2017 Annual Plan

Reviewing 2016 made it more clear what could and should be improved in 2017. Also it highlighted areas where I would like to keep things as they are. In the same spirit of categorisation as the review, here’s my plan for the year that already began.

Relationships

I want to become better at pleasantly surprising the people in my life. I’ve always been quite disorganised and ignorant when it comes to the little surprises, but I believe they make a big difference. One way I am thinking of doing it is sending post cards from the places I visit. In 2016 I’ve started doing that by posting cards from Iceland and making a list of people and addresses. In 2017 I want to extend it and be more consistent.

Another aspect of relationships I want to improve is being slower to act and talk and take more time to respond and listen to what is actually being said. I think the biggest impact would be in my day to day life with Andra as I find myself often replying too fast. I want to make the habit to take a second or two and only then respond, once the information has settled and I’m sure I’m not just spilling my thoughts out.

Health

Maintain

Sport: In the last two years I’ve managed to keep training quite consistently and I want to keep that going. Sport is a critical part for me and a sort of a litmus test for my overall physical and mental condition. More specifically I want to pass the current level of the program I am doing and the next two to see what results it would deliver.

Sleep: I’ve made a habit now to track my sleep and I think it forces me to think a lot more about how much time I devote to rest. I want to keep that going and track my sleep with the SleepBot app and compare the results at the end of the year.

Improve

Food and eating: I don’t consider myself as eating particularly unhealthy, but I could improve. The last half of 2016 was a great improvement mainly because of Andra’s cooking and her efforts to improve our diet. However, I want to add a few more elements to that:

  • Eat within the span of 8 hours (for example from 9am until 7pm) in order to improve my body’s rhythm and digestion
  • Control my portions and try to have 4-5 smaller ones throughout the day rather than a few big ones
  • I am not sure yet, but am considering to use an app to track calories. The only reason I am not sure I want to start that is because it could take a lot of energy and time
  • Reduce the amount of red meat I consume (also because of sustainability reasons) and focus more on the greens (I do love my fruits)

Sleep & meditation: As mentioned in the 2016 review, I started meditating which improved my sleep a lot, but stopped it just before going to Iceland. I want to re-commit to meditating and reap the benefits I saw last year again.

Coffee: I’ve not been someone that drinks coffee in the past, but in the last year that changed a lot. Maybe because of work, I don’t know but I love the taste and have started drinking a cup every day and from my own observation it doesn’t do me that good. I am planning to replace it with dried chicory roots that have a similar taste (for me) to that of coffee, but no caffeine and what comes with it. In fact, the drink has some health benefits as well.

Ankle: (yes, yes, another mention of the sacred “ankle”) I really need to work on the pain I have as it limits my activities. I’ve already restarted my rehabilitation process with new therapy elastic bands. I want to keep this for a month or maximum two, see the results and if nothing improves go to the physiotherapist again to find further course of action.

Handstand: This has been something I’ve wanted to be able to do properly for a while, so I’m committing to training for it this year. I’m tracking my progress for this and the ankle training using the Momentum habit building app (might change it later).

Writing

I’m re-committing to my writing. Expect more posts and I will try to keep the same consistency as in 2015. As a start I will finish the series on the time spent in Iceland as a few people already asked me about day 4 from the trip.

Reading

I’m also re-committing to my reading habit of 10 pages per day (not including articles). However, as I noticed last year that I’ve burned out from reading “how to” books, I will include more literature for the imagination and also listen to recordings (it seems that there’s not much difference between reading and listening to a book or at least nothing conclusive). You can follow my progress on my GoodReads account.

Travel

The plans are for a year busy with travelling.

Lisbon, Portugal (January) – We’re going with Andra for her birthday!

Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia (April) – I loved cycling in Iceland and want to continue with another trip this year through the Baltic countries as I’ve never been there and have wanted to visit them for some time now. It won’t be as tough as Iceland, but the latter trip gave me a lot more confidence and I think this year’s one will be with much more enjoyment.

Bulgaria – I am not sure when, but I want to visit my grandparents in Bulgaria at least once throughout the year and take Andra with me as well.

Morocco (August?) – With Andra we’ve wanted to go to Morocco for some time now. It is a cheap option, with vivid culture, a lot of history and a chance to step into Africa. I am really excited about this one. We haven’t set the dates yet, but the research is underway.

Christmas – Not sure where, but I want to spend this year’s holiday with our families.

Finances

2016 was great for my (and our) finances (as mentioned in the review). In 2017 my goal is to:

  1. Keep the consistency with tracking what and where we spend on (using Spendee).
  2. To keep a look on the budgets we’ve set and see if we manage to stay within them (let me know in the comments if you want more info on budget setting, expenses tracking, etc.).
  3. Continue our modest investment strategy and keep an eye on it to rebalance the portfolio when needed.
  4. Create better savings accounts as the current one doesn’t have the best returns.
  5. Most importantly, stick to our allocated savings per month and not eat into them.
  6. Define a clear savings goal for the end of the year.
  7. Split the current cashflow and add an account dedicated to travelling / holidays. We do have a budget for those per month, but I’ve noticed that since we don’t put the money aside exclusively, sometimes we eat into them it’s harder to track that specific budget category. A new account would make things much clearer.

I also want to learn more about investing and managing finances. I’ve added a few books on the subject to my library and am planing to go through them. Our current setup when it comes to investing was inspired by the book “How to own the world”.

To use the small opportunities in saving through websites such as topcashback.co.uk, hotukdeals.co.uk; buying plane, train and bus tickets earlier; use services such as Revolut to save on unnecessary exchange charges when travelling.

I am a strong believer in the minimalists’ philosophy and want to revise the “stuff” I own and remove the ones I don’t use. Personally, I think I’m not the worst when it comes to owning too much stuff, but there’s room for improvement.

Quarterly review: I’ve already assigned 4 dates on the calendar for us to do a quarterly review of our finances – spending, budgets, investments, what works and what doesn’t. This should be much better than a single end of year review, since it should allow for seeing patterns and reacting on time, making potentially bigger impact on the overall finances for the year.

Professional Growth

As a full-time employee I want to focus on learning and improving my skills to add more value the to company I work for. I am committing throughout 2017 to focus on improving my Node.js skills (a set of courses), React.js and MongoDB. There are some projects already underway that would allow me to apply the new skills and become a better front end developer.

I want to keep my design skills fresh and as such I am planning to do a few courses and apply what I learn to the projects at work. There are a few places where that would be very useful.

Side project: There is a small side project in progress at the moment. No clear deadline for completion at the moment, but I want to at least get it live in 2017 and see where things go from there.

Languages

This is a long-shot, but I want to get my Spanish level back up, potentially doing a course specific to preparing me for the DELE exams. Or simply an online course to start the process. I am honestly not sure where this goal stands at the moment, it is not of the highest priority, but I would be very happy if I manage to get it going in 2017.

Giving Up

Dancing: I am not giving dancing up! But, my training program, sleep and eating habits are much more important, so if I see that dancing interferes with that, I would have to give it up. This is more of a self-note than a specific action. Also, I won’t push for any concrete goals here, I want to enjoy the activity and would do it recreationally whenever I can without any long-term goals for growth.

The above might seem random or unnecessary, but for me it is very important to put clearly in my mind as to what is the most important and what is next. This allows for quick and confident decisions in the moment and that’s why big view yearly plans like this one are beneficial – you can stop, think about where you want to get and set the priorities accordingly.

Summary

I am still learning how to do this process and am following others that are as well. If you see the benefits of doing it then I highly recommend it. Also if you have any thoughts or things you think I should include or remove, please let me know. I realise this is a highly personal process, but that’s precisely why I want to hear others’ views on it.

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4 thoughts on “2017 Annual Plan

  1. Hi Smi!

    I’ve tried the 8h diet when I was a student (during summer holidays), I think that it was good for my digestion and general well-being; but I didn’t manage to integrate it properly with a working schedule, so I’d be super interested to hear more if you decide to put it into practice!

    And chicory coffee is great! I’ve given up caffeine (except green tea) for some time now, as I realized I don’t need it. I like coffee and black tea, but I tend to have them as a treat, usually on days off. Orzo-coffee is another replacement to coffee I’ve tried, but I think the chicory alternative is better (possibly in part because it’s common back home and I was more used to it). Roiboos tea + milk is also a favorite for replacing black-tea.

    I’m using myfitnesspal as an app for counting calories, it is really really easy; however, I mostly use it as a food-diary, and I’m not sure how accurate it is at really giving you the proper nutrient breakdown etc. I’m sure there are smarter ones out there that might benefit your goals more.

    • That’s awesome Angela!

      I am planning to do the 8h eating schedule:
      – A small breakfast with cereal / oats to start
      – Some fruits / nuts between that and lunch
      – Home-made lunch
      – Some more nuts / fruit before dinner
      – Dinner

      I’ve tried chicory before and I loved the taste! The roiboos tea is a great idea to replace the black tea! Thanks for that! I am planning to do similarly as you – have coffee only at times as a treat.

      Myfitnesspal was exactly what I was looking at, I might give it a go to see how it works, but I was put off exactly because I’m not sure how these things can be accurate enough. Maybe as a food diary it would work best and keep me focused on what I’m eating!

      Thanks for the ideas!

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