A few posts back I brought up the idea of long term goals juxtaposed against short term annual goals.  I’ve thought a little more about this and have bucketed out some of the different things Teresa and I are working toward.

The big goal is to lead a happy, enlightened existence filled with family and friendships.  I’d like to spend most of my time learning new things and enjoying the relationships currently in place, as well as those that will develop in the future.  But how does one go about that?

Generally speaking, you can figure out how to do all the things you want to do and delineate the resources necessary to do so.  The most finite resource is time–everyone has a ticking clock here.  Finances are another big resource need.  It’s really unfortunate that so much of adult life is spent thinking about finances–as a youth you do not spend that time thinking about it because it’s not really your responsibility.  But as an adult you have to consider the costs of everything–what a drag!  :-)  Money will not make you happy though.  Seeking out money with a ravenous appetite will leave you shallow and lifeless.  It’s not really what’s important.

Here are a few of the bigger goals for the future:

1.  Education for our kids. Tempo is on the way and when s/he arrives we’re going to have to learn a lot of new things.  I value education incredibly.  That may sound a bit trite as most folks wouldn’t say the opposite, but I don’t necessarily mean education in the traditional sense of purely getting degrees.  Degrees are all fine and good, but the ability to disseminate knowledge and learn on your own is more imperative than anything.  Not all children are taught that they are capable of anything they choose to do and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy of limitations.

It was in undergrad where this all came to fruition.  There was an epiphany moment where I realized that anything on this planet could be learned and that made anything possible.  I wish I’d thought this way at a younger age, my  path may have been different.  Teaching self reliance and empowerment to my kids is more important to me than anything else.  If they know they are capable of anything, they will achieve greatness.  Greatness does NOT mean being a Ph.D or being the worlds preeminent authority on a subject.  Greatness can be quietly living a life you choose outside of public view.  But understanding that YOU choose is imperative–you can do anything, but you do not have to.  If you want to be a doctor, a psychologist, a rocket scientist, an author, an artist, an army officer, a teacher, a business person…it’s all well within reach.

I do not know how to spark this type of thought process yet.  Thoreau and Emerson that opened my eyes–but I do not know how to do so for others, it’s likely to be a pool we wade into slowly.

2.  Own a nice place to live. We “own” our house now–if you consider having hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt owning.  I don’t.  So paying off the mortgage is one thing.  But there’s a lot more to it than paying it off.  There are multiple projects we’d like to take on.  The first is hardwood flooring upstairs.  We need to rebuild the deck outside, making it bigger and using premium materials that don’t need repeated staining.  Our basement needs to redo the flooring, rebuild the bathrooms and paint.  The chimney needs to be patched up a bit.  Insulation in the roof needs to be redone.  Fireplaces need to be automated.  Shelving needs to be built upstairs.  The other bathrooms need to be renovated.

This stuff costs a good amount, but it’s well worth the cost.  It’s not just about having an asset that’s worth more when you pass it on to your kids or sell if you want to retire somewhere warmer.  It’s the fact that you live in a place you enjoy getting up in every day.  And you take pride in building it and maintaining it as your own.  This is a long term goal as there’s simply not enough resources to do all these projects right away–I’d imagine it will take us a good 10 years to get everything the way we want it.

Paying off the mortgage will take at least that long and probably more.  I really need to take a hard look at that and build a plan.  We have an FHA loan and after five years we can take the mortgage insurance off of it if we own 20%, which shouldn’t be an issue.  The house as appreciated about 8% alone since we bought it.  Our loan is at an amazing rate, so paying it off quickly is not a huge priority, however it is the largest expense we have.  Eliminating it is the biggest step to financial independence we could take.  Remember, financial independence is about having the choice to do what you want, it doesn’t mean you’d change your current lifestyle or work, but it’s an option.

3.  Retire comfortably. I dislike the vagueness of this statement as it could mean many things to many folks.  To me this is probably more of a financial exercise than anything else.  There aren’t that many things that you need in retirement.  My parents are retired and live simply–enjoying their lives at the lake.  Teresa’s father is retired and her mother still works three or four days a week doing something she enjoys.  They’re both doing well without a big need for money.  We will very likely go down the same path.

4.  Travel extensively. Earth, space, physical nature and the like are riveting subject matter.  I want to see as much of it as possible.  It’s going to be harder to do so with Tempo, but people who say you cannot travel with children are fooling themselves, it’s not true.   Travel costs a lot, but when the only stuff you spend money on is your house and saving for retirement, it’s well within reach.  I’ve travelled to the following places in order:

Puerta Vallarta, Mexico
New Zealand (Wellington, the West Coast of the South Island)
Seoul, South Korea
Los Cabos, Mexico
Costa Rica (Guanacaste and the Southwest Coasts)
Belize (San Ignacio, Hopkins and Caye Caulker)
Banff, Canada

Teresa has gone to Africa and China without me, but many of the above places are shared.  We want to keep travelling and will.

5.  Live healthy. Physical, mental and emotional health all fall here.  Everyone has different ways of doing these things.  For me it’s mostly physical exercise, writing and reading, being honest and working through issues with people when they exist.  It’s actually harder than it sounds, humans are all imperfect.  We have flaws.  Keep it in mind.

6.  Help others. I’d like us to lead a life where we help as many people along as possible.  That means being active in our community and being generous with our resources where we can.  I’ve been so fortunate to get help from people throughout my life and want to give back.  I think there’s a lot more to think about on this one.  What are the best ways to give back?  This goes far beyond simply giving a charity money; that’s the easy way out.  Working with organizations to improve others’ lives by giving your time and knowledge where it’s applicable is much more rewarding.  I’d really like to teach in 15-20 years as that can really scale to help younger folks.  Teresa is already helping young people every day.  She’s a great teacher.  She’s going to be a great mom.  I feel very lucky to have her in my life.