When it came time to review how things went in 2015, I had a hard time. I had nothing to work with because I did not set any goals and plans at the beginning of the year. The only valuable thing I was able to do was list out the areas where I did not do so well. This year will be different. I have set a number of goals and plans for myself. At the end of the year, I will be able to compare my goals and plans with what I actually achieved. This time next year, I should be able to look back and see how I did.
Earlier, I jotted down a few of the mistakes I made last year. I believe that I can avoid most of these by looking ahead and planning. One of the problems I had was allowing myself to get over extended. I started too many different major projects without completing them. I am going to remedy this by committing to fewer projects this coming year. I will also not allow myself to abandon a project so easily. I will only let myself change a goal once a quarter and only if there is a compelling reason. If I do decide to back out, I will write about it here. This will allow someone to call bullshit if it is not for a good reason.
So much of what I do involves my family. When it came time to set goals and plans, there was no way to do it alone. Linda and I spent about two days writing down both long term goals and goals for the upcoming year. Some of them are personal but many can only be achieved together. We broke them up into a few different categories.
As I get older and my body starts failing on me, I have become more interested in my health. I haven’t always taken care of myself properly. I have done much better in the last few years. In March, it will be 7 years since I quit smoking. That was a bad habit that had me trapped for nearly 20 years. I currently find myself in as good of shape as I’ve been since high school, but I’m still overweight by at least 15 pounds. At 5’11, I should weigh no more than 175 pounds and I am currently at 190.
Gym and Keto Diet
I don’t want to only lose weight. I also want to gain muscle and feel good. I want to be generally healthy. My sister and mother have been “encouraging” me to try the Keto diet. For the most part it has helped me lose weight. This time last year I weighed closer to 215. For those of you unfamiliar with the Keto diet, in a nutshell, it is a high fat, low carb, medium protein diet. My mother can explain it better than me. You can read her Keto Granny blog to learn more.
Food and Supplement Tracking
Now, I did have a run in with gout that nearly killed me. No exaggeration, I was willing to have my foot amputated at one point. I can’t really blame the Keto diet for this for two reasons. First, I had just returned from a trip to Universal Studios where I probably walked more in a single day than I did for the whole year. Second, I wasn’t tracking what I ate very well. We all suspect that too much protein may have at least played a part. Unfortunately the keto diet is NOT high fat, high carb, high protein.
This year I plan to do the following for my health:
For the last few years I have made an effort to take the family somewhere where we can have a good time and relax. I would prefer to go places where I can experience a different culture. I’m not a big fan of tourist attractions, especially amusement parks. We did go to Universal Studio this year as part of a company get together. It was fun but I ended up walking more than I should have.
This year we are planning on taking at least two trips, one as a family and the other with just Linda and I. The company I work for is headquartered near Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Our plan is to stay there for about a month after the boys get out of school. I will be working but we should have plenty of time to see things after hours, especially the beach.
Linda has an Aunt that lives in France. She has been after us to come visit for years. We keep saying that we will but due to one thing or another, we’ve never done it. This year we plan to change that. We hope to travel to Europe for a few weeks and visit Paris while we are there.
Children Goal Evaluations
Setting goals and plans for my future is great but it isn’t enough. I have two boys to think about as well. When it comes to them, it’s easy to focus only on finances and saving for college etc, but I think it is also important to teach them to set their own goals and plans. With that in mind, I spent a few hours with them, mainly the oldest, talking about goals and plans. We set goals for the year and listed a few things to try to do this month to hit those goals and plans. My plan is to sit down with them once a month to see how things are going.
This year I plan to do the following for my family:
I don’t typically write about topics that have mass appeal. I don’t spend a lot of time marketing or doing any of the things that it takes to gain a large group of readers. However, every once in awhile I write something that attracts more visits than I am used to. It is hard not to get discouraged when that kind of web traffic isn’t consistent. When I get discouraged, I tend to stop writing. I have to remind myself of the reasons I write here in the first place. I want to be a better writer and I want to record my thoughts for one future reader, myself. The main reason I publish these posts is to be held accountable to any potential readers, who, in my mind, call my bluff every time I write a single line of bullshit. I lost sight of that for the better part of two years. This year, I intend to write at least 300 words every day. Most of it will probably end up on this blog.
Of these, the only ones that I had used in the past for production quality code was C#, Sql Server and Nunit. However, I had used several of them for code that I wrote at home for fun. If I waited to learn a technology when I needed it for work, I would be lost most of the time and probably out of a job.
In order to learn new technologies, I need projects to implement them with. I have a ton of different ideas for projects, but, as I have pointed out, I tend to start them and never finish. This year I am going to work on a specific largish project that I can create using emerging technology. That project will be an event management web application which I will write more about later.
We have decided for various reasons that we want to start a family business. The primary purpose of this business is to give both Linda and Drew a way of gaining practical experience. My job provides enough money to support us and it offers us great benefits like health insurance, life insurance and a retirement plan. However, if anything happened to me it would be difficult for Linda to continue our current standard of living. Also Drew intends to go to college when he graduates from high school, but the job market is competitive. Having practical work experience will give him an advantage. We have a few ideas of different businesses we might start, but we want to make sure it is a good fit for all of us. It needs to be something that we all can play a big part in.
This year I plan to do the following professionally:
I have a few different hobbies that help me avoid getting burned out. I have been playing the guitar since I was a boy and I like to play a video game every once in awhile. I think this has been good for me and I don’t plan to change anything.
This biggest problem that I have personally is that I don’t spend a lot of time cultivating friendships. I have two good friends that I visit every once in awhile. We have made a few acquaintances since we have moved to Mustang, but no one that, for example, we would invite over to dinner. We plan to stay here for quite awhile so it makes sense for us to work on this. A friend or two with something in common with us would be great.
One of the things that I want to improve is my fluency in Spanish. I do speak Spanish a bit but I could definitely be better. Linda and I have talked about taking a class but I am not ready to commit to that this year. In the meantime, I will continue to have small conversations in Spanish with friends and family.
This year I plan to do the following personally:
The older I get, the more I realize that money is something that I may need after a time when I’m no longer able to earn it at my current rate. This leads to all sorts of other realizations. Saving money has become more of a priority. It also means that I probably should only spend as necessary. It turns out that isn’t so easy. It is hard to know what you need when that decision is made in real time. We have not done a very good job of managing our money. So one of our biggest priorities this year is creating a budget.
The first thing to do is to figure out more precisely what we spend our money on. To accomplish this we need to categorize the way in which we currently spend. I suspect that once we figure out how much we spend on fast food and entertainment that we will be astonished. Once we understand our spending better, then we can create a budget. This will help us manage our money better.
Having a good budget will make it easier to save money for retirement, but it will help in other ways as well. An issue we run into is having the funds to take care of unexpected expenses. These usually come in the form of home repairs, trouble with vehicles or sickness of some sort. It would also help to pay for not so unexpected expenses like replacing old appliances, furniture or vehicles. What we really need is some sort of maintenance plan. If we replaced expensive items on a regular basis then we may not ever need to repair something that we should have replaced but couldn’t afford to.
This year I plan to do the following for my finances:
In the past when I have set goals and plans, I tried to challenge myself. I would essentially set myself up for failure. I have not done that this year. I should be able to accomplish these goals easily as long as I stay focused. I recognize that life tends to happen in unexpected ways. I also am aware of my own tendency to get bored with something and move on to something else. With this in mind, I have devised a procedure for allowing change to these goals. I will write about it in more detail later but essentially, I am only allowed to modify these goals once a quarter. Also, if I do modify a goal I must explain myself.
I’m excited about the upcoming year. I am hopeful that we can avoid some of the bad stuff that happened in 2015. I feel like I have a clear idea of what I want to do in the next year. Now I just need to get busy doing it.