Thursday, September 17, 2009

Goal Setting, Part II: Did we make life changes?

After seeing my ridiculously eye opening spreadsheet Where Did it All Go? it's logical to understand why our goals for 2009 were primarily financial:

  1. reduce spending
  2. pay off 401K loan
  3. pay off student loan
  4. pay off Niki's car
  5. finish all house projects!
But we also set some life goals as well. Seeing how much money we wasted and knowing how unfulfilled (and exhausted and unhappy) we were at the end of 2008 made us realize that life is about a lot more than working and (what we thought was) living. We were going through each day without ever truly being present. And that's where this next set of goals came in:
  1. take better care of our physical selves by hitting the gym regularly
  2. cook at home together, often
  3. take better care of our emotional selves by talking through problems as they arise
  4. take better care of our spiritual selves by setting aside time to do things that we enjoy as individuals
You'll notice that we didn't quantify any of our life goals this year. I don't think it ever occurred to us to do so. And I think, so early on in our goal setting habits, failing to achieve a set number of something would have: a.) defeated the purpose and b.) discouraged us from pressing on.

So how did we do?

Well we DEFINITELY reduced our spending. We did this by changing the way money comes into our home. Joe's entire paycheck goes into one account which is used to pay our household bills, mortgage, and groceries. There is also money left over for us to eat dinner out, or go to a movie, etc. But not a lot of money, so we are conscious of what we have all the time. This has been good because now I balance out our checkbook twice a week. There' s no mystery, and we always know exactly what we have.

My paycheck goes into a separate account and from it I give each of us an allowance. We can spend it any way we see fit, and we don't have to discuss purchases with each other at all. It's our money. My allowance mostly goes toward what I like to call self-preservation: waxing, maincures, hair cuts and clothing. Joe saves his up for tents, canoes, sleeping bags and fishing gear. It's a pretty cool system. And we are guaranteed to only "spend" a set amount each year. This has made a huge difference.

I also transfer a set amount into a savings account called "big purchases and vacations". Then when we want to buy a new TV or go away on vacation, we see what we have in savings and make decisions from there. The rest of my paycheck goes into a savings account that is set up for emergencies only.

Spending under control? Check! What else did we accomplish this year?
  • We paid off the 401K Loan, and my car.
  • We finished all of the projects on the inside of the house.
  • Joe didn't do so hot with the gym, but he did carve out time for himself to play lacrosse and go fishing, even on his busiest weeks. The gym is an easy goal for me, but I made a strong transition this year and started doing Pilates and Yoga which have more of a mind-body connection and I've noticed the difference in my ability to handle life.
  • Joe is really good at taking time out for himself away from "us" so that was an easy one for him. But this year I've also made more of an effort to take time out for myself away from my marriage. And wow did I enjoy it!
And the talking. Boy, oh boy did that help this year. I think committing to get our feelings out on the table no matter what helped us so much. We had no idea when we set these goals that we'd be dealing with IF and promising to respect each others' feelings and emotions and to be honest with each other at all times may have really saved our marriage.

So what didn't we accomplish this year?

Well, we didn't pay off my student loan. We actually have the money to pay it off, but we decided, in light of everything going on in baby land, that the money is better off in savings just in case.

If you don't set goals already I strongly suggest you consider doing so. Our life has gotten so much better since we put what we want down on paper. Next up, 2010.

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