SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

It’s a handy acronym, if only I could manage to remember it. But what if it’s not enough?

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I’ve always loved the concept of SMART goals (thanks, Peter Drucker). These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. To me, this is a lovely way to make a goal. But I think that there’s a bit of a missing piece there.

Eventually, I want my investments to replace my earned income. My goal is to amass investments worth a million dollars, and as I’ve noted, Mr. RN and I are on our way to reaching that goal (as I’m writing this, the goal is 39.3% complete). When I set other goals, it’s very easy to think of those in terms of money. For example, I’d like my novels to earn at least a thousand dollars apiece. But I actually can’t control how much money my books make. I know things that contribute to higher earnings, such as clean copy, professional covers, and a really exciting first few chapters. Still, there are factors outside my control. For example, I have a mini-series with two novels in it. Both books have similar titles, similar plots, and pretty much identical covers. The second book has earned about $70. The first book earned almost $500. Why is this? Who knows. I didn’t work any harder on the first book, and yet it has consistently earned more.

If I continued to go with dollar-based goals, I think I might miss out on a lot. My first novel, for example, never earned much, but it helped me launch my self-publishing life. I might write a blog post that doesn’t get a lot of views, but that really helps me in some way. Most of all, accomplishing any writing goal helps to move me forward.

So with all that in mind, I’m setting the following goals for September:

1) Finish the novel I’m currently working on – using voice dictation!

2) Comment on 20 blogs

3) Set up my own blog (spoiler – as I am writing this, the blog is not set up yet)

The novel, obviously, is going to be the trickier part. I find writing blog posts much easier. Not, mind you, because it actually is objectively easier. More because Writing a Novel still seems like a bit of a daunting task, no matter how many I’ve written, no matter how much I try to silence my inner critic. But I like these goals because they are things that I can easily control. I don’t have to sit around and scratch my head, staring at numbers, wishing more people would buy my books. Heck, I do enough of that anyway.

My goals for the year of 2019 will be similar. I’ll probably set a target number of novels (something ambitious, say 25), a target number of blog posts, and a target retirement savings number (probably around $29K, as in i401k + Roth IRA + HSA).

Here are my SMART but not quite as easily achieved goals for 2019:

I would argue that these goals are achievable, because heck, I might actually achieve them! But there are so many factors at play that I don’t think it makes sense for me to concentrate on these numbers to the exclusion of everything else.

1) Average $1000 in monthly sales on Amazon in 2019

2) Average $200 in monthly blog income in 2019

3) End 2019 with half a million dollars in investments

I can do a lot of things to influence how many books I sell on Amazon. The first one would be, heck, just put more books up there! And as far as blog income goes, well, it’s definitely not happening right now. Because, again, I’m writing this draft blog post in Microsoft Word. I told myself I’d write at least twenty posts before funding the start-up costs of a blog. Well, guess what? Turns out that writing those posts was the easy part. I’m sitting alone, typing out a blog entry that nobody will read until I get off my butt and put in my time.

As for the investing goals, I might get an amazing ROI in 2019 and end up having my investments grow by $40K or more (wow, that’s a lot of money) as Mr. FI and I put in something like $60K and reach our half-million mark. Or maybe the market will tank and everything we have will lose much of its value, so that even if we invest $100K our holdings will sink down to lower than they’ve been in years. I hope that we’ll have the good sense to grit our teeth and ride it out, continuing to invest aggressively. That’s really all that we can do.

I think that it’s great to have a general idea of the numbers that we’d like to achieve, but keeping my eye on the inputs (and not the outputs) is what keeps me sane.

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