Thursday, March 13, 2014

Budgeting Your Time

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a Jaycee's meeting in which Nate Boulton, a local attorney and civil justice advocate was the guest speaker.  The conversation was about the importance of networking and being involved in our communities.  One of the golden nuggets from the workshop that I thought I would like to share with you is the importance of budgeting our time.  

Many times we hear that people do not have enough time and we may even be guilty of saying this ourselves.  People will make time for the things they have decided are important and are valuable to them.  Budgeting our time is one of the things that we need to do in order to meet the goals in various areas of our lives.  If you don't decide what you are going to do with your time others are going to have the power to do that for you or your most valuable asset may be wasted. 

How do you budget your time effectively?  Budgeting your time is like budgeting your money, you should start with what you value. Here are the steps I would recommend taking to make sure that your schedule represents what you most value. 
Step 1: List the things that are important for you to do with your time (people to spend time with, organizations to be involved in, ways you are going to earn money, investments into yourself, etc.) 
Step 2: Prioritize the list  
Step 3: Decide what you want to budget your time with (paper calendar, electronic calendar, etc.) 
Step 4: Add the required things in your calendar (hours at work, children activities, sleep, etc.) 
Step 5: Add the next round of things most important to you (date nights, organization meetings/events, community/networking opportunities, family time, working on goals, etc.) 
Step 6: Decide what to do with the remaining time (more community involvement, family time, reading, mentoring others, volunteering, etc.).
If you don't some of these steps you are more likely to waste your valuable time when it could be used to make additional investments in yourself and others.   What do you think?  Do you budget your time?  Do you have any additional tips that would help others?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March Update

While this winter has seemed long the new year doesn't feel like it could have already been 2 months ago.  This year has been a busy one as I work on new things spiritually, financially, intellectually, relationally, and physically.  I am going to take this opportunity to give an update where I am on my 2014 goals.

Spiritual Goal: 
My spiritual goal is to connect with God each day through prayer, reading his Word and reflection.  
I am still working on intentionally praying daily - it has been the weakest part of my spiritual walk in recent years.  I know I need to be in constant prayer when times are good and when times are rough.  We started in a new small group study in February based on Max Lucado's book Fearless which was one of the books I read as part of my intellectual goal.  So far I have been happy with the study as it pushes us to fear less and rely on God more.  
Financial Goal:  For 2014, we are going to try to stretch ourselves and set a financial goal of paying off at least 60% of the debt that is remaining on our mortgage.  
Anna and I are still focused on this and looking for ways to cut cost and save us money for the short term to eliminate our debt quicker.  This month we changed internet service providers which will cut $10-15 each month out of our regular expenses to put toward debt reduction.  In addition, I was asked and decided to coach girls soccer this spring.  That extra income will get us closer to making this stretch goal a reality.  As of today, we are projected to be debt free in 19 months. 

Intellectual Goal: My intellectual goal will be to read the same three books at least once a month and spend time reflecting on the principles and applying them into my life. When I find a book that has principles to that would be beneficial to read over and over again it will stay in my three book diet for the rest of the year. 
I have decided to change my 2014 intellectual goal to allow myself the flexibility that I have been giving myself already.  I did finish my January book that carried and my three books for February.  I have decided not to continue to read Fearless for the rest of the year.  Teacherpreneurs is a book that I would love reading over and over again but it was borrowed and I need to return it this month therefore I will not keeping it in my 3 book diet.  I am be keeping Andy Andrews' book The Noticer Returns in my reading list for the rest of the year.  The two books I am going to be adding for the month of March are Your Money Counts by Howard Dayton and Teaching an Anthill to Fetch by Stephen James Joyce.  

Relational Goal: NEW: I will schedule an opportunity for at least one date with Anna each month. 
Since I already completed my relational goal for 2014 in January, I decided to add a new one.  Anna and I will be celebrating out 10th anniversary this year so I want to make the whole year special not just one day.  Since William was born we have not done an awesome job of making sure to schedule date nights as I have seen other friends do and marriage experts talk about.  For the rest of the year I am going to be intentional and get these on my schedule before each month begins to work on continuing to grow closer with my wife. 

Physical Goal:  My physical goal is to run a marathon by the end of the year. 
Today I started week 3 of a 12 week 1/2 marathon training program.  Once I complete this training I will start working up toward being ready to run a marathon by the end of the year.   Right now I am shooting for the Des Moines marathon in October, but that could change. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Working through hurdles

I apologize for taking an unintended break from my blog I have been focusing on several areas of my life that I have set goals for, but also have had a few other things that have popped up this month.

  • I have announced my candidacy for Vice President of the Des Moines Education Association.
  • We have been working on vacation plans for this summer with our family.  We are going to be going to Yellowstone. 
  • Our internet service stopped working and we are in the process of getting it back up and running by the end of the week.  
Some of these things have been welcomed while others have created some headaches, but still moving forward on trying to accomplish my goals.  Once my internet service is back on I promise to do a better job with my blog the rest of 2014. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

30 Day Hustle Part 2

I am participating in the second round of Jon Acuff's 30 Day Hustle.  Last month I was able to accomplish a task in 30 days that I thought I was going to take most of 2014 thanks to the accountability group and all of you.  I am overjoyed to have already completed my Legacy Box for my family if something happens to me.  My goal for the second 30 days is something that seems much smaller but will be challenging as well.

What?  My goal for the next 30 days is the hustle to lose at least 8 pounds!  I know it may not sound like a lot but these are 8 pounds that I have been working on losing for a long time and I just continue to make excuses to why I cannot do it.  No more excuses!  I am going to lose those 8+ pounds and keep them off.

How?  I am going to continue my running program toward my long term goal of running a marathon this year.  On my days that I am not running I will work in some other form of exercise (cycling, kickboxing, yoga, etc.)   I have scheduled my running days onto my calendar and will be scheduling other physical activities in between.  I will also make smarter food and drink choices over the next 30 days.

Why?  Because I want to feel healthier and stronger.  I want to be able to be a good role model for my son and my students.  I know that having excess belly fat is bad for me beyond just how it looks and am committed to doing what I can to be able to stay active and be around for my family.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February Goal Update

The first month of 2014 is already over and has resulted in the completion of one of my goals, moving along the path toward achieving some and refining another.  Occasionally I will check in to share my progress, my struggles and changes I make in my goals this year.

Spiritual Goal: My spiritual goal is to connect with God each day through prayer, reading his Word and reflection.  
Each day I have committed myself to begin the day in prayer and have at least read though a chapter of the book of Proverbs.  My goal was to do that in addition to getting into the Word first thing in the morning.  I have realized that not being a morning person has hurt my chances of making this successful.  I am still committed to achieving my goal but am scheduling my quiet time in the Word to the evening instead of first thing in the morning.  For the month of February I will be focusing my additional study on the Book of John. 

Financial Goal:  For 2014, we are going to try to stretch ourselves and set a financial goal of paying off at least 60% of the debt that is remaining on our mortgage.  
We are working toward making this a reality.  One of the big changes we have made starting in January is that we canceled our escrow account to allow more of our money to go toward our mortgage each month while budgeting for our home owners insurance and taxes ourselves.  This change alone cut our debt free date by 2 months.  We now are currently less than 606 days away from being debt free!

Intellectual Goal: My intellectual goal will be to read the same three books at least once a month and spend time reflecting on the principles and applying them into my life. 
I was unable to accomplish this goal in January.  I did complete two of the books (The 5 Love Languages: Men's Edition and The Noticer Returns).  I only made it through a little more than a third of Thou Shall Prosper.  I have found that Thou Shall Prosper is not a book to read quickly so I am taking my time to complete the book and will finish it during the month of February and then putting it back on my bookshelf.  Out of the three books I started with I am only keeping The Noticer Returns by Andy Andrews in my 3 book diet for 2014.   Since I cannot commit to reading Thou Shall Prosper every month I will be replacing it with Teacherpreneurs: Innovative Teachers who Lead but Don't Leave by Barnett Berry.  I am also going to replace The 5 Love Languages with Fearless by Max Lucado. The reason for this second change is that I have read the 5 Love Languages several times and thought that the Men's Edition would give me something more to apply to my life, but it really was the same thing with a few side notes.

Relational Goal: I have set a relational goal of getting all documents created and organized that will help take care of my family if something would happen to me by creating a legacy box this year for them. 
This goal has already been completed.  I participated in the 30 day hustle with Jon Acuff and finished this goal within the first 30 days of January.  During the month of February I will be working toward reconnecting with some friends and will have a new official relational goal to post by the beginning of March. 

Physical Goal:  My physical goal is to run a marathon by the end of the year. 
I have worked toward accomplishing this goal by continuing the 10K training program.  By the end of February I should finish the 10K program and start my 1/2 marathon training program. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Our Financial Goal

Several years ago I ran across Dave Ramsey and some other Christian finance experts who were talking about why we shouldn't be using debt from a Biblical perspective and it really made me think about the bondage I had put myself and my family in.  At that point every day half of what I was earning was going toward paying for things I thought that I "had to have" or wanted before we had the money to pay for them.

That has changed.  We are on a budget and working with gazelle intensity to pay off all of our debt.

On August 27th, 2012 we paid off my final student loan which made our mortgage the only debt weighing us down from financial freedom.  Once that happened we strengthen our emergency fund then increased the amount we were putting away for retirement and college.  We then started plowing all remaining resources at our huge mortgage.

In order to push ourselves to pay off our mortgage as quickly as possible we have set a goal to pay off at least 60% of our remaining debt by the end of 2014 which would move our debt free date even sooner than our current projected debt free date of October 1st, 2015.  This is a goal that I have not achieved on paper yet, but we are going to work and pray hard to accomplish our goal.  What are some of our action steps?

  1. We will look at our budget for places that we could lower spending to put extra toward our mortgage each month. 
  2. We will look for opportunities that will increase our income, putting everything other than our tithe toward our mortgage. 
  3. Any line item that we don't spend the total balance of during a month will be applied toward the principal of our mortgage instead of spending extra in other categories or rolling the money over to the next month. 
I believe taking these three steps, working hard and trusting God will allow us to pay off at least 60% of our remaining debt in 2014.  

What financial goals do you have in place this year?  What are your action steps to make sure you accomplish them?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Book Giveaway

Today the Meeting Our Goals facebook page reached 300 "likes".  To celebrate I am giving away a book from one of my favorite authors.  I wrote an early post about how I was being inspired by Jon Acuff this month to hustle for 30 days to achieve one of my goals sooner than I was planning and so I thought it would be fitting to give away one of his books.

The book I am giving away to mark this occasion is Gazelles, Baby Steps and 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me about Debt by Jon Acuff.  I will be writing later this week about some of the things I have learned from Dave Ramsey when I break down my financial goal for 2014.

For now I wanted to let you know about my giveaway and wish you luck!  If you don't want to wait to see if you win the book you can buy one today on Amazon using my affiliate link above.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Intellectual Goal

My goal for 2013 was to read at least 100 books and was based on a quote contributed to Charlie Jones.  He said, "Five years from today, you will be the same person that you are today, except for the books you read and the people you meet."  I found that I read a lot of good books and learned a lot of things but really didn't have the time to apply the great principles to my life in the intentional way I would have liked to.

My intellectual goal is still based on reading because I think that by reading good books is a way I can invest into my life.  Chris Brogan started a challenge for people to go on a three book diet.  This would mean reading the same three books exclusively for one year to help the principles really take root into your life.  I am starting with three books but am giving myself the flexibility to do other reading that is required by work or for fun.  In addition, if I get to a point that I don't feel like I need to continue reading a book again this year I will replace it with another one.

The three books I am reading are The Noticer Returns by Andy Andrews, The 5 Love Languages: Men's Edition by Gary Chapman and Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin.  Each of these books will help me in an area of my life.  My short term goal for January is to read through each book for the first time to see if they will stay on my list for the rest of the year.  If I decide to stick with the three books I will then spend February going through and reading each again with a highlighter.

Do you have any books you are planning on reading this year?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Physical Wellness Goal

The third 2014 goal I am going to break apart is my physical goal of running a marathon this year.  In October of 2012 I ran my first and only 1/2 marathon when I was at my post-high school physical fitness peak.  I then broke my foot in February of 2013 which figuratively and literally slowed me down.  Toward the end of 2013 I began my journey of getting back into shape.

I am currently working on a 10K training program and will try to find a 10K race to run sometime this winter or early spring.  I will be finishing up my program in mid-February this year and then will be ready to start working on the 10K to 1/2 Marathon training.  I am planning on running in the Dam to Dam 1/2 marathon race on Saturday, May 31st.  My goal, like when I ran in 2012, will be to finish the race in under 2 hours.  

After I complete my 1/2 marathon I will continue training for my first marathon which I plan to run on October 19th, 2014 in the Des Moines Marathon.

In order to achieve this goal I will need to stick pretty closely to be my 10K, 1/2 Marathon and Marathon training plans this year.  Through training and eating better I am hoping to get my weight down to where it was before I broke my foot which will help me with my running too.  

Have you ever ran in a distance race?  Do you have any tips for me?  

What are your fitness goals this year?  What is the first step you are going to take to achieve your goal?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Spiritual Goal Breakdown

One of the five goals I have for myself this year is a spiritual goal.  This goal will help keep me centered and focused on what really matters throughout 2014.  My spiritual goal is to connect with God each day through prayer, reading his Word and reflection.  How am I going to do this?

My first strategy is to begin the day in prayer before I get out of bed to get myself started right.  This allows me to connect first thing with God thanking him for another day and praying for his strength and guidance.  I have set my alarm a little earlier this year so that I can read from Bible each morning before getting online or going to work. While I shower, get dressed and on my drive to work I can continue to connect with God by reflecting on what I have read and pray for wisdom.

In addition to this intentional time of connecting with God in the morning, I am incorporating other strategies to connect with God throughout the day.  One is to utilize an application called myPraypal to organize and keep track of prayer requests.  I have put this app on the front screen of my iPhone so I make sure to see it each time open my phone. This helps me to make sure to open up my prayer lists at least once a day to pray for the needs of others God has put on my heart.  I would encourage you to check out myPraypal if you want to make prayer a more central part of your new year.

At another time each day I will also be reading through the book of Proverbs monthly throughout the year.  There are 31 chapters in Proverbs and they are not too long.  It will average out to about 5 minutes a day to reflect on God's book of Wisdom which is something I can always use more of.

In addition to my quiet time with the Lord individually I plan on doing a family devotional with William and a marriage devotional with Anna throughout the year.

Making sure that I am focusing on God's Word, my prayer life and connecting with him will be vital for me to have a successful 2014.  Do you have any spiritual goals this year?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Hustling with @JonAcuff #30Days

A great way to stay on focus with your goals is to find an accountability partner or group to keep you going.  Luckily this year Jon Acuff helped make this a reality for me with his 30 Days of Hustle challenge.  He has created an online community of people who committed to get something major done in 30 days.  We started on January 1st so we are on our 3rd day of the challenge.  Each day Jon sends an email to those who signed up pushing us to take our goal to the next level.  We then are able to post our progress, ask questions and support others in the facebook group and by following the twitter hashtag #30Days.  If this is a group that you think you would be interested in please let me know and I will get you information when the group opens up to others at the end of this current challenge.

No matter when you start working toward a goal you are able to find a friend or a group of friends to help keep you accountable to your goal.   Make sure to communicate your goal to others who will check in on you and help keep you accountable.  If you pick someone to be your accountability partner who will feed you with negative energy you would be better off without one.   I am including you in my accountability group and I would love to help you meet your goals too.

So what am I working on for the 30 Days of Hustle?

WHAT: As I looked over my goals for 2014 I thought it would be possible to accomplish my relational goal in the first 30 days of the year.  For the hustle I will be creating a legacy box so that everything is organized to take care of my family if something happened to me.  In order to get my box together I will need to:
  • Write letters to my son/wife in the future to be opened on important dates.
  • Update my will
  • Organize our paperwork (insurance documents, investments accounts, etc.)
  • Make some end of life decisions and get them on paper
WHY:   I don't know when the Lord will be taking me home and I want to make sure I take care of my family to the best of my ability if that would happen sooner than I would hope for.  I think it is important to be a good steward of what God has put into my care here on Earth and feel that this includes getting things in place for after my death. 

HOW:  The Legacy Journey program by Dave Rasmsey comes with a legacy box that I was not able to complete when I took the preview class without all the materials.  I will be using that tool to help me put everything together in one spot.  I have created a list of things I need to do in order to feel like the box is complete.  Each day I will be looking at that list and creating, redoing, or finding what is needed to cross at least one thing off.   When I finish putting the legacy box together I will be sitting down with my wife to make sure she understands everything that is in it and how to use it if she ever would need to.  In order to keep it updated I have scheduled reminders for myself in my calendar to make sure to continue to update portions of it.

We may not be working on the same goals right not, but we can still encourage one another.  What a goal you are working on accomplishing?  Either post your goal here or join me on our facebook page

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My 2014 Goals

I plan to use this platform to help and inspire others to set goals and put the work in to meet those goals.  One way to do that is by modeling the practice myself.  I have set five larger goals that I will share with you today.  Throughout this month, I plan to break each of these goals down into smaller actionable steps so that I can track my progress with you on each of them.

Spiritual Goal:
My spiritual life is one that is very important to me and will be at the center of everything that I work on this year.  My spiritual goal is to connect with God each day through prayer, reading his Word and reflection.  

Financial Goal:
Anyone who has been following my life recently knows that our family is on a journey to become debt free. If you have not been around, you can read a story my wife and I put together to talk about our journey here.  For 2014, we are going to try to stretch ourselves and set a financial goal of paying off at least 60% of the debt that is remaining on our mortgage.  

Intellectual Goal:
Since I am creating a blog dedicated to setting goals and meeting them, it is probably pretty obvious that I am a strong believer in learning and improving.  One of the best ways I know how to do that is by reading books and trying to applying new principles into my life.  Last year I set a goal of reading at least 100 books, which was great for getting a lot of new ideas in my head, but left very little time to reflect on and apply the principles into my life. This year I am going to follow Chris Brogan's advice and go on a three book diet this year, but with the adjustment to do other reading I need or want to do as time allows.  My intellectual goal will be to read the three books below at least once a month and spend time reflecting on the principles and applying them into my life. I have set up affiliate links for my three books, they are:
My family is very important to me and I think it is important to not only be concerned about the short-term needs of my family, but also prepare for taking care of them in the future.  With this in mind, I have set a relational goal of getting all documents created and organized that will help take care of my family if something would happen to me by creating a legacy box this year for them. 

Physical Goal:
An area of my life that has lacked focus is my personal fitness.  I have times that I am 100% in total body fitness, times I am running, times I am biking, and other times when I am simply warming up the couch.  It is important to me that I take care of my physical body and will be working toward doing that this year.  My physical goal is to run a marathon by the end of the year.