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Happy New Year!

Here we come 2008! It's hard to believe that 2007 (or 2006, 2005, 2004, etc.) has already come to pass. We were able to get back to our traveling ways this past year, but do not foresee being able to continue these ways as we shift our plans to starting a family. It will, however, be anything but a dull year, as we buckle down financially, finally getting some old debt paid off, and beginning to put money into savings and investments. The predictions of a recession in 2008 actually play very well to our hand in this regard, providing an opportunity to reduce some of our interest load, while also reducing investment costs to below what may be their actual value.

If you're anything like me, you're probably exhausted here on the first day of the year. For me, there are a few reasons. The first reason was work-related. While AOL was very good to me, it was also extremely stressful. Since returning from vacation in August 2006, when I had a huge case dropped in my lap, things just went berserk from there, with a major restructuring, major layoffs, a complete change in executive management, and so on. That stress has been relieved by changing jobs, and I fully expect to recover.

Another reason for exhaustion, related to this first, has been my healthy. My allergies were much worse this year, leading me to see an allergist. One of the contributing factors was increased stress, along with inadequate exercise and weight gain. It's hard to maintain energy levels when you're driving yourself into the ground. So, I'll be looking to get lots of sleep in the next couple weeks (I'm on the bench for the moment) and will be seeking to significantly improve the health situation through improved diet and exercise. The holidays, though good, also saw a weight increase that was quite unwelcome. Ugh.

Scientific American has an interesting post on why we may all be tired, too:

"Happy New Year! And don’t feel bad about taking today off. After all, you’ve traveled far. And I’m not talking about the trip home from the party last night. According to NASA, just by being on the planet earth in the last year, you’ve zipped about 584 million miles around the sun to get back where you were. At an average speed of about 67,000 miles per hour. Again, not talking about the drive home last night."

With all of that said, here are a few resolutions for the new year, which are already part of my ongoing personal development goals:

1a. Watch less television. I'm recording perhaps a dozen shows each week. Some are ok, such as Mythbusters, but others are worthless drivel like Boston Legal. It's time to turn the crud off and focus on better things, such as the following. This task should get easier once football season is over. ;)
1b. Read more books. Right now, I'm only getting an hour or two of reading in per day (from actual books). Most of this time is occupied by watching television. In conjunction with 1a above, I plan to greatly increase me reading, with the goal of finishing 1 non-fiction book ever couple weeks or less.
1c. Improve my vocabulary. As a desired side-effect of reading more non-fiction books, I hope to expand my vocabulary. At the same time, I also need to curb a nasty habit as we move life-wise toward having little people in the house. It's better to learn a bit of oral discipline now than to have an accident in the future. :)
1d. Keep a cleaner house. Part of being exhausted all the time is also a degree of laziness. Once I get recuperated, the next big task will be cleaning the house, and then establishing a pattern that will ensure that the house is properly cleaned on a regular basis. I don't know if cleanliness is next to godliness, but it certainly would help with my allergies.

Health & Wellness
2a. Exercise more. This is really more a resolution about consistency than anything else. I've done very good with exercise at times, and very poorly at others. I was in very decent shape as of February 2007, but then got food poisoning, which knocked me off my stride dramatically for a couple months (it took 3+ weeks just to start feeling normal again). My hope is to workout at least once a day starting very soon. Weights and cardio will be the order of the day.
2b. Lose the fat. This is a resolution about discipline, which ties heavily into the next item. The holidays saw me gain weight and inches, which is not good at all. When the double-chin makes an appearance, and the love handles are not very lovable, then it's time to take drastic action and get my tail moving again.
2c. Eat better. I like sweets and junk food. Cookies, ice cream, chips, etc. The worse it is for me, the more likely I am to desire/crave it. So, I need to eat better. More protein, lots more veggies, less fat, moderate on the white carbs, and so on. Less pizza, less french fries, and so on. Part of this will come through helping Hanna eat better in anticipation and support of starting a family.
2d. Address form issues that are affecting my knees, hips, ankles, and shins. In order to support my health resolutions, I need to take better care of key joints. To that end, I've decided to purchase a DVD from Dragon Door titled Secrets of the Hip and Knee by Gray Cook, RKC, and Brett Jones, Master RKC. This DVD introduces the Functional Movement Screen, about which you can get more information from:

Here's an interesting article from Dumb Little Man on the topic of weight loss:

As noted here and here, I tried Cytolean for a few days to lose weight, but had to stop because it was drying out my joints. Instead, I'm now trying WellBetX Weight Loss Shake for Appetite Control and Glucose Balance with PGX (I've chosen French Vanilla flavor). It's high in protein and fiber with a low glycemic index. The PGX thing is just a special kind of fiber, and I'll still need to eat better and exercise more, but it may help. And, as of right this second, it tastes.... ugh, not so great, but survivable. Of course, I'm supposed to double the amount of powder in a couple weeks, so we'll see how I like it then. It might be better mixed with milk, though they say to use water. We'll see.

Professional Development
3a. Write more meaty blogs. I'm not talking about protein here, but the functional equivalent in writing. Many of blog posts have been lightweight in content - more editorial opinion than anything else. I intend to do more research and improve the quality of writing over the next year. Heck, I've been doing this for less than a year (the end of January will be 1 year - this is entry 226), so things aren't too bad for the first year, I don't think.
3b. Begin writing articles. Another goal for this coming year is to start producing articles for publication. EDPACS editor Dan Swanson has ben asking me to write, and there are a couple other sites that I'd like to contribute to as well. It's a good goal, but one that will require discipline. I also need to get an article published on my thesis research, though it's very dated at this point.
3c. Begin writing white papers. I'd also like to produce a couple well-researched white papers this coming year. In particular, I'd like to expand on my TEAM Model with potential applications. This will also require a high degree of discipline, but will hopefully be achievable.
3d. Attend webinars and other free or cheap training programs. One area where I've not been very good the last few years is in professional development. There are hundreds of podcasts and webinars out there for free that only take an hour or two. It's time to start taking advantage of those.

Fiscal Responsibility
4a. Finally payoff high-interest debt. One of my biggest challenges personally is proper money management. I made some very bad decisions straight out of college, and have not done all that I could to remedy those issues. This year, with a family on the horizon, is the time to fix this once and for all. Our new top priority, ahead of travel, will be getting the debt paid off once and for all. Once this is done, it will free up revenue for savings and investments. I also need to put aside money to cover any time off Hanna wishes to take when she delivers. How times change when one needs to start thinking about other priorities!
4b. Start putting aside money for emergencies (goal: 3 months' expenses). Savings? What savings? You'd think that someone who's found himself unemployed due to layoffs a couple times would known enough to put aside a couple months of emergency funds. Not me! Here I am, afraid to take on sales jobs because they don't have guaranteed income ("too risky"), and yet I have no financial safety blank. Hmmm. 2008 is the year to remedy this - especially if our expenses change as planned with the introduction of another mouth to feed.
4c. Begin investing in aggressive funds. This item speaks to investing for retirement above and beyond 401k funds. My assumption is that Social Security will not be solvent or exist by the time I retire. As such, I need to get an aggressive portfolio of market funds going that can be grown over the next 20-30 years. This will also likely entail finding a financial planner or investment fund manager. I'll be checking with the bro-in-law, who's quite investment savvy, for ideas and suggestions.
4d. Continue reducing expenses. One of my goals in 2007 was to reduce expenses as much as possible. This action included things like driving less, signing up for rewards programs that would give us gift cards for Amazon and Target, and so on. We'll need to continue this trend over 2008 as we tighten the belt and hope to start putting our money to better use.

And that's it for my 2008 goals. In retrospect, 2007 was a very good year. In many ways, I'll be sad to see it go, what with all the international travel and new friends. But, time marches on, and so must we. It will be interesting to see how the climate continues to change, and who will end up being elected the next President (hopefully not Clinton). Then there are the other possibilities, such as a baby in the house. Who knows what the year will really bring? All I know is that I need to get some sleep, lose some weight, eat more veggies, and start putting money aside for the future. No biggie, right? It'll just take a tremendous amount of discipline... :)


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» 2008 Goals: January Progress Report from The Falcon's View
This post is an update of my "Happy New Year" post from New Years Day 2008. As a way to help hold myself to my goals for the year, I'm planning to post a retrospective at the end of each... [Read More]

» 2008 Goals: February Progress Report from The Falcon's View
This post is a continuation of my plan to provide a monthly reflection piece on progress against my 2008 Goals (previous report: January). Overall, February was a decent month marked by a forward-looking obsession. With a baby on the way,... [Read More]

» 2008 Goals: March Progress Report from The Falcon's View
Well, that was a quick month! :) It seems that as I get older, if I blink, then I might just miss something significant. For those keeping track, this is my monthly recap of my goals for the year (see... [Read More]

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