond pointed out, that show is almost always about investing in people, not products. If they see something in a contestant (not sure of the correct term here – HA!), their current idea might fail, but they will continue fighting and keep coming up with great business ideas until one is successful. I think I remember Mark Cuban saying something about all it takes is “one good idea”, so it’s definitely a mindset. Which leads to tonight’s final thought…

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K – Keep Swimming

You don’t even realize things sometimes until you just stop and look around you. The week after I saw Daymond John speak live and heard him say, “Keep Swimming”, I realized I walk by this window art every week when I work out after my evening class. But it resonates with me deeply. No matter who they are or what they do, it’s what successful people do, “Just Keep Swimming”.

Why am I wasting so much time? …and what I’m doing to fix it.

10a

I’m sorry to say but the focus of this article is not some-type of bs self-help article list to help you become more productive. I’m gonna be a little selfish on this one – it’s all about me and maybe some of it applies to you, as well.

I am the king of wasting time. I’ve always been jealous of my wife because she is such a great planner and very task oriented. When she makes a list, she usually gets all, or at least almost all of the items done. I on the other hand have a long list of wasting-time methods, which include, but are not limited to:

  • wasting hours on YouTube
  • mindless researching on eBay, without a specific goal or task in mind
  • House of Cards
  • Orange Is The New Black
  • Bloodline
  • Narcos
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Okay fine… every single Netflix Original Series.
  • Watching sports games of teams I don’t even care about, mindlessly, of course.
  • Fantasy football
  • Fantasy basketball
  • Fantasy baseball
  • HGTV? (why is this on the list???)
  • Checking facebook like something important actually happened.
  • Reading TOO MANY personal finance blogs
  • Reading TOO MANY posts on bogleheads (best personal finance forum on the interwebs – b t dubs … you’re welcome)

Instead I should be more focused on things like self improvement & reflection, really being in the moment with friends & family, and focusing on meaningful tasks & projects in my daily life. It’s almost embarrasing how many hours in a week I currently waste because of mindless internet surfing and the like, so it’s time to work on my time management. Reading GYFG’s post on his typical day last month really made me stop & reflect on my own current daily schedule.

I recently took a training class at work called “5 Choices to Extraordinary Productity.” Yes, it was as cheezy as it sounds. But I’m not saying it was a waste of time. One of the biggest things I got out of the class was that we all have so much stuff going on and we really need to focus on the big rocks. In other words, sometimes it’s important to ignore all the garbage and make sure you get the big shit done. Actually that makes me remember that I forgot to go to the dry cleaners tonight, so terrible example. Hopefully you get the point – planning your week is vital and making sure you finish the big, important tasks on time is obviously very important. If you forget to go to the dry cleaners tonight, maybe that’s okay that you spent some time just hanging out with the dogs & writing.

The whole planning thing is nice in practice, but it’s kind of like a new years resolution for me. I’m good about it for a few weeks, but then fall off a cliff. A deep, steep cliff. So, instead of my day looking something like this currently:

  1. 7:30 AM: wake-up
  2. 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM: work
  3. 5:30 PM – later: do stuff

My new goal is for the average day to look something like this:

  1. 7:00 AM: wake-up
  2. 7:15 AM: work out / walk dogs & shower
  3. 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM: work
  4. 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM: eat & chill time
  5. 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM: school work / ebay / write
  6. 9:00 PM – 10:30 PM: wind down & in-bed by 10:30

Probably like many others, I am a creature of habit. My habits of habitually wasting time, need to be broken. I’m writing this down to have more of a chance of holding myself accountable, and you should too.

So here are some high level goals:

  • average 4 work outs a week
  • average a blog post every 5 days
  • average $60/day of new product posted on eBay store
  • enjoy life with wife & dogs
  • maintain school work
  • read an interesting book (the whole thing, not just the cover…)

We’ll check back in a month from now to see how I’m doing. What are you doing to improve your life? If you can’t answer that question, pick at least one thing. You can handle improving one thing.

“In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.” – Lou Holtz