2012 is almost all but gone as I write the last post of this year. As I finally take some time to catch up after having a full week at the in-laws for the Christmas vacation, I felt like it was appropriate to reflect a little on the past year. A lot has happened in the last twelve months and it would be a shame to keep going on without giving enough attention to some of the things that transpired.
A Year of Accomplishments
Perhaps first and foremost, 2012 now represents a year of huge success and accomplishments. At the end of 2011, I wrote down 3 tangible goals to accomplish throughout 2012. I wanted to limit it to 3 so I could focus on them and not be one of those statistics that says their going to do something at New Years and doesn’t. As it turns out, I accomplished all three.
The first, was perhaps the easiest, was to take a nice vacation for my 3rd anniversary. This may sound strange, but when you realize that I like to save money, splurging was a huge step for me. My wife and I have only recently come to the point where we have a little extra money left over each month (instead of scraping by each month), and so spending a portion of what we had leftover on a nice vacation was something that I set out to do. Celebrating our time together is extremely important for us and this was one way that we prioritized memories over savings.
The second goal was directed to stay healthy: bike 750 miles. While I don’t know how many miles I biked the last quarter (I haven’t set up my pedometer on my bike trainer yet), I am pretty confident that I broke this mark. The year before I ended about 800 miles for the year, so I adjusted my goal to a realistic number.
The third goal was actually a goal that I set for online income. I had high goals for what has become an online business. While I haven’t seen as much success as I would have thought, I did accomplish my original goal. I won’t share what that was exactly, but let’s just say that it’s much easier to accomplish financial goals when you have a distinct number.
A Year of Change
Along with accomplishments comes change. Not only did I accomplish my three resolutions for this past year, but I also experienced a lot of change. I had a lot of monumental moments in my life as a young adult:
- I sat in my last classroom as a grad student (still working on the darn thesis).
- I paid my last tuition bill (except for Mrs. 20’s school bill).
- I got a new job.
- My wife got a promotion (actually, she got offered two jobs at once and took the lower paying one)
- I bought a second car (and was instantly reminded of the huge financial burden that accompany car ownership). It was a necessary evil for the next year as I commute to my new job.
- I went to my first blogging conference and met a lot of good friends.
- I met the blogger who inspired me to start blogging over a year and a half ago (I met Derek from LifeandMyFinances.com in person just last week). It was a great conversation and we talked as if we knew each other for a long time.
- I gave up my hopes for full-time self-employment (for now)
A New Future
While I don’t often talk about it on this blog, I had high hopes of eventually being self-employed. This desire was fueled by some early success with my online endeavors (before I was doused with some reality) as well as some disenchantment with my previous job. I had also pursued a master’s degree in a field that has practically no jobs available. In many ways, my goal for self-employment was what I now realize to be an act of desperation. I was trying to force it, when it is better to let it happen.
Instead of continuing to devote all of my time and energy into making it a reality as soon as possible, I came to my senses. I realized that it is better to grow slowly and in a sustainable way that would not cause me to die from exhaustion. After realizing that I need to take it slower, I took the steps necessary to lighten the load. In fact, I even sold one of my other blogs. (I still stay awake at night thinking how weird it is to see people buy/sell websites like they are rental properties, but that is the reality). I also starting looking for a job that I would enjoy doing and at which I could be successful. I was fortunate to find one that fit all of my desires and will start the new year having worked at my new job for 4 full weeks.
As I think about what 2012 symbolizes, there are lots of positive connotations. There’s no better feeling than realizing that you have accomplished your goals, made huge strides towards putting your family in a better financial position, and also followed your passions even when it was hard to do so. I wouldn’t be anywhere without my loving wife. Her decision (of course, I had input into the decision, but still…) to turn down the higher paying job continues to remind me that life is more than money. It doesn’t mean that you should ignore it, but it does mean you should appreciate the time that we have and make the most of it.
I recently heard a cheesy saying in reference to the New Year that went something like this: “Make 2013 YOUR year.” I laughed when I heard it, but as I type the end of this post, it seems most relevant. 2013 has a lot of untouched potential. You can choose to make strides towards your financial goals or you can continue in maintaining the status quo. It’s up to you.
What are you going to do differently in 2013?