Accountability Report: February 2018

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Welcome to the first Career Crisis Accountant Monthly Accountability Report. Each month, I plan to set tiny goals that will help me make progress towards my bigger long-term goals. How am I going to keep myself accountable to these goals?
 
By sharing them with you!
 
Each month, I will share my report card from the prior month to show how I did in achieving the goals I set out for myself. I will discuss the wins, loses, and reasons behind why I selected these goals. I will also share the goals I will be working towards over the next month.
 
Why am I doing this? I’ll admit the reason is selfish. I have attempted to make big changes in my life many times and most of the time they don’t stick. To fight this, I am breaking my goals down into smaller goals and sharing my progress with you. I hate seeing red on the progress bar but I definitely hate showing the red to others.
 
So with that behind us – let’s dig into February!

Accountability Report: February 2018

Without further ado – here is the chart!

Ouch – that’s a lot of red.
 
I should throw a disclaimer in here though. I created my tracking form half-way through the month – the goals may have been slightly ambitious. And yes, I am totally making an excuse right now.
 
Time to breakdown the goals.

Working Out

Health and fitness has been an area I have been trying to work on for years. I usually start with a lot of momentum and then end up falling off. Yes, I am pretty much your typical New Year’s Resolution cliche.
 
But I plan to change that this year.
 
For the first time, I actually have put together a workout routine that I am confident I can stick to. Late last year, I read Bigger, Leaner, Stronger by Mike Matthews. The book focuses on sustainable workout routines that only requires 45-60 minutes per workout. For once, I actually know what I am doing in the gym, doing things that once intimidated me.
 
Quick Note: Big shout out to whoever in the PF community I saw recommend this book. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who it was at this point but it has made a big impact on my health already.
 
I have been doing the workouts off and on for the last couple months and have seen myself getting stronger. I still am not working out at the frequency that I need to. Part of the reason has been timing. January and February are historically busy times for accountants. The other part is I haven’t committed to working out before work, leaving myself only the weekend.
 
Damn, the excuses are out again already…Now you see why I need accountability reports!
 
If I want to see positive changes in my health, I need to make this one a priority so I don’t fizzle out in a couple months. You will be seeing fitness as a recurring goal throughout the year – with a lot more green in future months!

Meditating

As I have mentioned before, I suffered a case of burnout in spring of 2016. Ever since that point, I have struggled in managing my stress. Meditation has been something I have done off and on for the past several years. It disappeared from my routine when I suffered my burnout…even though my stress levels continue to climb.
 
Doesn’t make much sense, does it?
 
To be honest, it disappeared due to laziness. I haven’t made it a priority, even though it only takes 5-10 minutes each morning. I have seen strong benefits from it in the past, so I want to make it a priority again. I started it back up in February but still not to the level I need. I need to work further at creating a morning routine that I do each morning so it becomes a habit. February was a start but I have plans to keep it moving further and cut the red in the future.

Coding

I may be a CPA now, but I started my college career as a computer science major. I switched to accounting because at the time I couldn’t see myself programming in Java for the rest of my life (because of ignorance and 3 semesters of Java only, I thought that was what the future looked like…).
 
But I realized that I missed coding and creating things. Creativity isn’t a trait appreciated in the accounting profession. A majority of accountants view everything as black and white. Do what you are supposed to in the same way it has been done.
 
I want to bring some creativity back into my life by getting back into coding. Currently I am learning PHP and the Laravel framework to create web applications. My plan is to begin creating and rolling out tools on this site later this year. I am still in the early stages of learning the language but it has been nice to begin coding again.

Savings Rate

Our savings rate has been my main monthly financial goal for the past couple years. I’ve learned that this is one area that I have direct control each month so I have made it my main focus. I can’t control how the markets react or how our net worth moves. But I have more control over how much of our income we save and put to work.
 
Savings rate is one calculation that not all people in the PF community agree on. Here is the definition that I use:

I use Thrifty, a great transaction tracking tool developed by Chris at Keep Thrifty, to track our savings. It is one of the first tools I have found that I can separate savings from spending to get a full view of our finances. I can easily see what our savings rate looks like throughout the month to see if we are on track.
 
February was a good month for our savings rate as we came in 51% vs our goal of 50%. I plan to get this rate up to over 55% before the end of the year but at this point, I’m glad to be above 50%.

Average Heart Rate

If it wasn’t for the last week…
This goal is about getting my stress back under control. I have a Fitbit Charge 2 that I have been wearing for the last year. The most interesting part of the data it tracks is my resting heart rate. Whenever I am feeling the most stressed, I see my heart rate spike and then begin to come down as my stress lessens.
 
Over the last year, I have seen that when my heart rate is less than 70, my stress seems manageable. This leads to my goal of having a heart rate goal of 69. If I can keep my rate at this point or lower, that is a sign to me that I am keeping my stress under control.
 
February wasn’t great for stress. The first two-three months of the year are always busy and I stress myself out. The fact that I just missed this goal is a positive to me. I felt like I would be further off. Its the small things, right?
 
You may be wondering why the progress bar for this goal is all red. I see this goal as either Pass or Fail. Either I hit my mark, or I don’t. Here’s hoping that I push it green in March.

Overall Month

For the month, I came in at 76%; a solid C.
 
But when you are trying to change your life, a C isn’t good enough.
 
This is the first month that I have been tracking my goals. so I’ll give myself bit of a pass but I do need to kick things into gear. The point of tiny goals is to use them as stepping stones to accomplishing big goals. For them to be effective, you actually need check off those tiny goals. I need to make sure I put in the time to check them off. I am confident that we won’t be talking about a C next month.

Next Month’s Goals

Recurring Goals

No changes for last month’s goals. I am keeping them all on the list for now as I still believe they will help push me towards my bigger end goals. As a rule, I don’t increase the “goal” for any recurring goals if I did not hit the goal the prior month.

New Goals

I’ve added a few new goals to last month’s list.

After hearing Brad talk about it on the ChooseFI podcast, I have added Seal Fit Yoga to my workout routine. I plan to do these yoga workouts on non-gym days this month to keep up with my fitness even when I’m not at the gym.
 
I’ve also added Waking Up at 5am to the goal list. This goal is about creating time for myself so I can work on things that are important to me. I want more time to work on my projects without cutting into family time.
 
Some of these days may be going to the gym. Other days will give me extra time to blog, code, or read. I don’t want to cut back on family time for these things, so there is no better time than when the family is asleep.

Month One in the Books

There you go – month one is in the books! While the progress bars are more red than I would like, I am further along on these goals than I was a month ago. Its all about making progress.
 
I am setting up a strong system that will help me bring accountability towards achieving my long-term goals. No one achieves anything big overnight. We all need to start somewhere.
 
This is only the beginning of my journey.

10 Comments

  1. March 8, 2018
    Reply

    Of course you tracked this in excel! I am happy to hear you have found your version of a creative outlet. I think you hit the nail on the head that accounting can be a hard space to be creative in. Looking forward to see what web applications you come out with.

    Good luck with your yoga goal for next month! This serves as one of my creative outlets. If you want a few more easy videos than a very quick glance SealFit seems to offer check out YouTube for lots of great videos.

    • t
      March 8, 2018
      Reply

      How else are you supposed to track things? 🙂

      Thanks for the suggestion! I will have to check those out as well. My wife teaches a Yoga/Pilates class so I’m not a complete newbie but I’m still not very good 🙂

  2. March 11, 2018
    Reply

    CCA –

    Def. know what it’s like burning through the hours at work during the life of a CPA – my busy season should end in the next week or so, thank God. Saving rate looks strong and pushing yourself to a new baseline of 55% will do wonders, and then it’s the next threshold – 60%. Challenge yourself, as you are doing, and you’ll be amazed where you end up!

    -Lanny

    • t
      March 16, 2018
      Reply

      Thanks Lanny! Our audit is just starting this next week so I still have a few weeks left before year-end is officially behind me!

    • t
      March 16, 2018
      Reply

      Thanks DM!

  3. March 29, 2018
    Reply

    Are you taking on too much at once?

    Would you be better off to focus on two to three goals, nail them, then add more once they’re a habit?

    If you like podcast, listen to Tim Ferriss interviewing Jocko Wilkink (sp?). Jocko notes that discipline beats motivation each and every time. It’s okay to be motivated (ie a resolution), but it’s best to put in processes or procedures that allow you to be disciplined.

    Some suggestions:

    As an accountant, you likely appreciate feedback. Perhaps take a look at HRV training via the heart math institute. Visualized meditation that I highly recommend.

    You’re adjusting workouts to get in shape. Are I spending the same amount of time on thinking through your diet? As Tim Ferriss says, workouts are additive, because you aren’t doing them now. Food though, you’re already consuming. He just advocated consuming differently.

    Good luck on the journey and there is a light at the end of the tunnel each and every busy season…And, it’s not an incoming train 😉

    • t
      March 29, 2018
      Reply

      Thanks for the suggestions! I actually am tackling a bit too much in the March mini-goals. I’ll be talking about in my next report on how I’m going to dial it back a bit so I can concentrate on just a couple things.

      As for diet – this is definitely an area of focus as well as the working out. It is just a bit harder to quantify into a nice chart/progress bar 🙂

  4. April 11, 2018
    Reply

    I love this accountability report – it’s awesome to see your goals and hear your honest assessment of how you’ve done. Definitely helpful to get the rest of us out here motivated!

    Also – a huge thanks for the shout-out for Thrifty! I’m really glad you’ve enjoyed using it. As always, let me know if you have any suggestions!

    • t
      April 15, 2018
      Reply

      Thanks Chris! I figured a blog is a great way to keep myself accountable to things!

      And no problem on Thrifty! As I’ve mentioned to you a few times now, it is the tool I’ve been searching for and love it!

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