On one of the favorite blogs that I follow, Pat Flynn went over his 2011 goals results and they were a great example of setting (S)pecific, (M)easurable, (A)ttainable, (R)elevant and (T)imely goals. S.M.A.R.T. is a system for setting goals which sets you up for a high probability of success and ease with with you can evaluate your results. When I set goals I do try to add some specifics and numbers, but lately they have been more subjective and not quite sure some of the larger goals I have in mind are attainable short term. So this will be my attempt to add some specificity to ideas I have for 2012. I just noticed Pat posted his 2012 goals and additionally, Mark Mason, another blogger I like to follow was encouraged by Pat to post some of his goals for 2012 and I just came across his post as well here on MasonWorld.com.
I subjectively mentioned a few goals in yesterday's post. They were to save $, continue with stock trading learning/collaborating, work on creating a few niche websites and decide on a vacation. Good general goals, but nothing specific with which to measure any level of success on. Let's work on making them S.M.A.R.T. and perhaps add a few more.
1) Save $; That one is very vague, but even so, it has already produced some small results. We've both been more focused on savings and we have made small changes when we went out to eat and choose a soft drink instead of beers 2 times. I'd say that saved probably $20 in just 2 days, not a bad start. As I mentioned yesterday, I also plan to drink water when eating lunch out with my co-workers and we plan to eat out less, make greater effort to save/shop more efficiently by either utilizing coupons and/or shopping at Walmart vs Publix if it results in a significant savings. So let's try and add something measurable...
Consulting with the wifey, she said that grocery wise she'd like to keep the monthly bill to $350 or less per month. We have not yet evaluated our accounts to determine what we actually spend on groceries per month, so that may change a bit but it sounds like a good, but potentially lofty goal. It seems we can never leave Publix or Walmart without spending over $100 so we'll revisit that one once we have more data. Also the wifey usually stops for coffee at Starbucks or McDonalds 3 times a week and she will limit that to once a week. I will also drink water instead a soft drink at lunch and if I that I find I miss the caffeine, I will bring in my own drinks from home to have at work.
Typically we eat out most Friday and Saturday nights each week. We will cut that back to choosing 1 night or the other and attempt to cut that back further to not eating out at all some weekends. We'll also try and limit eating lunch out on weekends unless we're someplace not convenient to come home from to eat. So, in summary, $350 grocery bill or less per month. 1 coffee or less out per week for the wifey. Water only for lunch for me. Dinner out a max of 1 night per weekend, sometimes 0 and when we do, try and use a coupon/discount.
One other technique that I like to utilize to prevent myself from spending $ on items in the first place is asking myself how this item will bring in $ for me or how I could cut back on something else if it's something I really want or need. For example, for item 4 below, I need to sign-up for a web hosting company soon. That is somewhere between 3.95-6.95 per month on average. I know that is more of an investment because it will generate $ for me in the long run, but I still want to try and save $ on something else to pay for that. I have an online account for newsgroup access that I pay $11 a month for currently that I use very rarely. So I will be cancelling that first and as a result I'll actually be saving money each month. In addition I realized that just cutting out a soda with lunch 3 days a week would save the full cost for that service as well, so that is another easy way to come up with a way to pay for your item/service first before spending the $.
2) Continue with stock trading/learning/collaborating; I subscribe to the SpikeTrade.com site where about 100 of us members and about 15 elite traders compete with each other each week choosing a particular stock to go head to head. For each trade you submit you get a $3 account credit and if you beat the 3rd place elite trader on any given week, you get a $17 credit to your account, for a $20 total credit It is really a great site and you can learn a ton from the other traders and competing really gets you to focus on your trading/strategy and helps you step up your game. Last year I submitted trades most weeks starting around mid July and I received 4 performance bonuses for $20 each. My goal for 2012 is to triple my 2011 SpikeTrade results to receive 12 performance credits. That equates to 1 per month.
3) Along with the SpikeTrade.com goal above, achieve similar successful trades in my online trading account, beating the overall market by at least 2%; When I was learning how the SpikeTrade.com system works last year, I usually did not do the actual trades in my personal account. This year I am focusing to produce better results on SpikeTrade and as a result, I want to be able to take advantage of the extra research/follow through and actually make $ from the work I've done rather than just paper trade. As a result I would like to successfully trade at least 10 of the 12 successful trades from item 1 in my personal trading account. In addition, I would like my overall results to beat the performance of the S&P 500 by at least 2% for the year.
4) Create several niche sites/blogs; This is going to be my primary focus for 2012 and where the majority of my time outside of work will go to. My goal is to create 3-5 sites with at least 10 unique pages/posts initially each to help my audience solve a particular problem or achieve a particular end goal. As a result of providing epic information on each site, in addition to utilizing SEO techniques to bring in more and more traffic over time, my goal is to be able to derive revenue from those sites through several different means. Primarily through affiliate links to related products which will help my audience solve their problems, in addition to ad sense content and sponsor ads. That would be through a combination of email subscriber lists and click through links/ads. I'd like to obtain an email subscriber list of 10 people by June 30th and 50 by Dec 31st. My revenue goal is to bring in $100 by June 30th and $250 by Dec 31st. My overall long term goals in the back of my mind are much higher longer term, but based on having only $16 in my Ad Sense account from enabling ads on my existing blog from last year, I felt it was important to keep the (A)ttainable portion as exactly that, attainable.
5) Choose our vacation destination; This one really isn't a goal, more something we like to think about, but I can try and make it more of a goal....Decide the week we want to go and request the vacation time off by February 15th. Narrow down destination options by the end of February. Choose a destination by the end of March and start/finish the reservation/booking process with a cost less than or equal to our Dominican vacation from last year and/or our Mexican vacation the year before. The cost savings can be through utilizing credit card rewards for discounts/airfare or any other means.
6) Health/wellness goal; Hmm...I didn't really have one in mind for this year, but I guess it's always good to do something exercise wise to promote good health and mental well being. A few things from the saving $ goal will indirectly help here as far as eating out less and eliminating soda in favor of water. I will also add in that I will beat my miles walked/jogged in 2011, which was 143 as shown in my RunKeeper app. Walk/jog 3 miles per week for a yearly total of roughly 150 miles.
In addition to those S.M.A.R.T. goals for this year, I do have an overall life goal to be able to have the financial freedom to not HAVE to work a regular job and to be able to work from anywhere with a good internet connection. I envision being able to sit on a patio or balcony or even on the beach with a laptop, generating passive income from sites that eventually continue to generate revenue on their own. That is after a lot of the initial hard work and upfront effort to create the content to help others is complete and the visitors arrive. At that point I could 'work' from anywhere, maintaining my sites and managing my investments while not having to work a regular job if I no longer choose to.
Whew...that was a mouthful, or rather a pageful! I am actually super psyched I got all that down on paper so to speak. Those goals really evolved quite well as I was typing and I'm glad it's all out there shared with you guys so that I'm accountable for my goals to help provide another factor towards successful completion of those goals. Thanks for following along and most importantly, I hope the process was useful for you as well and that perhaps you are now motivated to come up with your own goals for 2012! I'd really enjoy hearing about your goals for the new year. Leave me a comment below. Thanks and here's to crushing it in 2012!