My 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

We’re one week in to the new year already! It’s felt like a funny time to try to make any changes. First, starting the year with a three day weekend is definitely not the time to do a juice fast or anything. Jack and I enjoyed the time off together and with our families, and there was absolutely no cleansing going on 😉 In fact, there was one night that we had pizza and linguine for dinner (along with giant martinis) and then went to a bar, where we had tequila shots and soft pretzels and Oreo cheesecake. I am still a little bit in shock at our gluttony.

So then we headed back to work, but we had Christmas #6 with my stepdaughter, which consisted of more linguine and wine and exciting news that she is moving to California. Now, we’re trying to settle in and behave ourselves, but we’re going to Mexico in a week so I’m kind of like, what’s the point???

The good news is that I’m sticking with my diet (in spite of the previously mentioned carb-a-thon) and am now officially down 10 pounds from my summer chubster-ism. Woo hoo! In my dreams I will lose another 8, but no pressure right now.

In terms of my goals for the year, I’m going to start off by focusing on the first half of 2016. And I’m not going to have as many lofty goals as I did last year; this time, they are more specific.

Fitness/Health

  1. Continue my diet for as long as I can stand it.
  2. Eat primarily vegan meals, but not freak out when I have a cheeseburger or some ice cream.
  3. Learn to use the kickass Garmin I got for Christmas.
  4. Run a sub-25 minute 5k by July.

Organization

  1. Clean out the linen closet.
  2. Clean up, organize, and decorate our home office.
  3. Follow a schedule with my volunteering.
  4. Focus our donations on one nonprofit, rather than giving small amounts to a lot of groups.
  5. Make new passwords for all our accounts (and keep track of them!).
  6. Replant all my sad houseplants that have outgrown their pots.
  7. Unsubscribe to a LOT of email lists.

Reading

  1. Stop buying Kindle books. Reserve books at the library.
  2. Read: On the Move, H is for Hawk, M Train.

Finances

  1. Start using Personal Capital (or something like that) to track our expenses.
  2. Pay off my $8700 private student loan.
  3. Limit our weekly going-out budget to $100. Related: learn the weekly specials at restaurants in our area 🙂
  4. Cancel our credit cards that we never use.

I feel like none of these are overwhelming. I’ll probably do something like take on one of these each Saturday, so that I stay on top of everything over the first half of the year. The second half of the year will see me examining my job and what I want my future career to look like, but for now, I want to keep learning and see how I feel after a full year in this role.

Did you make any resolutions? Do you think it’s more important to make lofty, dreamy goals, or (kind of boring) check-off-the-list goals that are more easily attainable?

 

2015 Goals vs. Reality

I did turn 40 this year. It actually happened. And I must admit, I’m not dealing with it all that well. I’m more vain and shallow than I realized! I spend entirely too much time focusing on new wrinkles and saggy skin. I’m thinking about trying some kind of dermal filler or Botox or something. Just a little something to perk up my skin. Part of it is that I work in a very young industry, and I don’t want to show my age. Part of it too is just pure vanity.

But enough of that!

Last year was the first year that I truly made a set of New Year’s resolutions and then followed through with them. I have never been a goal setter, but this past year has been a game changer for sure. I never realized how vocalizing a goal would help me to really think about what I needed to do to actually make it happen. Yes, it took me til 40 to understand this!

I was far from perfect in reaching my goals this year. Some of that was my fault and some of it wasn’t. Here’s how things ended up:

  1. Learn to do a handstand. FAIL. Not necessarily from lack of effort though. I worked pretty hard to build up my upper body strength, but there wasn’t much I could do about my wrist. They are weak, slightly arthritic, and leaning towards carpal tunnel syndrome. I have pretty lousy joints overall. Thus, no handstand for me, but I have peace about that.
  2. Pay off our credit card debt and personal loans. SUCCESS. I also paid off my car! We were lucky enough to both make good bonuses this year, along with nice salary increases, and we made some money when we sold our house. I’m very happy to say we knocked out all of our consumer debt other than my husband’s car, and that’s just because we’re waiting to see what VW is going to do about the “clean” diesel debacle.
  3. Be less anal. I’m calling this a SUCCESS. I think I’m little bit more go-with-the-flow. I can’t change who I am inside, but I am committed to continually finding compromise with other people and their ways of doing things.
  4. Run a half marathon. SUCCESS. Boom.
  5. Downsize. SUCCESS. Man, I was all over the place with this one over the year. We went from looking at one bedroom condos and vacation cabins, to almost buying a five bedroom house, to ending up in a perfect-sized three bedroom with almost an acre. We’re sort of turning it into that cabin we also wanted too 🙂
  6. Meditate. FAIL. I tried. I don’t like it. I know it’s something that you get better at, and the couple of times I did it, I did feel more relaxed and clear headed. But making it into an obligation sort of took away the benefit. Maybe one day…
  7. Drink less. FAIL. I’m trying not to beat myself up about this one. I did a few alcohol-free weeks, and I’ve cut back recently as I’ve been losing weight, but this summer, I relied on our end of day cocktails to help with the stress of my new job and our move (mostly during our two month hotel stay).
  8. Go to marriage counseling. FAIL. We never went, not once. We talked about it. We talked about us, our relationship. I think we don’t have as much motivation to go to therapy together because we’re crazy in love and really do like and enjoy each other 95% of the time. It’s not like our marriage is in trouble or anything. We’re totally committed to each other and plan on spending our lives together. But I know there are old hurts we need to resolve eventually, things that always seem to bubble back up when you least expect them. To be continued.
  9. Write. SUCCESS. This will be my 117th blog post, according to WordPress. This is undoubtedly the most I’ve ever written in a year. I’m also doing social media posts for two non-profits, so I’m writing some there as well. I would still like to learn to write essays, so hopefully I’ll have some time and energy to devote to that in 2016.
  10. Continue to evolve my relationship with food. I think I can call this a SUCCESS. This summer was eye-opening, as I experienced stress-eating (and the accompanying weight gain) for the first time. Not good! I also had to pretty much admit defeat when it came to controlling what I was eating during that time. My self-discipline was stretched thin during the first few months of my new job. I thought I could use this blog as motivation to lose weight, but instead I just added on a few more pounds. In hindsight, I was just barely keeping everything together, so it was a bad time to diet. Over the year, I think I tried every kind of fad diet or gimmick I could find. NONE of it worked (shocking, I know). But now that things are settled, I’ve been able to lose 9 pounds since Thanksgiving. And this was during the holidays and a trip to Chicago that had the express pupose of eating! I’m feeling good about that. I’m understanding what works for me. For example, I am do not have success with low carb. Or Paleo. For me, I need to eat tons of vegetables and fruit, and add in protein when I’m craving it. I need to be very restrictive about the types of food I eat, especially fat. The more fat I eat, the more I crave it. It’s worse than sugar for me. And if I’m restricting what I eat all day, then dammit, it’s totally fine to have a glass of wine or a martini at night. I can’t be good all the time 🙂
  11. Try some minimalism projects. This is sort of a toss up, but I’m calling it a SUCCESS. Mostly, I realized I’m not a true minimalist, so while it’s not what I was expecting, it’s a great lesson. I like to keep the clutter very low and to stay organized, but I like to have stuff too. I prefer to have things just-so, rather than make-do. If I have things that are as perfect as they can be, I won’t want more things. So I’m going through my life and our home and working on that that now.
  12. Practice empathy, be more compassionate and stop being so judgy. SUCCESS. Now, being compassionate and empathetic is a life-long project and something I will always be working towards. But what I realize now, here at the end of the year, that most of what I meant by this was directed towards my co-workers. We were all way too close and they were driving me crazy. Getting away from them helped me stop being so judgy. Other people’s life choices are none of my business.
  13. Do a volunteer activity once a month. MIXED. I did not volunteer for most of the year. I did donate a fair amount of money, but it’s not until the last couple of months that I’ve been actively volunteering. But I would say I made up for lost time! As a social media volunteer, I’ve been posting for my two charities several times a week, and daily around Thanksgiving during the shopping madness. Moving into 2016, we’re working on an agreed-upon posting schedule so I can better organize my time.
  14. Travel less often, but more memorably. SUCCESS. We started the year at the beach, and then made trips to Asheville, Jekyll Island, Louisville, and Chicago. I also traveled for work, to Portland, New York, and Dallas. It was not as much travel as 2014, but we were able to stay in nicer places and do more while were there. This is a trend we’ll continue.
  15. Find a new job. SUCCESS. I knew it would be tough, but it’s been tougher than I imagined. But all these hard things are absolutely helping me grow, and I have learned so much. I miss my old company and my friends there, and I have the feeling I’ll go back there one day. I definitely needed to leave though, so I don’t regret that.

Of my 15 original goals, I had success with 10 & 1/2. The importance of each of these waxed and waned throughout the year. I really struggled over the summer and early fall to accomplish much besides working, running, and keeping my head above water. I’ve also struggled to find a true focus for this blog, but since I’m enjoying writing here, it’s not something I’m too concerned with 🙂

In all honestly, I’m pretty damn pleased with myself for setting these goals and following through with them. Even the ones I failed at, I truly did make attempts to follow through. Mostly they just became less of a priority as the year went on. I added in some goals here and there, with varying degrees of success. I’m excited for a new beginning and have lots of great ideas for 2016. See you then!

How was your 2015? Are you happy with your progress? And what are your thoughts on resolutions? Will you be setting any this year?

 

November in Review

I have been away from this space for awhile. Partly due to my workload, partly due to a bit of a social media break, partly due to volunteering, partly due to the holidays, etc etc. I’ve been dealing with some crazy back pain for the past 3+ weeks as well, and all the meds make me need a LOT more sleep. I haven’t been getting up before 6:30, much less at 4:45, lol.

I’m a little bummed that I haven’t had as much desire to write here. When I first started to think about blogging, I wanted to it be funnier and more essay-like. But then I quickly fell into making it all about my New Year’s resolutions. I made some good progress during the first half of the year, but the second half, life has been much more overwhelming than I prefer. I haven’t made much progress at all lately, even after editing and re-prioritizing my goals. I haven’t done any of my new house goals, though I am doing a bit better with my goals for fall.

As has been my refrain for the past several months, I’m mostly just trying to keep my head above water. With one exception: I’m finally making the time to volunteer! After reviewing my progress in October, I felt really crappy that I had done almost zero volunteering this year. I started looking for opportunities in my area and ended up finding a couple of nonprofits that were looking for virtual help. I’m now doing social media for two groups that are near and dear to my heart: an organization that helps spay and neuter pets for lower-income families, and a farm that rescues and rehabilitates unwanted horses. It’s been a lot of work so far and I haven’t figured out the best way for us to work together, but I’m really happy I can help out in some manner 🙂

The rest of the month was a blur. Work keeps on being intense; I can’t tell you how many days I’ve almost cried from the stress. Because of my mysterious back injury, I’ve had to take time off from running. I have gone on short walks the past few days, and not only are they not hurting, they seem to be helping. I’m hopeful that continues so I can get back into an exercise routine. As for our new house, we’re still working on decorating projects – although I will say we have outdone ourselves in terms of Christmas decor outside.

I’m continuing to mostly stay off Facebook. I do have to go on to post for my nonprofits, but I really haven’t been looking at anything personal. I find myself playing stupid word games on my phone with the time I used to spend on Facebook. Not the best use of my time, but a step in the right direction I think!

I read something yesterday about making December the beginning of your plans for the new year. So you don’t have to start your diet, but maybe you find some fun recipes and put together some plans for January. Maybe you don’t start running, but you take a couple of leisurely walks and think about what your route is going to be once you’re up to a 5k. I’m going to take this month to think about what I want 2016 to look like. Will I be job hunting? Will I be vegan? Will I train for another half-marathon or will I start swimming instead? Thinking about this now, planning for it now, I think will help me be more realistic and have a better chance to succeed.

What are your plans for December? Are you focused on the holidays or are you looking ahead to 2016?

 

 

 

Getting Into the Details: Resolution #13

13. Do a volunteer activity once a month.

This is something that matters a lot to me. I used to do a lot of volunteering and was involved with several causes. These days, that volunteerism has pretty much consisted only of automatic monthly donations to a couple of charities. At one point, I really wanted to spend my career with a nonprofit, until I decided my MBA was too expensive for me to also be nonprofit 🙂

In December, I volunteered twice, and it reminded me how good it feels to be giving back. It renewed my interest in volunteering and was the push I needed to make this a resolution and a change in my life for 2015. Unfortunately, I have big issues with obligations, even when it’s to something I really enjoy – even social things! So my challenge is to find activities that don’t require a huge time commitment and are also flexible.

This month, I wanted to participate in a coat drive and a blood drive, both of which took place on MLK day. My husband and and I went to the Red Cross to donate blood, but we both were 0.1 below the 12.5 hemoglobin requirement to donate. Both of us? Too weird. Maybe we were overhydrated or something? It was really disappointing for us. As for the coat drive, I was a failure. I didn’t go through our closets in time to make it to the donation site. But, we’re gathering a huge pile for Goodwill, so hopefully that counts for this month.

We’re also working on a better plan for our monthly donations. Rather than $20 here and there, I’d like to find a local charity and focus our giving with them. My husband had a good idea to try to find fundraising events, so that way, we’re having a good time with our donation money. We’re also interested in volunteering at some of the local parks and hiking trails we enjoy.

Finally, I have volunteer orientation early in February for a pet rescue group just down the street. They only require two hours a month and it sounds like I can drop by whenever. Who doesn’t want to play with puppies???

Oops, I almost forgot!

Throughout the day yesterday, I thought about the resolutions I had made, and realized I left a couple of things out.

12. Practice empathy, be more compassionate and stop being so judgy. I am very open and accepting about the idea of people making choices that are different from mine, but the truth is, that I have a hard time dealing with most of the people I’m around on an almost-daily basis (primarily my co-workers). I also do this with my husband. I don’t know how to describe the feelings I get: sort of angry, definitely disapproving, a little bit annoyed. It’s ultimately none of my business, even if their choices are making them sad and/or unhealthy, and even if I think I have it ALL FIGURED OUT. Because obviously, I don’t, or I wouldn’t be making all these dang resolutions.

13. Do a volunteer activity once a month. I used to be very involved with nonprofits in my area, but after business school and finally getting a “real” job a few years ago, my volunteering really fell off. I still donate money, but it’s rare that I ever donate my time any more. I have issues with obligation and resentment (more on that in the future), but I know I can carve out a few hours here and there and just enjoy it. We also are going to better focus our giving this year. Rather than shelling out $20 to a random assortment of causes and other people’s pet projects, we’ll be looking for fun events to attend, supporting local organizations that matter to us.

14. Travel less often, but more memorably. I think most people are resolving to travel more, but we took a lot of trips in 2014, I was looking at pictures on Facebook yesterday, and realized we traveled so much I had completely forgotten some of the trips we took! I know, I know – first world problems. I work for a hotel company and get discounted rates, and all but one of our trips were to states bordering our own. This year, it’s our fifth wedding anniversary and my 40th birthday, so I’d like those trips to be kind of special. We’re also planning a December trip to the West coast for my best friend’s 40th birthday. If we include my husband’s birthday, that’s four trips to make special. Most of the last-minute, long-weekend road trips were pretty stressful anyway.

15. Find a new job. This could be a new role at my current company (my preferred option), or a new role at a new company. Either way, it’s past time I admit I’m burned out and bored in my current role.

There it is: 15 Resolutions for 2015. Overwhelming? Maybe. But most of these are things I’ve been thinking about for a long time, or even already doing a little. I’m excited to use this blog to explore them all and keep track of my progress.