Justin Tadlock

2020 goals

Sunrise behind a mountain.

With a relatively successful 2019, I am hitting the ground running into 2020. This is the first year in a long time where I feel like I am at a good starting point.

One of the big realizations from the past year is that I’m not getting any younger. It’s time to make some major moves to set myself up better for medium and long-term success. I cannot continue dreaming about the things that I want to accomplish. I need to set up larger, higher-risk goals and smash them.

This year, I am going to create two large goal categories. I want to narrow down my list and get hyper-focused on some big-ticket items that I need to accomplish this year.

Writing/Reading

I’m dropping writing and reading together because, for me, they are two sides of the same coin. One cannot be a great writer without also reading voraciously.

I will write a novel this year.

My stretch goal is to write two novels or at least two first drafts.

I would like to participate in National Novel Writing Month 2020, but the event doesn’t happen until November. I do not need to let 10 months pass by before making the attempt. Therefore, I am shooting to have the first of my first drafts done by mid-year.

Of course, I will continue daily writing for WP Tavern. While it is not fiction, it does allow me to continue honing my writing skills and learning one aspect of the craft.

My reading efforts will continue. By December 3, 2020, I will have read something every day for two years. Most likely, I will stick primarily to fantasy this year. I want to catch up with The Stormlight Archive and make a bigger dent in the The Wheel of Time series. I have also been sitting on a few recommendations from friends for months now, such as The Deed of Paksenarrion. I may pop back over to the Dragonriders of Pern series.

Ideally, I would throw some shorter works into the mix to better balance out my reading. The average page count of the books I read in 2019 was 660 pages.

Overall, I’m aiming to read 30 books this year. That’s probably a more realistic goal than the 40 I fell short of in 2019, especially given my propensity toward epic fantasy.

Finances

Over the next few months, I need to research various investment options. I have a reasonable safety net of money that needs to be working for me over the short and long term. This is unchartered territory for me, so I will be cautious.

Feeding health savings and retirement accounts every month will be a large part of my budget going forward. I hope to also add an additional savings option somewhere in there.

I’m working on a three-year plan to finish paying off student loans, which is the only debt I have remaining. That means I need to stay aggressive and knock out one-third of my remaining balance over the next 12 months. This is very much in the realm of possibility.

Buying a new piece of property may be on the list later in the year. It will simply depend on several factors, such as costs, location, and family. I am settled in my current home but am considering making a change. This is a long-shot, maybe goal. However, I wanted to note it as something I will be looking into over the next 12 months.

With any luck, my 1993 Nissan Maxima will continue getting me from place to place. I don’t want to buy a new vehicle because I don’t drive much. I am remaining optimistic that I won’t have to budget a car payment in this year.

Mostly, I want to continue living relatively cheaply. I will, of course, buy some things for entertainment like movies and books alongside necessities. A new laptop is in the budget in the next month or so. But, I will avoid most large purchases like the plague.

Life goal: Collecting physical media

This is not a goal specific to this year. However, I wanted to officially note it as a life-long pursuit. I started collecting DVDs as a teenager. My parents bought my first DVD player and the first X-Men movie as a Christmas gift when I was 17. Ever since, I have been an avid movie collector.

Over the years, I got away from film and moved more toward collecting TV series box sets of my favorite shows. However, my love of film has returned. This is likely influenced in no small part by 4K and HDR. I have also rekindled my love for older titles too.

So, I am adding a new goal to the list: build the greatest movie collection of all time.

Yeah, I will probably never reach the most movies. There are collectors with thousands upon thousands. Maybe I can shoot for the best in Alabama. Or, the best in my county. Some goals do not necessarily need to be met. The pursuit is what matters.

I know what some of my readers are thinking. Ummmm…why not just stream like the rest of us?

That’s a longer topic that I may delve into more deeply someday. Streaming is not a viable option for me anyway (data caps on my Internet service). That’s assuming that I preferred streaming, which I don’t.

Kicking off another year

I have some other potential goals that I may start shooting for this year, such as getting back on a regular exercise schedule and continuing my Spanish lessons. Those are things I need to tackle. They’re just not my primary, overarching goals for the year.

Pursuing my dream of becoming a novelist is the top priority. I cannot allow another year to go by where I don’t seriously push toward turning this dream into a reality. Outside of work and finances, everything else needs to take a backseat.