Everyone’s in goal mode right now. We’re never more motivated and hopeful than we are this week. The future is looking bright.
I’ve got my shiny list of 2018 goals just like everyone else. But before I dive into future goals and resolutions, I think it’s important to look at something else first:
How well I achieved my 2017 goals.
One thing I’ve learned is that the key to setting myself up for future success is by looking at my past. Without some kind of retrospection, it’s too easy to keep making the same mistakes, failing, and wondering what happened. Because relying on wishful thinking and willpower is not enough.
This past summer, I wrote about my 2017 goals, and how I was going to crush them. Now that the year is over, it’s time to not only see how I did, but talk about WHY I think I succeeded at some goals and failed at others. What worked and what didn’t? And how can I apply those strategies to future goals?
1. Achieve a Net Worth of $325k
I ended 2017 with a net worth of $344k, so I surpassed my goal by almost $20k—hot damn! Considering most of my money is in investments, I owe it all to the stock market, which is on a tear.
Growing my net worth to $100k took seven long years, but people weren’t joking when they said it all snowballs from there. So I’m beyond excited to see how it grows next year, and the next.
But after I thought about it, I decided that a net worth goal is actually a bad goal, in the traditional sense. At least for me. A goal is something you strategize and execute on. My net worth goal had checkpoints in place, but there was no real effort involved: cutting back my spending, earning more, or increasing savings. And my savings are on autopilot, so this achievement just kinda happened.
I realized that I don’t like goals that are too easy. Plus, stock market returns are a huge variable you can’t predict.
For those reasons, I don’t think I’m going to set any net worth goals anymore.
2. Make More Stuff
This is the one that hurts the most. The goal was to make a dress by the end of October, and also a leather valet tray by the end of the year. Completing these two things would have unlocked my Person Who Makes Shit achievement, but for now, I still haven’t earned that badge. Here’s how far I got:
First I chose a dress pattern. I was craving something vintage with interesting details. Something I could gallivant in if I ever went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy.
Then I made a mockup or prototype of the top part of the dress. In case you’re not familiar with sewing, I never go directly into making anything with the final fabrics. You never know what kind of fit or sewing problems you’re going to have unless you test it first. It’s a total pain, but I notice the final product always looks so much better if I take the time to do this step.
Then I shopped and bought the final fabrics.
And then that’s it for the dress. I didn’t touch the prototype again until this weekend, months past the due date.
As for the valet tray, this is a project I definitely forgot about. But I wasn’t totally unproductive as a whole. I did end up making a few tassels to give away for my six month blog anniversary:
OK, so why did I fail this one?
I’m not going to make excuses for myself. That “life got too busy” or whatever.
The reason why I failed this is because I didn’t care enough. And when you don’t care enough about something, you won’t move it up the priority ladder. Which is exactly what happened. The sewing project was, like, maybe fifth on the priority list, but it could never surpass my #1 time-intensive priority: the blog. Plus, I forgot about the second part of the goal entirely! That wouldn’t happen if you really cared about something.
It’s that simple.
But I’ve seen what I can do if I DO care about something. I’ve stayed up until the wee hours of the night to finish my work. What motivates me to get stuff done? Accountability. If I know there will be a negative consequence (like, missing out on something I really want), or people are depending on me for something, then I’ll do whatever it takes. For me, not finishing the projects didn’t provide enough of a negative consequence, so I let it slide. Another thing I learned: Posting your goals on a blog is not enough. What I should have done is make the project more visible, like announcing a date for when I’d show everyone the final project in a blog post. Now THAT would have made me bust a move.
3. Spend No More Than $1,000 on Clothes
In 2017 I spent $998.07 on clothes–success! I used to spend $2000-$3000 on clothes per year, but cutting back to $1,000 is a good exercise in restraint. Plus, I’ve built up most of my basics and don’t “need” much anymore. Everything was looking good until my third money diary, when I made a new purchase, knowing it would push me over the $1,000 budget. I said I’d fix the problem by selling off some items from my closet. Here’s what I sold:
- A.P.C. sweater
- Acne Bird sweatshirt
- Isabel Marant linen T-shirt
- Charlotte Olympia Daisy wedding shoes (above)
- Girlfriend leggings
I ended up making about $329.40 off the five items, which is a decent ROI, considering what I paid for everything. I’ll do a deeper dive on these clothes in a different post.
I could have easily failed this one, but I got back on track by making tradeoffs.
4. Drink Less Coffee
And now we’re down to the hardest goal of all: quitting a habit. It’s safe to say that after 6 months, I’m officially done with coffee!
But it wasn’t easy. Quitting coffee wasn’t without a few false starts.
The first thing I did was try to incentivize myself like a first grader with a printable calendar and stickers. Every time I went without coffee, I’d give myself a sticker for that day. But as you can see, that didn’t really work.
And then I tried a similar system in a planner I loved. A check meant I went without coffee that day; an ‘x’ meant I failed. Again, I wasn’t consistent with this system. It seemed I could go 3 or 4 days without coffee a week, but not every single day.
So, what actually worked?
Replacing the habit.
At first, I tried replacing with fruit or a pastry. But I still craved coffee and gave in.
Things didn’t start clicking consistently until I replaced coffee every morning with tea. And no, I’m not addicted to tea now, either. To achieve this goal, I had to understand what it was about coffee that I liked. It wasn’t necessarily the taste, but the routine of grabbing a warm cup every morning. Tea was the perfect substitute. It has all the qualities I need, and I know I’ll never crave the tea taste the way I do with coffee.
Did I crush it? Sort of. Changing a habit takes time and discipline, but some goals really are a matter of figuring out your priorities.
So, to recap, these things helped me succeed:
- Caring a lot about the consequences if I don’t follow through
- Having due dates and measurable benchmarks.
- Planning for how you’re going to course correct when things don’t go as expected
- Persisting with alternative tactics instead of giving up after the first failure
- Replacing a habit with a different one
There’s one thing that did not work: just wishing and hoping something would happen because I’m extra motivated.
What were your 2017 goals, and how did it go? Any learnings for why or why something didn’t happen?
Feature Image: Unsplash