At the beginning of last year, I was all about setting goals. I couldn’t get enough trying to be this perfect goal setter. Less than 2 months later, I was completely burned out and had to stop focusing on them. I ended up abandoning so many of the goals I had just previously determined to be so important. I set myself up for failure, but I am not going to repeat that again this year. I have decided that I need a new approach and I think you need one too.
My Goals For 2019
At the beginning of 2019, Erin and I decided to repeat our process from the previous year where we made 18 goals for 2018. It went really well in 2018 and we were really proud of what we accomplished. We didn’t do everything on our list, but overall it was a huge success.
For 2019 we decided to do a 19 of 2019 as well. It seemed harmless at the time, but I didn’t stop there. I also set up a series of goals based on the 12 Week Year although I hadn’t read the book. While there was some overlap, it was an additional set of goals that were in hindsight too aggressive as much as I tried to avoid that.
The reason why we set these goals in the first place is because we are not always content with where things are. Our lives are amazing and beyond blessed, but sometimes you just want to better yourself. Life gets crazy when you have two kids and it is natural to want to make your life easier to find more time to relax or work on side hustles.
The downside is that it is easy to make these goals a job and you end up being less happy than you were before. That is the struggle between pushing forward and being proud of what you accomplished and pushing forward at the expense of other areas of your life. It’s a fine line I find.
What Went Wrong
I was doing everything I could to grow and develop this blog and to a lesser extent my Etsy shop. I so wanted to make this blog a success and be known as one of the leaders in blogging about debt. Also, I wanted to stop losing money on it and start turning a profit even though making money wasn’t why I started blogging.
When I combined the amount of focus that I was putting on the blog through courses, masterminds and production with my day job (Architecture), I couldn’t take it anymore. I started getting sick often as I was worn out, and instead of doing the blog on weekends, I had been assigned a fast-paced Architecture project that resulted in late nights and weekends. Something had to give, and my focus went to the Architecture project.
At least my day job earns me money and benefits, but that isn’t exactly what I wanted to be focusing on during at night and on the weekends. With that said, I’m really proud of what we achieved in the office during that time, but it came at the expense of my side hustles.
By the end of February, we decided to push the goals back a week, which turned into another week and so on and so forth. Months passed before I could think about focusing on the blog or Etsy again.
The result was that I had put on hold a couple projects that I had been really passionate about going into the year. Ones that you haven’t seen and may never. Unfortunately, I haven’t returned to them yet and I really don’t know when I will, but that is OK.
While the real culprit here might appear to be my job and the extra hours, I really think it was that I focused on setting up tasks and trying to multitask between projects. I didn’t have a focus like I should have.
There Were Positive Things From Last Year
Just because we generally paused our goals it doesn’t mean we didn’t achieve anything. There were two big goals that we did do. We hit our target and saved $25,000 and we went to Disney World for free. Both of those were on our 19 for 2019.
Also, we set a goal to make the bed every day and pretty much nailed it although it has started to slip lately for some reason. Hitting those three goals was really nice I must say, and I am sure there were a few others we generally achieved.
Now, why did those goals get accomplished and others didn’t?
We hit our savings goal because we automated our savings from each paycheck so while I was burnt out, the money was still going where it needed to. When it comes to saving money, automating and setting money aside is critical. Here are some ways you can automate your debt payoff.
We made the bed every day because it became a habit. There were a few days where the kids tore the pillows apart but that is another story.
As for Disney World, well, we went for free using credit card rewards in November. It took a lot of focus and frankly I found it an escape to learn about the parks and do the planning for both the cards and the parks. Because this is a site focused on paying off debt, I’ll never talk about credit card rewards on here because that sends the wrong message no matter how much I could make with referrals.
By the end of the year I had recovered and was focusing on Etsy again and started a blog called Magic Money Mouse about going to Disney World for free. That will be my outlet for everything I learned about saving money at Disney World. Having two blogs does complicate things though…..
How I Am Setting Goals This Year
I am at my best when I focus on one thing at a time. Whether it be a whole project, or a task, I am not great at multitasking. The results just aren’t as good. I get by, but I have high standards although admittedly those get in the way of “finishing” things sometimes.
Unfortunately, I just can’t do one thing this year and call it a day. I have a job, am a husband and parent of two amazing boys and have commitments that must be met. Those won’t disappear though so I better figure something out.
If I want to get something done, I need to have the space to do it. I feel like my mistake last year was I didn’t give myself the ability to truly get into a project. Instead, I was rushing from task to task on various projects and was trying to do too much at once.
What would be better, is to take an approach where I focus on one project for an extended period of time. This would be one of my blogs or my Etsy shop for instance. Even if I do something outside of them, that one project would be the focus. It would allow me to immerse myself in it more and I feel be better off for it even if the other projects suffer.
This is exactly what we did with paying off $107K in 33 months. During that timeframe, that goal was my true focus for that entire time. It was the most critical thing for us and as a result, we accomplished it much sooner than anticipated.
My Etsy shop is very passive, but if I want to increase my revenue, which I do, I need to produce more products so that is my primary goal for the next 4 months. Then, I can step back and spend 1-2 hours on it a week while I focus on the blogs. I can’t focus on both at the same time though. I must pick one.
The Structure of My Goals
Essentially, instead of giving myself a series of tasks to complete with deadlines, I am going to pick a project and make it my focus. Just like we did with the debt, that is what I will be thinking about the majority of the time.
Let me provide an idea of what I am thinking.
For January through April I am going to focus on making new items for my Etsy shop to increase my revenue. This means that any free time I have during the week will work on making those items.
As for the weekends, I need to schedule time off while still getting stuff done. If I have four weekends a month, then two of those weekends I will continue to focus on that main project and find larger chunks of time to produce. Since I have other projects I need to keep afloat (my blogs) I will allow for one weekend (basically two days) when I write an article and not worry about Etsy during that time. If something needs to give, this would be the first thing to be scrapped that month. I must keep Etsy my focus during this time.
The last weekend of the month could go towards resting (how novel!) or a project around the house if I am motivated. I previously booked every weekend but not this time.
It is important though to give myself the space to not always be working on a project. Two weekends out of the month to put towards my priority is OK. If I need to take an additional month, I will, but I can’t afford to burn out again by cramming more stuff in there. I’ll move at the pace I move without trying to match others.
Essentially, I need my head in the project and to devote large amounts of time to executing it. This means clearing space on those reserved weekend days and doing smaller tasks during the week.
The best book that addresses this topic is Deep Work by Cal Newport.
How I Suggest You Make Goals
We are different people. If you are reading this then there is something I have done that has intrigued you or resonated with in the past to make you click and keep reading more. So, thank you for reading and feeling like I can provide some value to your life.
With that said, the reality is that is that only you know what works for you, so I won’t claim otherwise. I’ll try not to at least….
We all want to change something though so Iet’s start here.
I would suggest looking back on a time in your life where you achieved something you are really proud of. Think about why you achieved it. Break it down. What was it that made the difference?
Was it passion? Was it the amount of time or specific resources you had? Was it an individual or group project? Think it over.
While you can’t recreate the magic every time, let’s see what we can do to put you in the best place to succeed.
For me, like I said earlier, is that I do best when I can focus on one project. Then, I need passion and time plus people to bounce ideas off of. That is when I get the best results, but it can be messy and that is OK.
How do you get your best results?
Once you do that, then pick one thing to make your priority. Everything else will sort itself out after that, but if you do that and follow through, you will get results and likely achieve your goal. Don’t get caught up in trying to do everything. Things will always fall by the wayside no matter how hard you try, but let’smake sure the most important thing doesn’t. Let’s face it, we often let the most important thing to us be put off and it will likely happen when you have too many priorities so let’s just give ourselves one priority.
20 For 2020…..Wait, No!
At the end of the day, I think we all need to keep one thing in mind.
JUST KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Seriously, if you are passionate and focused on your goals all the tasks will sort themselves out. There is a place for being more organized, but sometimes that stuff just gets in the way too. Do what is natural and if you make changes, make the changes something that are natural too.
If you are wanting to change habits, then the book Atomic Habits by James Clear is the best one I know of.
I am going to avoid a 20 for 2020 list this year, but if I do things right, we will still achieve what is important to us and then some.
I don’t believe that one will ever find a true balance, but it is important to find a long-term sustainable approach though and that is what I want for you most.