Monthly Goal Update: August 2017

I’ve committed to tracking the progress of my goals on a monthly basis. These posts have been inconsistent in previous years, so I plan on recording 12 of these for 2017.

I record these videos to keep myself accountable and show others how I’ve gone from A to B. I hope in time, I can help to inspire people to become accountable for their goals too.

Dr. Gail Matthews conducted a study that found you’re 39.5% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. She also found that if you send progress reports to others – friends, mentors, coaches, accountability partners etc. you were 76.7% more likely to achieve those goals.

Writing them down significantly weighs the odds of success in your favour, but providing regular updates almost doubles the chances of success. This is a big reason behind me making these posts/videos.

I have 9 Goals for 2017. They’re spread across different areas of my life. Each month I record an update video charting my progress. Let’s get into it!


2017 Goals

1. I will easily create and launch an online course by 31st December 2017

This is my priority goal for 2017. If I achieved this and failed the rest, I would be very happy with my year overall, such is the requirement of the task.

The course is now live for my founding members, and they’re steadily working through the content. I’ve created a dedicated Facebook page for members to communicate, share best practices and help support each other etc. It’s still in its infancy, but I’ve been happy with its development so far.

I released another 3 videos over the 4 weeks, which is below what I expected of myself. I’m still experimenting with my work hours around my new training schedule, which has been more challenging than I expected, but I seem to have found a sweet spot over the last week.

I’m now approaching some pivotal steps in the process for my course members. For example, I’m in the middle of creating a lesson on hiring ghostwriters. In the upcoming lessons, I’ll be demonstrating how to hire a cover designer and how to create an author website. We’re just about to get into the nitty gritty, which is very exciting. The work involved during this module will test the members and keep them occupied for some time.

As I progress throughout the months, I become less confident on completing the course 100% by the end of the year. It’s still very much in my hands and possible, but my creation rate over the last 2 months would suggest it’s going to be tough. However, the material I will have completed by the end of December should be able to help the members get well into the process of publishing books and creating a publishing business.


2. I will easily set up a charitable fund, promote it on my Blog, and donate 10% of my course profits to ‘Building Schools For Africa’ by 31st December 2017

My goal here is to work towards building a new school in Cameroon for the Charity ‘Building Schools For Africa’. I need £20,000 to fund the project.

I plan on raising the funds myself by putting a percentage of my earnings towards it each month, and by giving 10% of my course profits towards it. I’ve set up the fund in a separate saving account, and I’ve set up a new promotion page which highlights what the project’s about on my new WordPress Blog HERE.

Here’s my progress so far:

Jan = £1,069 (5.3%)
Feb = £1,304 (6.5%)
Mar = £1,438 (7.2%)
Apr = £1,788 (8.9%)
May = £1,913 (9.6%)
Jun = £2,013.00 (10%)
Jul = £2,273.00 (11.4%)
Aug = £2,373.00 (11.9%)


In 2017, my contributions have averaged £186 per month. At this rate, I’ll get to the total in 8 years! So, I have some work to do. I don’t have a deadline, but I’d like to hit it by the end of 2020.

My course went live at the end of June, and in July I received my first payments for the material I created, which was really exciting. I charged the Founding members £99 + VAT for lifetime membership to the content, which resulted in my contributions being noticeably higher than in previous months.

I’ve now closed the sign up page, so I won’t be accepting any other members at the moment until the course is complete, so the contributions will probably drop again for the next few months.

Once ISP goes live, I’ll increase the rate to £399 + VAT, which I’m hoping will be the start of sustained monthly contributions. In the meantime, I’m working towards an end of year figure of £3,000.


3. My Investment Portfolio will easily pay me £6,000 (£500 per month) in income in 2017

This goal is one of the most exciting for me to review each month. Since moving to Cambridge, we’re very fortunate to live mortgage free. This has had a significant impact on our monthly expenses. Although we’re unclear how much it costs to live down here precisely (as it’s been less than a year), we think it’s going to be roughly the same as Herefordshire minus the mortgage (£365 less for both of us).

Our basic living costs (food, transport, house bills and insurance) are somewhere in the region of £400 to £450 per month. I spend more money than that each month, but all of that can be stripped back, tweaked or changed as they’re less important to my overall lifestyle.

My first objective is to prove that I can cover all of my living costs with passive investments only in 2017. For me, Passive Income includes Dividends and Peer to Peer lending income only. I’ve over-estimated that amount by setting the goal at £500 per month to make sure I cover everything.

I don’t use any of the income I receive each month. I reinvest all dividends, P2P income, and capital gains profits right back into more buying more assets.

My longer term goal is to cover my entire lifestyle expenses with dividends and P2P income, which is currently around the £1,250 per month mark.

Let’s take a look at how I got on this month:

Jan = £350.26
Feb = £517.28
Mar = £390.55
Apr = £311.93
May = £689.73
Jun = £902.81
Jul = £827.90
Aug = £650.10

(TOT: £4640.56 / AVE: £580.07)


I was anticipating a record month for July, but if you read my July report, you’ll be aware that a couple of companies that usually pay their dividends in July were bumped in August. To add to that, a set of loans in my P2P investment delayed their interest payment by one week (into August).

So July was slightly less than I had previously planned, but August turned out to be slightly higher than I anticipated. The £650.10 I received was much appreciated, and well above the average monthly target I set myself at the start of the year.

My total income for the year is £4,640.56, and my monthly average has increased to £580.07.

Looking forward, the rest of 2017 should see a monthly income above £500 each month – as long as the dividend payments remain as they were last year, and I don’t experience any significant defaults on my P2P loans (which is always possible).

Based on forward dividend predictions, I’m on track to meet the £6,000 target in October….Just! I’m also forecast to earn just over £7,000 for 2017, which I’ll be delighted with. There’s still time to add companies and loans to my investment portfolio which will extend this total further, but you never know what’s going to happen in the investment world so I don’t get too carried away with advanced predictions.


4. I will easily create and launch my new Blog with 500 email subscribers by 31st December 2017

I finally made the move from Blogger to WordPress in April. In May, I tried to improve the appearance of the site and added a mailing list to get things up and running.

I only published one blog post in August, which was my July monthly goal update. My subscriber count is now up to 40, which is encouraging considering the lack of new content and incentive to join.

My blog is playing second fiddle to the course right now, so I don’t think the subscriber count is going to shoot up to 500 by the end of the year. I have some ideas on how I can make the subscription more appealing, but I need to give it some more thought before rolling anything out.


5. I will easily read or listen to 16 books by 31st December 2017

In an attempt to invest more into myself, I’ve been diving into books over the last 12 months. I set myself the goal of reading 1.3 books a month.

I achieved this goal in April, much to my surprise. Here’s the full list of books I’ve read so far this year. I’ve bolded the books I read in June:

1. ‘Screw it, let’s do it’ by Richard Branson
2. ‘Influence’ by Robert Cialdini
3. ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ by Atul Gawande
4. ‘The Obstacle is the Way’ by Ryan Holiday
5. ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg
6. ‘Tao Te Ching’ by Lao Tsu
7. ‘Man’s Search For Meaning’ by Viktor E. Frankl
8. ‘Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman’ by Richard Feynman
9. ‘Siddhartha’ by Hermann Hesse
10. ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius
11. ‘Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life’ by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn
12. ‘The Truth’ by Neil Strauss
13. ‘Ego is the Enemy’ by Ryan Holiday
14. ‘#AskGaryVee’ by Gar Vaynerchuk
15. ‘Essentialism’ by Greg McKeown
16. ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ by Brene Brown
17. ‘The 10X Rule’ by Grant Cardone
18. ‘Tools of Titans’ by Tim Ferriss
19. ‘Buddhism for Busy People’ by David Michie
20. ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ by Brene Brown
21. ‘The Complete Guide to Property Investment’ by Rob Dix
22. ‘Waking Up’ by Sam Harris
23. ‘Unshakeable’ by Tony Robbins
24. ‘The Naked Trader’ by Robbie Burns
25. ‘The Naked Traders Guide To Spread Betting’ by Robbie Burns
26. ‘Trade Like A Shark’ by Robbie Burns
27. ‘10% Happier’ by Dan Harris
28. ‘I Can’t Make This Up’ by Kevin Hart
29. ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’ by Mark Manson
30. ‘Happy’ by Derren Brown
31. ‘The Fighter’s Mind’ by Sam Sheridan
32. ‘The Art of Learning’ by Josh Waitzkin


I read three books this month. Overall they were pretty solid. Here are my brief thoughts on each:

Happy: Why more or less everything is absolutely fine’ by Derren Brown – AMAZON LINK – A very sound introduction into Stoicism.

I’ve personally followed Derren’s career on TV, when he first hit our screens with his program ‘Mind Control’. I’ve always been fascinated with understanding the mind, and I enjoyed watching Derren’s approach to exploiting our psychological flaws on the general public. It seems like Derren is a bit like marmite. For some reason people really like him or dislike him. I’m not too sure why people take to disliking him so much, as I find him intelligent, witty and entertaining, but each to their own.

You don’t need to be a Derren Brown fan to extract value from this book. It’s filled with information on we can all appreciate the things life has to offer, how we can better manage our thought process and perhaps my favourite chapter on how we can think about death.

Derren supports his work by referencing classical and modern wisdom, largely from the stoic field, which I feel most people could benefit from. This book acts as a great introduction to stoic philosophy. I also enjoyed his thoughts on how positive thinking, self-belief and goal setting can lead to anxiety and stress.

8/10 – Recommended


The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game’ by Sam Sheridan – AMAZON LINK – A look into the psychology of a professional fighter.

Sam wrote a book prior to this one documenting his journey into professional fighting (‘A Fighters Heart’). He wanted to understand why humans fight and how to be good at it. I’ve not read it, so I’m not sure what’s it’s like, but Sam gained first-hand experience of what life is like as a fighter. Its focus was more on the physical side of combat. He took a slightly different approach with this book by reviewing the mental game of fighting.

Sam shares the opinions of legendary fighters on what made them so strong and successful. How they persevered through arduous training and how they conducted themselves outside of the ring.

Now, I’m not planning to become a fighter, but as you can probably tell, I have a great interest in psychology. Fighters are among the mentally toughest humans alive and understanding what makes them tick is way too inviting for me to pass up. Especially now that I have a better understanding of what fighting entails.

7/10 – Surprisingly insightful look at how legendary fighters think


The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence‘ by Josh Waitzkin – AMAZON LINK – A fascinating look at how a chess prodigy and martial artist breaks down the process of learning by following his rise to a National Chess champion at the age of 9 and starting from scratch in Tai Chi Chuan to become a world champion.

As a side note, although it’s not feautured in this book, Josh also went on to become a black belt in Brazilian Jui Jitsu under Marcelo Garcia. (Marcelo is renowned as the Michael Jordan or Michael Phelps of Brazilian Jui Jitsu)

Josh doesn’t believe he has a natural talent for Chess or Tai Chi Chaun, but more towards ‘the art of learning’.

The book traces Josh’s life all the way back to his childhood and what he did growing up to become world class in two separate fields. Throughout he shares the routines, strategies and techniques he employed in a narrative format.

There are numerous takeaways I picked up from this book. I particularly liked how he embraced defeat, managed his competitive emotions, and how he turned weaknesses into strengths.

9/10 – Must read for anyone interested in learning


6. Lou and I will easily have at least one ‘date night’ a month for the whole of 2017. (12 ‘date nights’ in total)

Lou and I have committed to having a date night at least once a month. We felt it was important to commit at least one evening to each other without the distractions of work, TV or evening cooking.

We’ve both enjoyed this goal so far. It’s a pleasure to work towards in fact. Here are the restaurants/pubs we’ve attended in the Cambridge area.

1. Jan – The Golden Ball
2. Feb – MillWorks
3. Mar – The Crown and Punchbowl
4. Apr – St Johns Chop House
5. May – The Tickell Arms
6. Jul – The Crown and Punchbowl Pudding Night
7. Jul – Date Night at home
8. Aug – Date Night at home

We didn’t venture out in August. We opted for a nice Home Date Night instead. We left it until the end of August to book the evening, and there was only one evening that Lou could do around her work but it still meant that she would have to get changed at work or rush home and quickly change to get out in the evening.

She said she would prefer to do it at home for this month, as we’re scheduled to be going away for a weekend in Norfolk during September, so we decided to dine in at home instead.

We’re still on track for the year, and we should meet this goal comfortably.


7. I will easily attend 3 x different clubs/classes in Cambridge area by 31st March 2017

I set this goal, with a limited timeframe to make me get out there and meet people. I have limited friends in the area, and I hope by putting myself out there I’ll meet like-minded people.

I didn’t complete the goal in the timeframe, as I’ve previously discussed, but I’ve continued to put myself out there and join clubs in an attempt to meet people in the area. Here are some of the thing’s I’ve tried:

  1. Improve Beginners Course – Completed and loved!
  2. Acrobatics and Juggling Course – The course cancelled due to low sign ups
  3. Gym – I joined and have since cancelled a gym membership
  4. ‘Run your Own Business’ course – Joined and pulled out of course. It wasn’t what I had hoped for.
  5. ‘Graphic Design for Beginners’ course – I pulled out of the course due to eye health issues. Gutted!
  6. Mixed Martial Arts Club – Joined in June and I’m loving it
  7. Brazilian Jui Jitsu Club – Recently joined and thoroughly enjoying it


The MMA gym were doing BJJ classes, but the instructor left. They said they didn’t plan on getting another instructor in anytime soon so I’ve recently joined another club to get more exposure to it.

BJJ is quite different from MMA, and I enjoy them both. MMA is a little more ‘street realistic’, while BJJ offers more of a martial arts approach as well as being very practical from a self defence perspective.

I reached an infamous milestone in my grappling practice this month by getting my first case of cauliflower ear. Horray!

It might not look like a big deal, but it was bloody sore and lasted for most of the week. It's come down slightly in size, but due to me not getting it drained, I now have a slightly deformed ear for life. This bad boy should get me at least "20 grappling points" so I don't mind! I'm also ginger, bald and I wear glasses, so I can just add it to the attraction list. Lucky Lou!

We're now in the autumn term so I'd like to commit to another class that isn't based on the physical. I've done a little bit of research into the local clubs and offering but nothing is standing out to me just yet.


8. I will easily record 52 new Youtube videos and have 2,000 Youtube subscribers by 31st December 2017

I’ve eliminated the regular work I was doing with Youtube to focus more on my Course. This is likely to result in me failing this goal, but I’m prepared for that sacrifice to release my course.

In August I released 1 videos and gained 16 subscribers, bringing my totals to 16 videos in 8 months and 401 subscribers.

It’s looking ever so likely that this goal will drop off for 2017 now. The course is taking so much longer than I anticipated and it requires too much of my time to focus on Youtube development too, but that’s ok.

I’m not going to change the goal or beat myself about it. I’ll slowly chip away at my progress, and work towards the subscriber count and increase video production numbers and quality over time.


9. I will easily complete 26 x bi-weekly reviews to track my progress in 2017

During these sessions, I focus on my previous week’s performance to my goals. I consider what I’ve learned, celebrate my successes and set up the following week’s activities. The idea of this goal is to keep myself accountable on a weekly basis and to ensure over the course of 7 days, I’m moving in the right direction.

I did 4 review sessions in August, which takes me past the goal for the year! Horrah, another goal complete! I'm now at 29 for the year.

I'm still getting a lot from these weekly review sessions so I have no reason to stop here. Giving myself 30-60 mins each week to focus on what worked, what didn't, what I learned and what I plan on doing the following week, has been a big part of keeping the important things in my life on track.


How was August for you?

Please share your wins, learning outcomes and general thoughts below!


  • weenie

    Reply Reply 12th September 2017

    Another great update, Huw – fantastic to hear that you should hit your dividend target next month! I think I should achieve my own target before the year is out too.

    Very impressed that you’ve joined another martial arts club, though not really that surprised, given the enthusiasm you have mentioned! That ear looks sore though, ouch – but Lou can patch you up!

    All the best with your online course, tough going but you are making great progress!

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 13th September 2017

      Thank you Weenie!

      I’m really pleased with the passive income this year. After 4 years of investing, it’s nice to see things finally come together and support my living costs. Congratulations on your Divi success too!

      Ha ha. Yes, I have one of the best nurses around to make sure my ear (and the rest of my battered body!) is ok.

      Thanks as always for the support Weenie. It means a lot!

  • David @iretiredyoung

    Reply Reply 10th October 2017

    Hi Huw
    I recently found EarlyRetirementGuy’s blog and from there a link to your blog. It’s good to find some fellow UK FIRE bloggers to go along with the others that I read, which are mostly from the US.
    You’re doing better than me on your targets – I reviewed mine in August and didn’t get the best report. It doesn’t seem that long ago, but perhaps I need to look again. Your idea of reviewing monthly may the right idea.
    All the best,

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 10th October 2017

      Hi David,
      Thanks for the comment. Yes likewise, it’s always nice to come across people from the UK following the same path.
      The videos & blog posts I do are on a monthly basis to keep me honest and on track, but I weekly reviews where I assess my actions for the week, which ultimately lead towards the monthly/annual ones.
      I can say this from direct experience, doing these video updates from time to time is uncomfortable and difficult. Admitting you haven’t progressed liked you planned and committed to is somewhat embarrassing. On the flip side, the inadequacy is replaced with action which usually gets me a lot closer. The discomfort of doing these reviews has far more positives than negatives, and with regards to frequency, if I had the time/inclination, I would do weekly ones as the results would be better still.
      Best of luck for the rest of 2017!
      Thanks again

  • theFIREstarter

    Reply Reply 18th October 2017

    Hey Huw, just having a catch up.

    Good to see you going well on most accounts.

    I found the mini book reviews to be very useful so please keep that up in future mate! 🙂
    (Read Happy a while back and thought it was brilliant)

    All the best


    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 19th October 2017

      Hey TFS,

      Yeah, overall progress is ticking along nicely. I hope all is well with you.

      Oh, that’s good to hear. I wasn’t sure if they were a complete waste of time or not. Glad to know someone’s getting value from them. I like the “idea” of doing much more in-depth reviews. I’ve taken a huge amount of value from the books I’ve read and others could too, but I really don’t have the time to dedicate to that now.

      Yes, Happy, was a very interesting read too. I particularly liked the chapters on facing death at the end.

      All the best!

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