Myself at 45 – Goals Review for 2016

Here I am – I usually do this on my Birthday, but this year – I was away and unable to find the time – so here I go now. At 45, I’m just a few days shy of being exactly 5.5 years shy of my halfway mark through this life. I climbed the Chinese … Continue reading “Myself at 45 – Goals Review for 2016”

Here I am – I usually do this on my Birthday, but this year – I was away and unable to find the time – so here I go now. At 45, I’m just a few days shy of being exactly 5.5 years shy of my halfway mark through this life. I climbed the Chinese mountain that grants you life to 101 years old – so, here I am.

I feel good in my skin. I feel good in my head. I feel good in my spirit. It’s entirely possible that this is the most balanced I have ever been. I did not achieve so many of my 2016 goals – and yet, somehow, I won in this terrible year of nightmares and celebrity deaths.

2016, I dubbed it the “Year of Joy and Gratitude” back in 2015 when I was formulating my plan for the year. My purpose was “Be a better father, friend, son, husband, and brother. Enjoy life more. Make life simpler. Earn more money and use it well.” and the objective was “At the end of 2016 my life will be simpler and I will be focused on family, creativity, garden, health, and joy.” In the years that I’ve been doing this – I’ve found that years rarely comply to the structure I try to set for them. My path to this worthy goal consisted of seven categorized goals with each of them made up of multiple measurable goals. Here they are with analysis for end of year.

1) Keep my family safe, happy and healthy with a combination of healthy food, exercise, games, and providing a safe home. – My focus on getting outside, getting more family time, gardening, reducing meat consumption, and getting my wife her US Citizenship worked. I rocked this goal. On the downside, while I expanded the garden we were assaulted by gophers, slugs, mice and rats, and raccoons who slaughtered our flock of chickens. The garden failed this year despite much more work going into it. Family trips were awesome and getting Hanane her citizenship was the culmination of a huge multi-year effort. A+ on this one despite the garden.
2. Be Fit and Healthy by eating better, exercising more, and meditating. I started the year at a bloated 193 lbs with a 36 inch waist. By summer I had dropped down to 168 and a 32 inch waist but by years end was back at 185 with a 34 inch waist. My failing points were quitting the gym when the school year started (because I could no longer go first thing in the morning) and also never really getting my addiction to sugar under control. I began using the Headspace app to be sure I got my daily dose of meditation and re-awakened my Buddhist practice. The meditation and Buddhism are so incredibly important that I won’t give myself an F in this category but will instead raise it up to a C.
3. Make more money by selling businesses, diversifying, paying off debt. I tried to sell my businesses without success this year. I was unwilling to sell for a loss. I managed to pay off all my credit card debt and improve my credit score but was once again forced to defer my student loans. Financially, I didn’t come anywhere near my goals – and yet, I earned more than the previous year, paid off all my credit cards (but they have crept back up again), and improved my credit score. I also became much better at the business I am in and streamlined my businesses to increase profits and decrease waste. Despite not getting anywhere near my monetary goals – I can’t fail myself here either. I earned a solid C and given the foundation which has been laid, I’m going to bump that up to a C+.
4. Paint, draw, sculpt, build. I didn’t do nearly enough painting, drawing, building, or other artwork – but I did enter three of my paintings in a juried show and managed to sell two of my paintings. B.
5. Lighten load sell and give away stuff. There is so much more work to do here. And yet, I am so much lighter than 2015. I sold, gave away, donated, trashed, and got rid of so much stuff. I changed my buying habits and developed new venues to get rid of my accumulations and earn more money. There is more work here, but I earned a solid A in this goal.
6. Write by writing words. I never knew that writing would become such a difficult thing to do. Creating the time and space for it is the really hard part. I did turn a corner and change from no writing to some writing – but there is a lot of progress to be made here. C.
7. Be joyful with gratitude, acceptance, love. This is a tricky one – I found this, but not in the way I expected. A big part of it was realizing that it’s okay to tell a whole class of people that they suck and I want nothing to do with them. Realizing that was okay and that I don’t have to make room in my life for assholes opened the door to the greatest feeling of acceptance I’ve ever known. My 2015 hippie formula was missing an essential part – it’s okay to turn your back and say fuck that person, they suck and it’s not my problem. A.

Usually there are a whole slew of unplanned goals that I write about here. This year, that didn’t really happen. I did however accomplish some noteworthy things that deserve a bit of extra credit. I taught my 5-year old daughter to read, do math (addition,subtraction, and beginning multiplication) and ride a two wheeled bike. I find myself the proud owner of a 1987 VW Vanagon, once again being a member of the VW tribe. There have been some rather profound personal discoveries which I can’t really describe with words but which come from meditation and self awareness. I’ve got a grasp on the tail-feathers of my inner peace. In a sense, I feel like I’ve been Steve Martin in that movie The Jerk and I’ve been clutching onto that chair and thermos whilst ignoring the seemingly simple wisdom of my share-cropping father who tried to point out the difference between shit and shinola. At some point in 2016, I dropped the chair and thermos and stopped rubbing shit in my hair. I get it papa. And that earns me an extra credit A+.

By my reckoning, that gives me a cumulative GPA of 3.31 which translates (by rounding up to a 3.5 or a B+ for 2016. That sounds about right.

My 43rd Year in Review

Tomorrow, I turn 44. It’s a magical number only because it is a doubling number and so, I like to think it will herald a magical year. For the moment, on the eve of my 44th and the last evening of my 43rd – I’m going to do what I’ve done the past several years and look at my 43rd year in review before jumping into what I’d like for my 44th.

It’s been a good year – remarkably drama free in my personal, family, and work life – though the outside world has been boiling in chaos. Most of my year has been devoted to work, work, work – mostly in the form of buying dead people’s undervalued possessions and then selling them to people that value them a bit more. There were some live people’s things as well – we did an estate sale for a woman who was moving in with her children and bought a few estates from people who were moving and downsizing. Mostly though, I trafficked in the goods of the dead. It was not a year or much travel or adventure – but it was a good year.

Much of what I bought and sold was low dollar value this year – unremarkable furniture, general household stuff, low end art, watches and common jewelry, glassware, dishes, ‘collectibles’, junk, and decorative knick-knacks. I’ve learned that I hate that shit. If I ever own a thrift-store I will hire someone else to sit and deal with the people who shop in it. I get no pleasure from them for the most part. I feel like this low dollar selling is a big reason that I had to spend so much time working this year – it’s just not that profitable and it sucks up my valuable time. Yes, it paid my bills and allowed us to improve our businesses and life – but it was not enjoyable and took away from what is.

But back to my year end review – every year, I create goals for myself. These were my major goals for 2015:
1. Keep my family safe, happy and healthy – Yes! I accomplished this. At the end of 2015 we watch less TV, play more games, and eat better. We are alive, safe, and happy! Grade: A
2. Improve my health and fitness – My cholesterol and blood pressure improved but I gained a few pounds. I didn’t increase the amount of exercise I get or cut out sweets. I began having anxiety attacks but meditation has helped to curb them. Mentally and emotionally, I feel like I made a huge amount of progress. Grade: B-
3. Improve my business and finances. I fell about $45k short of my goal for this year, but I did improve revenue, start a small newspaper, and pave the way for making more money in the coming years. My credit rating improved.I didn’t purchase a home but I did get a car less than 10 years old. I earned a solid middle of the road grade in this category. Grade: C
4. Make Great Art – I painted a little, I did a bit of wood working, but overall – I didn’t make any great art to speak of. Grade: D
5. Sell more stuff – declutter my life. I sold so much stuff and let go of so much stuff this year it is pretty astounding. I did not realize my goal of doing 2 or more antique shows though – so I can’t give myself higher than a B- on this one. Grade: B-
6. Write More – Sell More Books. I wrote a little bit on this site, but not much more. I did not sell very many of my own books at all, though I have started to sell a lot of used books in my shop. Grade: C-
7. More Joyful Living. I taught my daughter to read and introduced her to the joys of camping and travel. I took walks where I felt fully aware and have tried to be more mindful. I have been meditating and feel like I’ve grown through much of my anger and resentment – things which have hindered me greatly in the past. Grade: B
8. Unplanned Accomplishments. I ran for office and got 35% of the vote with no campaigning. I rekindled several important friendships and hosted a mini-family reunion in my home. I traveled internationally with my wife and daughter and managed to do some kayaking. For all of this, I give myself a Grade: A+

So, how did I average in what I dubbed the Year of Business Success and Financial Freedom? Averaging my GPA from the above I get a 2.74 – or a B-. Not bad but not great. I’m shooting for a 4.0.

When I look at where I was a decade ago and where I thought I’d be today versus where I am – it’s humbling. I was so insecure, so egotistical (at the same time – they go together, I think), and I really thought I’d be a millionaire by now. Not even close. And yet – I have more than I ever thought possible. I am proud of what I’ve done and who I am in the process of becoming. I’m on the right path to the best possible version of me. I’m not anywhere near where I thought I would be. I’m not nearly as cool as I thought I was or would be and yet – I’m happy with me. I’m proud of who I am and what I do in this life. I look forward to getting to know the best possible me in the future because I am getting closer.

Now it’s time to work on my goals for next year. This shit works.