Saturday, December 31, 2011

Taking Stock of 2011


Photo information:  Photo from internet. Not sure the name of the photographer.

At the close of the year,  many of us look back and review how the year went.  Some of us,  make resolutions.  Others of us, set goals.  I've never been one to make resolutions but I usually do set some broad goals for myself.  Mostly these have been unwritten goals in 2-3 key areas.  For the first time last year,  I sat down and wrote out my goals in several major areas of my life.  Last year was also the first time I posted my goals on my blog.  Within each broad goal I identified, there are a number of smaller ones.  I didn't write these down, but kept them in mind as I moved through the year.

I wanted to see if writing and posting my goals would help keep me achieve some things that I "always want to do" but which just never seem to get done due to lack of time.  Does that sound familiar to you?  I've heard it said that if you want to make sure you do something, you need to make an appointment to do it.  Setting broad goals can help in setting those important appointments with yourself throughout the year, and keep you focused on what is important.  It can even help you decide where you will spend your money in a given year and help you be realistic about what you can and cannot achieve. 

Some of my regular readers know that I had major mobility issues this past year.  The lack of mobility and the constant pain impacted negatively on my ability to achieve a number of health goals, despite my best efforts. Nonetheless, I kept trying and I'm still trying.  Eventually I'll get there.  Having a very sick parent that was in and out of hospital and needed to move, also took up a lot of energy and resources.

While I did think about different ways to undertake some minor renovations in the kitchen, in the end I didn't make much progress on my "Home" goals.  I decided not spend anything in this area and I won't spend anything in this area unless I have saved it first.  Debt repayment and living within my means, or living under my means, is one of my key goals for the foreseeable future.  I've been making steady progress in this area over the past several years.  I've managed to make progress by organizing my finances to make things flow better (cutting interest rates and number of bills paid), implementing a lot of cost saving measures in running the household (food, electricity, buying medical prescriptions 3 months at a time instead of monthly, only shopping the sales flyers),  cutting costs on hobbies (buying books and yarn at thrift stores, buying exercise equipment rather than spending on gym members, buying used rather than second hand where cost effective, shopping the sales when buying new) and cutting out expenses that were no longer necessary or changing services to get better value for money (cable television, mobile internet, cell phone, pharmacist).

My debts do not prevent me from giving to charitable causes, like the Missions of Hope , my sponsored children or a variety of other needs.  I am a tither so giving ten percent or more of gross income is something that I do despite my other financial obligations.  Having said that, giving would be easier when debts are cleared.  No more debt would also give me more freedom to do what I'd like as well as prepare me better for whatever comes.

Of course, debt management is only one part of financial planning. One must also think about savings/investments for retirement, insurance needs, and paying off the mortgage while you still have the finances to do it.  If you are still working on all these steps don't forget to have a lawyer make up your Last Will & Testament.  Give some thought to your beneficiaries as well as your last wishes concerning "going home" arrangements.  It really isn't that expensive to have a lawyer draft your will so don't try to cut corners by going to a notary public.  It is better to see a lawyer who specializes in Wills & Estates matters.  So many people don't like to talk about these things but it is all a part of the life cycle and we must be grown up and practical about such things.  Otherwise you make it harder for those left behind to cope when they are grieving and having to sort through your personal and financial business.

While you're at it, you might also give some thought to having a lawyer draft up a legal document as to what you would like to have happen if you find yourself requiring life support.  Hospitals need to know whether their patients want to be resuscitated.  They get these wishes from the patient.  However, if the patient is too sick and weak to properly represent himself/herself, it really isn't a good idea to leave this decision until a critical time. It is important to know ahead of time and to give your loved ones your wishes in a legal document so that they can advocate for your wishes at the hospital.  More and more hospitals simply want to "pull the plug" before the family is fully ready. Don't be caught unaware on this one.  In Canada, this kind of legal agreement costs about twice as much (about $550.00) as I paid for my will (about $275.00) though the price may have gone up since I hired a lawyer.

Writing my goals down really helped to keep me on track and start doing the things I've been wanting to do,  like reading more and getting on with my swimming lessons.  While the achievement of my goals has been mixed, I am still happy with what I was able to achieve given my limitations and the always unexpected things that "pop up" to distract you.

I put a little mark beside those goals I was able to achieve, and an X beside those that I did not meet. If I was not able to action any goal, consistently throughout the year, I put an X beside it.

In 2012, I will undertake the same process of setting my goals in writing and posting them since I found it to be a helpful process.

* Make more time for prayer and study
* Research and obtain some good study materials
* Support one person in reaching their dreams/goals
* Make one loan to a female entrepreneur in a Kenyan village
* Cultivate and nurture my Christian friendships and broaden my base of friendships
* Write to my new sponsored children in Kenya, send them photos and family/birthday gifts

* Learn more about healthy diet for diabetics and incorporate pulses, grains, dark green veggies into cooking.
* Be more active & do more stretching X
* Ride my stationary bike for 30 minutes 3x per week, increasing to every day X
* Resume weight training X
* Continue with my swimming lessons
* Take a water aerobics class X
* Eat more vegan or vegetarian dishes. Limit protein eaten at any one meal. X
* Learn how to make make bar soap X
* Get more Omega 3 EFA, vitamins & fibre
* Daydream more X
* Laugh more X
* Watch more videos and invite friends for movie and popcorn X
* Use computer time more efficiently

* Continue to visit mom
* Learn about mom's special clothes needs
* Find new home for niece/mom

* Pay down debt X
* Learn tools to pay debt
* Live below income
* Save more X
* Continue saving in the snowflake jar fund for miscellaneous projects
* Think two or three times before impulse spending
* Implement strategic charitable giving (where my dollars will have the most impact to address grassroots needs) √

* Read at least two books per month
* Learn more about creating an edible garden X
* Embroider 1 medium-large piece X
* Crochet several doilies
* Knit slippers, learn to knit sweaters X
*Take a quilting course X

* Redecorate master bathroom X
* Continue major decluttering project and give to the goodwill
* Consider and save for minor kitchen upgrades X

How about you dear reader? 

Did you set goals last year and did you reach them?


eileeninmd said...

Sounds like you have planned and set some great goals. Most of which I should follow too. I wish you all the best in 2012 and a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

Lonicera said...

I enjoyed this post. I don't set goals or have resolutions, because I've never stuck to them in the past and it's like admitting I've failed. I seem to cope better with 'being taken by surprise' when I achieve something! Feeble. My will is sorted out, but as far as a living will is concerned, I'm influenced by a close friend who had an aneurism in 2006 and when things got worse, her husband reminded the doctors that she had a living will not to resucitate her (not legal in the UK). After much discusion they decided to ignore it if the situation arose - which it did - and she was one of those cases who came out of it. She's still around today, the same person as she was before, and I'm grateful for that. So I continue to dither about what I want if it should happen to me...
Anyway, have a happy new year, and may all your goals be easily achievable!

Linda said...

I'm so impressed with your efficient list-making and now, at the end of the year, your assessment! I wish I could get so organized -- you are amazing! I'm certain your list is effective and wise. Thanks for the inspiration.


Fred Alton said...

Love your ambitious goal-setting! I'm sure you will achieve many of these and your efforts will bless your friends. Tithing is one of those things I consider an investment. God promises great rewards for those who do that. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Roan said...

All in all, looks like you had a good goal year. We do what we can and continue working on what we can't. I hope you have a very happy and healthy new year.

Regina said...

Just want to wish you a happy new year and success on all your goals! I pulled my post in case my surprise gift was seen..anyway, as far as introspection, we're all given to some but finding reliable news is difficult. Staying informed and anchored in Christ- we can't go wrong. This is an excellent post-
Here is a link to (how the left conqured wikipidia)
Anyway..hope you enjoy your weekend Penny

Katy ~ said...

Bless are such a blessing to others.

Unknown said...

wow...that's amazing. i guess im bad at being organised on the personal front so tat needs to be my foremost goal. n hope i have a 'tick' against it by the end of 2012 :)

My Third Eye

My Castle in Spain said...

Lots of joy and love to you in 2012! And congratulations for all your goals! And yes I reckon it's a good thing to write them down :-)
xo Lala

clairz said...

What an honest, thoughtful, and inspirational post, Penny. I spent the past year on hundreds--a hundred charity sweaters knit (passed that goal in five years), 100 books read in 2011 (passed that goal, too), and 100 miles walked (almost there, not quite! This year will be better). It's good to take stock.

Happy New Year. You are always an inspiration.

Jo said...

Penny, you are amazing the way your set out these goals (I remember some from the beginning of/and during 2011) and how you've achieved them! Well done. You are so organized and an inspiration to me. Bless you for all you do for those less priviledged. May the Lord protect you and your loved ones this year and ahead. Blessings and (((hugs))) Jo

OtienoHongo said...

Joyful, this was very timely reading and I hope you meet most of your goals for this year. Funny that this is the second time in a matter of a few minutes that I am coming across the issue of "laugh more", something that I am resolving to also do more of this year (and loudly at that) as I found my laughter dying the last couple of years....and also I did not manage to take the swimming lesson :(

Brenda Green said...

Dear Friend,
Thank=you for sharing your goal and result with us your readers, I make a daily list of things to do around the house, and it keeps me on track and not scattered brain, I guess if I applied it to goals, it would really help, maybe after reading all yours, I will seriously think about it.
Also about dying, I worked at a funeral home, as a pre-need, and
at-need counselor, what a difference between someone who has made all the arrangements and a person who has not. At the time of death, the people are so upset they cannot even think, and out of guilt, or family issues they will spend more money on caskets and stuff, then even what the person would of wanted. I encourage you readers, from someone that has been there, please, take care of arrangements, they even have payment plans. Also, there is a little blue book that they have, that the people fill out, letting family members know everything that is involved with arrangements. It is a tremendous help to griving relatives.

Lauri said...

Sorry for taking so long to get around to your blog. It's lovely! As for your goals, they are ambitious which is great. I wish you all the luck with them. I also think it's good to set goals and take a look back to see how you've done.

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