Along with just about everyone else, I’ve found that I have a weird relationship with time during this part of the year. I thoroughly enjoy the holidays; everything from the festivities and seasonal treats to spending time with family and friends makes the last few weeks of the year great (not to mention all the paid time off I receive from my employer). Part of me wants to think of nothing but these days that are filled with good food, fun, and plenty of time to relax and decompress from a year’s worth of working hard and trying to get ahead.
But while I’m loving the present, I find myself dwelling on the past and future in equal measure, too. I look back at the last 12 months, and I feel happy and grateful for all that I accomplished and gained. I’m also amazed at how fast everything flew by. Simultaneously, I look ahead to the new year and start planning to make 2014 even better than the awesome 2013 I had. It makes for a weird feeling, trying to look forward and behind all while wanting to make time to not think and simply enjoy the present.
But one thing I have learned this year is that setting goals and having a clear idea of where I want to go is really helpful. It makes it that much more likely that I’ll actually accomplish what I want to do. So let’s take a quick look back at my December goals before I share some of my big plans for 2014:
Review Our Budget:
Review our finances to find more savings, and cut more expenses if possible. PASS We were able to cut $200 out of our discretionary spending, and that amount will be added to savings each month. For 2014, our budgeted savings rate is at 40%. I’m hoping the actual rate will be higher (by creating budget surpluses and putting that extra in to savings) and I’d love to add any freelance income I make into savings, too.
No-Spend Week, Part II:
Do another no-spend work-week in December. PASS This actually ended up being way easier than I thought. The whole month ended up being extremely low in discretionary spending – that, along with our car maintenance bills being a couple hundred cheaper than anticipated, made for a huge budget surplus this month. As always, it’ll get pushed into savings.
Save Money out of Our Bonus Checks:
Save a percentage of our year-end bonuses. PASS
This was another easier-than-I-thought goal to accomplish, as our bonuses were much more generous than I anticipated. We came in right on budget for our Christmas gifts, so everything else went straight to savings.
Pick Up a New Freelancing Gig:
Expand my work as a freelancer and pick up a new job in December. PASS
I picked up a new position as a staff writer and a position as a contributing writer, which is really exciting! I hope to continue to expand my freelancing work in 2014. I would absolutely love to have the ability to transition into full-time freelancing by the end of next year (stretch goal, perhaps?).
I loved finishing off the year with a successful set of monthly goals. Makes me pumped up and even more motivated to keep that momentum going in 2014! I’d love to make progress and improvements in several areas in the new year. And while some may poo-poo the idea of making resolutions, I’m actually quite excited to establish some goals for the year and to be able to look back in 12 months to see what kind of progress I made. Plus, I enjoy reading up on what others have planned and want to accomplish, so I figure a few folks out there may actually be interested to read my own Goals for 2014 (I’ll try to make everything nice and pretty and organized to make it even more pleasurable for your eyeballs):
- Continue to save like nobody’s business. We’re starting the year with a 40% savings rate. I’d like to see us get to 50% by the end of the year.
- Share discretionary expenses. I know lots of folks do “bust our budget” posts or net worth updates, and that’s not for me – but I think it might be fun to do a monthly share session on the spending we did on the fun or not-strictly-necessary purchases. I think this would help me better understand what I value beyond what we need, and what’s important to us.
- Make more. Plain and simple, I want to see my side income become more and more viable in 2014. (Eventually, I’d love to make the leap to self-employment, but I want to manage my freelancing work along with my “day job” for as long as possible to maximize the amount of income we can save and invest.)
- Back to working out. At least 20 minutes of strength training via bodyweight exercises 5 days per week.
- Continue running March-ish through November-ish (in other words, when the weather isn’t gross here). I want to do a minimum of 3 days per week/45 minutes per run.
- Ride my bike at least 2 days per week (even if it’s just around the neighborhood).
- From Memorial Day to Labor Day – when our neighborhood pool is open – swim at least 1 day per week, at least 1 hour per workout.
- Go for an after-dinner walk 3 days per week.. dare I add regardless of how cold it is?
- Cut the crap food, especially sweet treats. I do not want to keep food products with added sugar in the house (foods that naturally contain sugar, like fruit, are acceptable.. cookies are not). Because I know I will go insane if I don’t get any form of chocolate, I will allow myself 1 piece of dark chocolate per day.
- Continue to grow. I had no expectations for Common Sense Millennial when I started the blog in July, and the growth I’ve experienced so far has been incredible. I’d love to keep that going.
- Set up a few passive income streams via advertising, affiliate programs, and sponsored posts.
- Get to FinCon14!
- Figure out how to make the stupid navigation links be not-red.
- Continue to expand my freelancing work. I am loving everything about my freelance business and I want to continue to make progress in 2014. I’d love to take on at least 1 new project/client every month in the new year.
- Finish setting up my portfolio site, KaliHawlk.com and keep it up-to-date.
- More-optimistic-than-realistic goal: have my freelance income equal half my take-home pay from my day job by the end of the year.
- Super-duper really-stretching goal: have my freelance income equal 100% of my take-home pay by the end of the year.
- Read 1 book per month.
- Let my artistic side have room to grow. I am a creative, crafty, and fairly talented person art-wise, and I should spend more time cultivating that side of me. Allow myself to indulge in some Pinterest projects and DIY things around the house.
- Keep in mind my 2014 mantra: By believing passionately in something that does not exist, we create it.
There you have it – that’s my big fun list of stuff to make 2014 even more brilliant than this past year. I’m really eager to see what the new year has in store for me and excited to figure out where I’ll find myself. One thing is for sure: it’s going to be another incredible, fantastic ride.
What do you want to see happen in your life in 2014? Are you feeling motivated to set some big goals to work toward in the new year? Let me know in the comments (or direct me to your own blog post if you’ve written one)!