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2008 Goals: February Progress Report

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, I'm trying to plan appropriately for many of the changes coming. Financially, I'm continuing to work aggressively toward paying off the boat anchor of old debt that slows us down. I'm looking into a replacement for my 2-door car that will better facilitate access to a baby seat. And, I've begun thinking about our need to move to a new home come late-May (our lease is expiring, we'll need a bit more room, and Hanna is already tired of climbing the 4 stories up). March holds the promise of making additional progress against these financial goals.

More details after the jump...

1a. Watch less television. Thank you writers' strike. Add to this the conclusion of the seasons of Monk and Psych, and the end of the NFL season, there has not been much on for Health & Wellness
2a. Exercise more. In this area, I have been more effective. I'm consistently working with kettlebells 4-5 days each week. I'm continuing to notice improved strength and toning in the shoulders and legs. I need to boost my cardio-lifting (swings and snatches) in order to make better progress on my mid-section. I can feel good muscle under my abs and obliques, but it's still obscured by pudge.
2b. Lose the fat. I'm working as diligently as possible on this goal as I can. For the first three weeks of the month, I felt successful. Replacing straight CLA with GNC's Revolutions Abdominal Cuts seems to have helped. And then there was last week: a disaster in eating that may have set me back again. Only time will tell.
2c. Eat better. As just mentioned, we did ok early in February, but as work and stress loads increased, our ability to maintain the pace dropped. The key challenge was keeping food in the house that would prevent us from having to go out to eat. Mainly, though, the problem was that I've not been able to get home by 4pm, as I prefer, which then means we both get home starving and in need of immediate sustenance. We went grocery shopping yesterday, so hopefully I'll be able to get back on track.
2d. Address form issues that are affecting my knees, hips, ankles, and shins. I cancelled my gym membership, out of fiscal responsibility and because the kettlebells seem to be working well. As such, I'm going to generally consider this matter closed, because, frankly, I'm not planning on running much any more, and am unable to do squats. Between kettlebells and the Naked Warrior program, I feel confident that these concerns will continue to self-resolve.

Professional Development
3a. Write more meaty blogs. I passed 300 total entries this month, which is a nice milestone. At the same time, looking back, many where short blurbs. So, the meat-to-fluff ratio isn't where I want it to be yet. On the other hand, I've started to get my writing bug and wits back, which lead me to believe that posts - like my most recent on "My Philosophy of Security" - will occur more frequently. I'm also beginning to engage with other security bloggers, with the intent of writing more effectively within the genre. As a year-long goal, I believe that I'm on the right track toward solid improvements.
3b. Begin writing articles. I have three articles "under development" (for whatever that means). Now I need to finish them. The first article will be on "key management," the second is formal publication of my research completed in December 2006, and the third is a joint piece on Web 2.0 security, which I'm writing with a friend. Mainly, I need to get them done, starting with the first one, hopefully this week.
3c. Begin writing white papers. I'm still a bit unsure where to go with this objective. I'm going to consider it on-hold until I get some articles completed.
3d. Attend webinars and other free or cheap training programs. While I've not overtly progressed on this goal, I have been able, through my current client engagement, to receive some briefing on new technologies. Attending the RSA conference will address most of my CPE needs for the year, and I'm also engaging in some other professional growth opportunities through the American Bar Association Information Security Committee, and through joining ISSA. February was a very busy month at work, which prevented me from attending any after-work training sessions. This will likely change going forward, such as the next time I'm on the bench.

Fiscal Responsibility
4a. Finally payoff high-interest debt. Steady progress is being made. I'm still hopeful that we'll be through a huge chunk of this debt before the baby arrives (theoretically the end of August). Debt consolidation is increasingly attractive, since it facilitates paying off more principle than you would with bill distributed across multiple lines. We'll see what I can accomplish in March. The good news is that we're getting money back from taxes, so that should help us pay things down a little quicker.
4b. Start putting aside money for emergencies (goal: 3 months' expenses). While I've not made particular progress in this area, I am making one change that will provide a degree of assurance, and that is by improving our life insurance coverage. This does not cover us in non-lethal financial crises, but should at least provide a degree of security should a life-ending incident occur.
4c. Begin investing in aggressive funds. This goal is more intended for later in the year. Most money is being directed toward debt repayment. Once funds are freed, I can then focus on investments.
4d. Continue reducing expenses. For the most part we're doing on in this area. I cancelled my gym membership, but then turned around and added a rental unit. We're hoping that when we move in May/June, it will result in reduced rent. For most of February we were able to eat at home, though the last half of the month we tended to go out for more expensive meals when we went out. During March we will need to make a marked improvement. The other potential change in expenses will be in car payments. My car needs to be replaced by something bigger. The questions are "what do buy?" and "when to buy it?". The longer I wait, the more I have paid down, meaning the more right-side-up I'll be on the trade-in value. It would be nice to have a bigger vehicle now to support moving boxes into storage, but we can probably get by ok for the next month or two with what we have. We'll see what we can do.

And that's it for February. It was a very busy month, but also rather positive. We stumbled on eating better and reducing some costs, but are overall doing ok, if not better. I'm confident that, despite the economy, we'll continue to make progress ahead of the baby's arrival.


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» 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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