The Best Time of Year

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I Love New Year’s – well, not exactly this New Year’s because my wife and I were both terribly ill with some sort of debilitating flu, but New Year’s as a time of year is just amazing.  It’s one of those times of year as an adult that you can reset and take a breath, the rest of the year (to me) is just a myriad of running around and a continuation of well, life.

I am looking forward to this year – I am 32 years old as of last month and as long as I continue to pass my courses I will have completed the education requirements of the Certified General Accountant’s program.  I just started a new job late in the year that I really like, and my wife and I are getting closer to financial independence all the time.

This is the time of year that people like to make lists of things they would like to change in their life.  Some people (like in Robert’s post yesterday) resolve to lose weight, other people would like to make more money, essentially there are things that people would like to change and now is the time they are going to do it.  In the past, I have successfully followed through on several of these grand schemes as well as summarily crashed in burned within a few days on others.

What I’ve found is that the times I have succeeded in creating real change is that the following was true:

1.) I was able to track the goal:  This year I would like to get stronger.  I have a two-pronged measurement for this – I would like to be able to do Chrissy (a kettlebell workout) in under 15 minutes, as well as being able to squat 300 lbs.  These are very measurable goals, and I could test both of them today and know where I stand (although I may not be able to stand tomorrow with my lack of weight lifting over the past few weeks).

A goal that is not trackable (and wouldn’t work for me) would be something like “being nice to people in the New Year” – how could I tell?  If I was making people emotional with my meanness and could cut down the number of people I made cry per day from 3 to 1 or something like that I would be able to see the results, but otherwise how will I stay focused for the year?

2.) The result was worth it to me:    Financial goals are generally something I focus on for the year.  Paying off my mortgage is my current goal and I revisit this goal every 2 weeks (when I get paid) to track my payments.  These results, an annual reduction of my debt load, are worth it to me.  This reduction in debt is not something that I’m going to give up because it gets hard when I want to go on vacation in the summer that may be expensive.

Applying these two broad guidelines when I am attempting to institute change allows me to stay focused on the end goal and ensure I am on track while I’m doing it.