Goals-setting for 2014, a common practice this time of year. Most of us reflect on what we have accomplished the previous year and determine what we would accomplish in the next. Although many people go through the process of setting goals and then forget or completely dismiss them, sometimes the process is very helpful and productive. Following is the basic outline for my three main goals. So, let’s get right to it!
This is a broad goal but is so important for all of us. Although our age plays into the factors related to our wellness, there are a lot of ways that we can improve the quality of our lives through healthy living. Aim for reasonable goals that will improve how we feel or how we look. If you don’t see positive changes, then make adjustments. To be healthy, we need to eat healthy meals, avoid junk food, and get enough rest. It also means having a positive outlook, being hopeful for the future, and, of course, being a lifelong learner.
- Exercise – do stretching, yoga, dancing, gardening, walking, biking, or whatever else it is that keeps you physically active for at least 20 minutes per day, every single day of the week. Enter the number of minutes spend doing this activity on your calendar or in a journal so that you can track your accomplishments. If you already exercise, add more 20-minute exercise sessions to your current routine. The important idea is to increase the amount of time you spend doing some form of daily activity. Currently, my routine is to do daily stretching, yoga and floor exercises. However, this year, I’m going to incorporate different DVDs and/or books into my routine. Some of the books that I will be using are the exercises starting on page 73 of the The Engine 2 Diet Book. I have also recently purchased a DVD on Pilates for Beginners from the Gaiam Home Page.
- Healthy Eating – try to eat more of a basic, plant-based diet at least one to two days per week. Plant-based means that a meal does not consist of any meat, fish, or dairy. If you’re not accustomed to this type of eating, it will take a little meal planning at first, but it is well worth the time. Over time, you’ll find it’s also one of the easiest and least expensive ways of healthy eating. If you are already on the path to eating less meat and/or dairy, continue to do so. The goal is to decrease the amount of sugars, fats, cholesterol, oils, and preservatives from your diet. Several recipes are on this blog but The Happy Herbivore Cookbook” and The Engine 2 Diet Book also contain recipes that have become some of our best-loved dishes.
- Healthy Outlook – try to do things that are out of the normal course of the day. Take up a hobby, help someone, or learn something new. Take an online class, join the local YMCA or gym, or volunteer. New opportunities open up all the time if you’re looking for them. Take on a project and get to work on it. For me, I’m starting a new tutoring class at an inner city school. Yes, it goes along with my job because I’m a teacher. However, this class did not previously exist because there was no one willing to take the time. So, am I open to do it? Yes. Will it help someone? Yes. Will I be fulfilling a need? Absolutely.
This second goal is important because, without at least some form of wealth, we don’t have capability to enjoy life. It’s also important for us to have the financial ability to pass a legacy onto our children and grandchildren, and to be charitable. I’ve written several articles on the blog about personal finance because it is important and it is one of my passions.
However, the more I research about personal finance, the economic environment, the global economy, investment, debt, student loans, and the housing market, the more I realize that there’s a disconnect between the American public and the financial industry. It is painfully obvious that what the media has long touted as benefits for savings, or education, or retirement, or tax-advantaged plans are leaving many Americans much less secure than they had anticipated. To listen to the news, one might surmise that the public is just “unprepared” or they haven’t “saved” enough. However, the truth is that taxes and fees eat away at earnings — so that balances are much less than expected. An eye-opening video on PBS titled “The Retirement Gamble” is a report that explains the fees associated with 401k plans.
If you have education or retirement accounts, some of the questions to ask yourself might be: Is this the best place for our funds? Does this account have any restrictions (ie: age, timelines, amounts) that are outside of my control? How much would it cost in taxes to deplete the account? What will it cost in taxes next year if we pull the funds out? (Of course, we don’t know what taxes will be next year and THAT is the point.) Would this be a good year to start an online or ecommerce business that would offset some of the taxes? If we don’t utilize these traditional, yet out-of-our-control types of accounts, where do we deposit our hard-earned funds?
I’ll be writing more on this in the next several weeks. For now, these are questions that you might want to consider because they may become goals for 2014.
This is the easiest of the three goals because we like to travel; we don’t have to go very far to see some of the coolest places or to take in a new experience. We will, of course, make at least a couple of trips to New Mexico to visit family and we’re also planning a trip to Central America – Costa Rica, to be exact. But, the destination is only part of the goal. The rest of it is coming up with the funds, or scheduling the timeshare, or determining what activities we’d like to do, what cuisine we’d like to experience. Travel is one of those goals where the reward is built in. In other words, who wouldn’t want to make a goal out of having fun and taking a scenic tour somewhere? However, this goal makes us get out there. We don’t want to miss out just because we didn’t plan!
I realize this is a lot for one blog but I will answer any questions you may have.