Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Resolution Number 44

Happy New Year, all!

It's that time of year again.  Resolution time!  I'm no different from anyone else in that respect.  In fact, this year I have two resolutions.  One is pretty simple, the other is going to be a real challenge.  In them, my friends will all recognize echoes of previous fixations.  Nothing new here, just the same old me.

But, first, a little caffeinated musing on the old year, the new year and resolutions in general.

Grandad and grandson under a towering
lily at our cottage on Cape Cod
For my family, 2012 was a pretty rough one.  The year started out hard with my dad in the hospital.  After two months of intensive rehab, he was able to enjoy one last trip to Florida in March.  The spring was pretty good, and we were cautiously optimistic that things might be changing for the better.  As usual, my parents spent the summer on Cape Cod but, by then, my dad's situation had worsened again.  He spent half of the summer in the hospital or in rehab facilities.  By the fall, we were coming to terms with the inevitable.  After a brief return to New Hampshire, he said goodbye on October 1, surrounded by his beloved friends and family.  He was as kind and courageous in passing as anyone could ever be.  We think of him every day.

I don't know if it was my dad's health or something else, but whole of 2012 seemed to drag on like a top-heavy wagon full of cow shit.   I over-promised and under-delivered at work, not a good formula for happiness.  My son had a really tough adjustment to Kindergarten.  My wife had her own complaints.  All in all, it seemed like the stars in 2012 were pretty far out of whack.

We are determined that 2013 is going to be not just a good, but a great year.  I am in the process or buying a new investment property which promises to challenge me but which should, if well-managed, ease up our finances considerably.  My wife is more settled in her career.  My son has adjusted to school and, although it is still a challenge to get him up on school days, he is as well-adjusted as any other kid in his class.

Now back to the resolutions.  My wife doesn't believe in them.  I profess not to believe in them but, then, I always have a couple -- even if I keep them to myself.  The odd thing is, I can't remember a single one from years past.  I can imagine what they might have been.  But that is not the same thing as remembering them.  This year I am writing them down and intend to not only achieve them but to live by them.

I have been reading lots of self-improvement books lately.  It's stuff that most of my friends would scoff at, and rightly so.  Last month I reread Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad Poor Dad, a book that I can't help enjoying.  I am now reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill  -- which reminds me a lot of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  The formula for goal achievement in each of these books can be summed up in three basic principles:
  1. Commit yourself completely, without reservations, to achieving a goal
  2. Learn everything you can about how to achieve that goal
  3. Work tirelessly, intelligently, and creatively, until your goal is achieved
How obvious is that?  The remainder of each book is just examples of each of these principles at work and case studies of successful people who have applied them.  So why do I read this repetitive stuff?  I guess I like the case studies.  And repetition seems to help me to feel committed to my own goals.  Does this formula work?  Absolutely.  But it's a bit like making a resolution to get in shape.  Almost anyone can exercise -- but getting (and staying) in shape is really hard!  What separates healthy, fit people from the rest of us is that, in fit people, the desire to stay fit outweighs the desire to sit around, watch television and eat donuts.

Each book offers suggestions for keeping on track: tell people about your goals; get friends to encourage you; associate with successful people; write out your goal out again and again, every day; put your back to the wall so that you have no choice but to succeed or go down in flames.  In the end, it's the same as anything else: it all comes down to willpower.  You must find, and maintain, the will to succeed.  If you can't do this, you may just as well plunk yourself down in front of the TV with a dozen éclairs 'cause you ain't gonna make it, kid!

So what are my own goals for the year?  One is pretty simple, the other is a game-changer:
  • Buy and renovate two investment properties in 2013.  End goal: own 21 rental units by the end of 2015 (including the rental units in the 4-unit building we already own)
  • Get my food budget back on track
So I'll have to work pretty hard to keep on top of that food budget thing...

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