My Self-Assessment of 2018 & Goals for 2019

It’s that time of year. Time to slow down and reflect on the year that was and the year that will be. Every year, I like to pause, reflect, and assess how I performed against the goals I set out to achieve for the year. Hopefully, this gives you a window into me – personally and financially – and it’s a way to publicly hold myself accountable for the year ahead.

If you haven’t tried a similar exercise, give it a shot. It can help to keep you grounded, focused, and moving in the right direction.

My biggest focus areas coming in to 2018 were:

  1. Career Move/Passion Over Income: it was my personal goal to make a career move.
  2. Reduced Media Consumption: less consumption, more living.
  3. Relationships: grow existing and new.

Additional areas that were top of mind for me were:

  1. Personal Savings: max out all tax-advantaged accounts.
  2. Exercise: maintain/enhance 2017 levels.
  3. Travel: at least 2 solid trips (1 out of state).

The results? Here’s my full review.

What Went Well in 2018:

Travel: in addition to our annual spring vacation in Northern Michigan wine country (yes, it is real, and it’s spectacular), we had an amazing trip out to Jackson Hole, WY, where we visited Yellowstone National Park and then did 4 days/3 nights of backpacking in Grand Teton National Park. We got our first taste of true mountain trail backpacking in 2017 when we hiked the 4-Pass Loop in Aspen, CO, and we wanted more. The Tetons did not disappoint! We traversed 40 miles and 10,000 feet of elevation gain (and descent), and witnessed some of the most amazing scenery imaginable. We also narrowly avoided a 1 am encounter with a scavenging grizzly just outside of our tent one night.

In and around Yellowstone, we were able to see a wild bison herd within meters of our vehicle, 4 moose, a bull elk (less than 10 feet away!), and all kinds of other critters. It is truly a special place.

Our flights and all but 2 hotel nights were paid for with miles/points from airline and hotel rewards cards. We even made our own backpacking meals (and learned a number of lessons in the process).


Career: I hit major milestones in becoming the top performer globally in revenue-generation in the history of the organization that I belong to, among thousands of former and current colleagues <pats self on back>, and was subsequently promoted. It was a good year, in that regard, but I didn’t hit my big goal (more on that later).

Exercise: I mostly met my goal here. I’ve been doing high intensity cardio and body weight exercise 3+ times per week, long distance biking once per week in the warmer months, and 1-2 walks daily (dog = health). I currently weigh less than I did at the start of the year, but the fluctuations bother me (damn you, Michigan winters!!). I didn’t bike as much as I wanted to in the warmer months, so I’m going to set a goal of 2 times per week next year.

Savings: another banner year of tax-advantaged and additional savings in the books:

  • I made the maximum 401K contribution of $18,500 and paired it with an employer 401K match of 50% ($9,250). Meanwhile, Mrs. 20SF maxed out her 403B (the non-profit version of a 401K), at $18,500.
  • Mrs. 20SF also maxed out her 457B account, which provides another $18,500 of tax-sheltered retirement savings for us.
  • We continued my employer-sponsored high deductible health plan (HDHP), which gave us a $2,000 employer contribution to our HSA.
  • I made the maximum HSA contribution of $6,900 ($2,000 in employer HDHP/HSA incentives + a $4,900 personal contribution).
  • I contributed the maximum 20% of pre-tax self-employment income (earnings generated from this website and elsewhere) to my SEP IRA (a retirement account for self-employed income earners).
  • We carried no credit card balances and banked some solid travel card rewards.
  • Net worth hit another all-time high.

Relationships: I’m going to chalk this up mostly as a win. I was able to build some new friendships at work and stay in touch with the people I care about outside of work.

What Didn’t Go So Well in 2018:

Media Consumption: last year, I stated:

“I’ve allowed myself to stack my political and financial news and social media consumption to a level that is not sustainable or healthy. I hope to find ways to cut this back dramatically to free up time and focus.”.

I failed spectacularly at this. I think a big part of it is that my job and this very site you are reading right now, depends on me staying well informed on a variety of different topics. Additionally, I am now “woke AF” (as the kids put it) when it comes to political and social issues, for better or worse (mostly worse). To some extent, this is who I am now.

Career: despite the career successes highlighted above, this category was a mixed bag. I did not meet a major goal that I set out to achieve. Last year, I definitively stated:

“This is the year, and I’m holding myself to it. I will NOT finish the year with the same job I presently have.”

I was promoted by job level, but my core role is the same as before, with a few new leadership/mentorship responsibilities mixed in. I had exploratory interviews for a few different roles, but for one reason or another, I did not move forward with them.

Focus for 2019:

2019 resolutionsCareer: dare I make the same pledge as last year? This is a tough one for me, because as I learned this year, there is a lot that is out of my control when it comes to finding a role that is a step up from my current role.

Ahh, screw it…

“This is the year, and I’m holding myself to it. I will NOT finish the year with the same job I presently have.”

I’ll also add this: while I am in my current role, for however long that may be, my goal is to stay as positive and engaged as possible.

Exercise: I want to take it up a notch here, from a solid foundation. I’d like to maintain 1-2 dog walks per day and 3 high intensity cardio/body weight sessions per week, but then amp it up to 2 long distance bike rides per week (from 1) in the warmer months, and add in jogging/running at least 1 of the other 2 days.


  • Savings: max out all tax-advantaged accounts again.
  • Relationships: being in our 30’s, without kids, is a tad isolating when the large majority of our friends have kids (and seemingly have crawled into their parenting bunkers). It would be nice to find and connect with more couples our age that aren’t all-kids-all-the-time in focus (if they even exist).
  • DIY: I want to re-build our elevated walk-out deck. There are parts of it that are rotting to the point of it becoming a legal hazard. It’s probably a good 400 sq ft of space. This will be a massive DIY project for us.
  • Travel: 2+ solid trips (1 out of state).

What About You?

Please brag and hold yourself accountable for the past year and set some goals for 2019 in the comments.

  • What were your biggest financial and personal wins and losses in 2018?
  • What are your biggest focus areas for 2019 (financial or otherwise)?
  • What are you most excited about in the year ahead?


  1. Bargainator
  2. Dennis Moore
    • Olio21
  3. Juan C.
      • Juan
  4. John Lee
  5. KewCorp
  6. Ashley Moss
  7. Lisa Manni
  8. Jade Tabony

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