There are plenty of books, articles, blogs, seminars, and classes about goal setting. Each may present a unique approach as to how one should go about setting goals, creating a system to ensure success. I know that, for me, setting goals has been an important practice in my life.
The nature of my personality is one that finds comfort in setting goals and planning future events. I realize this is part of who I am. It is something I enjoy doing and, more importantly, it fills the need to feel that I am making progress. Because of this personal habit—which my wife shares—we have a lot of lists lying around the house, pinpointing goals we wish to accomplish in all aspects of our lives.
About a year ago I found a simple Apple mobile app called ReminderPro that cost just 99 cents to download from the app store. It has been a great little tool to keep a clear focus on our goals and provide a countdown of how many months, days, even seconds we have remaining to accomplish each task.
Could you imagine if we knew when our life’s last day would occur? How obsessed would we be with watching our time slip by?
Many bloggers give financial updates on their income, expenses and net worth. We have chosen not to share much of our finances other than our post-retirement budget, replacement costs, and bucket list items so far. Today we will give you a glimpse into key future milestones that are important motivators in our lives.
I have a passion for setting goals
It is important for me to understand the reason—the “why”—of goals before creating them. For example: I want to become debt free so that I have permanently freed up enough cash flow from our passive income for us to leave our employers. This is a goal that has required us to follow specific steps, create actionable tasks with milestones, continuously review our finances, and understand the influence our emotions have in our lives. It gets complicated when we consider this goal against other long- or short-term goals. We can’t have everything we want, so there must be some tradeoffs.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where…”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
We won’t get into the mechanics of goal setting in this post; maybe that will be approached in a later article. However, what has worked successfully for me is to identify specifically what the goals are, breaking them into smaller discrete items when possible, that can build upon progress toward their ultimate completion. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
We have adopted frugality in many areas of our lives to get to the position where we are now. We have lived as a one-car family and at one point rented out a portion of our California home to a student to help offset the costs of our sailing habit. We can be frugal when needed to reach our financial goals. In other areas that are important to us, we can easily justify why it is all right to spend for the item or experience.
Some exciting future milestones for us
We are getting close to reaching many of our short-term goals and one major long-term goal. Let’s take a peek at some major milestones for Dianne and me.
- One month from now. We are paying off a major bank debt that will put us in a position of having just one remaining rental property loan. At that point, we will have a $30,000 debt lingering in our rental business, with no other personal debt since March 2015.
- Only two more months. I am planning a nice trip back to Colorado to visit family and take care of some business. I have already booked my Amtrak tickets for the train ride that will take me through the desert and the mountain ranges of New Mexico. I am looking forward to visiting friends and family, and spending some quality time with my mother at her nursing home.
- Three months to go. This is a big birthday milestone for me that we will celebrate while on a Mexican cruise departing out of Los Angeles. It will be great to be cruising again after a one-year break from our last adventure to the Caribbean. We will also get a chance to visit my brother in California before we take off on the beautiful blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. We can hardly wait for that vacation to arrive!
- Four months from now. The biggest goal of mine for the past 15 years is quickly approaching: the milestone of becoming completely debt free. We are discussing how to celebrate this monumental occasion. The current thought is to take a road trip to Las Vegas and stay at a nice resort for a couple of nights. We will firm these plans up in the next month based on deals and point offers we can leverage to keep costs reasonable.
That is great, now what happens next? Here are some equally important future goals.
- Retirement from work. This will soon become the biggest discussion point in our household, once we pass our debt freedom milestone in March 2016. We will be working on a victory lap by stashing cash for our bucket list and replacement costs.
- Extended camping. We anticipate that the first couple of years after we leave our employers, we will be camping at least three months out of each year. The longest I have camped is about six days—so this will be a new adventure for me.
- Creating more friendships. We continue to work on building our existing friendships and meeting new people. The decision to join the local wine club with a limited membership a few months ago has been wonderful. We feel like we are now becoming part of the group of like-minded folks when we visit the winery and enjoy the beautiful setting.
- Improving our mental and physical health. It is easy for me to get caught up in work, FIRE, blogging, and all the other day-to-day activities in our lives. We must re-focus our efforts on maintaining healthy bodies and minds. Removing work from the equation, I believe we will eliminate excuse number one from our default list of why we “can’t” do certain things. What could I blame once work is no longer a concern?
I have found that when we write down our goals, amazingly we tend to achieve most of them. In my home office is a white board we have used for years that lists our three-month goals. I see this nearly every day of the year, which helps keep these goals top of mind. What is astonishing is that only four years ago we had nearly a seven-figure debt. Four months from now, it will be all gone!
We also notice that time passes quickly. Our short-term goals seem to fly by. Over the years, we have allowed time to slip by on several occasions in revising our goals, because either we have not accomplished what we planned, or we seem too busy to create new ones.
The finish line is nearly here for our personal journey to financial independence and early retirement. We have completed some significant goals that have been in development for 15 years. I know that once these goals are reached, new ones will be created. The next year in this household is going to be a wild and fun ride.
Thanks for reading and allowing us to share the journey with you.
How about you, do you set goals? Do you monitor their progress and have some success stories you would like to share?
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