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2019 Goals: From What Came Before To What's Ahead

2019 is here, and so are my objectives for the year. Like my annual looking back blog post, started last year, I’m publishing my plan again for what’s to come in 2019. This write-up provides me a motivational vision (and reference point) to focus on throughout the year as I wade through my priorities and circumstances. Finishing our student loans and my second book will be two large milestones, but that's not all I've got on the docket.

As I survey these themes and goals, I want my example to inspire and encourage you to forecast your year and set your own plan in motion. In December 2019 when you look back at the year, what do you want have seen happen?

Here’s what I’m expecting. 

2019 Themes

Themes are undergirding values driving my set goals. By articulating them, it helps ensure goals are aimed correctly, while also providing awareness to shift other aspects of my life in these directions for the year (even when I've not specifically outlined them here in the post).

Here are the five themes that encompass what 2019 is about for me.

  • Stricter Constraints: This involves getting more focused and detailed with how I accomplish my goals and structure life and work.
  • Rest More & Pace Well: Tied in with constraints, I'm planning my actions with rest and pacing in mind. This will ensure the thing I care about actually happens.
  • Grow Margin: The big goal here is paying off our student loans and leveraging this new cash flow for positive financial advancements.
  • Share Important Stuff: Whether it's my book, blogging, legacy gifts, or inviting people to church, my intent this year is sharing what matters most.
  • Fruitful Habits: Exercising, fasting, and digital free day ramp downs are a few ways I'm planning to live better and healthier.

Let's dive into the specifics of how I plan to use 2019 for fostering flourishing in my life, work, and community.

1. Sustaining Income, & Working Fewer Hours

As was my goal in 2018, I want to sustain my income and work less in 2019. In 2018, I was able to work 120 fewer hours while earning about $1,500 more. I worked the same number of hours in 2016 as I did in 2018, but earned almost $20k more this past year. 

This year, I want to work 22 fewer hours than 2018 while earning the same amount. This puts me at the following hour goal breakdown for achieving it.

  • 1,404 paid hours/year
  • 117 hours/month
  • 27 hours/week
  • 5.4 hours/day

2. Allocating Week Day Time Off Each Month

One of my goals this year is to take weekday time off each month seriously (I've been talking about it for too long). For me to do this, I need to specifically plan for it. So, I'm adjusting for at least 1 weekday off per month.

This results in the following pacing:

  • 28 hours 21 minutes per week (28.35)
  • 5 hours, 40 minutes per day (5.67)

Additionally, I also want to plan for the different number of weekdays each month has (since it varies). The average month has 21.75 weekdays. Two months only have 20 weekdays. Others have 23.

To always hit my goal, I'm planning as if every month only has 20 weekdays and I must accomplish my goal within 19 days of work per month. To accomplish this objective, I'll need to log 6 hours 10 minutes per day (6.16), or 30 hours and 48 minutes per week. 

This puts me at a slighter faster pace than 2018 but provides more structured time off. With some months having 23 weekdays, I'll be able to take up to 4 days off on those months or use them as days to focus solely on side project work or nonpaying business tasks. I'll have 228 days of paid work for the year to accomplish my goals. 

3. Containing Side Projects Within The Work Day

My work day is 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM. This gives me 9.5 hours to utilize for paid work, and now side projects. With 6.16 hours allocated towards paid work, I've got 3.34 hours every day to work on side projects, meet with people, attend events, or take breaks.

The intention here is to shoehorn my night and morning time that’s been allocated towards side projects and blogging into the work week. With more focus and precision, it’s a realistic goal. This first quarter of the year will be hardest as I'm ramping blogging up and working on finishing the book.

When done successfully, this gives me time outside the work week for running, reading, family time, and exercise. More on that in a bit, but first let's chat about my largest side project.

The Jump: From Chaos to Clarity for Your Stalling Small Business

Outside of finishing off our student loans (more on that below), this is the biggest milestone of 2019. Most of the heavy lifting has been completed, so now its time to move the ball from the red zone to the end zone.

I’ll spend the next three months finishing the manuscript, gathering feedback, and editing it. With a spring finish, I’ll plan to publish my second book for small business owners in the summer or fall!

4. Blogging 50 New Articles

With so much going on in 2019, blogging is going to happen less often to make room. My goal now is simply to sustain a new weekly post for the year. It’ll likely be a bit sporadic this first quarter, but I plan to keep it up in the midst of it all. You can click here for more details on what to expect from my 2019 blogging efforts.

Content Distribution Testing 

Last year, I completed my goal of accumulating over 400 blog posts. With such a strong focus on creating content with limited time, my energy with getting it in front of people was quite limited. This year, I'd like to take some of the ideas I've been tinkering with and push them further.

Here is what I've got on the docket.

    • Republish 10 articles to Medium in 10 subsequent weeks.
    • Create 10 vertical graphics on my top 10 posts, and share on Pinterest.
    • Post 50 comments on other Medium articles.
    • Write 5 guest blog posts for other websites.

Based on how these extended experiments play out will determine how and what I do with each after the fact.

5. Pay Off Our Student Loans 

As we entered 2019 our student loan balance was $19,225.11. At the rate we’ve been paying it off, we expected to finish in August. Unfortunately, we’ve had some unexpected hiccups, so it looks like it’s actually going to be delayed to September. 

But, unless something hugely unexpected happens, it will be finished this year. This transformational moment in our journey will reflect how long and hard we’ve worked for it. Once it's completed, it'll change our financial ability to save and invest in the long-term, significantly.

6. Exercise, Fasting, & Analog Nights

While I've made many attempts for prioritizing my health over the years, they've all fallen by the wayside. This year, it's getting more structured attention and mental prioritization.

  • Running: Last year, my goal was running 9 miles per month. My intention is to carry this goal into 2019 as my starting point for exercising this aging body. I'm keeping it simple and plan to build up from that foundation.

  • Fasting: Due to the health benefits of fasting, I've long been interested in establishing this as a habit in my life. My goal is to do a monthly 72 hour fast (water only). To build up to this, I'm going to slice the year into three parts. For the first four months, I'll do a 24 hour fast each month. Months 5-8 will involve a 48 hour fast, and the last four months will include a 72 hour fast each month. While I'm not doing it for spiritual reasons, I expect there will be a benefit in these times to drawing near to Jesus.

  • Analog Nights: We sleep better when we're not on our technology devices before bed. By shifting my blogging and side projects to the work week, I'll now free myself up to realistically have analog nights during, at least, the hour before going to sleep. So I don't just scan twitter or my articles feed, my plan is to read books, and a Bible reading plan that benefits my kids (more on that in the next section).

7. A Marked Up Bible For The Kids

Last year, I read My Utmost for His Highest daily, and a verse of the day from the Youversion Bible app. My plan this year is getting back into reading through the scriptures, from beginning to end. I've done this once (taking two years to complete), and in 2019 will begin my second trek. 

The difference this time is my plan of going through the Jesus Centered Bible (affiliate link) while writing and highlighting along the way. The goal is to give this Bible to my daughter when I've completed it. In subsequent years, I'll do the same for the other four kiddos so I'm locked into reading through the entire Bible at least five times before they all leave :-)

8. Scheduled One on One Time With Wife (& Kids)

Every week for the past several years, I've taken one of the kids on a date, cycling them throughout the month. This means I'm spending one-on-one time with each kid at least 12 times per year (which I plan to sustain).

Since one on one time with me and my wife is usually relegated to whatever scraps we have at the end of the day, my intention this year is to intentionally spend time together weekly. The ultimate goal is to have a casual standing lunch every weekday together, but that'll be a while before we can make happen. In the meantime, we'll plan to make it happen once a week.

9. Stay Fully Engaged At Gwinnett Church

We're fully committed to Gwinnett Church in Sugar Hill. It's the primary reason we moved to the location our house is planted.

There are four ways we can go deeper with the church, and we plan to continue with all four.

    1. Volunteering
    2. Small Group Participation
    3. Giving
    4. Inviting Others To Church

Wrapping It Up

Reigning in my activities and organizing them better gives me the opportunity to more effectively share, inspire, and equip others. In some ways, it's going to make it harder now, but it'll give us more margin and benefit later.

For example, we throw $2,600/month at our student loans each month. Imagine what we can do with that money when its paid off?

After publishing my second book, I'll have to products to share and sell. It's two books in a future library that will build a beyond me system and build passive income.

The systems I'm creating and using for containing my work, providing rest, and giving me margin with people are essential for the next stage of life where many of these actions will be less necessary and more voluntary.

2018 was great, and 2019 seems to be a handoff year from what's come before and what's ahead for us. I'm excited to launch into it! 

Hero Photo by Mikito Tateisi on Unsplash

Annual Starting Point

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