The New Year has gotten off to something of a rocky start for me. Well, rocky isn’t really the right word, but I haven’t exactly zoomed out the starting gate.
I’ve been sidelined by a nasty cold bug that had me working at about 30 percent capacity yesterday, and I bumped up to about 70 percent today. I am highly optimistic that I’m just one good night’s sleep away from running on all cylinders.
While I haven’t had the energy to tear through the pantry on an organizational spree or weed through the kid’s overstuffed dresser, I have had some time to think about what I’d like the next year to look like on my end.
Here’s some of what I have planned.
Kindness is the word
It’s not as catchy as “grease is the word” but it’s what I’m sticking with. Being a kinder person probably means the following:
- Smiling and saying yes more often to my kids.
- Avoiding the comments sections on news articles. I already skip the comments on my own articles, and I should stop reading them elsewhere as well. They tend to make me jaded and angry.
- Skipping the Trump Twitter feed. (I admit it – it’s a train wreck. I just can’t look away! But it also doesn’t make me feel very kind).
- Assuming everyone is doing their best with what life has handed them.
- Cultivating an atmosphere of kindness in our house. I’m not exactly sure how to do that yet, but we’ve turned into a bit of a backbiting, nit-picking bunch, and our collective bad attitudes need to stop.
Beyond my word of the year, I also want to focus on some specific goals for the various aspects of my life.
- Find a different theme for this blog. Pronto. (Note: I actually love this blog theme, but I can’t figure out how to get the layout right so it doesn’t look wonky. I’m assuming the problem lies with me and not the theme.)
- Figure out which plug-ins I need and make better use of the ones I have.
- Commission some photos or learn to take good ones myself.
- Add in some practical content. Right now, the blog is all personal therapy for me. I really want to add some resources and advice for widows and hope to make that more of a priority in the coming year.
- Put blogging on my work calendar so I am here more consistently.
- Learn how to say no. There are no guarantees with freelancing so I feel the need to accept everything that comes my way. I don’t need to be working so much, and my whole family would benefit if I could learn how to turn down opportunities.
- Shut off the computer when the kids get home from school. This will be much easier if I master the goal listed above.
- Finesse my email system. I keep experimenting with different files and folders but haven’t figured out how to stay on top of them and purge old messages once a project is done.
- Know when to quit. If I’m too tired or the right words aren’t coming, I should step away from the laptop for a bit, but my current MO is to spend hours shuffling between email, Facebook and news sites while waiting for inspiration to strike. If I’m not going to be writing anyway, I could be using that time more productively.
- Create a system to follow-up on homework with the kids. It’s always an afterthought on busy days which translates into it never getting done.
- Sign up my 6 year-old for an activity this spring. Poor guy has been promised gymnastics or soccer for so many seasons, and I always wait too long. I vow this will be the year I don’t let him down.
- Put down the phone or close the laptop when the kids are talking to me.
- Make a calendar of dates with the kids. We started doing this right after Tom died so the kids could have one-on-one time with me, and they loved it. They keep asking when we are going to do more dates, but it hasn’t been a priority for me. I need to change that.
- Connect more. This is one of those fuzzy goals I don’t actually know how to fill just yet. My 3 year-old and 6 year-old are desperate for my attention, but I’m always distracted around them. My older kids know I’m busy so they tend to leave me alone, but I don’t necessarily like that either. Still trying to figure out how to give everyone what they need while still carving out work time and me time.
- Live off a budget. Yes, this is totally ridiculous. It’s like the plumber with leaky pipes at home. I’m the finance writer without a budget. It wasn’t always this way. For almost all of our marriage, we had a beans-and-rice, pinch-every-penny-til-it-screamed budget. Then Tom got sick and died, my writing took off and the budget disappeared. It’s funny because I always said I was a saver married to a spender, but once Tom was gone, it’s like I picked up the spender mantle. It’s not like we live beyond our means, but it’s time to get serious about where our money is going.
- Contribute to a traditional IRA. Currently, I put my money in a Roth, but my oldest will be a senior in high school next year, and for college financial aid purposes, it might be best to lower my AGI as much as possible.
- Figure out how to invest my HSA. Right now, it’s at our local credit union earning 0.01 percent interest (or some other crazy low number), and I know I could earn more off it.
- Get back on the couponing train.
- Pull all the gift cards I’ve been collecting over the last few year and never seem to use. The next time we want to go out or I need to buy something, I should check and see if I have a gift card for that.
- Sell off my massive Miche collection. It was retail therapy after Tom died. They’ve served their purpose, and now it’s time to recoup some money.
- Charge my phone in a different room at night. I’ve turned into that person who grabs my phone first thing each morning before getting out of bed. I’m squandering precious minutes, and the phone has been moved to my office.
- Listen to a podcast a day…preferably while cleaning my room/office. I love podcasts, and my house desperately needs to be cleaned and decluttered. Maybe it’s a silly goal, but it’s a win-win in my book.
- Read a chapter from a book each night, except on Monday night. Monday night is my Netflix night.
Beyond these, I could stand to eat healthier and lose some weight, but quite frankly, those aren’t priorities for me right now.
I feel like my bad food habits and lack of exercise stem from poor work habits. I’m always on the computer so I’m never exercising. I’m always working so I never have time for meal planning. If I can find some balance with my work, I feel like the exercise/diet piece will fall into place as well.
Those are my starry-eyed ideals for 2016. What’s on your docket?