I love this time of year.  Christmas is great, and having a family with small children makes this season extra special in ways that words can’t describe.  I also love this time of year because I really get into New Year resolutions.  I like evaluating how I did the previous year, and planning what I should concentrate on for the next year.

So here we are at the end of 2016 and looking to start another year.  As I was going through my evaluation and goal creation process, I thought – why not publicize my efforts?  The process of writing down my resolutions in a way that will be read by others will help crystalize my thoughts, and this will also make me accountable to a (thankfully growing) readership base. So here we go; let’s make like White Goodman and grab the bull by the horns and get to work!

Scorecard for 2016

1)      No further extra-curricular commitments

  1. Fail – I joined the board of a fantastic non-profit called Circle of Change. No regrets on that as it has been a wonderful experience, and it serves a very important mission, but it has occupied a meaningful amount of time.  If this were the only transgression, I would give myself a mulligan and call this a success, but unfortunately, there have been a few other things that I have allowed myself to become committed to.  For so many years I worked hard at getting a seat at the table by raising my hand and volunteering to help out where I could that it has been hard to switch gears and ratchet back.  It’s still a work in progress.

2)      Maintain the blog consistently for the year

  1. Success – This was an important personal goal of mine as I wanted to prove to myself I could continue to produce content beyond just the occasional burning inspiration. While my original goal was to post weekly and I did have some breaks in there, I did publish at least one post every month this year.  I still call that a success because I made a choice that I would rather publish better material, even if it’s less often.  (debatable… I know)

3)      Read 16 books

  1. Fail – I honestly do not know how some people read 50 to 100 books a year. I just cannot read that fast and the books I do read I often find myself taking notes.  I had to make a choice between continuing my slow pace of reading and absorbing more of the book, or trying to read at a faster pace at the sake of less comprehension.  I have also sacrificed many nights of reading to work on the website, Facebook page, or read research reports that I did not get to during the day.  My score will be a paltry 8 at the end of this year.

4)      Hang out with friends more

  1. Success – some people reading this may try to call BS on me, but honestly, I made a conscious effort to spend more time hanging out and connecting with friends. This was one of my favorite resolutions because in year’s past it felt like sometimes I would see my friends only at bachelor parties and weddings.  Outside of that I would feel guilty for taking time away from work, family, or the other important projects I had in the works.  Making this a priority eliminated all that stress.  The Cubs going to the World Series this year provided good cause for a few of these outings and of course helped make them more fun and memorable.

New Resolutions for 2017

1)      Again, no further extra-curricular commitments

For 2017, if there is anything that I want to participate in outside of work or family, I will have to give up an existing commitment.

2)      Grow and Systematize Kraken Capital Watch

While I have proven that I can keep up with it, my goal for 2017 will be to discover a working system that will make the running of this site more efficient and more effective. If it is going to live forever, the Kraken needs to find some focus.  My fantastic readers will get to have input in this process and see the experiment unfold.

3)      Read 20 books

I am upping my game this year and planning on increasing the goal I didn’t even reach last year. Its ok, because I have a plan to achieve this which does not include just reading shorter books or not taking notes.  I will be more intentional about when I write and when I read news, research, or blog posts.  On non-writing days, I plan to completely unplug by 10 pm and reserve that time for book reading, with a goal of hitting at least 20 pages.  That means reading a 300-page book in three weeks.  Add in two additional books while on vacation and I’m there.  Let me know if you have any recommendations.

Here are a few of the books on my list for 2017.

  1. First up, Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini
  2. Continuing in the social sciences I have Drive by Daniel Pink and Social by Mathew Lieberman
  3. In history I want to continue my education of the founding fathers and U.S. revolutionary history.  I just bought 1776 by David McCullough on the recommendation of Twitter friend Todd Wenning.  I am looking for at least one more good book that broadly covers U.S. history from about 1750 to 1800, so if you have one, please let me know.
  4. Further history, I am really looking forward to reading two biographies by Ron Chernow and neither one of them is Hamilton.  First up is the Rockefeller bio, Titan, and then The House of Morgan.  I also have The Tycoons by Charles Morris which broadly covers the big industrialists of the Gilded Age.
  5. On my list of investment books are The Most Important Thing by Howard Marks (if you are at all interested in investments and are not familiar with Howard, check out his You Tube lecture here).  Winning the Losers Game by the late Charles Ellis has been on my bookshelf for years, and this year I plan to check it off the list.
  6. Finally, toward the end of the year, I plan to round out my economic education with formally reading and taking lots and lots of notes on The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Road to Serfdom by Hayek, and Keynes’s The General Theory.  I have read a lot on these books and the authors, but have never read the books, so I feel it’s past time.
  7. I have a few fiction books I want to dive into as well.  After reading an amazing interview of spy author John Le Carre in the Paris Review (hat tip to Lauren Foster at CFA Institute, and her Enterprising Investor Weekend Reads) I pulled an old copy of The Russia House off my bookshelf.  I also have a friend that is trying to get me to read the Lee Child Jack Reacher books, so I may read one of those also.

If you do have any recommendations to round out my reading list for the year, please let me know.  I have a history of bumping books down the list if better suggestions come up, and I like recommendations so I can offer my feedback.

4)      Re-up the fitness goals

My health has always been something I have taken for granted and as a fairly active person with a historically decent metabolism, I haven’t much needed to worry about that. Well it’s getting about that time, where things are changing and joints are sore, muscles ache and I need to work harder to keep some semblance of fitness. Therefore, I have a few goals for this year

    1. Run a half-marathon in under 2 hours (race goal)
    2. Run at least 6 miles a week (consistency goal)
    3. Get to 80 pushups, 15 pull-ups (strength goal)

Honestly with this one, I am most worried about the consistency goal. I have always been a goal-oriented person as opposed to a process-driven person so I am working hard on rewiring that to some extent.  My race goal for running a half-marathon is only because I don’t want to take the time to train for a full marathon.  I am sure I will get the itch to cross that goal off the list someday, but for now, a half-marathon in a decent time is more my style.  The strength goal, I have no idea if it will be hard or not as I have not ever consistently tried to hit any goals like this.  My record for pull-ups is 10 and that was a whole lot of years ago.  Who knows, maybe next year I will try to deadlift 1,000 lbs, and after that, maybe try to break the Mountain’s log carrying record.

Are you planning any resolutions for 2017?  What do you want to get accomplished?  How did you do in 2016?  I would love to hear what you are working on.

Until next year….

In the words of one my very first film crushes, Carrie Fisher, who passed far too soon “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”  Let’s be kind and be positive in 2017.  Happy New Year everyone.