Since I’m big on reflection, it only seems natural that come the end of the year for me to take stock on what I’ve done and/or accomplished over the past 365 days to see what I’ve (a) learned, (b) enjoyed, and (c) things I’ll want to do again, and (d) those I’ll avoid like the plague.
In retrospect I (Paula and I) had a pretty good year; although looking at all of the goals staring down at me from my goals board that appear stalled, you wouldn’t know it. Many (okay, most) of my goals from last year are still printed on dangly bits of paper and have recently been updated with new completion dates (scribbled on with a Sharpie) for the sole purpose of buying me more time to actually get them done; what the heck is going on here? After all, I’m supposed to be “Mr. Personal Development”! Why haven’t I travelled to Turkey yet? How come I haven’t finished writing that book I’ve been working on for five years? Why hasn’t our net worth hit a million? And most of all, why the hell do I still weigh 218 lbs?!
At first glance, the answer to all these injustices is obvious: there must be a serious flaw in the space-time continuum that’s screwing up my goal timelines, right? That’s got to be the answer… or is it? Looking a bit closer, I can see the real reasons why these goals still remain on my board; and while it’s still not due to the miscalculations of a flawed universe, (I wish) it’s also not the result of common excuses for lack of achievement such as (a) excessive procrastination or (b) too much time spent watching “The Walking Dead” and “Breaking Bad”; in fact, it’s not even close. The only reason that I didn’t get these very worthwhile goals accomplished in 2013 is quite simply this:
THEY WEREN’T MY TOP PRIORITIES THIS YEAR
Taking another gander at my goals board I can see where my (our) time and energies went, which in turn, also sorted out what our top priorities for the year were. Looking back at what we actually did achieve I think we did okay, since those particular goals all began as big, bold ambitions that required a lot of “sucking it up” and sacrificing to bring them to fruition; which, by the way, is also the reason why things like a trip to Turkey or more time spent on my book fell by the wayside.
In hindsight I’m glad we did put our focus on these particular things, because most of them will have a long term impact for us, whereas a trip abroad or a new car (BMW 320 I Series, but whose really dreaming?) would honestly have more “short-term” impacts for us, but would ultimately have left us feeling they weren’t the right choices at this time. We are very driven by fiscal management and financial security, and this year we focused much of our monetary efforts on (a) investing and (b) paying down mortgage debt; we figure that once we own our home and have a decent amount of cash in reserves, we will have more time, money and freedom to do those other things, and probably a lot more often than if we did them now. So yes, this method does require (quite) a bit of discipline, commitment and restraint.
Other than finances, my personal efforts were mostly put on 3 things: First, my writing; but not the “Oh-when-the-hell-will-I-be-finished?” book, but this blog – wiring all the content, blog posts, etc. is so much to learn, and there was lots of time invested to try and keep it looking fresh, interesting, as well as a good read. When I wasn’t writing I spent a lot of time with my family, plus a few hours each week trying to keep this 52-year old frame from completely falling apart.
Keeping these priorities in mind, here’s what I’m most proud of from 2013; hopefully you’ll be able to see why I didn’t have the time or money for book writing, globe-trotting or HBO; even better, I won’t have to keep making up any more excuses for my lack of achievement in these areas, and I’m okay with that… for now at least!
1. This Blog: My proudest achievement this year, for sure, mainly because I had to find a good designer who could decipher all my code and crazy ideas, and put them on the screen to represent the personal messages of life, adventure, travel and food that I want to tell to the world. Writing “My Stories”, the “New Here” section and general content /concept took many revisions, and is still a work in progress. I’m very proud of the blog, and my goal for it in 2014 is to grow it’s subscription base, and create a community that helps and supports people to achieve their own goals and dreams, wherever they happen to find themselves on their journey . It’s been one billion hours well spent… I hope!
2. Paid Down Our Mortgage: This was a biggie, and where the lions share of our after-tax cash went due to a couple of extra payments. A few years back Paula and I ran the numbers and figured if we went mad paying our mortgage over 4 to 5 years, we could probably be debt free in 14 years from the day we began our 35-year amortization… how crazy is that? We are about to enter year 7 and in pretty good shape; check back at the end of 2017 and see how far we get, and if all goes well, (barring any unforeseen circumstances) there may even be a big, fat goose egg waiting for us… exciting stuff! Either way, we are proud of this massive pay down for sure!
3. Got Tristan a Volunteering Gig at a Local Radio Station: Very proud of this achievement for 2 reasons; first, there was a lot of leg work and research involved on my behalf, but we did it together, including Tristan attending an interview, working a radio-thon, etc. until he became a fixture at the station, and someone they knew they could count on. Secondly, I’m super proud how seriously he’s taken it, and the confidence he’s gotten from his work. He interviews musicians, edits the interviews, adds music and makes sure they come in at the allotted time allowed; once this process is complete, the station airs them – how cool is that? It’s really awesome to see how this young man with restricted abilities really shines in this new role. I’m PROUD-PROUD-PROUD of him!
4. I Kept Up My Exercise Routine: Sure, this shouldn’t be a big deal, but for me it has been, and I’m pleased. Fortunately I’ve found sort of a “sweet spot” between the physical and mental discipline needed to get to the gym between 3 – 4 times each week, and have been able to keep it up, and as a result, have stayed in reasonably good shape all year; I say “reasonably” because I still love my chicken wings and beer and figure if I’m exercising, then I should be allowed to have them too! That’s fair, right? Right? Anyway, I’m found a pretty good rhythm, and for that I feel good – except tonight when I’m here writing instead of on the treadmill working off the beer and chicken wings I’m about to have for dinner! (Hang on: It’s beginning to make sense…)
5. Sent Paula to Australia with No Notice: Last October Paula’s dad suddenly had to go into emergency surgery “down under”, so we made the split decision to get her down there to be with him a.s.a.p. – no if’s, ands or buts about it. Paula was a bit hesitant at first (since it was a lot of money) but we agreed this was the best possible thing we could do as a family, and then just did it. And mere 4 days later when her dad came out post op, she was by his side, and boy was he thrilled to see her – talk about your alternative medicine! The good news is that he’s doing pretty well these days, so we are thrilled; but regardless of however it turned out, Paula’s stepmother and dad had an extra special week because of my special girl, especially at a time when they all needed it most, and we are grateful for that. Family First, right?
6. Grew Our Net Worth: What goes down, must go up! I can’t take the credit for this, but after years and years of “Dollar Cost Averaging” coupled with not selling all our stocks when the world economies tanked a couple of years ago finally paid off; the stock market rebounded with a vengeance last year, and we were happy to collect some long overdue dividends from it. I’m not 100% sure we’ll ever hit that one million dollars, but as they say: “Shoot for the moon, and at the very least, you’ll hit a few stars along the way!” And of course, we both saved each month in our RRSP’s.
What Didn’t Go So Well in 2013
1. Terrible Vacation to Mexico: We go to Puerto Vallarta every year, and this year we decided to spend the extra $500 for the pleasure of flying directly from Victoria… with a stop over in Calgary? WTF? When we finally got to the “resort” it was a tiny, dirty 40-year old hotel that still had the original grout in the bathrooms, and original waiters serving in the single “restaurant”; it had one pool (which held 1,000 screaming local kids and grandmas) no hot tubs, no spa and no real bar. Worst of all it was right next door and in plain view of the awesome resort we stayed at last year, complete with its swim up bars, pool parties, all night snack bars and full service restaurants, which is what we spent seven days and night staring at, trying to figure out how to jump the fence unnoticed! I know, I know, any trip to Mexico is better than NO trip to Mexico, right? Maybe – but next time I’ll be better prepared for what I get myself into; heck, their salsa wasn’t even as good as mine!
2. I Lost My Temper A Few Times: I won’t get into specifics as it was only really 2 or 3 times (and never with my family) but I’m embarrassed that I lost it with some people who to be honest did some really dumb things that affected us; I’m embarrassed mostly because I don’t want to be “That guy with a bad temper” anymore, but it is a struggle at times, especially when things are caused by others foolish behaviors, but I know that won’t change so it’s up to me to change… but dang, it’s hard sometimes!
3. I Wasn’t Always as Patient as I Needed To Be: Another struggle for me, and I can think of two specific times where I let impatience get the better of me, and made people who I love feel bad because of it. I apologized, of course, but it doesn’t make the fact that I couldn’t just “hang on” for a few more minutes any less embarrassing for me, or shut up about something that is really nothing to do with them; let’s just say it looks like I’ll have lots and lots more “personal growth” to do; that is, only if I want to outgrow this bad habit!
4. I Probably Drank More Wine Than I Should Have: Why would I do such a terrible thing to myself? Please see # 3 and you will understand. Cheers!
Well, that’s a brief round up of the main things that worked and didn’t work for me this past year. This year I promise to work hard on my goals, but also equally as hard on my faults; I’ll try to be a better person in 2014 than I was in 2013 – not that I was all that bad. At the end of the day, I’ll classify this as a good year in the overall journey, with a few lessons learned. Thanks for listening to my review, and by the way…
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
What goals were you able to put a dent in this past year? What didn’t go as well as you had hoped or planned? Please let us know in the comments below!