Did I Achieve My 2016 Best Self Goals?

Yes. Sort of. Most of them.

At the end of 2015, I wrote up a series of “totally achievable” Best Self Goals. I kept several of these goals in mind throughout 2016, and forgot about the rest—which is probably fine, because it means those goals weren’t all that relevant to my actual life.

But let’s take a look at what I wrote a year ago, and see how I did.

My Best Self in 2016: A Totally Achievable List of Goals

Goal #1: My Best Self Earns More in 2016 While Working Reasonable Hours

Done. I had my highest-earning freelance year ever. I should bring in over $87,000 this year, although I won’t have the exact number until December 31.

I also had a really reasonable workload; kept things at around 40–45 hours a week for the most part.

Goal #2: My Best Self Figures Out the Social Media Promotion Thing

If by “figure it out” you mean “stops thinking about it,” then yes. I did come up with a solution to my social media promotion problem, which was to stop caring. At this point 90 percent of my Twitter feed is promotional, and maybe 75 percent of my Tumblr feed. Social media has gone from a place where we start conversations to a place where we scream monologues. Moving on.

Goal #3: My Best Self Stops Speculating and Starts Asking

This was the Best Self goal I kept closest to my heart, this year. I did better than I did in 2016—I tried to speculate less and interview more, I reached out to sources, I blewdry a razor—but I still made some ignorant mistakes in my writing, and this year I think my biggest mistakes came from not fully understanding the subject, which is different from making speculative guesses on the subject.

I’m thinking specifically about this piece, where I read all of the data and still analyzed it incorrectly:

Can We Accurately Measure Gig Economy Growth?

I’m also thinking about the times I still let some speculation creep into my work; I asked Amy Haimerl for an interview because I didn’t want to write a speculative piece about her decision to move to Detroit, but there was another situation in which I wrote a short post about a podcast I’d heard and the podcast subject reached out and asked if I wanted to do a more thorough (and accurate) interview.

So I did better this year, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Goal #4: My Best Self Is Out of Debt (Probably)

Yes. Done. So glad that’s over.

Goal #5: My Best Self Has a Three-Month Emergency Fund and $5,500 in a Roth IRA

I managed to save a four-month emergency fund, thank you very much. I also have $5,500 set aside to invest, although I haven’t actually made the investment yet. It’s on the to-do list.

Goal #6: My Best Self Spends More Hours of the Day Not Staring at Screens???

Eh. Maybe. I read a lot of books this year, as you might have noticed in yesterday’s post about all the books I bought this year, and I tried to read as many physical books as possible.

All the Books I Bought in 2016

I also put my projector to good use, which meant I watched movies and TV shows projected on the wall of my apartment instead of on my laptop or phone, and that counts as “not a screen,” right? A wall is nothing like a screen! It’s bigger and further away, and probably requires different eye muscles to view, or something. (Hey, remember how I just wrote that I wasn’t going to speculate? Look at how long that lasted.)

And I do yoga and I get my Fitbit steps and I do workouts, none of which require screens. In fact, I’d say that on a good day I might spend a full five hours not staring at screens. (This includes the time I spend showering, blowdrying my hair, hand-drying my dishes, and so on.)

But this is also a goal that I feel like letting go of. Earning money requires screens and staying connected to the people I love requires screens, and at this point I see websites for retreats or events that include text reminding (or warning) applicants that they’ll get to experience the joy of being “unplugged,” and I can’t read that word anymore without automatically substituting “unable to communicate with the people you care about!”

So bring on the screens, for at least eleven hours a day.

Goal #7: My Best Self Spends More Time With Her People (and Figures Out if Her People Are in Seattle)

Yes. On both counts. Not all of my people are in Seattle—which explains why my largest discretionary budget item is “travel”—but I also started putting down roots this year, in as much as one can in a large and constantly changing city.

I became a volunteer tutor at the Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas, which is the kind of thing—and I know this is going to sound cliché—that ended up benefiting me as much as the students. I taught at Hugo House. I was invited to do short fiction readings and performances. I’m getting involved in the city’s creative life, which is exactly what I hoped would happen.

Goal #8: My Best Self Creates Something Brilliant

Yes. Both because I believe it and because I was told as much. I don’t want to spend too much time bragging on my own writing, but I’m really excited about getting to share The Biographies of Ordinary People with you when it’s ready.

Goal #9: My Best Self Earns at Least $59,317.66 in 2016, While Working Reasonable Hours

You might think “wasn’t this the first goal on the list?” but this goal is slightly different; it represents the minimum amount of money I thought I needed to earn to make it through the year and pay off my debt, save my emergency fund, and put aside cash for a Roth IRA—and yes, I achieved this goal and then some.

I haven’t yet decided what goals I should set for 2017. I have a few in mind, and I’ll let you know as soon as they’re all put together. But I will tell you that this Best Self project did, in fact, help me to become a better self.

So thank you, Team Billfold, for that. Thank you for everything. ❤

This article is an update to The Billfold’s 2015 end-of-year series, “Our Best Selves in the Coming Year.”

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