More thoughts on how to turn dreams into goals

By | January 18, 2016 2016! Have you made your plan for the new year yet? I’ve dubbed this year “Operation 2016: The year of the productive, ambitious and only a little bit lackadaisical Thriftygal!” Here are some habits I hope to cultivate in Operation 2016 along with my plan of attack using specific and measurable goals.

1.Be a writer. (Write 2 hours a day, 6 days a week.)

I implemented this goal back in September so this project is not new for Operation 2016.  I feel like it’s working though and this website is a measurable testament of my progress. I went from posting 15 times in 19 months to posting 18 times in 4 months. I call that improvement.

The quick and dirty specifics: I turn my phone on silent. I exit out of my personal email. I ask Google to set a timer for a specific period of time (sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes two hours) and I write words here. I then add, delete and rearrange words until their placement pleases me or until the timer interrupts me. I spend a mere 3% of my weekly allotted hours per week on this goal and it’s made all of my life better.

How I measure this goal: If I do indeed manage to write the timed two hours on any particular day, I give myself a smiley face on my resolutions chart.

The timer reminds me that I’m in work mode. Crucially, I don’t give myself the benefit of the doubt if I haven’t timed it. This specific inflexibility is to curb the times when I decide to start writing…after I finish reading celebrity gossip.

Which brings me to another resolution.

2.  Avoid Time Wasters.*

If I want to be productive, I should avoid wasting my time. Duh, right? Sadly, a lot of the obvious truths I stumble upon aren’t obvious until I articulate it for myself. My time-waster activities all elicit a certain feeling of drift that I find uncomfortable. Drifty activities are ones that I engage in that no longer enhance my life. I comply purely out of habit and walk away feeling listless and annoyed with myself. Of course, your time-wasters will differ from my time-wasters. The key is to figure out your time-wasters and be as precise as possible.

The quick and dirty specifics: Avoid the websites that do not give me enough happiness bang for the time I spend on them. Here are three websites that give me that troublesome drifty feeling and which I plan to avoid.

How to measure: If I don’t visit any of these three specific websites for 24 hours straight, I give myself a smile for the day on my resolutions chart.

*As an aside, recognizing that everyone wastes time on the Internet is basically my entire plea for people to visit my website. Thepowerofthrift’s official pitch:

I know you read crap on the Internet all day.

If you want read the crap I write, I post it here.

In my defense, I would only consider this website a time-waster for you if you don’t feel like you’re learning anything anymore from it. If you’re just reading this to pass the time and do indeed feel drifty….I’m still probably okay with it.

3. Grade my resolutions chart. is actually my only true, pure Operation 2016 goal. I change most of my resolutions monthly to accommodate my life and I already list the first two on my chart. Although, I must confess, I’ve gotten an F on the second resolution every single time I’ve ever tackled it. Damn your lure, Freecell!

I’m a sucker for the gold stars and in school I was a fairly good student because I craved those A’s. The days I receive a lot of smiley faces on my resolutions chart are always the best days. I’m hoping this new “grade” system will further motivate me to stick to my goals.

The grade below corresponds to the numbers of days I have to follow my specific resolutions

  • A – 90-100%
    • 28-31 days in months containing 31 days
    • 27-30 days in months containing 30 days
    • 26-28 days in February
  • B – 80-89% 
    • 25-26 days in months containing 31 days
    • 24-26 days in months containing 30 days
    • 23-25 days in February
  • C – 70-79%
    • 22-24 days in months containing 31 days
    • 21-23 days in months containing 30 days
    • 20-22 days in February
  • D – 60-69%
    • 19-21 days in months containing 31 days
    • 18-22 days in months containing 30 days
    • 17-19 days in February
  • F – Below 60%
    • 18 or fewer days in months containing 31 days
    • 17 or fewer days in months containing 30 days
    • 16 or fewer days in February

And yes, I know I didn’t do the math for leap year February. I don’t care. I suspect that you don’t either.

24 thoughts on “More thoughts on how to turn dreams into goals

  1. Daniel clough

    I’m trying to cut out distractions and time wasting activities this year, and your website is certainly in the ‘keep reading’ list 😉

    Nice job on the writing goal and looking forward to seeing more. Your story is inspiring!

  2. rudi schmidt

    ThriftyGal: great blog/website….thank you!
    Looking at your “bucket list”, I see a few items crossed off–which I assume mean you ‘did them’ or….
    you no longer want to do them…which is it? I’m working on my own bucket list–am doing a lot of pruning as many of them are in conflict with my drive to be more frugal/fiscally intentional.

  3. Barry

    Hi Thriftygal,

    Thanks for posting to your blog and being you. I really appreciate the time wasting websites. Now I have something to do, when I have nothing to do.

    All the best,


  4. Mortimer

    Looks like you have a great action plan and a very achievable goal. Are you only writing for the blog? If so, even more achievable, especially with your timer method. There are some other tools that might help you zone in to writing. One is called LeechBlock, which will let you pick websites to specifically block through your web browser. You can unblock them, but it’ll make you jump through a few hoops to do so if you’re currently in your blocked out window. Another is take advantage of some full screen writing modes that even WordPress now offers in its editor, which attempt to keep you focused. A number of other desktop writing programs exist with distraction free modes which are even better. Good luck!

  5. Tom

    Re ” I ask Google to set a timer for a specific period of time…”. I’m curious as to what tool/app/extension you’re using to do this? Thanks

  6. Paul Reece

    I’m new to your blog. This is very appropriate for me as I have been wasting mucho time. I’m also a writer and want to write more so I will try your writing schedule except only for a half hour.(I can always increase it later) Also like your grading idea as it always helps me see my progress. I heard about you from MMM’s blog.

    I feel you could document your progress of being FIRE and put down your principles and experiences in a book. I’ll be the first to buy it. I’ ve read ERE and most other early retirement books.

    Check out some of my music on digital downloading sites and YouTube. I’d let you use some for free for your blog site/website if you like. Lots of instrumentals that might be appropriate. You could also put some videos on YouTube with info and principles. Take care.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Hi Andrew, that resolutions chart is just an example of things I’ve done in the past. I frequently give myself new “operations” to entertain my financial avatar and one month I tried using no cash. That’s Operation No Cash. 🙂 You can read a bit more about it in my post “”

  7. Lynne

    That’s an interesting idea (the grading). Might have to try it. 🙂 I’m not accountable enough to myself about this kind of stuff.

  8. Susan Turner

    Hi there. This is great so thanks! I love your accountability spreadsheet. It suits my tracking nature. I thin you are on the right track to share what you are doing for yourself with others. It creates a like-minded community that would be motivating in itself. I plan to learn enough about blogging to set up my current life project as a blog too. I created a school for myself to direct my post retirement life towards purpose and forward movement. It’s called The Blues Violin, Healtg and Community Institute. More later. Keep up the good work. BluesV girl. 🙂 🎻🎶❤️

  9. Austin

    Awesome ideas I am going to try them out in regards to my art production.

    Love your site by the way, I only discovered it recently and look forward to your posts.

    Thanks for sharing your journey

  10. Harri

    The school-grade rating looks nice. I used to use HabitRPG (nowadays Habitica) for the same purpose. It has all those gold stars you desire, in the form of shiny new things for your avatar. But it wasn’t flexible enough for my needs, so for past few months I’ve been using a sheet on my Filofax which has my daily/weekly goals in various categories (social, mental, health, finances).

    The idea is that I buy “points” by doing good stuff that I’d like to do more, like photography, eating more veggies, or paying off my debt. I subtract points for watching TV or surfing the internet. I can also spend points on rewards, such as potato chips, or discretionary spend.

    It has worked really well in improving my focus – motivation was never really an issue for me. It has also directed my spending habits better, as I create a very high threshold for discretionary spending. I’m currently saving my points for a camera bag; only 120 hours at the gym (or equivalent activity) to go!

  11. bryDanger

    Just stumbled upon your blog.
    We have spent the last several years turning our goals into reality and love stumbling upon others doing the same. Much like your list, leaving the jobs and traveling more were the first order of operation. I wish we would have started the blog ( as early on in the process as you did, so we could have tracked the charts along the way…might have to go back and try to piece those back together now! 😉

    Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!

  12. Harmony @ CreatingMyKaleidoscope

    Accountability is such a great motivator. Our goal is to pay off all credit card debt in 2016. Perhaps I should add some type of tracker to my blog for accountability purposes.

    Becoming a writer is a great goal – I’m sure that you’ll be successful if you stick with it!

  13. Laura

    Love this blog! Do you have templates posted somewhere? Tracking measurable goals, budgets, etc?

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Laura – I have a template for making the financial independence charts. Check out this link. I am working on a generic template for the goals/dreams steps, but it’s very much a work in process still.

  14. Josh

    >I know I didn’t do the math for leap year February. I don’t care. I suspect that you don’t either.

    I would point out that it’s a leap year this year, but a 100% is an A in any year 😉

  15. Simon Kenton

    In a leap year women may propose, which might help with the reckless part of #10.

    The woman at the Shell down the road in town had an arranged marriage which has apparently not worked out very well. Veracity compels: when I thought this through, it was impossible to believe my parents could have done a worse job than I did at arranging a marriage for me.


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