The list is long, and the funny thing is, I have another 5 goals to achieve which I’ve left off the official list. There’s just so much I want to do in 2011 that it’s important to write things down so I can revisit them every month to evaluate my progress. I’ll be bookmarking this post and checking back regularly for sure.
I’m under no illusion that I’ll be able to achieve everything on the list, but I will certainly try. A lot of the goals and resolutions below are doable if I adjust my lifestyle accordingly. In fact, practically everything on the list is something I really want to do, hence maybe I will be able to achieve them all!
GOALS AND RESOLUTIONS FOR 2011
BLOGGING / INTERNET
* Maintain and grow Yakezie.com into one of the largest networks on the web. By the end of the year, we aim to generate $100,000 a month in revenue for all Members. Stretch goal, but a possibility for sure. We will host at least 6 Scholarships and award at least 18 Yakezie Scholarship winners. Yakezie.com will also build out its Lifestyle Vertical with 10 new Lifestyle Members and plenty of content.
* Make you believe that I blog full-time. In other words, readers of Financial Samurai will be treated to consistent (2-4 posts), quality content every week of the year. Readers will forget that I work 55-60 hours a week running another business because the quality of the site will remain high. Comments and e-mails will be responded to, guest posts will be welcomed, product reviews and giveaways will be conducted. Like eating the most scrumptious chocolate cake, you’ll develop an urge to keep coming back for more without gaining any weight.
* Fly just under the radar. It’s very tempting to brag about financial achievements with a personal finance blog after a certain point, and that’s something I don’t want to do. I realize times are still tough for many, and I find it inappropriate to share specific financial successes without the proper balance of financial failures. There are a host of other PF bloggers who publish their net worth progress regularly. Check them out and encourage them.
I don’t want credit for anything that comes out of Yakezie.com either. The site is for the Members and I’m careful not to impose my style and voice on the Network because I have a very strong personality that’s not suited for everyone. I want readers of Financial Samurai to read the content for what it is and to have no preconceived prejudices if possible. If Yakezie.com or Financial Samurai gets picked up by larger media outlet, great, thank you! However, I don’t plan on seeking attention. Everything I do will be guided by one word: fun. If the interview or project or whatever isn’t fun, I just won’t do it.
Offline, I want people to see me as just another regular person who looks less senior than his job title would indicate and is very financially mediocre. You know the scene in The Matrix where the ship is trying to avoid the attention of the Sentinels? My goal is similar to that – to disappear while being present. 11-year old Moose, worth $3,000 will help me stay invisible.
* Read a book on better writing. I flow write, which is to say that I just write everything down that goes through my head and then go back and edit for punctuation and grammar. However, in the entire year that I’ve been writing, not once have I picked up a book on how to improve my writing. Since this is a blog and not a New York Times article, I’m not so worried about beautiful writing. Furthermore, I don’t have an Editor to make anything pop. That said, I would like to incorporate a couple new writing techniques for 2011.
* Take more financial risks. I’ve never been much of a financial risk taker partially because I’m easily satisfied with whatever I make, and partially because I’m too chicken to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although things have recovered, it was disconcerting to observe so much wealth destruction in 2008. The pain of losing $100,000 is at least 2X the pleasure of making $100,000. I haven’t decided whether to open up a new trading account to punt the market with, or buy another vacation or rental property. Maybe I could turn $100,000 into a million bucks and surpass one of my goals from last year? Or maybe I’ll lose $50,000 of it and become an alcoholic for a week. I’m looking to invest in another private company, so if you know of any promising ones out there who need capital, let me know.
* Get rid of excess and maintain living expenses. I’m keenly aware of lifestyle inflation. This is the problem with hanging out with wealthier people. I’m joining an expensive tennis club and now I’m getting pitched to join this resorts vacation program which costs $130,000 and “only” $10,000 a year for 10 days in any one of their “400 multi-million dollar residences” around the world. That’s the cheap package! If I want 30 days of usage a year, it costs $300,000 and $30,000 a year to join. At least they give you 70% equity. Ummm, no. Stop spending money like Snoop Dogg and simplify life. Break free from things and reduce, reduce, reduce.
One of the greatest challenges will be to remain frugal, but not cheap with friends who are wealthy. The strategy I’ve come up with is to simply spend money on them so they have nothing to say about the way I live. Coffee, lunch, tennis balls, golf balls, dinner whatever… they’re all on me rich buddy. Please, just don’t call me cheap.
* Save at least 60% of my gross income after maxing out my 401K. This goal will be on my list every year until I retire. Everything is pretty much automated as I save one paycheck and 90%+ of my year end bonus if I receive one. If for one instance I feel that saving this amount crimps my lifestyle, I will allow myself to spend more by saving only 50%. Thankfully, good personal finance is quite basic and logical, which is why I try and write about all the fun things around personal finances instead. Hope you guys feel the same way about personal finance, so we can address some more interesting topics this year.
* Dress better. I dress very simply because I love to feel warm and comfortable. I used to always equate fancy clothes with being cold and uncomfortable. As I looked into tailored clothes more closely, I discovered a whole host of beautiful materials which keeps one warm and looking sharp at the same time. Several months ago, I went to a tailor and added a couple of well knit blazers, two suits, and seven dress shirts to my wardrobe, yet I’ve hardly worn any of the items except for the shirts! I haven’t even put on one of the suits yet to my dismay. The entire ensemble wasn’t cheap and I’m not planning on letting that money go to waste. I’m just too casual in the way I dress, which may be borderline inappropriate. The goal is to dress well and come across as someone who doesn’t have much if that’s possible. Every week, I will wear my blazers at least once and wear each suite at least twice a month.
* Take guitar and/or singing lessons at least once. I will find some good references and get some lessons by golly! After some encouraging comments from readers, I proceeded to record a couple more songs that day, when I only recorded 3 other songs all year: Landslide and First Day of My Life. Each song took at least 2 hours to get right and record because of so many strumming/finger picking and singing mess-ups. However, it is immensely gratifying to practice like crazy to record a final product which you find good enough. Guitar is an outlet that allows me to smile, cry, and do something completely different from the day-to-day norm. Guitar also helps me cope with boredom when it’s raining and I can’t go out and play. As a matter of fact, blogging also acts as the same way this winter! Aim to record 5 songs.
* Enter at least four tennis tournaments with the goal of winning one. Part of the reason why I failed to achieve my tennis tournament win goal is because I only entered two of them! Like dating, winning a tournament is also a numbers game. The more I enter, the more chances I have to win. In order for me to win, I need to stay healthy and fit. As such, I will stretch at least twice a week, do yoga once a week at home for 20 minutes, stay under 165 pounds, and lift weights at least twice a month. I hate working out with a passion, but I love to play sports and stretch, so that’s what I’m tilting my physical routine towards.
* Trend towards vegetarianism. The diversity of food I eat is mind boggling and often times unhealthy. Just last week I had Korean BBQ, Peruvian Ceb(v)iche, dry-aged prime rib, Singaporean Chili crab, Toro Sashimi, In N’ Out Burger, Burrito Mojada, Roti Prata, Shabu Shabu and Indian Mee Goreng! A lot of the diversity is because I love all types of food and I live in a city which allows for such pleasures. Furthermore, I often take clients out for meals and try to keep things flavorful, which often means unhealthy. As a result, I plan on making one day a week on average an all vegetarian day.
* Rediscover golf. When the downturn hit, I decided to give up golf and just focus on tennis. I couldn’t break a 10 handicap (got down to 10.1 and ricocheted higher) and I felt golf just took too long and was too expensive. It’s a shame because all of 2007 and most of 2008 I was enthralled with the game. I got some second hand Mizuno MP-50 irons that just felt so buttery. I found my driving swing again, and could regularly smack it at least 260 yard on a flat hole. Most importantly, my father has also rediscovered golf in retirement, so I’d love to spent my free time on the course with him.
* Remember my dreams. There once was a time where I would dream frequently and remember many of them. I’d fly across the city, go on crazy adventures, and meet interesting people. Perhaps one of the downsides of getting up early and quickly is that the “kick” happens too quickly. It’s in those snoozing waking hours where one seems to remember most of their dreams, and I simply don’t snooze at all because I wake up automatically by 6:15am. We sleep about 1/4th to 1/3rd of our lives. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could be awake in our dreams? If you haven’t watched the movie Inception, please go watch it twice. It’s now my favorite movie. I’ll be doing a lot of research on increasing my unconscious memories.
* Take all six weeks of vacation. 2010 was the first year I did and boy did it feel great! I’m also glad to see the world didn’t fall apart while I was away, which is a silly notion I used to have. I plan on continuing my path of visiting one or two new foreign countries a year so I can visit 60 before I die. I’m shooting to travel to Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Peru (went as a kid and don’t remember), Australia, New Zealand, Greece, or the Galapagos Islands this year. If you have any thoughts on where I should go, or recommendations of what I should do, please let me know!
* See my parents four times instead of the usual one or two times a year. My parents are globetrotters and they are hard to track down sometimes. We will use Skype more often and check in at least once every two weeks. One of the reasons why I started this site is so that my parents can check in on me, any time, wherever they are. They can read some of my thoughts, and comment whenever they want and I will respond. Mom and dad, if you are reading this, come visit me at least twice a year please. Thanks! There is no other resolution more important than this one.
I’ve made sure that everything on my list is measurable in some sort of way so that in one year, I can look back and see whether I succeeded or failed. I’ve already booked a trip to see my parents this February and I’m excited to get going on every single one of my goals. Feel free to share your goals and resolutions for 2011 as well!
Best of health and best of fortitude,
Sam – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”