Tuesday, 10 January 2017

My Goals for 2017

New Year. New Challenges. New Perspective.

Now that I’ve reviewed my performance in 2016, I can turn my attention to setting goals for 2017. I learned a lot about myself last year, perhaps more than in previous years, so let's see how I get on with putting that into practice for the year ahead. 

I started these goals in Mid-December and I’ve been tweaking and refining them up until now. I think by taking my time on selecting which goals to pursue and adjusting what I'm asking of myself I'm increasing the likelihood of achieving them, but we'll have to see....

For now, I'm happy with my list and what I’m about to commit to.

I only have 9 goals this year, which is a significant decrease on last year (25). I’ve only selected the key goals that with their attainment will have the biggest impact on my life. I have other benchmarks, but I'll achieve those goals by taking care of these ones. I want to simplify things for 2017. 

The list below will detail what my goal is, the purpose behind it, and what steps I’ll be taking to get started.

I will complete monthly goal updates on Youtube and this Blog updating you on my progress towards each one. I believe that by facing my commitments and reviewing them each month, I’ll dramatically improve the chances of achieving them. My videos fizzled out half way through the year in 2016, so I'm particularly keen to do 12 goal updates this year. 

I want to complete all 9 goals, but my minimum requirement is 6 out of 9.

Wish me luck!

2017 Goals

1. I will easily create and launch an online course by 31st December 2017.

PURPOSE: This is a priority goal for me this year. If I achieve this goal and fail the rest, I’d still be pretty satisfied. I let you and myself down on this goal last year by not following through on the commitment. I won't let that happen again.

There are a few reasons to why I want to make this my priority goal this year:

  1. I want to earn money away from Amazon, and be less reliant on them. This will create a semi-passive income stream that Amazon won't control. 
  2. I want to coach and help more people publish books. The course will offer a lower entry cost to my coaching, allowing me to reach more people without actually being there. 
  3. I want to learn new ways to make money so I can help other people do the same. Once I release the course, I'll be equipped with knowledge to help others create books, websites and courses. This is a great 'toolkit' to anyone looking to make money online. 
  4. I want to overcome the challenge of completing this task. Writing out the content for the course is the hardest part for me, much like writing a book. I struggle with writing, and always have. I want to overcome this challenge to prove that I can do it. 
  5. I want to create content under my name, rather than a pen name. I'd like the course to be one of the many things I produce under my name. I've declined multiple interviews and podcast appearances for my outsourced books, which is such a shame. I'd like to market myself, and build a brand around me, not someone else. 

NEXT STEPS: Write out a mock 'business plan' for my coach. Create a detailed and specific action plan on what tasks I need to complete and by when. Work with my coach to refine my actions and make any necessary adjustments. Commit to a completion date. Take massive action every day towards meeting the launch date. Ignore or delay all other distractions until I've committed to my daily work on the course. Launch the course on the specified date, even if it's incomplete. Launch it at a discounted rate to encourage people to try it. Seek feedback from customers on how I can improve it. 

2. I will easily set up a charitable fund, promote it on my Blog, and donate 10% of my course profits to ‘Schools For Africa’ by 31st December 2017.

PURPOSE: I want my contribution to make a bigger impact this year. I'm very fortunate to be in a position where I can help people who aren't as lucky as I am. I have the opportunity to help children in Cameroon learn in a safer and more stimulating environment. 

I want to set a new bar of what’s possible with consistent action in regards to contribution. I need £20,000 to fund the project. It might take me 2, 3 or even 5 years to fund a new school, but I'm not concerned by the timescale. 

I now have a focus for my contribution. So rather than making charitable contributions to multiple charities for £20 here or £50 there, I'm choosing to make a massive impact over a longer duration. I want to have a life changing outcome as a result of my contribution.

I want to inspire other people to look into doing something along these lines. If I can put this idea into other peoples heads, and give them the opportunity to make a life changing impact, then I would have succeeded. Those people will also go on to inspire more people, and so it goes on. 

Turning contribution into a tangible goal is very exciting for me. Now I just need to go and earn that money..... ohh, and create that course!

NEXT STEPS: I will create a page on my blog providing information about the charity. I will create a fun thermometer style icon to display the fund total, and update it each month. 

Whatever I make with my online course, I'll put 10% of the proceeds towards my chosen charity 'Schools For Africa'. I'll further fund the project by putting my own contributions towards the school too. 

Once my course goes live, assess it's earning potential and predict how long it'll take to fund the school. Set a goal to beat that date and announce it on the Blog.

3. My Investment portfolio will easily pay me £6,000 (£500 per month) in income in 2017.

PURPOSE: Now that Lou and I are mortgage free our basic living expenses have dropped considerably. Although we don't know the exact figure just yet, we believe it's below this figure. Our previous basic living cost was around £750. Our Mortgage was £368 pm each, so if our new basic living cost is roughly the same... £500 per month will comfortably cover us. 

I want to continue growing my investment portfolio to a level that supports our ideal living cost without worrying about how much things cost. I also want to bring in enough passive income via investments to support my family and charities. The first step is to cover our basic living costs with passive income from investments (not including Amazon, affiliate marketing etc.)

Growing my portfolio further will also allow for any unexpected declines in the stock market and income, as and when, I start using that money to live on. 

True passive income, like investing, gives me the option to not work at all. Lou and I can choose to go travelling and I'll still get paid for doing so. This is my ultimate goal. True freedom from ever having to work again

NEXT STEPS: Focus my efforts on launching my online course, whilst maintaining my Kindle business. Invest 2/3 of my disposable income (after living expenses and taxes) into purchasing more investments. 

I will continue not to use any of my investment income for 2017. Instead, I will put everything I earn back into buying more investments. 

My investment strategy worked very well for me last year. I plan on continuing with that method, whilst being open to new opportunities.  

4. I will easily create and launch my new Blog with 500 email subscribers by 31st December 2017.

PURPOSE: I find Blogging rewarding on many levels. I enjoy the interaction. I find it beneficial for getting out of my own head. It helps me commit to action. Inspire others. Make friends. I like how it acts as a tracker for my life too. It'll be great to look back on what I write and see how far I've developed over the year. 

I think it’s time to upgrade the quality of the content, and pay for a new site. By investing more money into Blogging, I’ll feel more inclined to invest more time and effort into it. 

Blogging helps me in multiple ways, and according to the comments and emails I receive, it seems to help you guys as well. I owe it to both you and I to not only continue blogging, but to raise the standard of what I produce.

I would like to Blog on a more regular basis, and even turn it into a source of income I could live on. I enjoy blogging far more than I do publishing books. If I could flip my earnings from Kindle to Blogging I would do in a heart beat. In fact, one of the reasons I haven't blogged as much in the last 2 years is due to my efforts earning money in other areas. Now that I'm in a more stable position, I can turn my attention back to this format.

The 500 subscribers is an arbitrary marker for me to work towards. Email lists offer an opportunity to connect to your readers in a more personal way. People are more willing to share their thoughts and opinions on an email over a public blog post. This more regular and intimate communication helps to refine the quality of what I produce, which is my overall goal for Financially Free By 40. 

NEXT STEPS: I'll continue Blogging on this platform until I find a website theme that I'm happy to use moving forward. I'll then create a new Blog, on a new platform away from Blogger. I've already bought the URL and started building it, but it's on hold for now.  

My priority is to release my course. If I have time after putting in the work for my course, I'll set up the new Blog and tell you all the details here. 

5. I will easily read or listen to 16 books by 31st December 2017.

PURPOSE: I am my biggest investment. Nothing will help me more than by educating myself on how to live a better life. By exposing myself to more books, I’ll open myself up to new ideas, expand my learning and grow as a human.

Reading brings joy into my life, and who doesn’t want more of that!

NEXT STEPS: Read a little bit everyday. Even if it’s one page whilst sat on the toilet. READ! Listen to audiobooks whilst out walking, training, preparing meals, driving or any other activity that doesn’t require my full attention.

6. Lou and I will easily have at least one ‘date night’ a month for the whole of 2017. (12 ‘date nights' in total)

PURPOSE: Lou and I spend a lot of time at home together. By taking the time to leave the house and paying for someone else to cook a meal, we get to spend quality time with each other outside of our comfortable environment. This will help to maintain and develop our relationship.

If my relationship with Lou is off, so is every other element of my life. My relationship with Lou is vital to my overall happiness. 

We have a great relationship, and I want to not only keep it that way, but develop it further. This is a simple commitment to make to each other to show we value our relationship.

NEXT STEPS: Book a date and location for this week. Aim to set the date and location within the first week of the month to avoid forgetting about it or falling behind. Take the lead and book and plan on behalf of the relationship. 

If we have to cancel for whatever reason, reschedule a date ASAP. 

7. I will easily attend 3 x different clubs/classes in Cambridge area by 31st March 2017.

PURPOSE: I haven't made any new friends in Cambridge so far. So, I must take the initiative and make an effort to meet people. One club/class a month is a simple commitment for the next 3 months which is achievable and likely to make an impact. Each club/class allows me the opportunity to socialise with new people and improve the likelihood of making friends. 

The club/class itself is irrelevant. It’s the taking part that counts.

To a lesser extent, I'll get to learn more about my surroundings by travelling to new locations in Cambridgeshire, as well as learn new skills, which I'm always up for. 

NEXT STEPS: I've already created a shortlist of the activities I want to do. Now it's about deciding which one's to go for and committing to them. 

Commit to joining 3 x clubs by the end of January. Report which 3 I've decided on in the January Goal Update post/video. 

8. I will easily record 52 new Youtube videos and have 2,000 Youtube subscribers by 31st December 2017.

PURPOSE: The purpose is similar to Blogging. It's just a different format to communicate with so I won't repeat the same thing. There are some additional reasons to why I want to release more videos this year though:

  1. I don't believe in god or an afterlife, so when I die... I'm gone (in my eyes anyway). Creating videos will help to keep me and my message alive for years to come. Loved ones can look back on the content I produce and hear my voice and see my face for as long as the internet and Youtube are around. I find that thought very comforting. 
  2. I prefer speaking to writing. It comes more naturally to me, so it makes sense to continue with video creation and harness a more natural strength. 
  3. Some people will only watch my videos and not read my blog. Developing my channel will help service that audience. It helps to get my message out there and help more people. 
  4. Speaking into a camera helps to develop my communication skills.
  5. By creating more videos, I'll naturally get better at it doing it. I think by committing to 1 x week, I can improve as a video creator, whilst not over-committing to another task.
  6. 2,000 subscribers is an indication that people like what I produce. To achieve that level, I'll have to commit to creating regular content. 
  7. If I attract 2,000 subscribers, I'll be able to start making a small income from Youtube. 

NEXT STEPS: Record this post, and my 2016 Goal review video in the next 7 days. 

Record videos on my smart phone and eventually invest in a video camera (which I can also use for my course). Part of the reason I procrastinate over making videos is the loading time on my computer, which prevents me from working on other things. Record on a different device and then load in the evening's after a day's work. 

Chunk video recordings, by doing multiples in one session. Aim to do more than one video each week to get a lead on the 1 x week schedule. 

9. I will easily complete 26 x bi-weekly reviews to track my progress in 2017.

PURPOSE: These sessions are worth their weight in gold. Having time each week to reflect on what I’ve done helps me to 'right my wrongs' and make adjustments, it gives me time to savour my successes, and record my learning outcomes through the week.

These sessions keep me on track to my goals. When I do them consistently, I always see an increase in output. If I keep to this goal, there's a stronger chance that I'll complete all the rest. 

I always feel great after a review session, and I never regret doing them. Yet, when I forget or decide against it, I regret my actions. 

Changing the goal from every week to every other week, allows me the possibility of missing a session, which is handy if I have a commitment on the weekend. By reducing the size of the goal, I believe I’ll end up doing more of them over the year, rather than having zero room for error like last year. 

NEXT STEPS: Keep doing them on a weekly basis as long as I can. Don't get disheartened if I miss a session. Every one I do is 'cash in the bank' for my development. Every one I miss is a withdrawal.  

.... and that's it!

I want to take this opportunity to give you full permission to call me out on anything I’ve written that I haven’t stood by! I'm serious.... If I say I'm going to do something, and I don't.... ask me why. I owe it to you and myself to at least explain what happened.

That's enough about me. How about you? What are your goals for 2017?

Feel free to share them in the comments section below, or if you’re a little shy you can email them to me direct, so you have someone to keep you accountable. If you’re thinking that I won’t be interested in reading what you’re doing…. you’re wrong!

I love to hear about peoples goals and how they pan on achieving them. I feel very honoured when people share their plans with me. I know commiting to action takes effort and courage, so if I can help someone out, I will.

In any case, thanks again for joining me and have a wonderful 2017!

Friday, 6 January 2017

2016 Goal Review - How did I do last year?

Did I earn the cheque in 2016?

Back in December 2014, I wrote a cheque to myself for £100,000 (see picture above). At the time of writing the cheque, I was earning less than £30,000 a year. The thought of earning this sum of money in 12 months was pretty unbelievable to me but I wanted to use it as an experiment to see if I could broaden my horizons and achieve something I considered unrealistic at that point in my life. 

I didn't achieve that sum of money in 2015, but 7 months after writing it, I handed in my notice at work (after nearly 8 years) and started my own publishing business. I didn't achieve the goal, but I extended my belief to what I was capable of. 

2016 turned out to be a similar year for me. I didn't achieve most of what I set out to do at the start of the year, but when I consider where I am right now, I have to concede that I am somewhat satisfied. Let me explain....

....I failed the vast majority of what I intended to do, but for me Goal Setting isn't just about achieving the goal. Setting goals involves some form of guess work. You can line certain activities up - eg. like adding 1kg a week to a particular lift, resulting in a 52kg increase over a year - but you can't foresee an injury or a plateau. 

During this guess work, you can over or under commit to a target, but I don't think it's that important. Goals don't have to be set in stone. If done right, they're tweaked and changed throughout a year to become a more realistic challenge for you, or adjusted to suit your new priorities.

I decided to move home in July 2016. I had not foreseen this happening at the start of the year, and its impact was massive. I've never sold a house before, so Lou and I had to educate ourselves on the process and make our house look pretty. This involved a great deal of time, effort and money. The result...

...We're now officially Financially Independent!

Despite my list of failed goals, I achieved something I've been working towards for 4 years. So I can't complain. I now have the opportunity to work on my goals for 2017, without the worry of bringing in enough money to live on. I also learned a great deal about myself by these failures. 

You don't have to achieve your goal to learn something!

I find setting goals easy and rather enjoyable. I get to dream about the improbable and make plans for enriching my life over the next 12 months. I get a buzz at the end of every year as I eagerly anticipate the clean slate of a new year, and look back on what I accomplished. 

Reviewing goals on the other hand is different animal altogether.

I would argue that it's both harder and more rewarding to review goals than it is to set them. 

Setting Goals is one thing but how you work towards them and what you end up achieving is REALLY what it's all about. 

I'm yet to find a more successful approach to improving any area of my life than tracking performance. Despite the difficulty, it's just too useful to ignore!

In this post I'll share my progress towards my 2016 goals. I'll review what worked, what didn't, summarise any learning outcomes, and hopefully set myself up for improved performance in 2017. 

So without further ado, here are my 2016 goals, with a summary of my performance. 

Priority Goals

1. I will easily earn at least £100,000 in income by 31 December 2016. (£8,333 per month) 
FAIL - I earned £64,518.07 in 2016 (AVE: £5,376.51 pm). 

RESULT: I feel mixed about my performance here. On one hand, wow. I earned more than twice as much as I did in 2015. If you had told me in 2014 that I would be earning £65k in 2016, I wouldn't believe you. 
On the other hand, I know that this goal was in my grasp this year, and I allowed it to drift away from me. First of all, when I hired a friend to help me run my business, I knew my income would take a hit, but I didn't anticipate the level that it did. I decided to end my working relationship with my friend and get back on the business in July/August. To give you an idea of the impact, my income was on £37k at the start of September, so I'm pleased I managed to get it back on track in the proceeding 4 months. 
This goal is within my grasp for 2017, so I plan on keeping it in place for 2017.
NB: It doesn't count in my eyes, but if I were to include the money I received from the house sale, I would have earned more than £100,000 in 2016. 

LEARNING: I'm capable of this goal. It's not a pipe-dream, it's an inevitable reality. In the next 3 years I will earn more than £100,000. I just know it! I will achieve this by working on fewer projects, and dedicating myself to each task.  

NEXT STEPS: Completing my online course is my priority, as it will give people access to my knowledge for a fraction of the price of coaching, whilst providing me with a new passive income on the side. My teaching style will be presented to more people, and I'm more likely to experience an influx of coaching requests. 
It will also help me coach people in a new area of making money - creating courses. I can share how I made my course and help other people make their own course. 
I'll maintain my kindle business the best I can during this phase. If I can keep it in the ball park of £4,000 - £8,000 per month it's going to give me a shot at the £100k

2. I will easily create and launch 3 x online courses that help people by 31 December 2016. 
FAIL - I didn't release any online courses in 2016! :-(

RESULT: This the most bitter pill for me to swallow looking back at my goal list. I set a couple of deadlines and failed them both. WHY?

LEARNING: I've taken a lot of learning from this failure. I've learned that I have an obsession with learning! When I starting working on a topic, I would spend time researching it in greater detail to ensure I was providing the highest quality I could. This often led me to doing further reading, taking courses, speaking to others, or in some cases, practicing what I'd learned before being comfortable in showing others my results. I repeated this cycle multiple times and got nowhere. My knowledge has never been better, but that doesn't help any potential publishers!
An underlying theme for me in 2016 was - KEEP IT SIMPLE. I tend to naturally over-complicate everything. This year, I want to release just the one course. Take the pressure off. I also plan on releasing it at a cut price with it being incomplete. I can get some customer feedback, and allow people access to lifetime membership at a fraction of the cost = win/win. 
Procrastination, fear, obsession, perfectionism and self-doubt all played their part, but I determined to complete this goal, even if no-one buys it. I need to do it to prove to myself that I can. 

NEXT STEPS: This is my number 1 priority for 2017. I've also hired a coach who I'll visit on a weekly basis to help me get out of my own head, and help me compete this task. 

3. I will easily help 5 x people quit their day jobs by 31 December 2016. (The people I help will decide whether my contribution was significant enough – request feedback in writing)
FAIL - No-one quit their job because of me (that they told me about anyway)

RESULT: This isn't a great start is it! As far as I'm aware, no-one quit their day job directly off the back of my coaching. This is a difficult failure for me as I feel so strongly about achieving it. It also led to me doubting my ability as a coach. 

LEARNING: When my kindle earnings were at an all time low for my business (whilst working in a partnership) I started to doubt myself. Did I get lucky with Kindle? Am I really able to help others? Thankfully within 30 days I proved to myself that I did have something to offer. My kindle earnings shot right back to where they were at the start of the year, and the following month I had my best ever royalty payment. 
If I review the actions of helping others and not on the outcome, I have to say, I'm not surprised. I didn't publish my online course, which could have helped potentially thousands of people do what I do. I didn't market my coaching strongly to reach more clients - so what was I to expect?? Miracles??
I know that my system works because I'm doing it. If people just did what I did, why can't they earn £1,000 - £10,000 a month?? 
I know that I can coach as it used to be a big part of my last job, and I was told by my team and my manager that I was very good at it. So what's missing? My actions!

NEXT STEPS: Commit to releasing the course in an unfinished, and imperfect state - just to get it out there. Get more people using my method and seek feedback on how I can improve my teaching. If I take action and commit to learning, I cannot fail. People will succeed like I've done and quit their jobs. 
I won't be using this as a goal next year. It's out of my hands, and I'd prefer to focus on the course and let this goal take care of itself. 

4. I will easily purchase my first buy-to-let property by 31 December 2016. I will easily make my first investment into property by 31st December 2016. 
VOID - I changed my mind on this goal. 

RESULT: I was approached by a couple of people I trust and they talked my through the downside of their experience in Property Investing. There are plenty of upsides, but the big downside for me was time invested. I was then pointed towards Saving Stream* as a suitable alternative. After researching the company, speaking to others, and experimenting myself, I've now invested a chunk of money into funding property developers in this P2P site for a 12% ROI. So far, I've been very happy with this decision and I would happily recommend it to others (once they've filled their Stocks and Shares ISA)
*Affiliate Link

LEARNING: It's OK to change your mind. I wanted to expand my income portfolio by getting into property. I still might at some stage, but for now, I prefer the passive nature and returns of Saving Stream. 

NEXT STEPS: Scrap goal for now. Continue to fund Saving Stream, and review alternative passive income sources. 

5. I will easily invest in over £1,500 worth of courses, books and education for myself. 
ACHIEVED - £1,525.45. 

RESULT: I only just surpassed this goal. Looking back, I think it was a little weird to set a spending goal like this but its purpose was to encourage me to invest money into my development, and I achieved that outcome. 

LEARNING: I've definitely learned a lot about myself, and I've recently taken this spending up a notch in the last couple of months by hiring a coach in Cambridge, and signing up to Audible. 

NEXT STEPS: I'll continue to invest in my development, more than ever this year, but I won't be tracking it. That will free my time up to focus on my priorities. 

Financial Goals

6. I will easily earn at least £10,000 in one month by 31 December 2016. 
FAIL - £9,265.38 best month

RESULT: Ah, so close! 93% of the way there, but still not enough. This is another goal I look back on and despite not hitting it, I still feel satisfied. 

LEARNING: Earning £9,265 in one month has helped break through the ceiling of what I thought was possible. If I'm going to be successful in earning £100,000 in 2017, I'll need to earn close to this figure every month (£8,333). 
I know how to do this in my own publishing business, despite not having done it, by scaling what I'm doing. Hiring more writers and producing more high quality books. But, it doesn't interest me as much as helping other people quit their jobs does. For me, it doesn't really make a difference to earn £6,000 or £10,000 a month publishing books. But by developing a course, and perhaps taking a hit on my income - I'll learn far more, and become far more. 
I'm more interested in the LONG GAME. Making a course and impacting thousands of people. 

NEXT STEPS: Release my online course. Upgrade my Blog and become more active on it to attract more people, who I can potentially help. 

7. My Investment portfolio (shares, bonds, & funds) will easily be worth over £50,000 by 31 December 2016. 
ACHIEVED - £81,266.38.  

RESULT: I comfortably achieved this goal back in July. My house move and Kindle earnings have moved this number on higher than I originally expected. I still have more surplus cash to put into this portfolio, and I plan on spreading it out further.  

LEARNING: Not too much here in honesty. Perhaps make it a little higher than I expect for 2017. 

NEXT STEPS: Keep on keeping on. 

8. I will easily receive over £3,000 in dividend income by 31 December 2016. 
FAILED - £2,267.02

RESULT: I'm not too disappointed by this result. It's not what I wanted, but I earned far more than I expected by trading stocks. My biggest dividend month was £432.32 in July, which was a nice milestone for me. I wonder what it'll be this year.... 
My trading profit for 2016 was at an all time high of £4,153. My investing strategy now involves buying and selling a share every 4-8 weeks. I've been able to buy multiple additional stocks off the back of my trading profits, which has helped to grow my portfolio nicely. 

LEARNING: I've learned to look at the daily stock prices less, and cash in on big capital gains (over 40%). I don't always cash in on profits, it just depends on the individual stock. But I have bought, sold, and repurchased the same stock this year, whilst cashing in on trading profits and dividends. 

NEXT STEPS: I plan on increasing both my dividend income and trading profit in 2017. More of the same please!

Business Goals

9. I will easily create a business website that offers information, courses and coaching on Kindle Publishing by 31 December 2016. 
FAILED - I've bought a website and set up the basic pages, but it isn't complete. 

RESULT: I have a URL - The Ebook Investor but it's not complete right now. My course was going to be running off the back of it, and until that's completed I don't plan on pushing it just yet. 

LEARNING: This is an important goal for me. I've done it a disservice by focussing on other tasks, and delaying the course launch. I will focus on fewer tasks to ensure this site is up and running at the end of 2017. 

NEXT STEPS: Complete the course, and basic set up for this site. Make it a priority. 

10. I will easily hire at least one person to help me run my Kindle Publishing business by 31 December 2016. 
ACHIEVED - Well, Yes and no 

RESULT: I hired a friend to run the publishing business, but I ended the partnership. 

LEARNING: I learned a lot about myself and my business from going through this process. Our friendship has survived thankfully, which was part of the reason behind my decision. My friend was shocked by the decision, but I had to take action and I went with my intuition. I had spent a lot of time and energy into making this work, but unfortunately I hadn't put enough energy into creating the right systems for my friend to smoothly take over the running of the business. I take FULL responsibility for it not working out! 
It's one thing to show someone how to create a book business from scratch, but it's an entirely different beast showing someone how to run a fully operational publishing business when you don't understand the industry. 

NEXT STEPS: I've learned that this is a one man job at my current level and I'm more comfortable with keeping an eye on it myself whilst I expand in different areas. 

Physical Goals

11. I will easily take photos of my body at the end of every month in 2016 to track the progress of my physique. 
FAILED - 4 out of 12 months

RESULT: Not great. A big fail really. The idea behind this goal was to keep a visual note of my physique. The scales don't allow for muscle gain. So, I thought by tracking my weight, waist measurement, and by taking photos, I'd cover the basics of my bodies development over time...... then I got injured. 
The injury has been far worse than I had originally intended. It's an insignificant intercostal muscle strain. The problem is in it's insignificance. I have re-tweaked it dozens of times by doing innocuous actions like picking something off the floor or twisting. 
The injury led to a lack of training, and a lack of care for my physique. I thought "what's the point of taking a photo of my physique when I can't train". After a few months, I gave up on it. 

LEARNINGI started the year well, but I got out of the habit of it. I didn't set myself up to succeed as well as I could have and after several months, the goal lost it's meaning. 
I started by taking multiple angles of my body with a DSLR camera. I had it set on a timer and then ran into position. Although this might not sound like a big deal, I know looking back that I set myself too many rules in order to complete the basic task. I was taking pictures in my garage to maintain consistency. So, I had to remember to take my camera outside after a workout to take the photo. I regularly forgot to do this, and after a couple of months - especially when I was unable to train due to my injury - I lost all interest in the goal. 

NEXT STEPS: I've reduced the 'rules' for this goal. I now take photo's on my phone, in my bathroom, by taking my top off. It takes seconds to do, it might not be as detailed, but by simplifying the goal I'm able to keep it more consistent which I believe will yield better results. 

12. I will easily maintain a waist measurement below 84cm each month by 31 December 2016. 
FAILED - I finished the year with my biggest waist of the year - 90cm!

RESULT: My waist measurement fluctuated between 83-90cm throughout the year. I was able to keep my waist measurement between 84-86cm for the vast majority of the year, which wasn't low enough for my goal. My year was hindered by a rib injury, however I didn't take the necessary adjustments to my diet to ensure my body fat around my waist didn't increase. 
After the house move in November and the temptation around Christmas, I let go of measuring and was shocked to see my waist balloon to 90cm at the end of the year. 
I'm now back to recording my macros, which SURPRISE, SURPRISE is already bringing my waist back down to normal levels. 

LEARNING: I lost the habit of tracking my waist on a monthly basis. When I don't measure something, I don't manage it, and it usually gets worse! 

NEXT STEPS: Measuring takes minutes, so I just need to do it no matter what. I don't need to make it much easier, but I think by tracking it once a week, I'll keep an eye on when it starts to rise or get enthused by seeing it come down to my target level. 

13. I will easily Bench Press 120kg, Shoulder Press 85kg, and perform a pull up with 50kg attached by 31 December 2016.
FAILED - On all counts

RESULT: My injury prevented me from training consistently all year. I wasn't going to be able to increase my numbers without consistent training. After a couple of months of not training to my usual capacity, I knew this goal was in jeopardy. I've ended the year weaker than how I started it. 

LEARNING: I learned to take my injury more seriously, and focus on rehab. Ignore manly temptations to pick things up, and ask for Lou on certain tasks rather than trying to do heavy lifting myself. 

NEXT STEPS: Take a step back from this goal. My sole focus is getting my rib back to irritation/pain free, and start training lightly. That is all. 

14. I will easily complete 2 x physical events by 31 December 2016.

RESULT: My rib prevented me from putting together a consistent training plan, so this goal suffered as well as a result. 

LEARNING: Same as above. 

NEXT STEP: Same as above. 

Mind Goals

15. I will easily complete a 30, 50 and 100 day consecutive morning ritual challenges by 31 December 2016. 
Yes and No - Completed 83 in a row

RESULT: I completed 83 in a row, and never got back to it on that level. 

LEARNING: The 'everyday' element was the hardest part. Especially when I was stopping away from home, or doing something early the next day. I think subconsciously when I forgot to do the morning routine on day 84, I lost the will to start over. This year, I plan on completing a set number instead, but this time I'll allow for a more manageable target like half the year (3 x week). This will enable me to make a headstart on the target, and catch up if needed. 

NEXT STEPS: I'm going to persevere with a morning routine goal, as it benefits me in multiple ways. I'll lower the target to entice me more and we'll see how it goes.  

16. I will easily read or listen to 16 books by 31 December 2016. 
FAILED - 11 books in total

RESULT: I read 11 books in 2016 - Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth, The ONE Thing, Why Fonts Matter, C90, Poor Charlie’s Almanack, How To Be A Productivity Ninja (re-read), Becoming a Supple Leopard, Sam Walton Made in America, Running Lean, What They Don't Teach You At Harvard Business School and The Millionaire Fastlane. I've also started but not finished Thinking, Fast & Slow. 
This is another example of a goal I failed but benefitted from nevertheless. 

LEARNING: When my morning routine's fell off, so did my reading. By making my morning routines easier, I'll read more over time. I started an Audible membership in December, and I'm already hooked. I'm whizzing through books, and exposing myself to information in a new format. 
Among my chosen books - Poor Charlie’s Almanack, Becoming a Supple Leopard and Thinking, Fast & Slow were a lot of pages!! The number of books is not as important as the consistency to the commitment of reading itself. 

NEXT STEP: Continue with the same goal for 2017. I believe I can achieve this one. 

17. I will easily complete 6 x comfort zone challenges by 31 December 2016. (The thought of completing each one should make me feel anxious)

RESULT: I did 2 significant ones that I can think of. Blood doning twice.
During my second blood donation, I opted to test myself for Platelet donations - As I had clearly conquered the blood donation world after just the single session. The nurse thought I was an idiot, but that usually encourages me more than anything. After the donation I passed out, and was brought back around by 4 nurses fanning me with clipboards. Oh dear! The head nurse told me I didn't qualify for Platelet Donations due to my reaction and I was also not to donate any more bloody for at least 2 years! Nice one Huw!

LEARNING: Don't run before you can walk!

NEXT STEPS Make this goal easier by reducing the number to 2 to improve the chance of success. 

18. I will easily attend at least 1 x Personal Development conference by 31 December 2016. 

RESULT: I didn't attend a seminar. This goal also lost it's meaning through the year. I liked the idea of doing it, but the reality of it was different. First of all, I couldn't decide on which seminar to attend. Then there was the cost. 
I ended up using my Personal Development money to enhance my learning in 2 x publishing courses, coaching, and a mindfulness course. When I look back, I'm not unhappy about that decision. 

LEARNING: REALLY consider what goals I want to do and why. If I'm a little unsure about doing it, don't commit to it. Save my commitment and energy for the things I feel strongly about. 

NEXT STEPS: Ditch this goal for now. I have more than enough to occupy my mind at the moment. 

Relationship Goals

19. I will happily have at least one ‘date night’ a month for the whole of 2016. (12 ‘date’ nights) 

RESULT: We started the year well, but fizzled out in August when the house move was at the forefront of our minds. Some of you might be thinking - "Bad one to fail Huwy!" - but I promise you, this one means more to me than it does to Lou. If it were her decision I think we might have gone out once or twice tops. 
We've already been out for our first date night in Cambridge and we intend on keeping that going for another 12 months as we learn about the area. Any recommendations?

LEARNING: Moving house takes your focus away from spending money on eating out and dressing up. try to go out twice in a couple of months to get a lead on the goal. We always enjoy it when we're out. Despite us both preferring to have a quiet night in!

NEXT STEPS: Keep the same goal, and beat 7!

20. I will happily have at least one ‘guy only night’ a month for the whole of 2016. (12 ‘Guy Only’ nights) 

RESULT: OK, this is awkward!
It isn't as bad as it seems. You see, now that I work from home, I don't have much time for a social life during the day. This goal helped to push me to get out and spend time with the lads. I had plenty of Lou time every week, as I lived with her, so this goal needed more effort. 
It was an important goal for me, as I like to be social, and the results clearly showed that. I got into the habit of watching a UFC fight night every month, as well spending time with other mates on the one off's. 
Now that I live in Cambridge, I'm going to have to tweak this one as I have no friends to hang out with. But I've got some ideas!

LEARNING: These evenings are important to me. I must make time to set these up again in Cambridge. 

NEXT STEPS: First I need to spend time with people who like the same things I do. Naturally I will find people I share things in common with, and then I can start suggesting Man Nights. 
Continue long distance relationships with friends from Herefordshire. 

Contribution Goals

21. I will happily contribute at least £500 towards charity for by 31 December 2016. (£42 per month)

RESULT: I comfortably achieved this goal. I set aside money every month and it added up to a decent amount at the end of the year. 

LEARNING: I feel strongly about contributing. I want to improve the amount I contribute, which I'm sure will happen naturally as my income increases. 
I would like to work towards a bigger goal in this area, and have some sort of target to aim for. 

NEXT STEPS: I've made contact with a UK charity and they're happy for me to endorse their charity on my site. The charity is 'Schools For Africa'. I plan on redeveloping a school in Cameroon, which cost's £20,000. I plan on giving 10% of my course's income towards this charity (once completed), and I'll contribute my own money as I have been towards achieving this single goal. 
It's likely to take me more than a year to achieve, but I'm not concerned about the timeframe. My goal will be to set up the fund and highlight the charity on my Blog. 

22. I will easily reach out to help at least one person every month, free of charge and without reason (12 in the year) by 31 December 2016. 

RESULT: I achieved this goal half way through the year, and after that I stopped counting. 

LEARNING: This isn't a goal that I really need to measure moving forward. It comes naturally to me, and although I love helping, I don't think I need to set time aside to achieve a certain number. If I focus on my course, my charity, and continuing to be open and helpful to people via my Blog/Youtube I will continue to develop in this area. 

NEXT STEPS: Scrap goal, and keep on helping people naturally.  Focus on creating the course to help more people and fund the school. 

Social Media Goals

23. I will easily create a New Blogging platform which will focus on my experience of Personal Development by 31 December 2016. 

RESULT: I've created the URL (to be announced soon), but I'm still working on it. It's basically going to be an upgrade to FFB40. 

LESSON: My blogging has declined over the last 12 months, and I've really missed connecting to people. The new and improved platform should help me commit more time and effort to creating content. 
Don't over think it, and make imperfect action!

NEXT STEPS: Complete the basic set up of the Blog and start creating content for it. 

24. I will easily upload 100 videos to my Youtube channel by 31 December 2016. 

RESULT: Miles off in the end. I'm like a broken record, but it started well, but drifted off. When I got into the habit of filming, it was a breeze. When I got out of the habit, I didn't want to start again. 
The house move also impacted this one. My goals had shifted so much and I knew a lot of them were not going to be achieved. I think this lead to me not blogging or filming. I didn't want to do it just for the sake of it. 
When I got down to Cambridge, I was without broadband until yesterday - Hurray! - which put another spanner in the works for creating content. 

LESSON: When I get behind on a goal, I make excuses that it's no longer important to me. Whether that's true or not. I want to make more of my Youtube channel, as I've barely scratched the surface in this media. This is an area I hope to improve upon this year. 
To save time uploading videos, I'll upload them overnight. I'll also try to create more imperfect videos rather than faff around with editing. 
One excuse I used was filming on my laptop. Once I had finished a video, it would take ages for my laptop to save the video on my hard drive, this prevented me from doing other things. I used this as an excuse NOT to film, as I had stuff to do. I'll overcome this issue by buying a separate camera or use my new phone instead. 
I'll also reduce the number of videos in half and commit to one a week, which is much more achievable. I'm hoping that by getting ahead early, and havin a more reasonable goal, I can be more consistent, which is crucial to success. 

NEXT STEPS: Buy a video camera to shoot videos and prevent immediate loading time. I'll upload the video's overnight and edit less. 

25. I will easily organise 3 FIRE Escape Gatherings for FI/PF Bloggers and readers by 31 December 2016. 1 x done. 1 on the way. 

RESULT: I set up a weekend in March, which was a great success. I was planning on running on in the summer and autumn but guess what...... the house move took my full attention. 

LESSON: These are very valuable. The most recent one was a lot easier to set up when I just selected a date, location and ran with it. I plan on taking the same approach again.

NEXT STEPS: Set up the next FIRE Escape in March

Achieved 7 out of 25 = 28%

One word can summarise that result. Shocking!

I'm slightly embarrassed by my overall performance to my goals. 28% is very poor, and  have a lot to take away from that outcome. In 2017, I plan to change things up, which I'll share with you very soon on my New Blog. 

My 4 Key Learning Points from 2016:

  • Set fewer goals - It's great that I want to improve in so many areas, but it's crap to not achieve most of them. Focus on fewer tasks so I can focus on achieving the big hitting goals! Avoid spinning too many plates. 
  • Make the goals easier - This concept was my default a couple of years back. I experimented with expanding my goals to almost unbelievable levels to see what I could do. I think there's something to be said for both strategies, but I'd like to revert back to 'guaranteeing success' for 2017. 
  • Consistency is everything - If you can do even a half-arsed job consistently you'll improve over time. I believe you'll do better being consistently below average than you will by being inconsistently brilliant. I experienced multiple failures this year because I lacked in this area. I hope by committing to less, and making it easier, I'll become more consistent.  
  • Take Imperfect Action - In line with the point above, by moving forward, even if it's poor, you're till moving forward. I recently spoke to a friend who was interested in investing. I told them that by investing in a fund like Vanguard Lifestrategy 80% Equity, they already have a massive leap on most people. Don't worry about the yield, past performance, future contributions, Brexit..... just start. I must take my own advice when it comes to creating a course and new Blog. 
If I stay true to this 4 learning points in 2017, I have no doubt that I'll see more success this year.

If you read this whole post - Thank you - You are probably in the minority! :-) 

The act of writing this out has been huge. The fact that you read it, and possibly got some value or entertainment from it is simply a bonus for me. Please leave a comment and tell me what you think. I'd at least like to personally thank you for taking the time to read my rant. 

If you're thinking of setting goals for yourself this year, I encourage you first to review your 2016 performance. There is far more value to be had by looking hard at your past performance, than it is to imagine your future. 

So how did 2016 work out for you?