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Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Reflections and Resolutions


Lets face it. Most people do not keep New Year Resolutions.

According to most studies, only about 1 in 10 people actually accomplish or keep their New Year resolutions.


Well, maybe people just do not put a lot of thought into it?
Why are they making the resolution in the first place?
Are they picking something realistic?
Are they making the resolution too generic? Like I’m going to lose weight.
Maybe they should pick something relatively easy and simple to do? Like put pants on every day...

BTW – I tell my three year old to do this most every day. He’s almost there!

But what is a resolution? I did a quick lookup of the definition, scratched out all the answers that had the work “resolve” in them (ignored the ones relating to music, audio/visual, and medical fields) and came up with this short list.

- A firm decision to do something
- A determination or firmness of mind and purpose
- A formal expression of opinion or intention
- The act or process of separating into constituent or elementary parts.

I particularly like the last one because I think it has just as much, if not more, to do with the success of a resolution as do the first three.


New Years is also a time that a lot of people reflect back on all that happened, both good and bad, over the past year. It is also a time to reflect on what you have done, not done, where you are in your life, and where you want to be. I believe it is these reflections that should drive our resolutions.

So, what about me? What has happened, not yet happened, where am I now and where do I want to be?

For this post, I’m going to limit my answers to the context of my blog.

* First and foremost: this blog. I started Fumbled Returns last January. Not because of a resolution or anything but mainly because my wife started blogging Hope and Greyz and I just did not “get it”. Why would anybody “blog”. So, strangely enough, I decided to try it out to find the answer “for myself”. And so far this is the result. And yes, I am hooked on blogging.

* Another thing that happened, and I have tracked with this blog, is that I got back into the stock market and started trading stocks. At first I stuck to my strategy, then I took a couple chances, and ended up doing really well. Then I got distracted, got lazy, did not stick to my strategy and, well, ended up not doing as well as I would have liked. So, I have to work at this and do better.

* Other stuff that has happened is, like many fellow Americans, my family finances and savings have taken a hit in recent years and as a result, I have built up a bit more debt than I care to have. So, I will incorporate this into my resolutions too.

* I mentioned that my wife runs her own blog and the theme of that blog features Greyhounds. Specifically retired Greyhounds. This is another facet of my life that has happened this past year because of my wife, and she takes all the blame I give her all the credit in the world for it.
We adopted a Greyhound and called him Hero. We liked it so much that we decided to foster. Initially I agreed to foster so long as it could be guaranteed that it would not cost overly much to do and that a “foster” would not become a permanent member of the family.
We have 5 kids and two dogs! OK, 1 dog that adopted from the ASPCA and a Greyhound. I still refuse to call Greyhounds dogs because they are unlike any other breed of dog I have ever met.
So far, everything has worked out well. We are now on our 4th foster. All others graced us with their presence for about a month and then found their “forever home”.

Because of fostering, and my wife's blogging, we have met wonderful people (Virginia Greyhound Adoption) (Greyhound Rescue Inc), been blessed with the experience of knowing Greyhounds and learned lots of new information such as the wonderful research that folks at Ohio State University - College of Veterinary Medicine and Dr. C. Guillermo Couto, DVM, Dr. Paulo Vilar, DVM and Dr. Liliana Marin, DVM do.

I too, have had the chance to meet lots of wonderful bloggers as well, and proudly promote them on my blog. Please take a moment to visit some of them: That Damn Sam Presents Snot Bubble Football, Gimps Wonderful Thoughts, In Historic the sports history blog and The Mission (once your finish reading here of course)

* One other thing that has happened, is that certain people I have known all my life have either become terminally ill and or died. One person, my mom, has been fighting Ovarian Cancer for close to 2 years. I have not mentioned this before in my blog but suffice it to say that by the time the doctors discovered it in 2008 it had already progressed to stage 4. Since then she has gone through surgery, chemo, technically gone into remission, and recently started chemo once again. Ovarian cancer and subsequent treatment thereof is nothing I would want anybody to go through, not even my worst enemies.

So, what does this have to do with my blog?
I’ll get to that in a bit so please keep reading...


If you are going to be serious about resolutions, then I believe one needs define them simply and define how and when success will be achieved.

So, for my resolutions I am going to follow these suggestions for new years resolutions...

1. Be specific and break big goals into bite-sized pieces that you can handle.
For example, instead of resolving to save more money, resolve to save a specific amount such as $100 a month.

2. Create a plan to support your resolution.
How are you going to do it? Where will your money go? Will you have it deducted from your paycheck? Will it go toward retirement, building a cash reserve, or another goal? Will you need to adjust your budget?”

3. Track your progress and celebrate your victories.
Set benchmarks along the way, such as a three-month savings goal, and then celebrate when you make it with a low-cost fun and special activity.

4. Think of resolutions as opportunities to try new things.
Resolutions are a time of the year not only to try and “fix” the problems in your life, but also to try out a new way of being, a new activity or hobby, or a new attitude. Resolutions should not seem like punishments; if you try to make them fun, you will be more likely to stick with them. If your goal is to be healthier, try going for a 10-minute walk before work and enjoying your neighborhood.

Here are the resolutions that I am going to publish and track via the context of my blog.

Stocks and Finances.
1) Eliminate non housing debt.
(credit cards etc.)
2) Beat all DJIA, NASDQ, S&P averages with my investment income and do at least 50% better than the 16 % return I had this year. That means 24% annual return.

Sports and Fantasy Football.
Conspire/Rig/Cheat as commish To have the east coast win back the Borderless League Fantasy Football Trophy next year. Oh wait, Conspire/Rig/Cheat as commish, would not be very fair and ethical, so I’ll just put down that I will make the playoffs and the East Coast will win the Championship next year.

Blog Related.
4) Double the number of people following my blog.
I currently have 10 listed.

New Enterprising and Rewarding.
5) I’m starting a web site dedicated to donating to charities and activities that are most important to me and my family.
Specifically The American Cancer Society, and Greyhound and Veterinary Research.

I was thinking of adding more such as the Alzheimer's Association and St. Judes Hospital, and I probably will as time goes on, but I think I will start with the first two for now.

In the past, we have given to each of these charities and will continue to do so. But, I wanted to and felt compelled to do more.
Volunteering was a possibility, but a lot of our time is already dedicated to our kids, their activities in the community and fostering and promoting Greyhound adoption that I felt we had the volunteering part down.
Then I thought about selling extra stuff on EBay and donating proceeds to various charities but then I looked at all the fees associated with doing this and I thought sheesh! What a racket.
I really liked the idea of having an auction site that acted as a sponsor with a charity. But in doing my research, each charity had/has different criteria that one needs to meet in order to officially sponsor and partner and use their logo. Some require a company to be in business for a certain amount of time (such as a year). Some require a certain amount or percentage of proceeds (such as 10%) or $25K/year .
So, here is my multi step resolution #5.

Start an auction website dedicated to Charities.
Done – Please check out The Gift Exchange.

Promote this site and generate enough traffic to achieve my other steps.
On going---
- One thing about The Gift Exchange which makes it different and hopefully more appealing to folks will be that it is completely free of any and all registration, setup and listing fees!
- I only charge a percentage/commission if and when your item sells. Everything else is Free!

Free to register
Free to place an auction or want ad
Free to trade you item for another
(this is another somewhat unique feature to the site)
Free to upload, pictures, video, etc
Free to enhance your item listing such as Bold, Category Highlight and even Front Page Feature with large format! This alone could save you over $50 in fees !

I do not require you to donate any of your proceeds to any charity.
- Instead, I take the commission from each sale and do two things.
• First I pay my expenses such as the fee Paypal charges me for the transaction and any operational expenses such as those from my hosting provider.
• Second, the remaining proceeds from the commissions collected will be donated to the charities.

Currently I have only one payment gateway setup with PayPal. As you may or may not know, PayPal accepts payments from other PayPal accounts and from major credit cards. So most everyone should be able to sell and buy on my site.
- Having one payment gateway is advantageous in that I can track all incoming and outgoing transactions in one place and report on those transactions on the web. That way folks will see the following:

o All commission proceeds are collected from the completed auctions.
o How much goes toward paying expenses.
o And how much goes to the charities.

This will enable me to hopefully achieve my goal of becoming a partner or sponsor of the charities and successfully keeping the site up and running contributing to these very worthy causes and organizations.

So please, if you have any items you would like to auction, I of course would like you to try out The Gift Exchange, tell others about it and help me promote the site.

If anybody knows other stores, companies, or organizations who might be willing to help sponsor my The Gift Exchange, I would gladly display a sponsor logo and link back.

But if you end up using another auction site, please consider donating some of your proceeds to any one of the many worthy charities out there.

Thank you.

And I hope everyone has a safe and happy new year.

Doug at Fumbled Returns

And thanks for following my blog.

Be good. Do well. Have fun.


Life With Dogs December 31, 2009 at 11:45 AM  

This was a great post Doug - very open and insightful. I know I don't comment often enough, but I am a big fan and love getting a break from the dog blog world when I land here.

Here is to a stellar 2010. Now let's drum you up some more followers! :)

Sam January 1, 2010 at 5:47 PM  

Excellent post, my Redskin friend. Best wishes to you and yours this New Year.

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