Right around this time each year, I take extended time off of work to visit with family and friends for the holidays. I also like to set aside some personal time to pause, rewind, and review the year that was, while setting some priorities for the upcoming year. So let’s get right to it.
My biggest focus areas heading into 2019 were:
- Career: after spending the majority of my 12 years in the same job at the same company, it was time to make a career move… finally.
- Exercise/Health: I wanted to ramp up my biking on top of high-intensity exercise 3X per week.
- Relationships: time to grow a few new friendships.
Additional areas that were top of mind for me were:
- Savings: max out all tax-advantaged accounts.
- DIY: I wanted to re-build our elevated walk-out deck.
- Travel: at least 2 solid trips (1 out of state).
The results? Here’s my full review.
What Went Well in 2019:
Career: Last year, I 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’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.
Well, I finally did it! With a little help from a forced job relocation, that is. Back in June, I was presented with the option of keeping my job via relocating to NYC or the Bay, or finding another role in the company by October 1st. I opted to stay put in Michigan and found another role, landing a temporary rotation. I left my old organization as the #1 revenue generator in its history, among thousands of colleagues, and finished with 2 very strong quarters on my way out the door.
Exercise/Health: Last year, I stated the goal of:
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.
This was the best year of exercise/fitness that I’ve had probably since high school, and I surpassed the goals that I set out to achieve. I not only maintained the 1-2 dog walks per day, but exceeded my goal of 3 high intensity cardio/body weight sessions per week, by averaging about 3-4 days per week in the warmer months and 5 in the colder months. My biking was sporadic, but reached new heights in peaking at about 3X per weak in the summer, in large part due to an awesome new mountain bike trail system 30 minutes from our house. Jogging/running fell off in the warmer months, but I’ve recently picked it back up. My weight stayed right within a 5 pound range for the entire year.
Savings: A great year for household savings and finances. The best year yet, in fact.
- I again made the maximum 401K contribution of $19,000 and paired it with an employer 401K match of 50% ($9,500). Meanwhile, Mrs. 20SF maxed out her 403B (the non-profit version of a 401K), at $19,000, and received matching funds.
- Mrs. 20SF also maxed out her 457B account, which provides another $19,000 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 for families: $7,000 ($2,000 in employer HDHP/HSA incentives + a $5,000 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 excellent travel card rewards.
- Net worth hit another all-time high.
What Did Not Go Well in 2019:
Career: While I also chalked this up as a win in that I achieved a desired change, nobody likes to see their team involuntarily disbanded. When you leave, you want to leave on your own terms. That did not happen, but at least I left feeling good about my track record and accomplishments.
Dog Health: I documented our unexpected run-in with dog diabetes in the fall. He almost died from diabetic ketoacidosis and his long recovery was pretty de-spiriting to witness. He is now doing much better, but still has a long road ahead.
Travel: with our dog’s health and news of the impending job change and efforts to find and then start a new role, our travel plans fell to the side. We took 2 multi-day trips, but did not leave the state.
DIY: I aimed to re-build our deck. It didn’t happen. Back on the list for 2020.
Focus for 2020:
Career: I just went through a crossroads and now find myself at a new one. While I met my goal of leaving my old job, I am now in uncharted territory. I am entering the new year in a new discipline with a rotational role that ends in April. I basically have that deadline to find a new role or leave the company. And at this point, your guess is as good as mine on what I decide to do next. So, my goal for 2020 is to figure out my next move and be comfortable with whatever decision I make.
Exercise: while I ended up biking more miles than I ever have this past year, I’ve never gone over 1,000 miles in a year. I want to blow that away in 2020, while also maintaining everything else I did this past year. I also really need to work on my flexibility, as it is comically awful. And maybe even some weightlifting?
Other Health: physically, I have a few nagging areas of pain that I have put off addressing properly, due to time constraints. This year, I want to address them, either via physical therapy, flexibility exercises, or other methods. Mentally, I want to practice meditation and reduce anxiety, in part through…
Cognitive Load Reduction: I just wrote about reducing cognitive load, and while it is often a strong year-end focus for me, I want to make 2020 the year where it becomes a continual focus.
Other Focus Areas:
- Savings: repeat maxing out all tax-advantaged accounts.
- Travel: I want to make up for the lack of out-of-state travel this past year, and aim for 2+ out-of-state trips in 2020 (3+ total). TBD on locations.
- DIY: I will once again aim to re-build our elevated walk-out deck, which will be a huge undertaking.
- Pet Health: our dog’s diabetes is still not yet fully regulated, and we hope to achieve that ASAP, so he can avoid further negative health implications (as much as possible).
It should be a busy year!
It’s your turn to brag and/or hold yourself accountable for the past year and set some goals for 2020 in the comments.
- What were your biggest financial and personal wins and losses in 2019?
- What are your biggest focus areas for 2020 (financial or otherwise)?
- What are you most excited about in the year ahead?