2017 Review and 2018 Plans

With the New Year it is time to look back at the old year and make plans for the current year. To prepare for this post I looked back to see what my plans for 2017 were at the end of 2016. I didn’t make any goals for 2017, but rather listed a few different plans that I might follow. I ended up not following any of them.

There was a somewhat positive reason for not following my possible plans. I ended up getting hired full-time at my tax job.  That put the kibosh on my traveling plans and my plans to look for a different job.

One of my plans for 2017 was to finish my hike of the Appalachian Trail. My tax job limited the time I had to do that. My job does have an annual eight week unpaid vacation which I could have used to hike. Instead my GF and I traveled to Europe. We spent several days in Paris with a short two day side trip to London. My GF was only able to stay for nine days. After she left, I traveled on to Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam, and a couple of Amsterdam suburbs. We neither one had been to Europe before and were happy to finally visit.  My three weeks in Europe were the highlight of 2017 for me. The trip made me wish I could travel more.

The full-time job didn’t really help my finances as much as would have hoped. One reason for that is that I paid a lot towards my student loan during the first half of the year. My failed house purchase also wasted some money.  I did manage to make a maximum contribution of $6500 to my IRA. And I also put a couple thousand in my solo 401k and a thousand in an HSA.  So I guess I didn’t do too bad financially. It just seems like I should have made more progress after sacrificing a year of my life for a job.

Overall 2017 was just an okay year. I would like 2018 to be better. Here are some of my plans to make 2018 better. These are just preliminary plans for now, they will be fleshed out to actual goals later.

Save/Make More Money

I made the most money I ever made in a year in 2017.  Still, it shouldn’t be difficult for me to  make more money this year.  All I need to do is work more hours, especially the more lucrative overtime hours that are available during tax season. I’d also like to increase the money I make from my non-job sources.

I should be eligible to contribute to a 401k at work this year, although I haven’t received any sign up information for it yet.  Assuming I am able to contribute to the 401k, I should easily be able to increase the amount of money I save this year. I’ll be eligible to contribute $24k to the 401k.  That won’t be easy to do, but if I’m able to do it that would be a big increase in savings for the year.

Finish Hiking the Appalachian Trail

I have about 800 miles left to have hiked the entire AT.  During my eight weeks off of work, I should be able to finish this hike. This plan could get derailed as I’m often being tempted by cheap airfare to places I’d like to travel. I don’t know when my eight weeks off this year will be yet. If they end up being in July or August I’ll probably scrap the plan to finish the hike since I hate hiking in the heat. Hopefully, I’ll have time in late Spring or early Fall and will finally be able to finish this hike.

Lose Weight

This seems like it is a goal every year.  I did manage to lose 30 pounds back in 2014. I quickly gained most of that weight back though. Last year I ended up gaining even more weight and now weigh more than I did in 2014. I’m at my heaviest weight ever. There also some other health issues I have along with the weight.  I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and prediabetes.  Those health issues should improve or possibly go away if I get back to a healthy weight.  This year I need to get serious about losing weight. It is the most important goal I’ll have this year. I’ll write a separate post about this later.

If I’m able to complete all three of these goals 2018 will be a great year.

2016 Review and 2017 Plans

Since this year is almost over it is time to reflect on how this year went and look ahead to what I would like to accomplish in 2017.  Before writing this post  I had to read last year’s post to see what my goals for this year were. That was a pretty good indication that I did not achieve this year’s goals.

I don’t feel like I accomplished much this year which is exactly how I felt last year. And that was probably true for at least a couple more years before that. I definitely feel that I’m in a bit of a rut. Looking back at my “goals” posts I see a lot of goals being set, but they are hardly ever being achieved. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again since it is still true, I have to start working towards my goals and not just writing about them.

The only goals I set for this year were to run a 23:59 or faster 5k and to be able to do a pull-up. Those goals were carryovers from the year before. I didn’t make any progress on those goals and only worked towards them for a little bit of the year. Although those goals are both things I’d like to accomplish they aren’t things I really want to do right now so I’m not going to make them goals again this year. I might make them goals again if things change.

My priority goals for 2017 will be the two goals I set last July of losing 50 pounds and completing the Appalachian Trail before I turn 50. I won’t be able to start hiking the trail again until after my tax job ends in April. I should be able to finish the A.T. in a little less than two months of hiking. I can start losing weight right now and I have some ideas on how to do that. I’ll share those once I have actually put them into effect.

The title of this post talks about my 2017 plans rather than goals since my goals for this year aren’t yet detailed enough to really be called goals. I am also trying to plan what I will do with the year. The first half of the year is all planned out. I’ll work the tax job until midway through April and then hike the A.T. until about halfway through June. After that my plans are a little murky.

I have three different plans of what I might do for the second half of 2017 and beyond. I’ll provide a brief overview of these possible plans now and possibly write a more detailed examination of them later. The first plan is to work the tax job in the spring and then travel the rest of the year. I can travel pretty cheap making it possible for me to  live off my tax job income and other random bits of income. I’ve always wanted to travel extensively and I feel like I’m running out of time to do so. However, I wouldn’t be able to save much money or pay off my student loan debt under this plan. There would be other drawbacks to this plan as well. If I write a blog post about this plan I’ll include a more complete list of pros and cons.

A second plan is to find a job with the government or a non-profit. After ten years of working I’d be eligible to have my student loan debt forgiven. I’d also be able to put a large chunk of money into savings. If I got a job with the state of Missouri I’d be vested in the state pension after ten years. The big drawback is I’d have to work at the job for ten years. I haven’t come remotely close to working a job that long. Also, I would be 60 years old by the time I got my ten years in. I always thought I would be retired before that age. Working ten years and getting six figures of debt and qualifying for a pension is a pretty good deal though.  Another thing to consider is that there is a chance that the loan forgiveness rules could change before I’m eligible to get my student loan debt forgiven. Although I don’t love this plan it is a pretty sensible and achievable plan.

A third plan is to find a relatively high-paying job that would allow me to pay off my student loan debt in the next three to five years. I estimate that I’d need to make at least $60,000 a year in order to pay off my student loans in this time frame. A big problem with this plan is I don’t think I’d be able to find a job paying me $60k a year. The seasonal/temporary jobs I’ve had the past few years would pay about $40-$45k a year if they were full year jobs. The extra $15-$20k seems like a pretty big jump. My spotty employment history and poor interview skills would also contribute to making getting a high-paying job an extremely difficult task.  That being said, a $60k salary isn’t really that high for an attorney/J.D. so it shouldn’t be impossible to find a high-paying job. I just don’t have any idea how to do it. A drawback to this plan is that after three to five years of paying off my debt I would be at zero. I’d still have to work a few more years or figure out another way to make money before I’d be able to retire.

Those are the three possible plans I have for my future right now. I’m not sure which one I’ll pick and it is possible that things will change and I won’t do any of them. What are your thoughts on these possible plans?

August 2016 Review and September 2016 Goals

688098674_4692bc3705_bAugust was basically a wasted month when it came to making progress towards my goals. I ended August in the same place as when it started. I didn’t lose or gain any weight in August. I didn’t make any progress on my 5k time since I never ran a 5k in August. And I didn’t make any progress on my chin-up goal either.

The month started out well. I had given up soda at the beginning of the month which would have helped a lot with my weight loss goal and probably would have helped with my 5k and chin-up goals as well. Unfortunately, I started drinking soda again not long after posting that I had given it up.

The trip to Las Vegas kept me from working towards my goals that week. The week after I returned I had a bad cold which kept me from exercising. Those are just excuses though, I should still have been able to make progress this month.

My goals for September will be the continuation of my weight-loss, 5k and chin-up goals. Also, I am making a goal to quit soda again by the end of the month.  This is too vague to call a goal but I once again am aiming to be more productive.  That is probably enough goals. Since I’m  not making progress on the goals I already have it doesn’t make much sense to add even more goals.

Giving up Soda and July 2016 Review

688098674_4692bc3705_bJuly was an okay month. On the plus side I made a little bit of progress on some of my goals and my income was at least a little bit more than my expenses. On the minus side I wasted about $500 on my hiking trip since I cut it short due to the heat.

Since I last updated my goals I have managed to reduce my 5k time from 38:11 to 35:59.  I expect to continue making steady improvement on the 5k goal for now. I’m still at 95 pounds of assistance on doing a chin-up. It might be a while before I see any progress on this one, but I am working on it.

I have managed to lose 3 pounds towards my goal of losing 50 pounds.  I hope to do better at losing weight this month. I’m giving up soda to help me lose weight faster. I’m on day 4 of no soda right now and I think I’ve gotten past the withdrawal effects already.  The second day without soda – which also meant no caffeine – I had some bad headaches. I slept 11.5 hours that night and I think my body has now adjusted to the lack of caffeine.

Although I made some progress towards my goals in July I want to do a lot better in August.  Since I am not working at a job I should be getting a lot more done than I have been. I spent too much time watching TV and reading random stuff on the web last month. In addition to working towards my goals I need to be more productive in general. Towards that end I’ll be limiting the amount of TV watching and random web surfing I do this month.

July 2016 Goals Update

goal settingLast month I set several long-term goals. The goals were to run a 5k in 23:59, be able to do one chin-up, write every day in July, lose 50 pounds, and finish hiking the A.T. before I turn 50.

This is the first update on my progress or lack of progress towards those goals. I’ll get the worst results out of the way first. I decided to scrap the writing goal since I’ll be hiking the A.T. most of this month.

So far I haven’t lost any weight so I still have 50 pounds to lose. Three weeks of hiking the A.T. will result in some good progress on this goal. I just need to keep losing weight when I get back from the trail.

I have managed to improve my 5k time from 43:08 to 38:11. That is a significant improvement.  Since I hadn’t been running at all it didn’t take much training to improve my time. As my times get faster it will get increasingly more difficult to improve them. There is still a long way to go to get to 23:59. The A.T. hike will improve my conditioning and the resulting weight-loss should help my 5k time as well.

I managed to make progress towards doing a chin-up as well. For my initial try on the assisted chin-up machine I needed 110 pounds of assistance. I’m now able to do a chin-up with 95 pounds of assistance. I was very close to being able to do a chin-up with 95 pounds of assistance when I first tried so this is only a little bit of progress. The assisted chin-up machine goes in 15 pound increments so it might be a while before I have more measurable progress on this goal.

Lastly, I have scheduled a three-week hike on the Appalachian Trail. My plan is to hike from Great Barrington, MA to Hanover, NH. This will help me make progress towards my goal of completing the A.T. before I turn 50.

Since it has only been a couple of weeks since I set these goals I feel like I’m doing okay on them. There is always room for improvement. The next goals update will be sometime in August. I’m hoping that successful completion of my A.T. hike will result in good progress on all my goals.


July 2016 Goals

goal setting At the beginning of the year I decided not to announce any goals since sharing my goals didn’t seem to be any help in achieving the goals. Unfortunately, I also haven’t set any new goals so far this year which unsurprisingly has led to me not achieving any goals. It is hard to achieve a goal when you don’t have any. Therefore, I have decided to set three new goals. One goal is for July and the other goals are long-term goals.

Before I announce the new goals I need to review my current goals. Although I didn’t set any new goals for this year I did carryover last year’s goals of running a 5k in 23:59 or faster and getting strong enough to do one chin-up. The year is half over and I have made no progress towards those goals. However, I do now have a plan that will result in progress towards these goals. Last week I got a fitness center membership which will help me lose weight and get in shape. Now that I do not have a job I don’t have any excuse to not get in shape.

The fitness center has a variety of machines and weights that I can use to acquire the strength to be able to do a chin-up. Using their assisted chin-up machine I was able to complete a chin-up with 110 pounds of help. If I’m able to lose 50 pounds then I’ll need to be able to gain 60 pounds of strength in order to be able to do a chin-up. I know losing 50 pounds will be difficult. I have no idea how hard getting 60 pounds stronger will be. My guess is that it won’t be easy. Now that I have an exercise to measure my chin-up strength I will record my exercise and hopefully my progress.

I ran (ok, there was quite a bit of walking too) a 5k a couple of days ago to see how far away I was on my 5k goal. It took me 43:08 to finish the 5k. I would call that pretty far away from my goal. I have a plan to run 3-4 times a week which I believe will result in rapid improvement of my 5k time. Since I’m currently in terrible shape almost any exercise plan will result in improvement now. If I plateau I’ll do a little more research and come up with another running plan.

If you read this blog – and if you’re reading this, you probably do – you might have noticed that I haven’t being writing much this year. I don’t know why, but I’ve developed a lot of resistance to writing and I’ll do just about everything else on my to-do list before I’ll get around to writing. To overcome that resistance and get back in the habit or writing again I am going to write a blog post every day in July.

My long-term goals are to lose 50 pounds and to finish hiking the Appalachian Trail before I turn 50. The exercise I’m doing for my 5k goal and chin-up goal will help a lot with the weight loss goal. I’m also going to start eating better. I’m going to cut way back on the fast-food and eventually stop drinking soda.

To finish hiking the A.T. I will go on an approximately three-week hike this fall. Then I will go on a longer hike next spring to hike the rest of the trail. Being relatively close to finishing should provide me with extra motivation to keep hiking on the spring hike.

I’ll post updates at least once a month on my 5k. chin-up and weight-loss goals. I’ll update on my AT goal when there are any new developments to share.