My Goals for 2014

03 January 2014 · 16 comments

The older I get, the less value I see in pursuing goals. Sure, it’s great to have something to work toward, and there are a variety of instances in which goals can be useful. But generally speaking, I’ve come to believe that setting goals is simply an attempt to create extrinsic motivation to accomplish something that you’re not intrinsically motivated to achieve, and that’s just crazy.

Thus, I no longer make a list of resolutions for the new year. I used to come up with whole catalogs of things I wanted to change about myself. In time, I reduced that to just a handful of annual goals. Now I don’t set any resolutions at all. Instead, I hope to make a lifestyle out of doing the things I want, when I want.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this attitude means that I’m much more flexible and adaptable than I once was. I “go with the flow”. I’m more concerned about what is happening in the present than what will happen in the future.

Having said all that, I do have a general idea of the direction my life is headed. I have a destination in mind. (The difference between the present and the past, however, is that I’m not wedded to this destination; I’m open to a change in paths at a moment’s notice.)

So, where am I headed in 2014? Though I can’t say for certain, here’s my current itinerary:

  • I’m going to learn to play the guitar. My father used to play the guitar at family gatherings. I loved listening to the cousins sing while he strummed along. In grade school, I played violin. In high school, I sang (poorly) in the concert choir. In college, I took a semester of piano lessons. But mostly, I’ve ignored the musical side of me, and that’s too bad. I love music. It’s an important part of my life. Kim too comes from a musical family. This year, I’m going to spend a lot of time learning the guitar, just as I learned Spanish in 2011 and 2012. I had my first lesson yesterday — my fingers are sore! — and I’ve scheduled a second for next Thursday. I intend to practice about an hour a day. My hope is that by the summer, I can sit with friends around a campfire and play guitar while they sing.
  • I’m going to refresh my Spanish skills. Speaking of Spanish lessons: I haven’t much practice with the language since I stopped working with my tutor about eighteen months ago. That’s too bad. Learning Spanish was invigorating. It made my mind come alive. I miss it. I need to find ways to practice formal grammar, but also to practice speaking. My plan is to practice Spanish a bit every day, too. I have dozens of Spanish-language comics and novels. Plus, I have access to Spanish-language music and television (which helped me learn in the first place). I’m going to tap into these resources daily. And if this doesn’t work, I’m going to sign up for a class to force me to practice.
  • I’m letting go of deadlines. One of my big realizations last year was that I just do not work well with deadlines. Maybe it’s my ADHD, but I like a looser work environment, one that allows me the freedom to explore. Deadlines don’t do that. Deadlines loom like the executioner’s axe, and they make me feel frantic. When I miss them, I sink into a guilty depression. So, I’m going to finish with the few deadlines remaining in my life, and then not take on any more. (Exception: In some cases, like speaking at a conference, there’s no way to avoid a deadline. I’m okay with that.)
  • I’m going to work for myself. After decades of working for other people, I spent a few years working only for myself. It was wonderful. Over the past couple of years, though, I’ve allowed myself to slip into situations where most of my work goes toward the projects of others. Though there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I’m not as happy as when I was pursuing my own agenda for my own edification. I want to return to that, so I’m going to finish my current obligations and then focus on my own projects.
  • I’m going to focus on fitness. I say this every year, and for good reason. Left to my own devices, I’d happily eat junk food and drink booze until I was the size of a house. By constantly putting fitness at the top of my priority list, I’m able to arrest some of my bad behavior. Last year, I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. I didn’t gain any weight, but because I did very little exercise during the first nine months of the year, my muscle began to convert to fat. For the past three months, I’ve been lifting weights four times a week. My muscle is returning. I’ve also been doing a “bulking” program, but I don’t like how fat that’s made me. So, I’m going to cut back on the calories. I’m also going to re-introduce cardio to my life. I feel strong right now, and am confident that within a couple of months, I’ll be as fit as I was in 2012. And I’ll keep it that way.
  • I’m going to re-visit the world of fiction. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Since first discovering the fun of inventing my own stories when I was in the third grade, I’ve wanted to write fantasy and science-fiction novels. In high school and college, I loved to write poetry. It’s only by accident that I stumbled into non-fiction writing as a career. While I’m glad to have had a decade to explore this avenue, I feel ready to return to the world of fiction. As soon as I finish my current obligations, most of my writing time will be spent telling stories. Should be fun!
  • I’m going to post regularly at More Than Money. When I quit my full-time work at Get Rich Slowly, I intended to write regularly at this site. As regular readers know, I haven’t been wholly successful. Part of this is because I’m still doing deadline-based work for other people. But part of it is due to lack of direction. Well, I now have direction. While working on my current e-book project, I produced a ton of material about personal and financial independence (based around the talk I gave in Ecuador last September). This material isn’t appropriate for the ebook. But it is appropriate for More Than Money. In fact, I realized recently I have enough material for one post a week for all of 2014. I’m going to use it. And I’m going to supplement it with book reviews (on financial books and success manuals, etc.) and interviews and stories. In short: After fifteen months as a sandbox, More Than Money is about to become a real blog. Yay!

As you can tell, I’ve thought a lot about each of these things. I’m an introspective fellow, and I’ve spent the past few months thinking about what excites me and how I can better make use of my time. These are the activities that make me eager to get out of bed every morning.

What about you? What plans do you have for 2014? Do you set resolutions or goals? Or do you simply use the new year as a time to reflect on your direction and make course corrections?

Whatever the case, I wish you joy and happiness in the days to come.

Note: I say I’m not setting goals for 2014, yet I’ll confess that I’ve started a spreadsheet named “2014 goal tracker”. I’m using it to log my weight, my bodyfat, my waist size, my alcohol and sugar consumption, the time I spend on Spanish and writing and guitar and exercise, and what media I consume. Maybe it’s not so much a goal tracker as an activity log. In any event, it’s designed to help me be more aware of how I’m spending my time and what I’m doing to my body.

1 Jennifer January 3, 2014 at 17:31

JD,

So glad one of your goals is to write more for More Than Money; I really enjoy your posts. I also love the idea of a goal/activity tracker and the things you plan to track on it. I just may follow suit. Happy 2014!

2 kathryn January 4, 2014 at 04:27

is there a template for your goal/activity tracker that you could share?

3 AZ Joe January 4, 2014 at 04:57

Many years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to not make any New Year’s resolutions. I kept it for a lot of years then decided there is a value to examining and assessing my life and re-directing my activities to bring them more in line with my values. Now I make goals (or resolutions if you like) to re-focus myself. Sometimes they happen at the first of the year, sometimes at other times. I say: forget the cliches, do what works for you. Nice post JD.

4 Chasa January 4, 2014 at 06:13

To speak more Spanish you could look into volunteering in a role that helped needy Latinos. Or, my mother volunteers to help teach ESL – most of her students speak Spanish, so you could speak with them (my mom isn’t a teacher, they accept anyone who has time to give).

5 Siobhain Danaher January 4, 2014 at 06:35

Great post JD, wishing you and Kim a fabulous New Year, delighted to have met you both in Oslo, hope our paths cross again in the future, Siobhain :)

6 Sandra January 4, 2014 at 07:08

Have you looked into duo lingo for Spanish practice? It is a free app and you can practise by going to their translate section and translate web items for the global good. There is also aTED talk on duo lingo. It is a very powerful program and works for people at all levels of a language – and no, I am not affiliated in any way, i am just trying to learn Spanish too.

7 Meghan January 4, 2014 at 14:25

I have several goals, some of which mirror yours, and some of which are financial in nature. This looks like a great year, professionally. It’s time for some personal growth, but also I am working on being fulfilled. I’m always looking for the next thing I need.

8 Cody Limbaugh January 5, 2014 at 02:06

I love, love, love this post J.D.! As someone who has preached about the “one-goal” strategy for some time now, I have been dealing with the personal conflict of having many good and exciting ideas but lacking in productivity. Now, instead of “setting goals”, my objective is to organize my life to acheive the future-self that I desire to be, which includes many projects being developed at the same time.

9 Ben January 5, 2014 at 13:37

What an informative and thoughtful post! Good for you, JD. Reading your goals has been inspiring for me to take a similar approach in thinking about what I’d like to get done in 2014. It would be great to see a periodic series of posts “updating” us on your progress.

p.s. – what’s the ETA on when your e-book will be released? Looking forward to reading it.

10 Mark A. January 5, 2014 at 17:56

Cool to see that you plan your year. I once read about how a billionaire Curt Carlson, founder of Radisson Hotels, etc., etc., kept his goals on an index card in his wallet so that he’d see them often. I figured that if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me so I’ve done the same for at least 15 years. Every January I write them on the index card: One side is Personal Goals in the categories of One Year, 2-3 Years and 5-10 Years with a bullet point for each goal. The other side is Work Goals in the same categories. The small index card forces me to prioritize. Results? Amazingly great and usually on schedule! It really helps to have a plan. Once you do, the Universe just seems to line up behind you and help you out. Happy New Year and thanks for this blog!

11 Jason January 6, 2014 at 07:56

Hey J.D., it’s Jason from Dallas. Glad to see your goals haven’t changed much from our talk in Ecuador. I’m about to start up the guitar lessons and spanish myself, and am still loving retirement. Stay in touch~

12 Virginia January 6, 2014 at 10:33

Longtime reader; looking forward to a year of More than Money!

13 Sandy January 6, 2014 at 14:00

You have more on your list than I have resolutions!!! So glad you are back to writing a blog again. Get rich slowly is really missing your voice.

14 chacha1 January 6, 2014 at 14:43

Looking forward to all the new material here. Your list of goals is impressive. :-)

Mine are:
1. return to Cash Basis Life, and stay there;
2. get waistline measurement back where it needs to be, and keep it there;
3. publish the novel I finished last fall;
4. write and publish two more novellas for the L.A. Stories series;
and a lot of miscellaneous housekeeping that falls under the “decluttering” header more than anything else, so …
5. continue decluttering.
:-)
Happy New Year!

15 Edward Ferguson January 7, 2014 at 09:19

Yeah, don’t do that “bulk up” thing when you workout. Personally, I think it’s a lot of hogwash. And besides, Bruce Lee is/was much cooler than Hulk Hogan.

16 Aime Lopez January 8, 2014 at 15:03

Thanks for the Post, I love it!
My Goals for 2014 are:
* Keep going to my Cross Fit Class every week day.
* Go Bicycling on weekends at least on Saturdays afternoon.
* Eat Healthy and drink lots of Water
* Learn to play Guitar (strange but I just started last Saturday!)
* Practice again my Piano Class
* Learn to speak and read Italian ( I love Italy and hope to go soon!)
* Travel more.
* Read more.
* Pay my Mortgage.
* Save money.

Have a Wonderful 2014!!! ;)
Aime.

*

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