Setting goals and reviewing my progress year on year is something I have never really done before. I tend to have a rough idea of where I want to be in the year ahead, but never anything specific or actionable. This year that’s going to change! Earlier this year I read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and a big section of the book is dedicated to having an idea where you want to be. Reviewing where you have come from and planning where you are going.
The goals need to be SMART, an acronym with a number of different options:
S – Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
M – Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
A – Achievable (agreed, attainable).
R – Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
T – Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
Having SMART goals allows an honest reflection on what has been achieved in the time period specified. An old boss of mine had a habit of setting goals like ‘make clients happier‘. Whilst that is a good goal to have, tracking it is nigh on impossible. Traceability is the key part of any goal. Having the black and white divide between achievement and failure is key to keep you moving forward.
So what are your goals?
The all-important question and one I’m sure you’re all dying to hear! You, the community and readers, are going to be my accountability. Publishing what you plan to achieve on the internet and tracking it month by month is a great way to keep yourself honest. Reporting back month by month that I’m failing dramatically is not going to be good for the psyche. Also, whilst I’m not an overly competitive person I do like to win! The gamification of self-improvement, for anyone with an ounce of competitiveness’ can be a great driver.
So there they are my goals for the year ahead. As you can see all of them are specific, measurable (a number value), attainable, relevant (where I want to be) and time-bound (12 months).
Average a 40% savings rate
Currently, I’m consistently hitting a 30% savings rate and whilst this is well above the countrywide average it could still be higher. I debated shooting for the Mr Money Moustance magic number of 50%, but 40 seems much more realistic. I’m hoping to have at least 2 or 3 50% months but the vagueness of that left me with the very specific 40%. For clarification, I calculate my savings rate from anything that is not spent on material things. This includes:
- Consumer debt pay down
- Emergency fund increase
Basically, anything that is positively affecting my nett worth is worked into the savings rate calculation.
Invest a minimum of £10,000
I love running future scenarios based on various parameters (savings rate, value invested per month etc.) to see how it affects my financial independence number. For my own FI plans hitting a minimum of 10k for my second year has me right on track. This number is calculated using a combination of my predicted salary, a percentage savings rate and an expected return on investment, You can see a simple breakdown of one of these scenarios here
As it turns out, 2018 was a poor year for my investment predictions. However, the £5,000 difference for the first year doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to the FI number. Another huge +1 for the power of compound interest having greater importance than the actual value invested.
Reduce my average ‘fun’ money to 15% of income
This is an important one for me and probably the one I am most worried about. I’m expecting a pay-rise of some kind this year, hopefully, a pretty substantial one. Controlling lifestyle inflation as well as general day to day expenses is something I still struggle with. I am not naturally frugal! I love coffee, I have terrible self-control (ooooo craft ale) and do enjoy spending money. This is mostly really small things, but it’s the small things that mount up without realizing.
Watch the pennies and the pounds save themselves
Reduce my consumer debt to 0
I’ve had consumer debt since I had my first full-time job. This has mainly been car finance and credit card debt (I skipped university) so compared to some people my debt levels are very low. There is still just over £6,500 hanging over my head however that I want rid of. Currently, I’m contributing just over £200 a month to paying this off at the minimum repayments. All extra income I receive whilst the debts are still outstanding will be plowed straight into early repayment.
This will have a three-fold benefit:
- Giving an adrenaline-fuelled jolt to my nett worth due to the debt reduction
- Freeing up £200 a month to increase my month investments
- The psychological boost knowing that I am completely debt free (mortgage aside)
Generate £5,000 from side hustles
On top of my full-time job I currently run a small web development company out of Cornwall, England (https://sosquare.co.uk/). We have a small but loyal existing customer base and plan on building that up over the next 12 months. Finding the time to do this on top of my full-time job has always been tricky, but my goal is to slowly increase income from my own company as a backup plan to losing my full-time job.
Since implementing some of the productivity hacks I have talked about in my #ProductivityLessons series, I’ve found I have a lot more mental bandwidth. Ideas are much more free-flowing than they once were. Coupling that with listening to people like Nick Loper over at Side Hustle Nation I fully expect to have another side hustle off the ground in the next 12 months. What that will be? At the moment I’m not sure, but I am focusing on something a lot more passive than web development and blogging.
Earn £500 from Millennial FIRE UK
This blog gets a special mention in the income section, as well as having its own dedicated section coming up next. I want to let the blog grow completely organically, with no quick wins or hacks. Compared to the incomes some people generate from their blogs, £500 is pennies. But generating even a small amount of actual income from my blog will help prove to myself that it’s ‘working’. The blog isn’t completely about the financial gain, I do have a passion for improving people’s lives and wellbeing. However, if an income of some kind can be generated then I am not one to turn down an opportunity.
Post 2 articles a week
2 new posts a week is the schedule I have settled on after just over a month of blogging. This gives me enough time to stay ahead of the curve from a writing point of view, whilst also getting regular content out there. Keeping this up for 52 weeks is probably the goal that gives me the second amount of worry. I enjoy writing! But thinking of topics to write about has never really been my strong point.
Increase average monthly views to 200
In my first full month of running Google Analytics, I received 30 views! Barely a drop in the ocean. Growing this to around 200 over the course of the month is still not a huge amount but it is a realistic aim that I have for the next 12 months. If I have 200 people per month reading my articles, that gives me confidence that the nonsense I’m tapping into my keyboard is actually bringing value to people’s lives.
At the root of it, that is what this blog is all about. Using the things I learn along my journey of self-improvement to better other people’s lives. If not directly, at least giving them the inspiration to go off and want to learn.
Read 50 books
I believe life is one constant journey of self-improvement. Once you believe you could not get any better, you’ve failed. I see how that could be perceived as quite a bold statement, but that’s genuinely how I feel about my own life. What is the greatest way to improve yourself constantly? A good ol’ bit of non-fiction writing. I love to read. Finding a new topic, no matter how obscure I believe it to be, and opening my eyes to it is a fantastic feeling. I was recently introduced to Gabby Bernstein and whilst at first, I thought I was a whole bunch of spiritual mumbo-jumbo, after reading her book it opened my eyes to a whole different way of looking at the world. That right there is exactly the thing I love the most about reading. Constantly learning something new, whether you agree in the end or not, only serves to better you as a person.
I initially planned on this goal being 100 books, but after doing the actual calculations on the time I have available 50 seemed a much more realistic and attainable goal.
Visit one new country
I don’t think I could write a list of goals for the year ahead without having at least one travel-related goal. For this year, it’s a relatively simple one. No matter how cheap backpacking can be, there is still a cost of going traveling. Trying to pay down debt and save, combined with my partner being at university, means the ‘travel’ will probably be a simple city-break in a European city. Whilst not quite as exciting as 6 months traveling around South America, getting out of the UK at least for a brief period is something that I want to happen.
Complete my Stress & Rescue Scuba Qualification
Another big tick on the list for this year is to keep improving my scuba diving qualifications. Whilst scuba diving isn’t the ‘cheapest’ of hobbies it is the hobby I am the most passionate about. Referring back to my theory of constant improvement, this applies to physical skills as well as mental ones.
That’s that, my list of goals for the coming year. I’ve actually found it quite refreshing both noting down the goals and spending the time writing this article to clarify my thoughts. I’ll be monitoring these goals as part of my monthly budget reviews. Wish me luck!
What are some of your goals for the year ahead? Let me know either in the comments below or by dropping me a message on twitter @millennialfire1.