Well, we are a fourth of the way through the year and I’m still at least talking about my new year’s resolutions so I guess that is a good thing. As we all know it can be quite challenging to achieve big long term goals like a New Years resolution. Hopefully, everyone out there is still crushing any big goals they set for themselves. Without wasting much time lets just get right into how I’m doing.
Goal # 1 Spend Less Time On My Phone – Wow Grant you can’t really get much vaguer can you. I just didn’t know how much time I was spending so it was tough to put a number on it. Anyway, I spent about a month tracking my time using an app called Break Free. The app gives you an addiction score every day which is a combination of a number of times you unlock your phone and the total screen on time plus talk time. My results were shocking. I was averaging around two and a half hours of screen time per day and over 100 unlocks. What! That is crazy. I often criticize people about their TV watching habits yet here I am spending almost 20% of my waking hours on my phone.
I decided a reasonable goal would be for me to get into the consistent habit of spending less than one hour per day on my phone. Instead of just saying spend less than one hour per day on my phone I have tried to take on actionable step per week to decrease my time. My steps have included, deleting all social media apps including youtube, turning off notifications for email and text messages, taking my work email off my phone and making it rule that I can’t touch my phone in the bathroom or in bed. I have gradually been trending down and just last week I averaged one hour and seventeen minutes.
Goal #2 Maintain Weight at 170-175lbs Without Tracking – The big part of this goal is not the losing weight part but the maintaining that weight without tracking or really even thinking about it. I want roughly 172 pounds to be my new set point. In the past when cutting weight I always just jump in head first, start tracking calories, weighing food and doing cardio every day. As one would expect the weight comes right off but the problem starts once I decide I don’t want to lose any more weight. What I usually tell myself is that now would be a perfect time for a bulk so I can get back any of that strength and muscle I may have lost. I always promise myself that this is going to be a super controlled bulk where I only gain about a pound a month. At the end of 6 months, I will have usually gained about 15 pounds. By the end of the year, I am usually back where I started.
Obviously, the reason this weight gain happens is that I have quit doing all of the daily cardio and food tracking. This time I am trying to build some habits for life that will help me maintain my weight once I get down there. I have been slowly increasing my cardio time every week to a level that I feel like I should be doing every week indefinitely. Have taken some steps to be more mindful about what I am eating. Trying to eat slower and listen to my body so that I am not stuffing myself. The weight loss has been insignificant so far but I feel like I am building a good base of habits. I am hopeful that I will be able to get down to my goal weight by just setting different rules and goals every week like no alcohol except Saturday, only one cheat meal per week, plan every meal the morning or week of.
Goal #3 Increase Net Worth By 10% – This goal has been absolutely crushed. We have already hit our one-year goal by March 28th. Most of this happened in the form of Theresa having a stellar year at work and got an unexpected bonus, we actually got money back on our tax return (thanks Brooke), the stock market went up and our home value jumped up. In addition to all of the fortunate things we have also cut our cell phone bill in half, canceled our gym membership and increased 401k contributions.
My focus for the rest of the year will be on cutting expenses as all of the saving and investing is on cruise control. I plan on taking a detailed look at all of our expenses over the last year and seeing where we can improve. I would love to figure out a way to get our expenses the same as they were before we had a baby. Might not be possible without switching to a 100% ramen diet but we shall see.
Goal #4 Increase Blog Traffic to 1,000 Page Views Per Month – It is fun to think about having people that are actually reading what you are writing. So far the blog traffic has gone from basically zero to 100 page views in March. I am just starting to put myself out there a little bit. In fact, I haven’t even told my friends and family yet. It actually takes a lot of guts just to publish posts every week but it is really tough to think about what all of your friends, family, and co-workers would say about you.
So far my only action has been consistently making some comments on other blogs that I already read. I never even knew all the people with linked names were actually links to their blogs. Glad other people know that because a little bit of traffic has been trickling my way because of it. I think once I can get over be concerned with what other people will say and actually tell the people closest to me I think I will start rolling on this one. Certainly, needs lots of attention in Q2 if I am going to make this goal a reality.
Goal #5 Develop a Night Time Routine – Clearly another vague goal. I am still working on figuring out the details with this one. I am looking to develop some night time ritual that enhances’s my life in some way. Smarter, happier, more productive, etc. I started out just reading but just this week I am now trying out creating a to-do list for the next day. I am going to keep toying around with the different methods of creating to-do lists before bed for a couple months and see if I want to that or read or both or something totally different.
Goal #6 Plan 12 Memorable Dates – This is 12 dates that actually involve some thoughtful planning to go experience something new together. Doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant it just has to be unique. This is not just going out to dinner at the same place you always go and then watching X-Men. This seems like such an easy goal but it is really quite difficult when you have a newborn. It is so incredibly easy to make excuses as to why you can’t or shouldn’t leave the baby for an evening to go enjoy yourself. Even the time involved with planning them gets pushed aside for more “important” things.
So far we have gone on two. I had another one planned for February but the little lady got her first ear infection and we decided there was no way we were leaving her. Still got 9 months to make it up.
Goal #7 Read and Implement Two Books on Parenting – Okay this was admittedly a very easy goal but that doesn’t make it unimportant. And, I doubt it would have got done had I not put it on my goal list. I decided to read The Whole-Brain Child and Be Prepared. I thought both were really good. Whole-Brain child is not really applicable to infants and I would say mainly aimed at kids ranging from about 4-10 years old. The book has very simple methods for teaching your kids to be mindful of their emotions, thoughts, feelings, and actions. They give good summaries of each chapter with action items. They even break down implementing certain techniques differently by the age of the child. I will be getting this book out again for another read in a year or two when I can actually start putting these techniques to the test.
Be Prepared is a pretty fun handbook. It is aimed at Dads but actually is extremely practical knowledge for Moms too. The book is very easy to read with lots of pictures and diagrams. The book is very direct and to the point. It doesn’t go into a lot of detail on things and certainly doesn’t get into the science behind everything. This is about as close to an owner’s manual as you will ever get for a baby. The book is 240 pages but most people will knock it out in a couple hours.
I may end up reading another book on infant development as the Whole-Brain Child isn’t really applicable at this moment. If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear about them.
Goal #8 Learn To Speak Spanish – And by speak I mean very poorly communicate with someone in Spanish. This has been a fun but extremely challenging goal. I have started listening to the audio lessons by Pimsleur. So far I am on Level 1 Lesson 24. I have been amazed how difficult I have found these lessons to be. I read reviews from people saying that all the Level 1 lessons were way too easy but I haven’t found any of them to be easy.
I listen to a lesson on the way to work in the morning which is not as ideal as sitting down at a table and quietly listening but it is a good use of time in the car. I have listened to at least 4 lessons a week since January but I am having to repeat these lessons multiple times to feel like I am ready to move on. Pimsleur has 5 Levels and I plan on getting through all of them but it looks like that might not be until the end of next year at the rate I’m going.
Summary and Tips
Staying on track with goals can be difficult. It is easy to be motivated on January 1st when you are making this big list and fantasizing about the future. Overall, I am satisfied with my progress that I have made so far. The two biggest wins are getting an hour of my life back so far by decreasing my cell phone time and hitting our 1-year financial goal in April. The two areas that need some extra love for this coming quarter are my weight and getting my blog views up. Increased focus and daily action will take care of those.
If you are struggling to make progress towards your goals let me offer some advice. Write down your goals and try to be as specific as possible. Write down why that goal is important to you and try to get as deep and emotional as possible. Next, write down one or two specific actions you could take this week that would move you closer to that goal. Review this list of action items every day. Finally, spend 30-60 minutes at the end of the week reviewing how you did and writing out your action steps for the following week.
How is everyone else doing on their goals? Any advice or warnings for the rest of us?