Last year I said I wasn’t going to do goals, then I set a whole bunch of them in February. It didn’t work out so well, since after February ended I really didn’t look at them for the whole rest of the year. I chose a word for the year (“present”) that I also didn’t give a single thought to for the remaining ten months of 2014.
I’m hoping to do a little better than that this year.
I knew I was going to set goals, but I wasn’t going to choose a word. Last year it was kind of arbitrary, and I picked it because it was something that I wanted to work on, but mostly because I felt like it was something I should work on. All the cool kids are being present and mindful. Don’t you want to be cool?
But then a word kept floating to the top of my mind. It stuck there, lodged in my brain like an annoying pebble in your shoe, until finally I said OK FINE YOU CAN BE MY WORD THIS YEAR.
So I’d like you all to give a warm welcome to SIMPLIFY, my word, my mantra, my guiding principle for 2015.
I discussed my desire to simplify things with regards to scrapbooking when I talked about my 2015 plans for Project Life, but it’s not only about that. I’m tired of feeling stressed out because the house is messy, because we’re just kind of winging it with our finances and not establishing or sticking to a budget, or because my brain is spinning all the time and I’m convinced I’m always forgetting something.
Simplifying is…simple. It’s getting rid of all the extra stuff we don’t need, both literal and metaphorical, to leave room for all the good stuff.
With that in mind, I wrote down some specific goals. I don’t do resolutions, because I personally think resolutions are super crappy. I used to say things like, “I’m going to be more outgoing this year!” It never worked. Ever. It needs to be measurable. How will you know you’re making progress? What does achieving that resolution look like? If you can’t answer those questions…it’s probably a resolution that needs some refining before you can call it a goal.
This is what’s on deck this year. Not all of them directly relate to simplification (and one in particular is a carryover from last year because I did NONE of it), but most of them do.
I’m aware that having a baby is going to throw a wrench into nearly all of these goals, so I’m kind of looking at the time frame for these goals as being from now until the end of June, at which point the baby’s arrival will be imminent and it’s all about keeping our heads above water and making sure we don’t accidentally leave Natalie at Stop and Shop.
Go to bed early.
I’m not one of those people who can function on six hours of sleep, or even seven. My mood and productivity takes a sharp downturn on anything less than eight hours, but nine is ideal. I know that makes me sound like a total diva, but I’ve given up trying to fight this: I need to go to bed early. I can’t stay up til 11 p.m. watching bad TV I don’t even care about and not pay the price the next day.
On a normal day (with no holidays, parties, outings, alien contact, etc.) my goal is to be in bed at 9 p.m. That gives me time to write in my journal for a bit, plan out the following day, or read a book for a bit (but NOT on my phone because that makes it a lot harder to fall asleep), and then LIGHTS OUT at 9:30. I know: most of your kids probably have that same bedtime. It’s lame and boring and it means I need to be very, very careful with how I spend my time in the evening so I don’t fritter away the precious two hours after Natalie goes to bed. But IT WORKS for me and I’m going to embrace it.
Get up early.
Natalie wakes up between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. most days. The only time she’s up earlier than that is if she’s sick or has a nightmare, which is rare. She also ABHORS me spending time on the computer while she’s awake, which means anything like blogging, returning emails, updating our finances, etc. all has to be done during naptime. And suddenly I need to squeeze 6 hours worth of to-dos into a two hour nap.
So as much as it pains me, I’m committed to waking up earlier so I’ll have time to write before Natalie gets up. The goal is to work up to getting up at 6 a.m. That’s so NOT EARLY AT ALL; I’m aware. But when no one is prodding me out of bed, I’ll sleep until Natalie wakes up. I’m taking a gradual approach and setting the alarm a little earlier each month so it’s not such a shock to the system. I’d actually LOVE to be able to bound out of bed at like 5 or 5:30, because having THAT MUCH TIME all to myself sounds so amazing. Buuuuut we’ll settle on 6 a.m. for now and see how it goes.
Date night once per month, minimum.
Will and I have been so bad about this. We’re going to sit down together at the beginning of every month and get something on the calendar. We’ll probably just end up going out for sushi every month (oh stop flapping your hands at me, I only eat the cooked stuff when I’m pregnant), but hey, who cares? It’s time just for the two of us and that is very sorely needed.
I’m reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (affiliate link) and I’m SO FIRED UP to donate all of our possessions. Ok, maybe we’ll keep a few things. But if what I did to my clothes is any indication, our house is going to be a LOT easier to keep clean in the near future. No need to clean the things you don’t own, hmm? I also hate that I can’t take any pictures of Natalie without moving piles of things to the side, or trying to crop out piles of clothes or blocks. Clutter stresses me out. Get rid of it. And DON’T BUY CRAP YOU DON’T NEED. I swear I’m going to laminate that to my debit card.
Blog three times per week, minimum.
This isn’t really about simplification; just that I love blogging and I feel awesome when I take the time to do it. It would also be nice to make a few bucks a month, maybe enough to cover my hosting fees by the end of the year (which is why I use affiliate links and what that ad is doing in the sidebar over yonder –>), and the only way to do that is to grow my audience. And that won’t happen if I’m only posting three times per month.
Make a monthly budget and stick to it.
This one is HUGE. We were SO SO SO terrible about this last year. I’ll probably write a more detailed post in the future about how we handle our finances, but the CliffsNotes version is this: I use YNAB to both make our budget and track our spending. It’s an amazing piece of software with a solid methodology behind it of how to think about your money AND how to manage it. But if you don’t update it for five or six months, it’s not super helpful.
This goal means making a budget every month, having regular check-in meetings with Will about it (I’m the one who actually puts the numbers in the budget, but I’m not making decisions about our money unilaterally, obviously), and updating YNAB every day. At first I thought I could get away with updating once a week, but…no. At least not right now. I need to be looking at it every day, since that way it literally only takes 3 minutes to input any spending from the day before and give the budget a quick glance to see where we’re on track and where we might need some adjustments.
Complete Project Life spreads monthly.
This is kind of like the budget in that catching up on five months at a time is really not that fun. I don’t want to be working on January’s pages in July. I also want to be sharing some of my pages here on the blog, and I can only share pages that are actually complete. Revolutionary, I know. Unless you’re interested in viewing my collection of blank page protectors? I’m sure they’re super inspiring.
Ugh. UGH. This is not fun but it is about simplification and it’s one of those grownup things where you just have to put on your big girl undies and deal with it. Simply and morbidly put: if Will and I both died in a fiery car crash tomorrow, life would NOT be simple for Natalie. We have multiple accounts at multiple different financial institutions, and even if I were the only one to croak, Will would have NO IDEA how to access the accounts. Almost all of the login information lives in my head. There’s no comprehensive list anywhere of account numbers, passwords, etc. We’ve never made a will. We’ve thought about who we’d like to be guardians for Natalie if something were to happen for us, but never done anything about it legally. THIS IS NOT GOOD. DON’T BE LIKE US.
This goal is the holdover from last year, the one I did nothing about in all of 2014. It’s arguably the most important one and I can’t let this one slide again. ESPECIALLY since we’re adding another Helmrath to the family this year. I’m disappointed in myself for not taking care of this sooner and frankly feel that it’s irresponsible of us not to have done it already.
Aaaaand that’s enough beating myself up for now.
So those are the goals. Let’s do this, 2015.
Did you set goals this year? Care to share? Let me know in the comments, or leave a link to where we can find your blog (if you, like me, wrote a thesis-length post about it).