Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E. In the last blog of 2020, I take a look at my plans for 2021. First, the Quote of the Week:
Quote of the Week
It’s a tradition for many people to use the New Year to look back at the previous year before coming up with resolutions for the year ahead. The vast majority of these resolutions will be forgotten about before the second month of 2021 is over. Studies have shown that anywhere from 70%-85% of resolutions fail, and so many people are trapped in a cycle of repeating the same behaviours they have been frustrated by for many years. There is also some danger in assuming that just because the calendar ticks over to a new year, the world suddenly becomes a better place. As we transition from 2020 to 2021, I fear this will be even more pronounced. Our calendar is an artificial construct. It does not take 365 days to orbit the sun; it’s closer to 365.265. It does not take the Earth 24 hours to rotate on its axis; it’s more like 23 hours, 56 minutes and a few seconds, with that rotational period increasing slightly over time meaning that days are getting slightly longer. The point I’m getting at, is that our conception of a day, week, month and year is artificially constructed to allow a relatively easy division of time. Although the dawn of a new year is psychologically significant in many respects, life will not change just because it’s a new year. Things change because people choose to act differently.
If you want to change how you behave, it’s important to go about it in the right way. The brain is a biological computer, and when you want to change how a computer behaves you have to reprogram it. The brain is no different, except you are using your own brain to reprogram itself. There are some tricks to reprogramming your own brain though, because the brain uses many shortcuts, called heuristics, to carry out much of its processing. Much of human judgement, perception and decision making relies on these heuristics. Depending on who you ask, a new behavioural habit can take anywhere from a couple of weeks, to over a year to be embedded effectively. If you want to make the process of changing your behaviour as easy as possible, it’s important to give yourself as many advantages as possible. I’m going to use an example to illustrate my point.
A common new year’s resolution is to lose weight. Many people will simply state, “my new year’s resolution is to lose weight”. This resolution is almost certain to fail because it’s not SMART; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. It just so happens that one of my resolutions is to lose weight; something I’ve been trying to do all year without success. So, I’ll now list my SMART resolution.
S – I want to lose 26kg by the end of 2021.
M – This means losing 0.5kg per week.
A – Many experts agree that 0.5kg weight loss per week is safe and achievable.
R – This is a realistic goal as it will bring my total weight down to a safe, normal level.
T – The goal has a specific end date, as well as a more manageable weekly check-in.
This is just a basic example, but having a concrete idea of where you are now, where you want to be, and how you are going to get there, is how you best plan a journey. With the example of weight loss, it’s also important to think about the things you need to change to facilitate this goal. In my SMART statements, there is no mention of how I will go about this. So, you can create smaller SMART objectives to supplement the initial goal. This could be in relation to exercise, gym visits, cheat meals and other health related activities.
Goal setting is a subject that has generated thousands of books and research papers, and so I’m not going to be able to do a deep-dive into it in a single blog post. The point of this is just to get you thinking a little bit more about how to create an effective list of new year’s resolutions.
Christmas has been and gone in a fairly low-key fashion, which is what I wanted. I don’t generally like Christmas. It’s a lot of hype associated with gratuitous spending and consumption. Mix this up with the disruption to routine, and I generally find it a lot of hassle I could do without.
My best present this year, without doubt, is that I still have my cat Sweep. There was some concern that when we took him back to the vet on 23rd December, we would have to say our final goodbye to him. Thankfully, the meds he is on seem to be working and he’s all snuggled up on the sofa snoozing as I type this. The vet did make it clear that Sweep’s days are limited. His health issues are not going to get better, and the meds are “palliative” in nature. As long as Sweep is content, and not suffering, I intend to treasure each day with him.
A couple of days ago I completed work on a new section to this site. I’ve created a Reading List page that details all the books I’ve read or listened to since the start of 2018. Last year I successfully met my goal of completing 104 books; 2 per week. This year, I’ve fallen a little short and at the time of writing, I’ve finished 81 books. I’m not too downbeat about this, considering the year I’ve had.
2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021
1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.
2 – Finish 104 new books.
3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.
4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.
5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.
6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.
7 – Walk 2,500km.
I am replacing the health section of this blog with this new section. Throughout the year I will provide progress updates on my goals. The first two goals are self-explanatory, but the other four I will expand on. I am studying to become a qualified financial advisor, and the first step is achieving a Diploma in Financial Advice (DipFA). I have already completed the first two modules, but there are four left. I lost momentum in my studies following the personal issues I had from the summer onward, but I intend to pick up these studies in the new year. My last goal is designed to help me achieve weight loss. Walking is a low impact form of exercise, and I enjoy it. I love being out in the fresh air with a good audiobook playing. I arrived at the 2,500km target by looking at my current walking habits and increasing the activity level slightly. It means that, on average, I’ll need to walk roughly 6.85km per day; or just over 48km per week.
Premium Bonds: £2,500 (no change from last update).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £17,644.10 (up £1,521.03 from last update).
Fuck It Fund: £400.00 (no change from last update).
Residential Property Value: £187,554 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Property Value: £124,500 (no change from last update).
Total Assets: £332,598.10 (up £1,521.03 from last update).
Credit Card: £469.32 (up £469.32 from last update).
Residential Mortgage: £141,740.98 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,375 (no change from last update).
Total Debts: £235,585.30 (up £469.32 from last update).
Total Wealth Figure: £97,012.80 (up £1,051.71 from last update).
Investment Income in 2020: £185.90 (no change from last update) (target £2,000).
An excellent week for my ISA as the stock market made gains following the Brexit deal being announced. I’ve not read too much about the content of the deal because I’m suffering Brexit burn out. I’m in no doubt that we will be in a worse position than if we’d just remained in the EU, but what’s done is done. I have no issue with the majority voting leave, except for the fact the Brexit campaign was built on a foundation of lies. My credit card balance is artificially high, as I’m waiting on a substantial refund to be credited to the balance. That should be rectified by next week.
That’s all for this week, and next week I will take a look back at my experiences of 2020.
A Quick Request
I know there is a small group of people that read this blog regularly and I enjoy the engagement I have with those readers through email and social media. I would love for this project to take off and grow through 2021. Gaining readers is the hardest thing for any blogger to achieve. I enjoy writing this each week and if you are enjoying this content, please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Whatsapp or any other social media. Shares are the ultimate sign of success for any blogger. If you have any feedback, comments or questions whether positive or negative, please leave a comment below.
My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @nowwelive01. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, please check out my cat’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat
Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.