How to do an annual review and set ambitious goals for 2014

1200752059_6fb7d9e9_HappyNewYear

Was 2013 as good as you hoped it would be?

Did you accomplish what you had your sights set on?

Going into a new year is always a good time to take stock of your life, set goals and make a concerted effort towards real change.

Think back over 2013 and ask yourself these questions:

1) What was your happiest moment?

2) What are you most proud of?

3) What will make the biggest difference for your future?

4) What did you fail at?

5) What would you have done differently?

Answering these questions will make it easier to make ambitious goals for 2014.

For me, in 2013 I went back and forth between being extremely stressed, working hard, and being selfish with my time.

  • I connected with a lot of people and helped a lot of authors achieve their goals.
  • I also finished some big projects, that will bring in some passive income from now on.
  • I made a living that enabled my wife and I to travel for long stretches at a time.

I loved finally going to Mexico, getting lost in the Yucatan, exploring cenotes and Mayan temples for 2 months. I loved roaming around Turkey and visiting Golbeki Tepe, returning to Italy for the first time in 10 years (and seeing Pompeii for the first time), and taking our first real cruise through the Greek islands. Poland was also amazing.

Some things I ‘failed’ at worked out for the best: I had applied for a Fulbright scholarship that I didn’t get – but I wasn’t really ready to move to Romania. I had hoped to work hard and save $20,000, but as usual I ended up with almost nothing (because I took several months off to work on my own projects). Saving is one of my major problems, so I’ll continue to try and improve.

I could have done better working with clients, I was often slow and unresponsive, which I hate, but I needed to be disciplined with my time and focus on my own projects too. I’m very pleased, however, that my book cover design service keeps getting shared and recommended – so much that it’s my only site that made it to a PR4 status – so I must be doing something right.

Setting Goals for 2014

Two minor things have been driving me crazy since we moved back to Taiwan: My wife and I stay up until dawn and sleep until dusk, despite setting multiple alarms and promising ourselves tomorrow will be different. So I’d like to wake up earlier. And I continue to suffer from pretty frequent migraines which kill all my productivity plans, which I could probably improve with minor health-related changes: drink more water, replace cookies with healthier snacks, exercise 15 minutes a day…

Those kind of goals are particularly hard to keep when you have no fixed schedule or routine. They’re also goals I’m very willing to sacrifice, which means that if I need to be doing something else (like working on something) they’ll get the shaft.

Accomplishing goals is usually about putting in a lot of time and consistent effort and not getting sidetracked. And setting deadlines helps to accomplish them early, rather than “someday” or “eventually.”

I also think it’s difficult to accomplish goals unless you’re really, passionately fired up about them. Waking up early isn’t something I really have any emotions about. I just think it’s a good idea. So my “real goals” are more major, ambitious, life-changing things that I’m very excited about.

Here are the things I’d like to do/need to do in 2014

  • Finish 2 non-fiction books (the manifesto for this site, and my PhD Thesis on revolutionary heroism in literature).
  • Publish 3 academic articles and pass all my tests so I can graduate next fall.
  • Apply for a Fulbright and/or the Startup Chile… get one, so I can move to S. America or Europe in 2015.
  • Publish 3 novels (1 novel a month, starting summer or fall, probably will take off time from work).
  • Make over $100,000. Build my passive income up to $2000/month.
  • Build my email list to 5000, by offering a ton of brilliant, useful, free content.

I’d like to add in some personal goals, like “learn Chinese” or “practice KungFu” or “travel to Mongolia” but the truth is, those are things that will have to fit in around my major goals. Publishing books is part of my long-term wealth strategy – I’m not going to let hobbies compete with time. Finishing a book takes an incredible amount of time and effort. And the more I build up my passive income streams, the more I can begin to focus on how to spend all my free time.

These goals are all selfish, but making more money and having more free time will make it much easier for me to be philanthropic on a larger scale – both through donations, funding projects, or personally volunteering time and experience. (And, I’d much rather go to Mongolia for a few months to personally help people through some worthy effort, than just giving money).

What have you got planned for 2014?

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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