setting goals – Just One More Year! http://www.justonemoreyear.com One couple's story of escaping 9 to 5 until 65 Fri, 15 Jul 2016 13:52:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.11 What if One of Your Big Goals is Misguided? http://www.justonemoreyear.com/one-big-goals-misguided/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/one-big-goals-misguided/#comments Fri, 27 May 2016 00:15:49 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1332 We spend a lot of time planning in this household.  I seem to initiate most of it since I can’t seem to sit still for very long.  I feel that I need to have direction and a focus; otherwise, I am not maximizing my time and energy toward making progress in my life.  On the […]

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We spend a lot of time planning in this household.  I seem to initiate most of it since I can’t seem to sit still for very long.  I feel that I need to have direction and a focus; otherwise, I am not maximizing my time and energy toward making progress in my life.  On the other hand, maybe is it just some personality quirk I have that I must have or find a problem that needs to be solved?  I have discovered that setting goals for me are therapeutic, allowing me to create plans that gives me momentum, direction, and distinct actions toward their accomplishment.

Setting Goals
Setting Goals

What happens if you wake up one day and begin to realize you have made a mistake in setting one of your big goals?  The easy answer would be to regroup, modify, or drop the goal, and simply move on to the next thing.  That does sound easy until you add some of the emotional elements of your goals into the equation.

Many of us are dreamers when we create goals

I have sailed for around 30 years, owning sometimes and going for long stretches without a boat.  Each time I get to the point where I think it is time to buy one again, the creative juices start to flow and behold, the perfect boat is found through our exhaustive search.  We then have grand visions (as probably a large percentage of boaters) of spending much time on the new boat.  Who knows, maybe do some off shore sailing and go up and down the coasts of North and South America?  Don’t forget to through in a Transpac trip from California to Honolulu Hawaii for good measure.

“The two happiest days in a boater’s life – they day they buy it and the day they sell it” – an old boating joke

 

It soon becomes magical.  Somehow, these dreams provide us the nearly unlimited time required to pursue these passions and our jobs become the furthest things from our minds.  We envision how much fun it will be sailing with our friends and family.  Heck, let’s do the Baja Ha-Ha trip down to Mexico with a hundred other boats for a great time to be had by all.

I have noticed the unrealistic dreams like this pop into my head as I visualize how great things could be.

We had similar dreams about 18 months ago about traveling through the US when we bought our used travel trailer and pickup.  We do give ourselves credit that we didn’t rush into a quick purchasing decision.  We talked about it for roughly three years before actually buying the camping rig.  We kept double-checking our thinking to make sure we had realistic expectations of how much we would actually camp.  We decided that we would go camping roughly three months a year once my wife stopped working in December.

Last year we were able to camp 30 days while we continuing to work full time.  After this weekend it will be 9 days.  However, next year we do believe we will get 90 days of camping.

I set a couple goals for the next six months

In this post, I mentioned my three major goals for the next several months.  These goals involve my health, finishing our remodeling projects, and studying German for a trip in September to Germany.

Focusing on the German goal, my motivations are based on my mother emigrating from Germany and attempting to keep contact with that part of my family.  My mother’s health is deteriorating as she is in a nursing home.  She seems to be reverting to speaking in German – what little we are able to understand.  I mentioned in the past a former goal I had to surprise my mother by having an extended conversation with her in German.  That happened about 6 years ago and I have done virtually nothing to keep up my language skills since then.

I began to have second thoughts about my renewed language goal when I looked up the last time I went to Germany:  July 2003.  In thirteen years, I have not gone back once.  Hmmm…

I seem to have a trend here.

On a walk this past weekend with my wife, I brought up the subject of my German studies.  I am studying multiple college textbooks, all five levels of Rosetta, and listening to various podcasts.  I began looking into an immersion course to really jump-start my learning. The cost of the immersion course was emailed to me over the weekend and it made me pause (due to the cost) as to what my language goal really is intended to achieve.

Why study German if I will not use the language?

History doesn’t have to repeat itself, but often it does.  Will it be another 13 years until I go back to Germany after this September?  Will my language study fall off after this trip?

“Goals are only wishes unless you have a plan” – Philanthropist Melinda Gates

 

In talking with my wife, I asked her for honest feedback about our continued travel to Germany.  Are we going to spend 3 months a year there – every year?  Where does “THE CAT” go during that time?  What happens to our planned 3 months of RV’g each year?  When we leave our jobs we will certainly have more time, but realistically is it going to be traveling to only one country?  There are 198 other countries in this world and a lot to see!

Then we talked about if it is really worth six months of study for a two-week trip?  I am beginning to believe it is not.  This is a tough decision for me since I have wanted to visit Germany on an extended stay to immerse myself in the language.  I don’t really have a good method of keeping those language skills up in a remote Arizona town of 12,000 people with half of them living here part time.

It is a complicated decision for me because I don’t like quitting on important goals and I would feel as though I am closing a chapter in my life.  I also don’t want to give up because something is hard for me.

I am in a holding pattern while I reflect on my German Language goal

In a week, I will see my youngest daughter’s High School Graduation ceremony in Colorado.  I need to think about this German language goal over the next couple of weeks to see if it is realistic and if the end justifies the work of my studying.  I have mentioned before that some slow travel on Amtrak has a way of clarifying some questions and providing me some answers.  Maybe I will get some clarity on my train trip.

I have been successful with setting big goals in the past and have been able to stay focused on them for many years.  Becoming debt free and Financially Independent would not have happened without these big goals in place.

I do plan to continue to study for half an hour per day to keep the momentum going.  It just bugs me that if I don’t do anything later with travel or family, maybe I am wasting my time.  For now, I feel compelled to study as much as possible.

Perhaps it is time to start golfing again or take up other hobbies.

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Folks, have you ever had big goals that your wonder if they were worth achieving?  Have you changed a goal midstream and found it difficult to do?

Photo copyright: kittichais / 123RF Stock Photo

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Numerous Tasks and Too Little Time: A Quick Update http://www.justonemoreyear.com/numerous-tasks-little-time-quick-update/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/numerous-tasks-little-time-quick-update/#comments Tue, 03 May 2016 00:15:34 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1306 Hi folks, as you can probably guess things have been getting a bit hectic for us around our household lately.  We are entering our fifth month of remodeling projects while concurrently taking on some other big life goals.  Oh, let us not forget that we are both working full time jobs.  For those loyal readers, […]

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Hi folks, as you can probably guess things have been getting a bit hectic for us around our household lately.  We are entering our fifth month of remodeling projects while concurrently taking on some other big life goals.  Oh, let us not forget that we are both working full time jobs.  For those loyal readers, here is a quick update.

A quick update
A quick update

Yes – We do have some goals

I had mentioned in this post that I need to refocus my time and energy on a couple large goals.  They are my health, brushing up on my German, and completing these darn remodeling projects.

  • Remodeling update: These projects never seem to end.  I have worked on at least some task nearly every day for the last 4 ½ months.  It is an interesting observation that with my slightly OCD personality this has become my new debt snowball journey.  I can be so focused in one area that many other aspects of my life get put on hold.  I feel like this will never end – just like the debt snowball.  The good news is the next two weeks are pivotal with completing our kitchen and bathroom remodels.  The last flooring will be completed Wednesday, the lower cabinet demo will be done Thursday, and the new cabinets will be going in on Friday.  Monday the counter top people are creating their final measurements and template so they can begin fabrication.  Only a couple weeks later, upon completing a backsplash this will all be history.  So maybe 4 weeks from now we might be done!
  • German study update: I was off to a slow start, however I am picking up momentum.  I have been averaging about 30 minutes of concentrated study each day.  I went many days over the last month without touching the subject.  Now the study is becoming part of my daily habit.  It also helped that I pulled the trigger and bought non-refundable flights to Frankfurt last Friday to keep myself from “weaseling” out of going.  I realize I do have a complicated justification system.  Now I am motivated – I don’t want to embarrass myself with poor German communication with my family and friends.
  • My health update: I have established a new habit to get two to three decent walks in each day.  I am also attempting to stand and walk during many internal company calls to keep my movement ongoing.  In addition, I will incorporate stretching and yoga into my fitness over the next month.  I have not listened to German as much as I expected on my walks.  I rather enjoy the solitude of the walks and continue to pick up pennies  while I averaged  10,603 steps per day for the last month!

Health update on my steps

Post remodel: What will life be like in a couple months?

I am beginning to wonder once the “all consuming” remodeling projects are completed, what new goal will become my focus.  Nature abhors a vacuum!  Will I double down on my health and German?  Will I find some new hobby or goal to occupy my time?

I have suspected for a long time that I conveniently use excuses like family, work, projects, and other tasks as reasons why I don’t really take the time to understand what I want to do with my life.  I have felt that the financial piece of this early retirement puzzle is the most important, and then I would have all the time in the world what to figure out what is next.  This has probably been a big mistake.  I should have been trying to build my next chapter of life during the time our financial goals were so important.

Is early retirement going to suck?  Am I too much of a workaholic to enjoy the free time leaving work should provide me? Will I become bored and not have enough structure and activities in my life to take work’s place?  I am re-reading  Ernie’s book for the third time  (yes it is that good and I am a slow learner!), hoping to find some answers to this puzzle.  I know that I need to be developing more outside interests now in preparation for my imminent retirement.

What’s next?

I am traveling three days this week with work because of an impromptu request by a project and account team.  My time will be limited this week so I will respond to comments and emails when I can.

I have an article coming very soon that will share our March income.  Why March?  Because we had an exceptional month and I am attempting to show how long it took to get to that point.  I don’t want to discourage the quick fix dreamers out there, but I do wish to demonstrate that a steady approach does work.

We are reaching our one-year anniversary for this blog.  I can’t believe how quickly that time has passed and all the articles that were written.  I plan to write a long post about our “Just One More Year” syndrome, attempting to explain our journey so far and the final plans we have in retiring early.

Take care folks!

Photo Copyright : Markus Gann

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Goodbye Old Buddy; Say Hello to My New Friend http://www.justonemoreyear.com/goodbye-old-buddy-say-hello-new-friend/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/goodbye-old-buddy-say-hello-new-friend/#comments Tue, 15 Mar 2016 00:15:09 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1243 Since achieving some of our major financial milestones, we are beginning to see some changes around our household. Some of these changes include allowing personal finance magazines subscriptions to lapse and re-focusing our attention away from a debt snowball app. For the past decade, our goals had been focused on financial independence and retiring early. […]

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Since achieving some of our major financial milestones, we are beginning to see some changes around our household. Some of these changes include allowing personal finance magazines subscriptions to lapse and re-focusing our attention away from a debt snowball app. For the past decade, our goals had been focused on financial independence and retiring early. One of our secrets to maintaining this focus was to create big goals and to document them on a whiteboard. This week marks another change for us: saying goodbye to our old buddy and bringing in a new little friend.

Our old buddy and our new friend
Our old buddy and our new friend

I like to think of our old whiteboard (technically, it was silver) as a magic genie that granted many of our deepest wishes. We simply had to take the time to dream up what we wanted, agree on mutual goals, and write them down. We hung the board in a conspicuous spot in my office where we would see it on a daily basis. This provided us daily reinforcement, keeping the dreams we were trying to accomplish fresh in our minds. This board ultimately fell apart on us from so much use and activity over ten years.

Last week, I spent $5 on a new whiteboard I found in the clearance bin at the local office supply store. I brought it home so the wife could say hello to our little friend! Just like Al Pacino, this little whiteboard wields a lot of power in a small package. I can only imagine the impact it will have on our lives moving forward.

Our Old Buddy served us well

I plan to throw the old buddy away after I finish crafting these final words.

It has been a challenge for us, recognizing the importance of having the board front and center but trying to maintain our privacy while showing our home to potential buyers and having friends and family visiting. The goals we shared with our old buddy were deeply personal. Now, two months after becoming fully debt free, our focus has moved from financial goals to health, friendships and family, and of course remodeling.

We’ve made a point of updating our short-term goals every three months with actionable and quantifiable objectives. This allowed us to break up bigger goals into manageable pieces. We categorized them into seven broad categories: health, marriage, emotional/spiritual, children/family, friendships, financial, and hobbies. Every three months we would come up with goals that we felt were important enough to accomplish in the short term. We went nearly half a year without updating our goals much since we were on such a roll with becoming debt free. We essentially became hyper-focused on becoming debt free… to the detriment of everything else.

A Glimpse at My Future Goals

Choosing a smaller whiteboard was intentional. The outside dimensions are only 11 x 17 inches, quite small when compared to our old buddy in the picture. I mentioned in a recent article that it is difficult to accomplish more than three things at a time. My intention with the smaller white board was to name fewer goals and bring our focus on only three big items at a time.

Of course that has not happened yet. Old habits are hard to break!

My top three goals in the next three months are my health, completing our remodeling, and a crash course in German. Let’s take a look at each goal.

Goal #1 for 2016: My Health

I mentioned about how the stresses with selling our home, becoming debt free and remodeling have become a major challenge in my life. When I took a look at a recent picture, I got an objective view of my weight and lack of focus on my health. This hit home two weeks ago.

I had hiked nine miles over the weekend on some beautiful Sedona trials. Monday afternoon I began to develop a cough. By Wednesday, after little sleep, it felt like I was coughing up a lung. Thursday morning after no sleep, I checked myself into the emergency room. The prognosis: bacterial infection and pneumonia. I was given antibiotic treatment, strong cough medicine, and ordered to get rest. Two weeks later, I still have not fully recovered.

Early last week I was finally able to get in to my doctor for a visit. I then got some more disturbing news. The X-rays found an 18 mm lump on one of my lungs and my blood work showed some elevated enzymes. Last week I had a CT scan and this week a more comprehensive blood test is scheduled.

The past two weeks have been a wakeup call as to how short life is and fragile our health can be. My eating habits have already changed and I am including gentle walks each day to keep my body moving and to recover.

Goal #2 for 2016: Finish the Remodeling

I believe the amount of activity and energy spent on our various remodeling projects has weakened my energy level and immune system. I am ready for it to be done! My wife is beginning to play a more active role in the projects so that I can focus more on goal #1: my health.

If things go well, we should have 99% of our remodeling work completed by the end of May.

Goal #3 for 2016: A Crash Course in German

One of the most rewarding things I have ever done was a certain birthday surprise for my mother. This happened about six years ago. I decided that I was going to make a huge commitment to speak conversational German.

My mother emigrated from Germany when she met my father, who was in the U.S. Air Force. I have visited Germany many times and have had the opportunity to see family on their trips to the U.S. My mother attempted to speak German in the house to get us acclimated prior to our overseas trips or when family came to visit. Unfortunately, we missed an excellent opportunity to become bilingual in our childhood.

I completed German courses in high school, one class in college, and have used various home study courses to brush up my skills. I decided to “go all in” six years ago with the goal of calling my mother on her birthday, speaking to her only in German. With that big goal in mind, I dedicated a significant amount of time and energy to accomplish it.

My plan including taking two local community college courses, hiring a private instructor, joining a monthly German meet-up, and beginning weekly calls with a lifelong friend of my mother, who has known me from birth. In my spare time, I was consumed with self-study home courses. I was motivated and spent nearly two years on this goal.

I remember that day well. We were still living in the Bay Area and I was walking with my wife along the Pier 39 area in San Francisco in April 2010. I called my mother and wished her a Happy Birthday in German. She responded in German and a couple sentences later, she was speaking English. I continued to respond and direct the conversation back to German. Nearly 20 minutes into this conversation I remember her saying something that still sticks with me today: “Ich bein sehr stolz!” (I am very proud!) That was a defining moment for me; those two years of work were worth it!

Now I have an opportunity to take a trip to Germany in September with my mother’s lifelong friend (the same one who helped me with German) and her daughter whom I have known since she was born. They are traveling to the same area where my relatives and family live. This is a golden opportunity for me to work on my German again and to keep the family connection strong.

We bring power to our goals when we can accomplish many other benefits

The Germany trip and language goals are big for me. I have found that when I combine many different goals together I can gain some momentum and help generate the motivation I need to stick to a big goal. Examples: listening to language courses when exercising or when engaged in slow travel.

Less than a year after her birthday call in 2010, my mother began developing signs of Parkinson’s disease. In July three years ago, she entered a skilled nursing home at only 71 years of age. This has been tough on my family and stepfather especially. One of the disease’s effects on my mother’s body is that her mind is slowly shutting down. This has affected her ability to communicate. When she has a difficult time speaking, she is now reverting to using German, her native language.

Who would have known a goal I had six years ago—to speak with my mother in German—would have turned out to be so important to me and to my mother? My mother receives calls from German relatives and friends periodically that my stepfather attempts to answer. Essentially, he holds the phone to my mother’s ear, attempting to give health updates. He speaks almost no German, even though his family is also from Germany. This has made communication with family difficult.

An additional note: Neither my brother and nor stepsisters speak German, and my stepsisters have never visited their relatives in Germany. I am the last link to our German heritage on both sides of our family. It is up to me to keep the communication alive. Talk about motivation!

Making some strides

I began this post by describing how our old buddy is being replaced with our new whiteboard. This monologue quickly morphed into a discussion about health, family, and German. It simply reaffirms why being clear on short-term goals can help shape and accomplish long-term objectives.

I plan on making my three goals a priority over the next three months. Our new whiteboard is now hanging on the back of my home office door, enabling us to read it on a daily basis. It is important for me to plan on hiking, while listening to my language studies, immersing myself in both health and German.

The benefits of these goals are that my visits with my mother will be more rewarding and helpful, enabling me to converse in a manner that is easiest for her.

 

How about you, do you write down your goals and measure their results? If so, has it helped you accomplish your top priorities?

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Happy New Year’s Day and a Successful New Year http://www.justonemoreyear.com/happy-new-years-day-and-a-successful-new-year/ Fri, 01 Jan 2016 00:15:09 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=1081 We wish our readers a Happy New Year and a prosperous new year.  We hope you have had some time to reflect on the year that has ended and you are excited with the promise to what the new year can bring.  We hope on New Year’s Day you are not waking up from having […]

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We wish our readers a Happy New Year and a prosperous new year.  We hope you have had some time to reflect on the year that has ended and you are excited with the promise to what the new year can bring.  We hope on New Year’s Day you are not waking up from having too many adult beverages on New Year’s Eve.  Finally, we hope you are not waking up to a mountain of debt and financial challenges.  Reading blogs like this one may help on the last point.

Happy New Years
Happy New Year

For me, the New Year brings a clean slate and hope for a better future.  It has a way of cleansing the negative aspects of the year, giving us inspiration for things to improve.  It is a new beginning, much like the change of the seasons.  A time filled with hope for the new and unexpected.

We don’t create New Year’s resolutions

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in setting goals.  We set them every three months, on an annual and 3-year basis in our household.  I consider it my magic genie, all I have to do is write down these goals, put some energy and motion behind them, and they tend to manifest.  Granted, not everything comes true.  If everything did, maybe your goals are not a stretch or aggressive enough.

We don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  I mentioned we do set annual goals; however they might fall from a calendar perspective in April or August.  They usually do not occur on the New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day schedule.  It really depends on what else is going on in our lives at the time.

We set quick and actionable goals

Our focus is on accomplishing short-term goals on a 3-month basis.  This keeps us focused on what is important now and not necessarily for the next year.  We do have some overall strategy of what we want to accomplish in the long term, but working on the short term seems to yield us better results.

I have found when our goals and dreams are too far into the future, it is difficult to stay motivated.  Saving $4 on latte for 35 years is too difficult for me to do without losing interest.  Working a side gig, saving aggressively, and getting things done in a 3-month window gives me results I can measure.  Not only that, it helps me stay motivated, giving me the encouragement to continue when things get difficult.

Regarding saving for retirement accounts, we measure our progress on a yearly basis when we rebalance, and occasionally check our payroll stub’s year to date contribution for feedback on our progress.  That works for us.

 

2016 will be a great year for us.  We wish the same for you!

By the time you are reading this, we may have already moved to our new home.  We are less than a week away from being completely debt free.  This includes all consumer debt, the house, and a gaggle of rental properties.  It has been a long journey for us and we are looking forward to 2016.

We see much more travel in our future.  In February and possibly July, we will enjoy a 7-day cruise.  I have several work and personal related trips on the drawing board right now.  We will also plan to camp at least 20 nights this year.

We are past the point where we need to work.  We are working now to hit a couple pension and insurance milestones that will set us up for life.  These goals are both less than a year away.

I would like to thank our readers, commenters, and fellow blogging friends for following us.  We wish you a Happy and successful New Year.  Take care!

 

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Got Goals? A Bright Future is Only Four Months Away http://www.justonemoreyear.com/got-goals-a-bright-future-is-only-four-months-away/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/got-goals-a-bright-future-is-only-four-months-away/#comments Tue, 10 Nov 2015 00:41:20 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=939 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 […]

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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.

Goal Setting
Goal Setting

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.

 

Reminder Pro goals
Reminder Pro goals
  • 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

Conclusion

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?

Photo copyright: kittichais / 123RF Stock Photo

 

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On priorities: Our friend “Buck” stops here http://www.justonemoreyear.com/on-priorities-our-friend-buck-stops-here/ http://www.justonemoreyear.com/on-priorities-our-friend-buck-stops-here/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 00:03:50 +0000 http://www.justonemoreyear.com/?p=435 A beautiful array of wildlife passes through our backyard. We’ve seen foxes, coyotes, skunks, quail and other birds, lynx, javelina and, of course, plenty of deer. A while back we had a lone deer visit us several times over a couple of days. He settled in for a few hours during each visit. I named […]

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A beautiful array of wildlife passes through our backyard. We’ve seen foxes, coyotes, skunks, quail and other birds, lynx, javelina and, of course, plenty of deer. A while back we had a lone deer visit us several times over a couple of days. He settled in for a few hours during each visit. I named him Buck.

I think Buck had something on his mind.

08-03-2015_Buck again

“Buck”

Buck inspired in me one of those reflective moods…

I wonder what Buck is thinking about right now. Is he happy?

What are Buck’s goals and priorities?

Does he know that today is Monday, a workday? Does he even care?

I think we should have a conversation.

Observing wildlife in our yard

There are several families of quail living in our yard. We see entire families of baby quail chasing after their parents to the next bush for ground-cover. We often observe a herd of javelin sauntering through our side yard on their own path. This is part of their journey to the neighborhood trashcans. They appear to have their own internal calendars and to somehow know that Tuesday is trash day. Or maybe it is their incredible sense of smell?

08-03-2015_Herd of deer

View from the living room of wildlife in the yard

Most of these creatures tend to come around in the early morning or late evening. I have snapped multiple pictures of these animals over the past four years. Unfortunately the pictures are taken through windows or glass doors and so they are not the sharpest photos.

Our cat, “Hershey,” has a wonderful time each day watching all the activity from his various vantage points in the house. He keeps himself entertained for hours, gazing out the windows at the birds and lizards. We are animal lovers and I often wonder what is going on in animals’ minds.

My conversation with our occasional visitor, “Buck”

I work from home and spend a lot of time at my computer. I occasionally get up to walk around and stretch. Maybe take a trip to the kitchen to get a snack or a glass of water. One day, I saw a deer standing right outside near our patio.

Buck decides to sit down and stare at me.

08-03-2015_Conversation with Buck

Our uninvited but welcome guest, “Buck.” Is he waiting for lunch?

I stood there staring at Buck as he stared back at me. It had to be at least 10 minutes—hanging out and watching him, just to see what he would do. He merely sat there, gazing back at me. I finally went back to work.

After several hours, I passed through the living room and noticed that Buck was still there! I wondered what the heck was going on, so I decided to have a conversation with him.

Bryan: Hey Buck, my name is Bryan. Are you waiting on me for something? What’s on your mind?

Buck: Hey I am just lying down and hanging out. This gravel feels a lot more comfortable and less prickly than all those cactus plants around here.

 

Bryan: Do you have a family? It seems like most of the time we have visitors of the deer persuasion, they are part of a herd. Are you a loaner?

Buck: Yup, it’s just me. Last year I found a nice lady and had a kid. I didn’t like the family life so I moved on.

 

Bryan: That sounds very lonely, Buck. I guess it’s fine if it’s what you want. Speaking of wanting, do you set any goals? What are your priorities?

Buck: Man, you think too much. I am just hanging out and enjoying the weather. OK, if you must know I guess I have three priorities: try to stay alive, wonder what’s for lunch, and think about how nice it would be to meet another doe. But as I mentioned before, I have commitment issues.

 

Bryan: That sounds like a pretty simple life. Don’t you ever worry about having enough food or a place to sleep?

Buck: Nope, I pretty much live in the moment. Why worry about future stuff that will probably never happen? I have made it the last seven years without missing too many meals and have never really had difficulty finding a place to sleep. In fact, I might just take a nap right now.

 

Bryan: Wow! That sounds like a pretty simple life to me.

Buck: My life is pretty simple. I don’t have much stress and life is good. How about you, what are your priorities? That seems important to you.

 

Bryan: That’s simple for me to answer: we want to achieve debt freedom, financial independence, and leave our jobs for good.

Buck: What are debt, financial independence, and jobs?

 

Bryan: As humans, we tend to obsess about gaining freedom after years of having to do tasks that other people tell us to do (work) in exchange for the money they pay us. We keep doing it, though, so that we can eat, have a home (shelter) and some nice shiny things to fill it up. Also, we work so we can buy a car to drive to work. We can’t wait to stop to working for other people. Once we think we have enough saved to last the rest of our lives, we will be able to stop working.

Buck: I have to tell you, that doesn’t sound very good—having to do what other people tell you to do. Not me, I do whatever I feel like doing every day. If you truly own your things, how is it I get to lounge around in your yard? It sounds like your things own you.

 

Bryan: I guess I could come out there and tell you to leave but I have enjoyed this conversation. On that note, I have to go back to this electronic device and phone, to do things for a bunch of people who tell me what to do so I can save money to not need to work for them anymore. Take care!

Buck: Wow, that is screwed up! I think I will take a nap and go get something to eat later.

It’s too bad animals don’t talk

Based on pet ownership in this country, I imagine a lot of our readers have domestic pets. I often wonder what is going through our cat’s mind. Dog lovers know that their dogs can have very expressive faces when they interact with people. I wonder what is going through Buck’s mind. I suspect he lives totally in the moment.

In my imaginary conversation with Buck, I reflected on whether he has goals, desires, or priorities. I can only guess his are to stay alive, eat, and procreate. Those are very fundamental items at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We are fortunate that our basic needs are covered in our lives.

We have benefited tremendously with the clarity of our top three priorities: debt freedom, financial independence, and leaving our jobs ASAP! Decisions are easier to make when we base those decisions on whether they align with our priorities.

We are blessed and fortunate for our accomplishments. Our focus now is on our top priorities. This enables us to keep distractions to a minimum, removing the rest of the clutter and disruptions in our lives that deflect us from those objectives. Our continued emphasis on setting goals aligned with our priorities will soon enable us to have the simple lifestyle that Buck enjoys in our own backyard.

 

Can you name your top three priorities in your life right now?  Do you sometimes feel like you are only working for your stuff?

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