Welcome to our year in review!
While we didn’t have official goals on the books yet, these were some of the things we kept in mind that we wanted to accomplish and build on. For us, 2016 held a lot of excitement and personal growth. We are continually examining what can be better in our lives and what we truly want out of life.
It’s exciting to look back and check things off our list that we accomplished, but it’s also interesting to see the things we wanted to do and either failed at or just didn’t get done.
Without further adieu, here’s how our year stacked up in terms of what we felt we got accomplished and what we missed the bar on.
1) Figure out & start a business
Fail. We’ve had so many ideas over the years that have not stuck, and now in hindsight when we look back, we’re happy to never have started most of the those ideas! It’s hard for us to stick to one thing that will nail us down because we love so many things. We often think of ourselves as “collectors of hobbies”.
Another thing about an actual brick-and-mortar type of business is that it would probably interfere with our love of travel! One of our life goals in general is to travel more, so it’s starting to look more and more like we need something where we can work remote.
2) Post more frequently on Seeking Saturdays
Fail. We were so focused on everything else and hadn’t gotten serious about our blog yet. All year I had it in the back of my mind that I needed to get a few technical things done before we started creating content. In the beginning of the year we had some excitement being featured on Rockstar Finance by J$ with our post No Paychecks for the Rest of the Year.
With everything going on in our lives in 2016, I think this was the right move so we can make this site the best that it can be.
3) Pick a theme, structure, & starting point for Seeking Saturdays
Win. While we didn’t produce much content over the year. I finally nailed down a theme and began to whittle away at all of the extra fluff that we didn’t need and focus more on the stuff we did want.
When starting a blog, you can get carried away with the amount of categories you start with. Another thing that’s tough to deal with is analysis paralysis and focusing on small details that don’t actually matter. (like the amount of space between these lines! ↑↓)
Towards the end of the year, I started setting goals on what matters and drive it home to get results and move forward rather than being stuck in the mud.
Personal Finance Goals
4) Max out our 401ks & IRAs
Win. It was a rough beginning of the year coming right off of trying to max out both of our 401ks & IRAs at the end of last year. This meant we went without paychecks for the last handful of months in 2015 and also went without paychecks for many months at the beginning of 2016!
With our savings and also some increases in pay, hopefully the beginning of 2017 will be nice and quick on the front-loading so we can get to putting money in the brokerage account.
5) Create a Vanguard brokerage account & start saving $ in it
Fail. We maxed our 401ks and IRAs but failed to get a Vanguard brokerage account going and kept the bulk of our savings on the sideline in cash. Oh well. There’s always next year! 🙂
6) Spend less money on gadgets & things I’ll find better versions of
Semi-Win. I admit with enthusiasm, I’m an avid online shopper. Those “helpful” Amazon suggested items and even the great 4+ star reviews alone usually convince me of things I don’t need. Because of those, I felt that I very much needed a new version of a backpacking stove or that new high-capacity battery pack or that rapid charger that will juice my phone faster.
The good thing is that refocusing our priorities over the year to the mode of saving money made me hesitate just enough to where I’d add an item to my cart, but then wait at least a week or two before checking out. That alone helped me buy less. Woot!
Personal & Self-Improvement Goals
7) Get back to my gymnastics conditioning
Mostly-Win. Being a gymnast back in my early teenage years has always stayed with me in the back of my mind as something I’d love to get back into. Some of the best memories of my life came from gymnastics and with that a lot of confidence. Having the knowledge that you’re more capable than 99% of the population in flexibility is pretty exciting and opens the door to sports most people aren’t even able to attempt. It’s also pretty freakin’ cool and and feels great!
2016 started off with the Rio Olympics which is probably the cause for my renewed interest in gymnastics. In any case, I started off the year not able to touch my toes and now:
- Straddle (middle split) – I’m probably 4 inches from the ground
- Right & Left Splits – I’m able to fully & comfortably put both hands on the ground with elbows slightly bent
- Backbend – Comfortably hold it for 30 seconds (no-back kickover or walkover yet)
- Handstand – Can easily go up into a handstand & many times hold it controlled for over 10 seconds
- Press Handstand – Nope! Not yet.
8) Finally do something about losing my hair
Win. Rogaine? Hair restoration? Nope, at the beginning of the year I embraced it and shaved my head! It’s been very empowering and my sex appeal has gone way up according to Mrs. Saturday. ;-D
9) Purge everything we don’t use (donate, recycle, & sell)
Semi-Win. As we have seriously started saving for Financial Freedom, with that came a sense we needed to begin the process of downsizing so we would have less “stuff” to worry about. As a result, towards the beginning half of the year, we went room by room, closet by closet, and got rid of quite a bit of duplicates of items (how many staplers & empty Amazon boxes does a house need?) along with things we knew we would never use.
It was so exciting to get rid of literally hundreds of pounds of useless crap, but inevitably towards the end of the year the universe decided it disagreed. Somehow we were donated many items, gifts in many forms showed up, and more stuff began to creep back in. Spring cleaning?
10) Start walking in the morning before work
Big Win! This single thing has increased our happiness more than we could have imagined! In the past, we’d struggle to get out of bed by 7:30am to just make it to work by 8 and now we’re out at our lake at 6am sharp for a 3 mile walk. As the year goes on and the seasons change, we feel a real immersion in the environment (and life itself) as the people and animals that visit the lake change as well as the atmosphere and temperature. You start to notice the little things.
By the time we get to work, we feel content that we’ve already done our exercise (it sure doesn’t feel like it!) as well as escaped our constant sheltered existence. It feels like walking and talking in the morning increases our creativity, allows us to release minor frustrations, and slows down time in our minds when we look back on the year.
11) Try yoga and practice on a regular basis
Win. Yoga was always something we wanted to try and finally got the chance. When staying at a resort with some friends, they offered to give us a class one morning and we excitedly said yes! Since this went perfectly with my gymnastic stretching, it was a natural fit.
Mrs. Saturday thoroughly enjoyed the relaxation and also the strength-building that many of the positions helped. We now do about 20 minutes of yoga after walking in the morning before work.
12) Learn to dance salsa & bachata
Win. Dancing has added a spark to our lives that we were missing for a long time. We get excited about a lot of different hobbies that we find ourselves infatuated with, but only a few of them actually work their way in our weekly schedules.
When most people are sitting around the dinner table or couch-potatoing-it-up with their nightly television show, many days of the week (after work) you can find us sweating it out in class learning salsa or bachata!
13) Start learning Spanish
Win. Moving to the sounds of emotion-rich of latin music fills you and takes over your soul. The only problem? What in the world are they saying!?!
Since we added latin-style dancing to our lives, we hear this amazing music that’s a mix of fiesta, heavily emotion-laden, and an embracing love of life and people. We decided to start down the path of fixing this problem while also adding to our toolkit the second most popular language in the world by number of native speakers.
If you want to fast-track your intro to learning a new language like we did, to get started we used the tremendously popular free app Duolingo. <— Give it a try!
14) Visit New York City
Win. At long last, early in the year we made it to the Big Apple and found out what all of the excitement was about. We spent a good number of days in New York City and got to partake in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway, extensively walk around in Central Park, enjoy excellent Indian street food, have a drink at the Blue Bar, and even have a vegan hot dog with fries at a Yankee game!
This trip is what inspired our early morning walks that we enjoy so much now. Central Park is such a magical place, we wanted to bring it home with us.
15) Visit Colorado
Win. Another place we’ve been dying to see is Colorado. We checked off Boulder and Denver as places we’ve finally visited, but what really made this trip was our wild 4-night backpacking trip into Rocky Mountain National Park. Notable memories from this trip was a massive elk eating my backpack, climbing a sketchy waterfall in the snow, and a toilet with the best view on earth!
16) Visit Canada
Win. In years past, we resorted to visiting Canada every two years to save room for other new travel destinations, but since Mrs. Saturday needed to see some family in Quebec City and it turned into a family trip, we got the chance to get up there and make some nice memories.
17) Take a long 7-8 day cruise
Fail. We took a very short 3 day cruise at the beginning of the year to Nassau, but with all of the travel that we did during the year, we ran out of vacation days to fit in a nice long cruise. After all of the amazing sights and experiences in the year as well as personal growth, we’ll chalk this off as a “nice to have,” but not a big fail.
18) Get the raise I deserve for my level of responsibility
Win. After a year of picking up extra projects, taking on things that are way above my level of responsibility, and saving the company more money than they were even paying me in yearly salary, it was about time to get a much-deserved bump in pay. I’m still probably underpaid for what I’m doing, but you have to start somewhere.
19) Add new skills to our toolbelt at work to make us more valuable
Win. At work, both Mrs. Saturday and I picked up quite a few new valuable skills that we’ve learned over the course of the year that add value to our skillset. You should always continue learning in life and be challenged to keep developing yourself in new ways. You never know where those skills will come in handy in the future! (whether at your current job or open up a better opportunity elsewhere)
Focus Priorities & Renewal
Overall, it was an amazing year for us. I’d say our score of what we set out to do (subliminally) to what we actually accomplished wasn’t too far off:
78% of Goals Achieved! (15 out of 19)
We didn’t hit all of the goals we had thought we wanted to achieve, but the two main themes of the year were to focus our priorities on the long-term life goals that really mattered to us and renew ourselves to be more content in life.
I know that sounds a little zen, but sometimes what you need is to take a step back and think about what’s important to you and what you want long-term. Once you figure that out, it’s time to make a plan and go for it! Feeling renewed and content helps to keep us focused on the end goal because even when you’re pretty happy day-to-day, it sure does feel like a long road to financial independence when you’re near the beginning!