How did my 2010 resolutions go?

Guest blogger Trent Hamm holds himself accountable for his 2010 goals.

By , Guest blogger

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    If your resolutions are clear and quantifiable, like 'Lose 40 pounds' instead of 'Lose weight,' you can hold yourself accountable to them – as Trent does in today's blog.
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As 2010 draws to a close, it’s time to take a look at my resolutions for the year and see how they’ve gone.

1. Lose 40 pounds

Result: Partial success

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What do I mean by partial success? I mean that I did lose weight during 2010 and made it halfway to my goal by losing twenty pounds during the year. Best of all, the year ended on a very positive note, with most of the weight loss occurring in the last two months of the year.

I made great progress on this goal early in the year, then it rebounded during the period where I was editing my book and facing other stresses in my life. As summer ended, I was nearly back to where I started, but during the fall, I took control of things again in a positive fashion.

My biggest challenge is getting exercise. I can cut back on my food intake without much problem, but exercise is the continual challenge because my work is largely sedentary, as are my main hobbies (reading and gaming). For me, when I cut back on food, I have to be careful to not cut back too much or I get mentally and physically tired. Diet usually results in about 3/4 lb. loss per week if I hit that fine line of meeting my nutritional needs but not consuming excess calories.

The big difference for me is exercise – when I can get it. This, of course, points straight at a potential 2011 resolution, doesn’t it?

2. Pay cash for a replacement for my truck.

Result: Complete success

If you were paying attention back in late March, our family bought a 2004 Honda Pilot using cash off of Craigslist. We have been extremely happy with the vehicle, as it fits our family of five very well for road trips (meaning we can travel to visit our parents with plenty of room for the needed luggage, plus the safety of a four wheel drive in the winter months).

The only maintenance and repair cost I’ve put into the vehicle since acquiring it is the 100,000 and 105,000 mile maintenances, which I did as one big package at about the 103,000 mile mark. That was a bit expensive, but the vehicle has kept running like a champ.

3. Learn to play the piano.

Result: Success

I wouldn’t say complete success here because I’ve learned that it’s a long, long process to get good at the piano. I can play simple arrangements now and work through new songs by simply sight reading. I am happy with my progress throughout the year, especially considering that I’ve never played an instrument or looked at sheet music before in my life.

I’ve been lucky to have a great piano instructor, Diane Helmer, who really needs to have a website to promote her work. She didn’t just sit down and make me learn things the way she thought I “ought” to learn them, but instead figured out what my goals were and is helping me to achieve them. Diane, get a website and you’ll get a link from The Simple Dollar!

I fully intend to keep up my piano playing for years to come, and my two oldest children are beginning to express interest as well (which was an ulterior motive of this).

4. Reduce my entertainment and hobby spending by 50%.

Result: Middling success

My calculation so far is that my entertainment and hobby spending in 2010 is down about 35% from 2009, which is close to my goal but didn’t quite reach it.

Here’s why I still see some success, though: I took to doing a lot of trading via the internet of DVDs, books, board games, and other items this year. If you do not include the postage for these trades, I’m actually very close to my 50% reduction that I planned for for this year.

My hobby and entertainment spending did go down drastically. The biggest drop was in DVD purchases, which almost vanished. Gaming spending had about a 10% drop overall. Book spending went down about 40%. The only area that went up was a subscription to Netflix.

I’m happy with the changes, and I suspect 2011 will have lower spending than 2010 because right now I actually have a backlog of games to play, books to read, and films to watch.

Overall

I’m pretty pleased with my 2010 resolution performance. It’s not perfect, but I set some very stiff goals for myself during the year and I achieved (or mostly achieved) all of them.

Going through this process has helped me figure out some goals for 2011, which I’m going to share with you in the coming weeks. I tentatively have three of them in place and you should be able to guess one of them if you’ve read this article.

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