Monthly Goal Update: September 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’ve personally struggled over the last few months to motivate myself to create lessons for ISP. I’ve been in a bit of a funk to be honest, but I’ve just allowed myself to sit within it. Outside of ISP my life’s been great, and I’m certainly not down in the dumps or anything. Just unmotivated.

After taking some time off recently, and reading some relatable material, the reason for my slow progression finally dawned on me.

ISP has not been a priority in my life

(Cue gasp from the reader)

But you say right above that it is. Are you lying?

Well, yes and no. I thought it was my priority this year, but my actions have not backed that up. I’ve been living incongruently, which has probably impacted my overall well being in some way.

I’ve been prioritising my strength and conditioning training, MMA and Brazilian Jui Jitsu over creating the course. I’m thoroughly enjoying the training, which is important, but I’ve allowed it to take over and it’s negatively impacted other areas – like creating ISP.

Training has taken so much out of me physically and mentally, that I simply don’t have the desire to work through the discomfort of creating stuff. It’s much more appealing to watch Youtube / Netflix or just react to work that comes into my inbox, because that’s important, right?

Enough was enough. I wasn’t happy with how I’ve been working over the last few weeks so I gave myself an ultimatum. Either (a) dedicate more time and effort to completing the course or (b) Jack it in altogether and move on with your life.

Last week, I decided to quit the MMA gym I’m a member of, and reduce my overall training volume during the week to put more energy back into ISP. I’m still training in BJJ, but this extra time (and energy) has already had a big impact on my desire to work through this course.

ISP is now a priority in my day to day life and I’m back to feeling satisfied with my work day. I feel driven to complete it, much like I did when I was publishing books on the side in my corporate job. I’m pleased to report that finally after a few months, I feel like I’m out of my funk!

This course is hands down the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. I’ve thought about quitting almost every week since I’ve started, but I’m just not prepared to do that.

Last month I crossed the threshold of earning over £100,000 solely off publishing books. I don’t do anything special with publishing. I just continue to develop my author brands over time. I show everything I do in the course. I need to complete ISP to show other people how to do the same thing.

I’ve mapped out a plan for the rest of the year, and based on my current progress, I should complete Module 5 by the end of the year, which is currently 50 out of 73 lessons. The latter modules have less content volume (less work for me!), and more concepts / philosophies / strategies on expanding their author empire. Module 5 is about book promotion, so at that stage, my members will have their books on Amazon earning money and will know how to conduct a successful book launch.

Module 6 moves the focus on building additional streams of revenue (Audiobooks, Book Bundles etc).

Module 7 is on building an author brand.

Module 8, advanced marketing.

Module 9, creating a book-based business.

Modules 6-9 should take me up until April 2018 to complete at my current rate. I’d like to finish the course earlier than this, but I’d prefer to be realistic and base my progression on 2017. It looks like I won’t achieve this goal by the end of the year, but I’ll be 2/3’s of the way through it if my plan is accurate, and Meatloaf said that “Two out of Three ain’t bad“.

 

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 – COMPLETE

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%)
Sep = £2,500.00 (12.5%)

 

In 2017, my contributions have averaged £179 per month. At this rate, I’ll get to the total in just over 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. In the meantime, I’m working towards an end of year figure of £3,000.

Once ISP goes live, I’m hoping the monthly contributions will grow and bring that total time down.

I have another couple of ideas about how I can achieve this goal earlier, but helping other people out at the same time, but I’ll discuss that in a moment…….. 😉

 

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 to benefit from compound interest over time, and I’m finally starting to see how powerful it is!

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 = £903.75
Jul = £828.61
Aug = £650.98
Sep = £567.79

(Total = £5,2010.88 / Average = £578.99)

 

September was a steady month for me overall. As you can see it’s marginally below my current monthly average, so no great shakes there. I’m due similar amounts in November and December, but October is lined up to be a strong month.

I’m closing in on that £6,000 target now. Looking ahead at my forward dividends (which aren’t 100% reliable) it looks like I might just hit it by a few pounds.

This goal has been one of the most pleasing for me in 2017. It’s been a long-term goal of mine to earn enough investment income to surpass my living expenses and I’m 4 weeks away from officially achieving that goal. I’m 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

This goal has largely been on the backburner this year whilst I’ve been working on my course (…and learning how to choke people out).

I only published one blog post in September, which was my August monthly goal update. My subscriber count actually dropped by 1 to 39, which is a bit of a bummer, but I’m not offering much value to their subscription so I’m not too surprised.

On a more positive note, I canvassed the 39 subscribers to see what content they wanted to read or see from me on youtube, and I had some great feedback. Here’s what actions I’m going to do as a result of that feedback:

  1. Film another conversational / FAQ based videos with Guy from Early Retirement Guy. We both continue to get feedback on how well they were received and we’re keen to do another.
  2. Organise more FIRE Escapes or local Cambridge meetups.
  3. Create a basic “How to get more disposable income in your life” guide as a sign up option to my subscribers. Basics on budgeting from my perspective. I think this is the most important first step to helping anyone out financially. This alone might be enough to change someone’s life for the better. Some might then want to move onto the next step….
  4. Create a “How to invest for the first time” online course. This’ll be WWWAAAYYY shorter than ISP. In fact, based on my previous skype calls with others, I’ve been able to do this within an hour or two. Getting started with investing is so overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be with a little know-how. You can set someone up with their first investment account and give them the basics within a few hours, and they’ll be equipped to outperform the vast majority of active investors fro the rest of their life. It’s only when you go into active investing does it get more complicated (and not necessarily more rewarding!). I plan on setting a low price point for this product as I want it to reach more people, and I plan on giving a substantial part of the profit to my School Fund to help that along. This is a win-win for many people, because I can demystify the world of investing, increase the size of my school fund and earn a few extra quid myself passively (once the course is complete). For those eager-beavers, like me, I’ll be providing a further option to take investing to another level….
  5. I’ll create another online course on “How I select shares“. A lot of readers won’t necessarily need or want this product, but it will still provide value to those wanting to increase their passive income from dividends like I’ve been able to do. Selecting shares isn’t easy. I’m not a professional, nor an expert, but I’ve been able to increase my dividend income from what an index tracker can provide (roughly 3.5% of income) to just over 5%.

These steps genuinely excite me. I can’t wait to get my teeth into them. Once ISP is complete, I’ll have more meaningful work to create, and they’ll all take far shorter to complete.

When I think about creating this content, alongside ISP, I could really sit back and feel satisfied that I’d provided a considerable amount of value to UK consumers. I’m not sure where to go after that, but I’d probably have my hand full at that point.

 

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

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 September:

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
33. ‘The Moral Landscape’ by Sam Harris
34. ‘The Complete Book of Five Rings’ by Miyamoto Musashi
35. ‘Everything That Remains’ by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

 

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

 

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values’ by Sam Harris – AMAZON LINK

This is the second book I’ve read from Sam Harris. I’m drawn to his calm, intellectual and logical take on life. I could listen to him talk about pretty much anything. It just so happens that I have a keen interest in morals, values etc, so this was an easy selection for me.

Sam shows the reader how Science is not only leading authority on the physical universe, medicine and technology, but how it also far exceeds what Religion can offer us with regards to values, morality, and leading a good life.

Sam is such a persuasive writer and speaker. He expertly critiques (or demolishes) the failings in Religious perspectives on ‘right and wrong’ and how we should base Science as the only true indicator.

8/10 – Recommended

 

The Complete Book of Five Rings’ by Miyamoto Musashi (Author) & Kenji Tokitsu (Translator) – AMAZON LINK

Miyamoto Musashi was a legendary Japanese swordsman in the 1600’s who was undefeated in 60 duels. He wrote this book in his latter years to share his swordsmanship strategies, tactics and philosophies.

I’ve seen this book on numerous ‘Top Recommendation’ lists from successful people. I was excited to get into it, especially as I’m now involved with martial arts. Could I become an undefeated swordsman too? But I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed. Perhaps my expectations were too high. The material is similar in delivery to the Tao te Ching

I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed with this book. Perhaps my expectations were too high. The material is delivered in a similar vein to the Tao te Ching. Both books are rich in information, but at times, quite dull to listen to. I would recommend the text format over the audiobooks on both.

The book offers a fascinating insight into the art of swordsmanship, and it’s interesting to see how you could implement his philosophies and tactics into everyday life.

7/10 – Great information / unengaging to listen to

 

Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists‘ by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus – AMAZON LINK

This is the second book I’ve read from the minimalists and I wasn’t disappointed. ‘Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life‘ shares how to live life with more purpose by getting rid of the excess. ‘Everything That Remains‘ documents their journey up until they became the minimalists. Joshua cleverly coined this book as “not as ‘How-to’ book but a ‘Why-to’ book”.

Lou and I live a very simple life in Cambridge. I think there’s a huge amount to be said about minimalising life’s excess. I’ve watched the Minimalist documentary a couple of times now (which I highly recommend) so I was interested to learn how the minimalists came to live life with less in a little more detail. I was quite shocked at what both men went through to arrive at their current destination.

If you’re new to the whole concept of minimalism, I would suggest reading ‘Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life‘ first, as they share their thoughts on how to live life more purposefully. ‘Everything That Remains‘ is a great follow up read if you like the authors and the concept.

8/10 – Recommended

 

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 had a long weekend away in Norfolk planned for September. We convinced ourselves that we would have at least 2 date nights during that period and we could make up some ground on the rest of the year.

But this is what actually transpired….

 

Lou must thank her lucky stars to have a guy like me!

The local chip shop was one of two meal options in the village we stayed in. We were by the seaside, so we thought it would be rude not to. The chips were bloody lovely, but they were pretty hot. Without plates, I opted for the good old "trousers off, chip bag on cushion" technique. The luxury was taken a step further by the comfy seat and foot massager. I can't remember what I was watching but it looks good doesn't it.

Lou and I talked about this goal during our break away. Lou's probably less inclined to go out on date nights than I am. The dressing up and expense are her main bugbears. We've slid out of the habit on this goal, and neither of us are too concerned about that.

Instead, we both felt a lot stronger about visiting new locations. I said to Lou that I would prefer to use the £30-£40 we spend on a date night each to fund us stopping away in a B&B instead somewhere. We both get more value from exploring new locations than we do from eating fancy food. Don't get me wrong, I still like eating out, but I can easily be convinced of a "chippy on lap" instead to favour a whole weekend away.

I think there's something beneficial about staying away from home every now and then. Stopping in an environment that you're not fully comfortable in. It's not only fun exploring your surroundings, but it also helps you appreciate what you have at home a little more.

As I'm writing this, I just called out to Lou "Where are we going to stop away this month?". She replied "We're not. I'm broke and I'm too busy".

You can't win them all.

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

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 recently cancelled
  7. Brazilian Jui Jitsu Club – Recently joined and thoroughly enjoying it

As I announced earlier on in this post, I've cancelled my membership at the MMA gym to reallocate time and energy back into ISP. It'll be sad not to see the guys on a regular basis, but I still have the other club, and I'm feeling much more balanced now.

I said last month that I would be looking to join another local club to in the autumn term, but I decided against it in the end. I don't need any new distractions, especially since I've just got back on top of work.

I'm officially ending this goal now. I didn't achieve it in time, and nor am I pursuing it any further for the time being.

 

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 September I released 1 video and gained 3 subscribers, bringing my totals to 17 videos in 9 months and 404 subscribers.

As I mentioned in my Blog goal section. A couple of people asked if I was going to do another Q&A with Guy. I enjoyed creating those two videos, and it still ranks as one of my most watched videos on Youtube. I think it would be great to catch up to see what Guy's been up to. He's keen to do it too, so I'll keep you posted.

Unless that video helps me get 1,600 subscribers, I think it's safe to say this goal is done.

 

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

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 completed this goal in August, which I'm pleased with. These sessions are just part of my weekends now.

I did 3 review sessions in September, which takes me to 32 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 September for you?

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

4 Comments

  • Maya

    Reply Reply 9th October 2017

    How you spend £450 per month on living expenses is simply beyond me. Have been monitoring our income and expenses for the last 4 months and we spend this much on food (no eating out, no take aways, all vegetarian meals, shopping at the cheapest supermarkets and local shops). Utilities and insurance would make it much more. Just council tax is £120 per month.

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 9th October 2017

      Hi Maya,

      For us, it’s been a way of life for so long now I don’t know how to explain it. Just to clarify, this is for house bills, insurance, food and transport only.
      We live mortgage free, which is clearly the biggest saving. We don’t use our car much, we eat well, we regularly assess bills/switch to capitalise on offers/low rates etc. I don’t think we do anything unique or special. Just the culmination of mindful on every area of our spending over time.
      I don’t understand your circumstances. Are you in a couple of part of a larger family? £450pm on food is on the high end of expenditure for 2 people, but more average for a larger family based on national averages. Lou and I combined, spend around £150 a month on food. We’re fortunate enough to save 10% on supermarket shopping with a loyalty card, and we have a very large vegetable patch. We rarely eat out or next to never have takeaways, but we do eat meat which is an added expense. We offset costs by batch cooking and buying mainly ‘value’ items/products rather than brands in most cases, but aside from that, I’m not sure what else we do differently.
      If you have any specific questions or examples, I’d be happy to share we do.
      Thank you for the comment
      Huw

  • weenie

    Reply Reply 14th October 2017

    Hey Huw
    When I was doing my martial arts, I had no time for anything else so I can see why you had to dial down your participation so you can get on with your course. Perhaps you can revisit once your course is complete? Although I guess you’ll probably have some other project on the go!

    It’s great seeing the returns of your investment portfolio – passive income at its best and I know how you feel with you get these!

    I have to say that’s not the greatest photo of you (marginally better than the one of you on the toilet haha!) I think sitting around in underpants is very much a bloke thing, us gals would always put on pyjama bottoms! 😉

    Keep up the great work.

    • Huw Davies

      Reply Reply 15th October 2017

      Hey Weenie,
      Thanks for the comment. Yes, that was pretty much what I was thinking. Once the course is complete or a lot closer, I can also ramp the training back up again. Ha ha, but you’re also right in saying I might be into something else by then! You know me too well! 🙂
      The passive income continues to please me. I’m witnessing significant improvements to the same month last year, and the totals are now becoming quite substantial when compared to my current living expenses.
      Ha ha. What do you mean? 😉 Yeah, it might be a bloke thing. I’m very partial to some underpant lounging.
      Cheers
      Huw

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