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Six-Figure Payoff: How I plan to make 2013 better than 2012

Thomas Hill
by Thomas Hill, Dimespring 30 (@6figurepayoff)

Goal-setting: the annual self-edification exercise for the ambitious and optimistic. Often overshadowed by the popular setting of “New Year’s resolutions,” goal-setting is a little more of a strategic and deliberate approach to real change, be it personal or professional. 

This will be my third year of personal goal-setting. I’m 29 this year and I hope to make the last year of my 20s a success. I think that looking to the past is a good place to start. I set goals in 2011, and 2012, and was pretty much an epic failure meeting most of them, I think because I was a little over ambitious. Setting the bar high is never bad but it also increases the risk of failure. 

READ: How do I stick to my financial New Year's resolutions? 

A recent blog post to the Harvard Business Review suggests not making goals for 2013. Instead, the blog encourages identifying “areas of focus” instead of goals.  I think this is a good idea, but I think that smart, specific goals within each area of focus are still important. The key, I believe, is really making sure your goals are achievable.

With that in mind, here is what I hope to do in 2013:

  • Spiritual: My faith is so important to me but lately I have to be honest, it has not been prioritized. I have not been faithful to the study of scripture, prayer and obedience to Christ. Here are 10 Suggestions for improving your spiritual life in the new year. I hope to make these of the highest priority. 
  • Physical: I’d like to drop 20 lbs in 2013, and share healthier habits with my wife. She will be trying to lose baby weight and so will I (all those sympathy pregnancy pounds I packed on). I plan to run my 2nd half marathon on Jan. 5 and will try to run some 5Ks and 10Ks throughout the year and eat healthier, with focus on breaking my sugar/sweets addictions. 
  • Intellectual: I’m about halfway through my MBA. In 2013 I’ll be taking six more courses which will have me nearly finished with the MBA.
  • Family: I always want family to remain sacred. I have an amazing wife and three children and I don’t want to look back in 20 years with regrets that I didn’t spend enough time with them and make enough special memories. My goal for 2013 is to lead my family in family worship at least two to three times per week. I also want to make an effort to break up routine and do spontaneous fun things to keep things from getting boring. I also hope to take a special family vacation this year, if funds permit it. 
  • Social: I need to make good on my 2012 goal of reaching out to some old friends, and also being deliberate to be more hospitable in our home, to friends and families from church and also our neighbors.
  • Career: There are some potential big career opportunities coming up for me this coming year as I’m about to roll out of the development program that I’m in into a permanent role. There could be some good things to come. I want to improve my leadership and interpersonal skills in the office to glorify God in my work and encourage my colleagues and raise the bar in whatever I do. 
  • Financial: I believe 2013 should be better than 2012. Last year my wife lost her job, but she expects to be employed again by March. We had a lot of medical expenses because of high deductibles this year to pay for the prenatal and midwife services for our baby. Some other things have come up making it a difficult year. I also haven’t made much progress at all paying down student loan debt. In 2013 I expect our income to go up a bit, and we will have less medical expenses (God willing) and will pay off a loan in April that is costing us $400 per month. My student loans will be on deferment but I hope to knock out at least $20K of debt in 2013. 

READ: Advice for building your emergency cushion 

I hope you are all successful in your 2013 ambitions and maybe following a similar structure will help you to be more intentional and focused in the coming year!  If you do set goals, share them with a friend and post them visibly so that you are accountable and don’t forget them.

Remember to check up on your progress at least quarterly. Don’t be afraid to change your goals midstream if you need to. Best of luck and Happy New Year!


Thomas Hill has a problem — more than $140K in student loans. He's determined to pay them off quickly but so far it hasn't been easy. Join him and his family as they make the journey to financial freedom, through all the ups and downs that are sure to come. Thomas is a member of the Dimespring 30, a community of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.