I really believe in setting SMART goals - a mnemonic for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. That means that I always look to set goals that are realistic, but tough. They should also have a specific time limit.
So what you'll see below is my attempt to put together goals that adhere to this criteria. It's onward and upward, and so I'm anxious to get this party started. Wish me luck!
Goal #1 - Receive $5,200 in dividends during the year of 2014
Boom! This is my biggest and most important goal for the year. My dividend tree is what's ultimately going to provide the fruitful bounty that will sustain me once I'm no longer working full-time. So to that end it's of utmost importance that I focus on increasing my dividend income dramatically from year to year. This is a full $1,700 over last year's dividend income goal and more than $1,200 over what I ended up receiving in 2013. This is going to be especially difficult since I recently took a pay cut at work, but I'm going to give this one all I've got! $5,200 translates to ~$433 per month, which is a hell of a pile of snow to automatically add to my compounding snowball; I'm starting to think I live in the North Pole here. I'm anxious to acheive this mark, because that means before I even start contributing fresh capital from my day job I've already got well over $400 per month, on average, with which to purchase shares in high quality companies that grow dividends.
Goal #2 - Save 50% of my net income in 2014, averaged monthly
This may be a disappointment to some, as this will be a reduction from the savings rate I was able to accomplish last year. However, I think this will still be challenging since I have taken on significant expenses over the last six months while also suffering through the aforementioned reduction in income. I'm hoping other income sources, including dividends and online income, help make up some of the job income loss, but I still have to account for the facts that I now own a car and have health insurance. These are major expenses I didn't have at the beginning of last year. I'm going to do my best to not only exceed this goal, but crush it. I had a hard time exceeding a 50% savings rate the last few months of 2013, so I'm hoping to consistently push myself over that mark throughout the coming year. If I'm able to accomplish this goal it will be the fourth year in a row I will have saved more than half of my net income.
Goal #3 - Maintain a weight of less than 180 pounds during 2014
I revealed to everyone recently that I lost 18 pounds during the course of the year, and I plan to keep it all off. I'm going to write an article very soon that talks about how my diet has evolved over the last year or so as I increasingly focus on eating healthy on a time crunch, while also keeping costs low. I believe fitness is incredibly important, and even more so to those of us seeking early retirement. If you're looking to limit your healthcare costs over the course of your life it would behoove you to eat reasonably healthy and stay active. Although keeping fit won't deposit money in your account like dividend growth stocks do, it will pay dividends over the long haul. I currently weigh 176 pounds as of today. I'm aiming to be very close to this same weight by the end of the year. To give some perspective to this goal, I have maintained a weight of between 190 and 200 pounds over the last decade - which isn't as crazy as it sounds on my 5'9" frame as I carry a fair amount of muscle on my body. Focusing on more cardio, faster workouts, healthier food and smaller portions should allow me to maintain a smaller Jason going forward.
Goal #4 - Earn $12,000 during the year from online income
This will be a new focus for me. I haven't previously gone out of my way to try and earn money from my online endeavors - most of which is simply this blog. However, I'm going to put a bit more effort into earning money online as it not only will make up some of the income loss at work, but also hopefully build into a bigger opportunity moving forward. I've increasingly found intense personal joy and satisfaction from writing here at Dividend Mantra and inspiring others. I can actually see this is a huge creative outlet once I'm no longer working at a regular, full-time job, and I hope to continue to build this site into a place where us dividend growth investors and pursuers of financial independence can come together and inspire each other. As such, I'm going to try and produce the best content I've ever put together in 2014 and bring new readers into the fold. Content will be my main method to accomplish this goal rather than seeking additional advertisements, as I actually recently removed in-post ads because I felt they were obtrusive. I may try to pursue certain partnerships as they make sense (affiliate and other), but I will not do anything that destroys the value here at the site. And by focusing on content I will not necessarily produce more content than I did in 2013. I believe in quality over quantity, and as such I hope to increase the former more than ever going forward.
So these are my goals for the coming year. I think they're all very challenging, but also reasonably attainable. I'm going to spend all of my available energy to exceed these goals by a wide margin, but I'd be happy with just going 4/4 because achieving every one of these goals will mean I had another fantastic year. We'll see where I'm sitting in 12 months.
Do you think these goals are realistic and challenging? What are your goals for 2014?
Thanks for reading.