Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mid-Year Resolutions

Yesterday was my wife and I's third anniversary. This seems to be a recurring theme among those looking back on periods in their lives, but it is very true for me as well that those days, weeks, months, and years have just flown by.

On a not-immediately-obviously-related note, in Thornton Wilder's play Our Town, one of the main characters passes away between the second and third acts. As she sits among a group of ghosts and looks upon those who have come to her funeral, the idea that the living don't realize how wonderful and amazing life is occurs to her. Only from her vantage point of being beyond the grave does she truly realize how much she has missed, both in terms of opportunities and in terms of details that didn't seem important at the time.

So, I guess a combination of me recently seeing that play and the occasion of my anniversary have put me in something of a thoughtful mood. If life flies by, what marks am I leaving? To paraphrase a quote that I heard frequently as I went to a Christian school as a boy, how exactly am I redeeming my time?

Those questions are what prompted this list. Many people make new year's resolutions, but I have not really seen mid-year resolutions. Some of these are directly in regards to money, while others are more indirectly related, but I think all of them affect my financial situation.

1) Losing weight: if life is short, than I ought not do things that will hasten its end. I carry a significant amount more weight than I should. My concrete goal is to lose thirty pounds by December 31.

2) Writing a play: one of my goals in life is to have another play that I've written professionally produced. My first play met with some success last year, and I am tremendously thankful for that experience. That taste of success, however, has whetted my appetite for more. One promising opportunity is a playwriting contest that is run through UC Santa Barbara. The contest's deadline is December 1, and my concrete goal is to have a play submitted.

3) Fully funding my Roth. This should be a relatively easy goal as I will be unable to put money into a 401(k) for the rest of the year (so contributing should not be too much of a hardship). The company that I am starting my new job with doesn't allow employees to join the 401(k) program until the employees have worked for the company for six months. While that is disappointing news, once I have reached the six month mark, my company fully matches, dollar for dollar, all contributions up to the federal limit. So, my goal for next year will be to also fund my 401(k) fully, but for this year, it's just a matter of finishing off my Roth IRA. I'm better than halfway there already.

4) Start paying back a personal loan. A few years ago, a family member loaned me some money, interest free, in order to pay off some credit card debt. There were no strings attached, and that family member has even said that I don't need to pay the money back, but I still feel that it is important to do so.

5) Applying to a Ph.D. program. I still have some research to do, but I'm planning on applying to at least the Ph.D. program at the UC close to where I live. I believe that I would be able to do the classwork part time, while simultaneously continuing my day job. Earning a Ph.D. is something that is important to me, and, even if I'm not accepted, at least I won't be not going to school because I didn't try.

Looking back on the list, I've realized that those are five very high-minded goals. Now I've got them listed, however, and now that I know the finish line, I just need to plot how I'll get there.

I'll redeem my time yet.

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