Setting my 2017 goals

2017 Goals graphic showing sunrise and future possibilities.
It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about my annual haircut but something much more important! The obligatory 2017 goals post! The internet cheers its excitement! So without further ado, let’s get straight to it!

Review of my 2016 goals

Here’s what I wanted to achieve last year.

G1.1 Earn total dividend income > 2.0 times my monthly living expenses (Passed!)

My monthly living expenses are $3,900 per Budget 4.5 making the 2016 target $7,800.

The 2016 dividend results came in at $8,698! That’s $900 over the target and almost beats my original target of 2.2 times income for 2017. We have a winner!

G1.2 Emergency Fund >= 10 times my monthly living expenses. (Passed!)

The Emergency fund target is ten times $3,900 or $39,000.

After my recent Emergency Fund Course Correction, I have $39,480.24 parked in Vanguard’s Prime Money Market fund (VMMXX). Which is $480 over the target. So, winner!

The Big Picture

The 2016 targets were all about making a step towards the bigger goal of Financial Independence. The Original Plan projected reaching FI by age 65. Here’s the chart from my Goals page, updated with the latest results.

The red line is my achieved income and I’m pulling ahead of the black line (The Original Plan) which is awesome. But there’s still a long way to go.

Thoughts on setting goals

Like any responsible blogger, I started out with some internet research to try to find some good Goals as a basis. I spent quite a bit of time on this, I wanted to be thorough and finally came up with not just one, but twenty, as shown below.

Still, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. The goals don’t even meet the SMART criteria. Apparently my search skills are about as good as my football skills. Time to put the search engine aside and wing it instead of binging it.

There are plenty of articles about goals and goal-setting, so I’ll skip all that. It’s important not to confuse goals (what you want to accomplish) with plans (how you’ll accomplish it). A goal needs a plan and a measure of success and that’s about it.

Plans should be flexible though, as you’ll encounter obstacles in reaching your goal. It’s better to change the plan instead of changing the goal.

Now, in all honesty, I have mixed feelings about yearly goals. The time-frame is very short and I think there needs to be a longer-term vision of where you want to be. Yet at the same time, I want to live more in the Now than the Future, so I don’t want to be too obsessed about goals.

My compromise is to define three general ‘themes’ that my yearly goals are a step towards. And, after much editing, I’ve reduced the original six goals I was going to list, down to only four.

So here are my major themes or life goals as I know them today in 2017.

I want to become

  1. Financially independent.
  2. More awesome.
  3. More charitable.

There’s no priority and I’m not putting any particular timeline on these. I don’t even know now to quantify being more awesome. But each of my yearly goal needs to move the needle on one of those three themes.

2017 Goals

Finally, he gets to the point! Here are my 2017 goals grouped into each of the three themes above.

1. Be Financially Independent

“I want to be Financially Independent so that I have freedom in how I spend my time.”

I’ve defined one goal to advance this theme this year. Initially I was going to add some more about reaching my target asset allocation but I decided they weren’t important enough since I do that anyway.

G1.1 Earn total dividend income > 2.5 times my monthly living expenses.

My monthly living expenses are $3,970 per Budget 17.0, making a new yearly target of $9,925. The metric is based on actual paid income, rather than future projected dividends.

I think it’s probably better to write this goal as ‘invest x amount of money” and let the investing strategy determine the income. Income targets can force investing in ever higher yielding stocks to beat the goal, for example.

In my case, I arrived at this target based on how much money I expect to invest this year. I’m already ahead of The Original Plan which calls for 2.2 times income for 2017, so I’ll be able to reach FI before age 65 on my current trajectory.

How I’ll Make It Happen
$9,925 means an additional $1,227 compared to the income received in 2016.

I plan to invest a total of about $35,000 this year. But since the money won’t be all invested at once, I won’t get the full 3%. I’ll use a lower percentage of 1.6% on that total for the year. Which is about $570.

I’m also going to be adding the $39,000 of my former Emergency Fund into my Income Fund. This will be held in a lower income bond fund. Assuming an average 2.75% yield for the year plus incremental deposits, that adds another $800, bringing the total up to $1,370.

But my Income Fund no longer contains the higher interest Long-Term Bond Fund (VWESX). I’ll lose $10,000 worth of 4% interest or $400 taking me back down to $970.

Finally, I’m assuming an average 3% increase in dividend income, which based on 2016 totals suggests an organic increase of about $250. I should be back up to about $1,220 of higher dividend income in 2017.

2) Be more awesome!

“I want to like myself and be more confident.”

This theme is all about trying to improve and liking myself as a person. I have a totally low opinion of myself. We’re talking Mariana Trench levels low.

G2.1 Acquire more knowledge

I originally titled this goal as “read twelve books” until I realized that was the plan, not the goal.

I’ve read a few books last year but not very many. When I do read, it’s usually tacky novels for entertainment than for enlightenment. But I want to learn more this year. Not, the most challenging goal but it’s a start.

How I’ll Make It Happen

I will read one book related to personal development, investing and/or finance, each month and apply any learnings to my life.

G2.2 Expand my writing

This year I want to increase my blog’s readership and try to reach 10,000 views in a month.

How I’ll Make It happen

I will put more “life” into DividendLife by writing more interesting / varied posts. This puts me outside my comfort zone as I don’t think I’m particularly good at writing and I always feel safe with posting “just another monthly summary”.

I will spend more time learning from other blogs in the community as well as making (hopefully helpful & supportive!) comments.

3) Be more charitable

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life and want to give something back.”

I have a long-term goal of starting a Donor Advised Fund. This requires a $5,000 initial contribution to set up and it works kind of like a trust fund. Charitable contributions are made to your fund, and the fund makes the payments to charities you select. There are options for the fund to outlive you, if you so choose.

G3.1 Establish a Charity Fund

This year I want to save $1,000 towards a future contribution.

How I’ll Make It happen

I will fund this account with all online income from my blog throughout the year.

I will contribute the remainder from my Savings since I’m not likely to earn that much with online income.

Summary

2016 was a good year and I accomplished the limited goals that I set myself. I’ve tried to expand my goals this year. In setting financial Goals I avoid defining goals that promotes risky or bad investment decisions. For personal growth goals, I’ve picked things that I can measure and work towards.

Do you set goals? What was your biggest accomplishment last year?


Quote of the Day

If your only goal is to become rich, you will never achieve it.

14 thoughts on “Setting my 2017 goals”

  1. DL,

    Goal #2 is a great goal, the best investment you can make is in yourself!! What books are on your list for the year? I also am impressed at how you are able to put out new content every day, I’m impressed by your consistency and hope to do the same in 2017!

    Cheers,
    Erik

    1. Hey Erik,
      I have three definite picks so far: Thinking Fast & Slow (Daniel Kahneman), Everyday Zen (Charlotte Beck) and Financial Statements (Thomas Ittelson). I’m hoping to get some more ideas from your book reviews! I have a couple more of your recommendations in mind too but haven’t decided yet.

      My posting rate will likely slow to about 1 every 3 days; so far it’s looking like 1 evening for the initial draft then sleep on it and revise the next evening, then spend one evening looking for photos. Not sure why the last step takes so long but it always seems to.

      Thanks for your support and encouragement!
      Best wishes,
      -DL

    1. Hi dividendmonkey,
      Being more awesome is a phrase I’d probably never actually say in person. But it’s fun, I’m going with it and I want to be a better person 🙂
      Thank you for the well wishes and for stopping by!
      Cheers,
      -DL

  2. Awesome job DivLife! Our totals were almost the exact same for the year! Way to go! I also like your ‘charitable one’. That is truly the best. Keep it up and best of luck in 2017!

    1. Hi Dan,
      Congrats on a great year too! I’m excited about the charitable goal. I also wanted to increase my blog income but I felt a little guilty about that, so I thought it’d be good to put my blog income towards that goal and see how it goes.
      Wishing you every success this year!
      -DL

  3. Very interesting blog. I recently started a similar journey towards economic freedom. Reading your blog has been both inspirational and informative, thanks!

    /Dina

    1. Hi Dina,
      Welcome to my blog! It’s great that you’ve started your own journey and I look forward to reading about your progress 🙂 I think the journey is more important than the destination when it comes to financial freedom.
      Feel free to ask any questions that you have.
      Best wishes for 2017,
      -DL

      1. I always say that about a lot of other things in life (The journey is more important than the destination) but i bet you’re right and this saying applies to financial goals as well. My experience so far is that it does not only feel good and gives me a new sort of inner calm, i also find it very entertaining!

        Thanks and best wishes for you too!

        1. I tried to write a little more about this in my last post. Lessons from gaining control of your financial life cross over into other areas of your life (in a good way). I’m glad that it’s having a positive effect for you!

          Best wishes,
          -DL

  4. Thank you for the post, DL and good luck with your goals in 2017. I think it’s great that you’ve limited your goals to only a few to give you more fucus on each one. I think it’s dying that I can learn from as we probably have too many goals for 2017. Anyway, good luck on your journey and I’m looking forward to reading more of your personal posts.

    Cheers,
    Len

    1. Hi Len,
      I guess there’s nothing wrong with lots of goals – everyone is different fortunately 🙂 As I looked at mine, I realized that some of my ‘goals’ were really just steps towards the same goal. So I tried to look at it from a “what am I really trying to achieve here?” point of view. That then became the goal with several steps being taken to achieve it.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting – I appreciate it! Now I’m off to look at how many goals you wrote 🙂
      Best wishes,
      -DL

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