Start your Year with Goal-setting

Target by Jasper Johns

If you aim at nothing, you’ll be sure to hit it. [Target by Jasper Johns (Photo credit: cliff1066™)]

If you haven’t written goals for the year, I highly recommend you do so.

I’m a relative newcomer to goal-setting. I’ve only been writing personal goals for the last four years or so. My goals before that were more… abstract. The process has helped me to define what I am working toward with more precision and persistence. In many cases, my goals have provided an impetus for getting started in a new or risky area that otherwise would not have been there.

For my goals, I use a resource from Dan Miller, one of my podcast sources for inspiration. He recommends setting goals in seven different areas of your life: financial, physical, personal development, family, spiritual,  social, and career. If we neglect one or more areas of our life we will end up with problems in the long-term. For instance, one of my personal development goals is to read 24 nonfiction books this year. This as been one of my more successful areas the last couple of years. I also have some physical goals for exercise and eating right. These have been a little tougher for me to follow through with, but I need to continue to give them attention.

I try to use Zig Ziglar’s advice to track my goals, in fact, getting better at tracking is one of my goals. I’ve noticed that the goals I track regularly have a much higher chance of getting accomplished.

Finally, I try to be specific and measurable in my goal-setting. Dave Ramsey says a goal has five characteristics. A goal is specific and measurable, has a deadline, is owned by the goal setter (not put on them by someone else), and is written down.

If you haven’t already, take some time to think about and write down some goals for your life.

Here’s to a great new year!

11 More Furlough Days?

Tax

Tax (Photo credit: 401K)

Regarding upcoming cuts in pay for our school district. The adage ‘hope for the best, plan for the worst’ is a good strategy to employ in this situation. If your current financial situation is one of living paycheck to paycheck, it would be best to get on a strict budget right now. The 4 furlough days cut about 2% of our income away this past year. That probably hurt some, but was small enough to overlook in many cases. With the prospect of another 11 furlough days next year, we had better have a plan. 11+4=15 furlough days total. That is about 8.3% of our salaries. While we aren’t supposed to need that unless the governor’s tax initiative doesn’t pass, I recommend that each of us exercise the self-discipline to live on 8.3% less from the beginning of the school year. Set aside the overage in an emergency fund. If you can, set up your budget this way by cutting back on lifestyle or selling an item on which you are now making payments. You are going to be in much better shape for the cuts next year. If the cuts don’t happen you’ll have a nice little emergency fund all ready to go. However, if the cuts do go into place you won’t be caught off guard. You can go into them with confidence—knowing you are ready. Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University can help you with this.

For more particulars on our district’s situation, see the slideshow here. My apologies. Some of the shots are a little fuzzier than others.

Whether the tax initiative passes or not, decline is on the horizon for California. Our state business climate is very poor because of regulation and taxes. Private sector businesses fund the public sector. If the private sector leaves the state, school district funding will only get worse. And guess what, our governor’s little tax initiative is one more example of making government bigger, and as a result, our business climate worse. If you would like to read more on how this works visit my post about Politics as Easy as Pie. Overall, I cannot in good conscience vote yes for the governor’s tax initiative.

Cohabitation means Poverty for Women and Children

Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation

Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I really appreciate what Robert Rector had to say in describing the problem of poverty stemming from unwed mothers, fathers, and cohabitation as opposed to marriage. The biggest factor in determining whether a child is raised in poverty or in security is whether or not the parents stay together. An intact family is a reliable determinant of being in a secure home with shelter and food and not on the public dole.

Listen to the WallBuilders Live! broadcast of his speech at the Pro-Family Legislators conference…

“We will take you to our annual ProFamily Legislators Conference, on today’s Wallbuilders Live!. Robert Rector, an authority on poverty and the welfare system, shares the great secret of child poverty. You may be surprised to learn that there are steps that can be taken to drastically reduce child poverty, yet these steps are not being taken. Why? Tune in, today, to learn more. You will hear from Rector as he addresses our legislators, and describes a link between child poverty and the declining state of marriage. This is a three part series, so be sure to catch each part, this week!” [quoted from WallBuilders Live! broadcast archives]

The Great Recovery

If you are a teacher in California these days, you might be having to live a little leaner these days. My wife and I have been using Dave Ramsey’s financial materials for a few years now. He has a method for handling finances in a practical methodical way. If you are needing help managing your income and expenses I highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s program.

I received an article from Dave Ramsey’s The Great Recovery movement entitled What Should You Expect from your Candidates? I appreciate Dave’s usual no-nonsense approach to politics. He emphasizes the fact that I have a lot more to do with what happens in my personal finances than Washington does. I need to vote and participate in our political process to get the best available leaders in office. But if I am waiting around expecting Washington or Sacramento to fix my financial situation, I’m going to be waiting a long time. And their solution will never work as well as something I could have come up with on my own. The thing that will fix my financial situation best is my own paying attention, learning, working hard, living on a budget, etc.

A quick summary of the characteristics includes the following:

  • Integrity
  • Cuts wasteful spending
  • Common sense
  • A good steward of money
  • Someone who listens
  • Strong leadership ability
  • Quick problem solving

If you’d like to read the article in its entirety click on this link What Should You Expect from your Candidates? You can also follow the link to learn more about The Great Recovery: a national recovery program that is guaranteed to be successful because it doesn’t depend on Washington. The Great Recovery appeals up the chain of command from Washington to fix our national financial problem. The Great Recovery appeals to We The People.

Waking Up

I started working in public education over 10 years ago. I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives. I had a serious faith in Jesus, but I simply did my job and kept quiet about my faith and convictions. I avoided political issues related to school. When it came to politics or union involvement I kept my head down and did my job. Now I realize that I and many other sincere conservative Christian teachers have done exactly the same thing. We have kept quiet with our heads down and do our best in the classroom trying to love children and teach our students. Unfortunately through this practice of avoidance we have allowed ourselves to become marginalized. By staying quiet and not speaking up, I have allowed wrong policies to become entrenched in the rules and culture of our schools and workplace.

I began to wake up from this broken, weak, retreating position when I began to listen to WallBuilders Live! as a podcast about four years ago. I found someone who was talking about America in a way that I hadn’t heard before, talking about our founding fathers and their faith, and having evidence of original documentation to show their faithfulness. I started to hear a group of people talking about not just fighting a desperate, losing battle against the liberal slide of our nation but actually pushing forward into and winning battles for our nation… a group of people who are optimistic and positive about taking back the land. I’ve become encouraged to take a stand, to speak up, to begin using my sphere of influence to take back the land. For me a big part of the journey that was beginning to get the positive and encouraging input from WallBuilders, from Dave Ramsey, from Chuck Colson, from Zig Ziglar. That’s why I include links to their programs on my resources page and in this post. I want to encourage you to start listening as well.