2017 Goals for the Swans

2017 Goals

Hello everyone! Welcome back to The Green Swan. Today it is time to talk goals and aspirations for 2017. I don’t typically make a list of goals at the beginning of the year or New Year resolutions, but there were a few things on my mind that I wanted to strive to do better this year. And on top of that I have joined the great personal finance blogging community with great regular readers that will hold me accountable. So time to put my goals and aspirations out there today with the plan to post quarterly updates to track progress.

Let’s begin!

Financial Goals

I like to think we are pretty disciplined on the financial front. We keep a tight lid on our expenses and besides having kids in recent years, our annual expense budget hasn’t varied much. I don’t anticipate it will again this year either, unless of course we end up moving to London. That is obviously a huge wildcard for us this year.

So for financial goals I am going to stick solely with goals on the net worth side.

  1. Increase our investment portfolio to $1.2 Million

First and foremost, my goal is to increase our investment portfolio from approximately $1 million today to $1.2 million by year end. I make a goal like this every year, although I recognize it is largely reliant on the stock market performance. Each year I put an 8% growth estimate on our all equity investment portfolio as that’s my long-term expectation for the stock market. While each year this will vary wildly, my long term expectation for the market is and always has been an 8% return. I think this is justifiable as I explained in my Invest to Win post. So no better place to start when making my annual goal!

  1. Contribute $115K to our investments

The other major factor to reaching the previous goal is my contributions, which is much more in my control. It can be hard estimating this exactly year in and year out, partly due to variations in large expenses like solar panels, a new car, and factoring in kid costs including daycare for our second kid due in early April.

Also, the other big wildcard this year for us is the potential move to London. But for now, all we can assume is that any such move would result in a cost of living adjustment or a net raise for us and therefore our estimated contributions shouldn’t vary much.

In the coming weeks I am planning a more detailed post on my longer term investment goals, so stay tuned!

JW’s Personal Goals

I need to set some personal goals as well! Life isn’t all about money, right? There are definitely things on my list for 2017 (and beyond…) to help me be well rounded (well not round physically…).

Health and Fitness

My health and fitness has not been its best lately and 2016 has not been my best year! I blame the blog…in all seriousness…it has been a fairly big time commitment and has distracted me from my normal workout routine. However, it is more than just that. I’ve developed some bad personal habits and no better time than now to get those back on track.

  1. Take the steps at work at least 3 days a every day of the week!

I need to get back into a regular workout routine, but there are more passive ways I can get some exercise. Saying that I don’t have time to work out is a lame excuse. There are numerous ways I can sneak some exercise into my normal routine and one of the best options will be taking the stairs at work. I’m on the 14th floor (technically the 13th floor since that number is skipped in the count…). I expect taking the stairs will get my heart rate up!

Edit: While drafting this post, my motivation on this goal received a swift kick in the rear with Mr. Money Mustache’s recent post on Staying Fit with no Gym in Sight. I shared my thoughts on how I could do better in the comment section of the post and MMM challenged me to NEVER take the elevator again! He said anything under 40 flights should be stairs…no elevator needed. So…needless to say I’m crossing out the 3 days a week and changing it to every day of the week. What’s a goal if it isn’t challenging?! Challenge accepted MMM!

  1. Bike or do Insanity videos 3 days a week

Biking is another way I can sneak in an exercise regularly. Instead of lounging on the couch after the little one goes down and watching TV, I need to do better and make it a habit to jump on the bike in the evening (and watch the TV…). Lucy and I typically bike together and we have stationary bikes in our workout room (trainer mounts for our outdoor bikes). It is an easy and convenient way to get some cardio, and Lucy and I can still stay up to speed on the latest shows we are watching. Plus, given we have a little one we can’t leave alone in the home, this gives us a nice at-home exercise!

Another alternative is starting back up the Insanity DVD workout series we bought years ago. This is another exercise routine we can mix in for variety.

But don’t worry, this isn’t our only exercise. We both do a decent amount of walking for our 9-5 gigs and spend plenty of time on the weekends chasing around our kiddo who is a little ball of energy!

  1. Keep beer and alcohol consumption to evenings when I don’t work the next day.

This is another area of health and wellness that I can and must do better with. Far too often I’m cracking beers during the middle of the work-week.

As I mentioned in my post on Chasing Paper, my work life balance ebbs and flows. The busy weeks can be stressful and those times especially I’m known to have a beer or glass of bourbon to unwind after work. This isn’t good for my health and neither is it good for being a role model for the kiddos if they grow up seeing me regularly crack beers.

So it is important to me to take a step in the right direction here. No beer or alcohol during the work-week and in general I will limit my consumption.


  1. Push boundaries and get outside my comfort zone.

I think it is important for personal growth and development to continue to step outside our comfort zones and challenge ourselves. While I continue to be challenged in my current role at work and have received promotions as recently as last year, it is nearing the time to make a more dramatic step outside my comfort zone. That could potentially be with a move to the bank’s global offices as mentioned above, but if that doesn’t end up working out then I may need to start thinking of alternatives.

2. Improve The Green Swan blog performance.

There are a number of things I can do on the back end of The Green Swan to help improve its performance and your experience. I haven’t prioritized many of these items, such as page speed, and instead I have more simply focused on networking with readers and other bloggers and writing content. The time has come to make the blog more professional though. 2017 is the year you will notice a faster load time and perhaps a new look and feel to the blog. I’ve been thinking for a while now about changing the “theme” to the blog which is the visual outlay of the content and webpages.

Lucy’s Personal Goals

Health and Fitness

Now it’s Lucy’s turn… Similar to JW, I don’t normally set goals at the New Year or rely on resolutions. However, why not put something in writing, share it with the web and see how well I do?

  1. Workout 3 times a week

I’m piggybacking off JW’s goal here which will only help us both. We all know working out is more fun with a partner and when you have someone else sticking to a schedule you’re more prone to as well. Seeing that I’m 6 months pregnant, I will not be partaking in the Insanity videos, but the biking has been great for me. I also purchased some pregnancy Pilates DVDs so I’ll break that out to help strengthen my core. Continuing this goal post-baby will be important too.

  1. Try 2 new recipes a month

This might sound like an easy goal to accomplish, but let me explain. With our work schedules we only cook on the weekends. Usually I try to make a larger meal Saturday or Sunday so that we will have leftovers throughout the week. Otherwise mid-week we’re making something quick like grilled cheese or a peanut butter sandwich (come on, we have a 2.5 year old!). I can always rely on Pinterest to help me find new recipes so I’m going to strive to make sure and come up with two new ones each month. I’m open to suggestions or favorites of yours too!


What goals are you making for the New Year? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for taking a look!

The Green Swan









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  1. Hi JW,

    Good luck for the goals and 2017! Look forward to hearing if you do make the move to London, I am sure there are a number of people over here who would love to meet up!

    Congratulations on setting the goals wider than just financial, health is an important factor as well, and something I myself neglect too much!

    Hope the Christmas break was good for you all!
    FIREin’ London

    1. Thank you! It would be awesome to have a meet up in London!

      Yes, health was my biggest neglect in 2016 so time to right the ship. Good luck with your 2017 goals.

      Thanks for the comment, FIREin’ London.

  2. Great 2017 goals! I also need to amp up the health and fitness side of things, although I’m on the first floor of the building at work so taking the stairs doesn’t cut it. I did set a goal to walk at lunch a minimum of three times a week-with the weather and my work schedule being what they are, I think that’s realistic. I try not to set many goals around investment performance because they’re far out of my control. Here’s to a great 2017!

    1. Going for a walk at lunch is a great idea. It’s nice to get some fresh air, clear your mind, and get a bit of exercise.

      Thanks for the comment, Liz!

  3. Nice goals JW! I am currently on a 20th floor and had gotten out of the habit of taking the stairs down everyday, I need to add that back to the routine. It’s a start, right?

    We have similar plans for fitness in getting out of the bad habits the past few months. Being in a walking boot for a month before the holidays really hosed me with the workout routine. I am able to swim once a week and went for my first 2 mile jog since getting out of the boot, and this morning the achilles tendon seems okay, so hopefully that will help with getting active again. I’m also registered for an Olympic triathlon in 65 days, so now more workouts have to happen! 🙂

    I also am reducing the beer consumption during the week. Talk about a bad habit that got worse with no thought of nightly exercise, yipe! Fortunately, it’s an easy one to remedy.

    We haven’t really settled on any financial goals or targets for 2017 yet, beyond “stay the course” with our usual investing. I’m sure I’ll have a post on it next week though. Hope you have a Happy New Year!

    1. Walking down 20 flights is definitely a start. Going down can be deceiving how difficult it actually is.

      Good timing on getting out of the boot now though since you have the triathlon coming up! That’s some solid motivation to get going on the workouts again. Good luck!

      Yes, I blame the beer consumption for a large part of the pounds I added this year. Best to cut that out asap though so I can get to work on improving before the weight gain gets any worse!

      Hope you have a great new year as well! Thanks, Mr SSC.

  4. Solid goals. I like the focus on a smaller set of key goals rather than the long litany of goals that a lot of people set at the new year. I definitely need to follow your lead on some health and fitness goals. I think that has been my biggest weakness in 2016. (I could certainly use a lot of work on improving my blog as well).

    Best of luck and happy New Year!

    1. I agree, I tried to keep my list of goals narrow and focused on the important ones.

      We’ll have to share some tips on blog performance updates! 🙂

      Thanks for the comment, Matt!

  5. Great goals for 2017. My financial goals for 2017 are the same as 2016. Max out all tax advantaged accounts and then funnel the rest into my after-tax brokerage account. My income was fairly high for me in 2016 so as long as I save as much as I did in 2017, I’ll be happy.

  6. Best of luck with all of your goals. A move to London might complicate some of them, and might be less than ideal with a new baby arriving. On the other hand, the dollar is looking great relative to the pound, so it won’t be nearly as expensive as it would be at any time in recent history.


    1. Yeah London timing might not be ideal with the newborn but we’ll see. But if the pound stays low than that might really help! I’m nervous about that though. Lots still up in the air but I think we’ll get details soon.

      Thanks for the comment, PoF!

  7. Great goals, Swans! I’ve never written mine, but you’re motivating me to do the same. Im on the 20th floor at work, and have NEVER walked it. Time to change that, it appears! You’re courageous to consider changing your theme, will be interested in watching that one! Nice work on your blog in 2016, I’m glad we’ve connected this year!

    1. Thanks, Fritz! Boy, going all the way up to 20 would be tough! Don’t let MMM know you’re walking it…:)

      I too am glad we’ve connected this year! Thanks for the comment and here’s to a great 2017!

  8. Best of luck on the goals! Curious how the market will play out in 2017 (aren’t we all?!!). I feel like it’s bloated right now to give us another 8%, but it seems like it refuses to correct. Hopefully it drops though so we can all buy low for the time being.

    I like the goal of not drinking when you’re working the next day – I’ve been working on that for the past few months. It’s sometimes a small challenge when you want that after work beer, but nothing you can’t get past.

    Have a great New Year!!

    — Jim

    1. Thanks Jim!

      I hear you on the market. I wouldn’t mind a buying opportunity, but it would also be nice to see stronger economic growth to drive further market increases. We’ll see!

      Good for you on cutting back those work week beers! I’m expecting it will be tough for me, especially at first, but hopefully I can build a strong habit there.

      Thanks for the comment!

  9. Good luck tackling these goals in 2017. Fitness is an area I need to address in 2017. I do usually take my dog for daily walks, but that is not enough. Our other big area of focus is sending two children to college and avoid debt while doing so.

    1. Best of luck to you on your goals, Brian! That’s awesome you are helping your kids out so much to get them started out on the right foot and debt free!

      Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. Come on, only 2 different recipes a month….one a week would be a bit more of a challenge.

    We used to tease our kids (from aged 4), that Saturday evening would always be different… It might be (meat) fondue, anything, really, depending on the available ingredients….. They enjoyed the challenge, and would also enjoy changing the theme, to veg only v no beef etc…

    It made them think about what they were eating,With 24-48hr mm warning,….

    1. I’ll mention this to Lucy! That may be tough for us but perhaps something we can work up to by year end.

      I love how you got your kids involved early though. We hope to do the same thing and get the little ones in the kitchen helping us early. What a great teaching process!

      Thanks for sharing, Erith!

  11. Happy New Year! Those are very ambitious goals! I think the main thing is to keep the momentum going throughout the year. Good luck with the health goals because it’s going to be tough with a baby. 🙂

    1. Happy new year to you too, Joe!

      Yes absolutely, we definitely aren’t going to flame out after January! But you’re right, it will be more difficult with a second kid.

      Here’s to a great 2017!

  12. I take the stairs at work all the time. This is less impressive than it sounds if you consider that I sit on the 3rd floor. But I’m moving to the 4th floor in January, so maybe just slightly more impressive?

    Those are some solid goals you’ve set there. All the best for 2017! What with the new baby and a big potential move, it promises to be an exciting year for you.

    1. 4 flights is still a decent amount of exercise and can get ya breathing hard! Good for you.

      And thanks! 2017 may be very busy and exciting! 🙂

      Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks! Yea we get stuck in ruts like that as well so it’ll be nice to force ourselves to find new and creative meals.

      Thanks for the comment, Michelle!

  13. That sounds like a great plan for 2017.

    Some tough challenges as well, while having a second baby…! All the best with your goals.

    London is on my list to show to the kids…I like the city a lot for its architecture and diversity in international food. We had a friend that lived there years ao. One of the best memories is a biking tour along the Thames…

    1. Thanks! Yes we’ll be challenged a bit but I’m confident we can be successful as long as we stay disciplined.

      A bike tour along the Thames sounds neat! Thanks for mentioning that. If we end up over there that’ll definitely be on the list.

      Thanks for the comment, ATL!

  14. Excellent goals: ambitious but not too optimistic.
    In terms of my planning: Oh my, I’m still trying to tie up the loose ends of 2016 and I haven’t made any explicit 2017 plans yet. I try to get my 10,000 steps every weekday. That will stay the same. Moneywise the goal is the $x,yyy,zzz target in the spring of 2018. That’s been in place for a long time, and with my usual savings rate and 6-7% capital market return, it should happen. Cross my fingers!
    Drinking on weekdays? I would have agreed with that until recently but then did some research for a yesterday’s post on booze, cigarettes and debt (https://earlyretirementnow.com/2016/12/28/seven-reasons-in-defense-of-debt-and-leverage/) and realized that alcohol in moderation is good for my health. So, no change in behavior there. 🙂
    Cheers to that. Literally!

    1. Haha well it’s good to know there’s some health benefit to drinking! Everything in moderation, eh? Good post, thanks for sharing!

      10,000 steps a day is pretty solid. I probably get close to this on the weekends when we go for walks regularly and trips to the park with the little one. But I don’t get near this during the workweek, unfortunately. But I guess taking the stairs will help this a lot.

      Thanks for the comment, ERN.

  15. Nice goals, hope all of them will be ticked by the end of 2017. And you know what? I will join you in the walk up to the office challenge. My office is on the 8th floor so I have really no excuse 🙂

    1. That’s awesome! Thanks for joining me. I’d love to hear your update to see how you’re doing right along with me. Perhaps you can let us know in the comments of our goal update posts?

      Thanks, Roadrunner!

  16. Great goals. Love the idea about taking the stairs up to work every day. I think I’d be doing some huffing and puffing for at least the first few weeks. I recently started doing 20 push-ups using the trigger of every time I change my clothes. First thing in the morning – 20 push-ups. Home from work and change out of the suit – 20 push-ups. Go to bed 20 push-ups. It’s not a ton, but I’m noticing a difference already.

    1. Yeah I’m sure I’ll be doing some major huffing and puffing too! I like that idea for pushups. Another great way to fit in some exercise and a good habit!

      Thanks for the comment, Freedom 40!

  17. Love your goal ideas! Taking the stairs is smart and an easy way to add a few steps each day! (It always surprises me how people fight to park close to our YMCA when they are there to work out!!) We are stuck in a food rut too – guess it’s easier that way. Maybe we should all share a new recipe once a month! We are going to really limit the alcohol too – to just when we are with friends. It’s way too easy to drink a glass of wine each day – but my doctor reminded me of the calories related to that as well. Here’s to a wonderful 2017!

    1. Haha good point, the irony of fighting for a close spot at the Y is hilarious! I can totally see that.

      Yeah good idea on the recipe exchange. A lot of bloggers I read post new meal and recipes occasionally which are helpful. Maybe Lucy and I can start including an update like that in our monthly “Swan Life” recaps.

      Yes, the calorie intake is the problem for me with drinking nice specialty beers.

      Thanks for the comment, Vicki. Hope you have a wonderful 2017 as well!

  18. Big bucks on the $1.2M investable assets goal! I like it. I’m thinking of my own 2017 goals as well after doing a deep dive analysis of how I invested money in 2016.

    I’m hoping for the best again, but I have great doubts! haha.


    1. Thanks, Sam! Always nice when the portfolio starts working for you by compounding!

      Hopefully 2017 carries forward the momentum we’ve seen recently. It may be tough but I’m always optimistic! 🙂

  19. Sounds like you are setting some awesome goals. I have to admit if you figure out how to speed up your website, you’ll have to pass on your tips. I have been reading and have had some difficulty completely understanding what I need to do 🙂

    Hope you and your family have a great 2017!!!

    1. Thanks!

      I know what you mean, I don’t know how to code so I’m going there are simpler solutions. I’m not a tech guy at all.

      I’ll let you know if I find some solutions!

  20. Those numbers make me lightheaded! 🙂 So excited for see what 2017 brings for you. I always try to take the stairs, though I don’t know that I’ve ever had a reason to do more than 10 flights. I guess that suburbia for you. I really like how you prioritize health and I love Lucy’s idea of trying new recipes!

  21. It sounds like you have some very reasonable and achievable goals for 2017. I’m a bit more conservative on our expected investment growth, but it sounds like you will be able to meet your $200k goal for 2017.

    I’m an active runner and I also use my bike trainer during the winter as well. It’s amazing how much of a sweat you can work up pedaling while watching a 30 minute show! I second Chief Mom Officer’s recommendation of a brief walk during lunch time at work. It’s a simple way to get in some extra steps and take a mental break from your work day.

    Good luck in 2017!

    1. Thanks, N2S!

      Yeah we love our trainers. It can be a nice workout, and somewhat passive, while watching a show. Great way to get an easy sweat in!

      Happy New Year! Thanks for the comment.

  22. Great goals JW! If you’re looking for ideas, you may want to consider some couple goals as well. We had our 20th anniversary the other day and we found that couple goals were helpful. Scheduling things like date-nights, etc… go a long way once the kiddos come into the picture.

    I hope you share any back-end tips on speeding up the site, I know that I could use some!

    Here’s to a great 2017!

    1. Good idea on the couples goals! We may incorporate one or two, thanks.

      Yeah you bet, if I find some helpful tips I’ll certainly be passing them along during my update posts.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jon!

  23. Happy New Year! I’ve combined my blogging and fitness goals by writing most of my blog posts when I’m on the treadmill. I walk at a decent clip, but not so fast that I can’t peck out sentences while I’m doing it. In fact, I’m doing it now 🙂

    1. Ha that’s brilliant! I don’t have a treadmill but maybe I could fasten a desk over my stationary bike!

      Happy New Year to you too!

  24. Happy new year. I love your list and your optimism that the stock market will return 8% a year in the longer term outlook. I am pessimist, I set my excel sheet to assume a 3% gain every year. I hope to be pleasantly surprised if/when I hit $1mm before I turn 50 in 3.5 years. Best of luck with your potential move to London. What a great opportunity for your family. Love the blog. I signed up for the emails so I don’t miss any of your updates.

    1. Hi Amanda, thanks for the comment! Not a bad plan to be conservative with the estimate and wait to be hopefully pleasantly surprised. Best of luck reaching a million soon!

      Yeah exactly, London will be a once I a lifetime opportunity so hopefully it works out!

  25. Getting healthy physically and financially are great goals, especially for a couple. Sometimes it’s quite difficult for a couple to be able to exercise together and kudos to you for being able to find some common ground.

    My goal this year is to learn how to do some internet marketing and get some more readers for my blog. There is not much excitement if there is no one to interact with. Since you are a blogging vet, I can definitely use some advice for a rookie.

    1. Thanks Leo! We’re definitely trying to build some good habits. So far so good.

      Good luck with the growth for your blog. It isn’t easy, I can tell you that. I’m not sure I’m a vet necessarily, but slow and steady has been my experience. Don’t hesitate to shoot me an email if you want to catch up.

      Thanks for the comment!

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