Setting the bar… low

I’m not sure if I have incredibly low standards for myself, or if I am just freakin’ awesome. It’s quite possible, it’s a little bit of both. On January 1st each year, I make predictions as to what I think my financial progress will be over the calendar year. I also like to check in on that progress and blog about it (you can see last years goals here).

Below is a screenshot of my 2010 goals:

I don’t need to run through each of my accounts and tell you where they currently stand because I already do that in my monthly Net Worth Updates. And if you saw the most recent update you would know I just broke the $49,000 barrier. This means I met my 2010 goal three months earlier than anticipated. Last year, I met my goal by July.

I don’t know if I should pat myself on the back for a job well done, or kick myself in the face for setting the bar low.  This is not a good habit to get in to. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about breaking my goal, but I need to figure out how to make next years loftier, but realistic.

And this leads to me begging you readers for advice/recommendations. How the heck do you make goals, so that they are attainable AND ambitious. I think at this point I want to fail in meeting 2011’s goals (but still be close enough I can be happy with my progress). I never thought I’d be upset about reaching a goal early, but if it becomes a reoccurring theme, then that means I am aiming low. And the only time I like to “aim low” is when I’m peeing while standing. Hook a Ninja up, and give me some words of wisdom 🙂

On a side note, to make sure I do not reach all of my goals in 2011, I am adding a few more to the list…

Steal a car and drive it off a cliff, but jump out at the last minute
Put my Personal Finance rap on iTunes.
Buy a dog
Give said dog laser eyes and name him Xenon Warrior Princess
Tell a judge “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”
Arrest the moon

15 thoughts on “Setting the bar… low”

  1. The thing that I would keep in mind with your 2011 goals is that you are now married and that you now have a lot more variables (many of which are out of your control) that can and will make reaching your goals more difficult.

  2. I think the answer lies in a backwards look at your savings. Where did you underestimate? Did you get more wedding loot than you expected? Did your blog make more money? I guess if it’s through windfall, I wouldn’t bank on that happening again. Plus, no one knows what the stock market will do either.

    You’ve got a lot of changes coming your way with a new job and a new wife. It’ll be pretty hard to predict. I just try to manage the things I can control and if those goals are met, I’m happy.

  3. maybe review your yearly totals at the end of 2010 and add an additional 15-25% for each category, except of course for the ones that have limits – i.e. ROTH and TSP.

  4. I second what Sandy L said. Marriage is going to throw your goals, esp. if you’re going to take into account her goals and make a master list.

  5. You need to make accurate income projections (should be easier now that wife ninja has a contract?) from that, you can estimate yearly income, yearly fixed expenses (rent, insurance, phone, internets) and then look over last years variable expenses (like dining out, movies, cost of arresting the moon) and you can make good goals for yourself. In this situation, it may be better to set something uber-ambitious and fail than low-ball it and succeed 3 months early.

  6. I really like your site. Thanks for updating. We are currently trying to pay off our debt and save. We have a mountain of expenses (2 small kids = no money) I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of debt vs income vs expenses. It’s daunting.
    thanks again.

  7. We have monthly savings targets, so it’s easier to modify our next month’s goals if anything changes. I haven’t tried setting annual goals for ourselves other than simply multiplying our monthly goal by 12, lol. 🙂

  8. I am in basically the opposite situation…and I am still thrilled with where we are financially. I think I set too lofty of goals, but I am totally realistic that any effort towards those goals is progress. Now I am not saying that I wanted to max out the Roth and I contributed $5…I don’t have that low of standards. But our goal of an extra grand a month to the mortgage was derailed with my husband’s $5,000 dental bills this year. Bummer, yes. Are we still on target to have paid off an extra $7,000 on the house, yes…which is great. I don’t know how your self esteem would hold up if you didn’t achieve your 2011 goals, but I am sure you would be fine;) And you might surprise yourself by achieving something (or even coming close) that seemed possibly out of your reach.
    Also, you don’t have to go crazy in every column. Maybe keep a few goals similar to this year and try to kick your ‘saving for laser dog eyes’ fund up a notch.

  9. i heard a photographer say that his business goal was $1 million in a year. he realized a month into it that he wasn’t going to make it. even so, it was his most successful year ever. i think attainable goals are good, but ambitious goals are better. if you set that goal high but miss it, you still probably accomplished more than you would have by setting a goal that you knew you could meet and that in itself makes you a winner. plus, when you finally do achieve the overly ambitious goal, you will have worked long and hard for it. it’s okay to miss it once and try again – you’ll probably have wisdom to apply the second time.

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