Speaking of New Year’s resolutions…every year I make them, and I’ve generally been really good about keeping them. This past year, I did not do well. Not sure what it was, but I feel like, in a lot of ways, 2013 was the year that got away. I have some accomplishments I’m pretty proud of from the past year, but in general, they weren’t the goals I was thinking of that first week in January.
I’m generally a pretty ambitious person, and I’m good and setting and meeting goals. For resolutions, I always like to have some practical goals mixed in with something more frivolous. For 2014, I’ve been trying to think of what I want to accomplish this year, and how I can actually go about achieving those goals. I’m thinking of four main areas where I want to be in a better place when 2015 roles around.
1. Save more. A lot more.
When I was in Paris, I met this really interesting woman, Louise, who’d been laid off from her job and decided to use her savings and severance package to spend a few months living in France while deciding on her next career move. It got me thinking about what I’d do if I lost my job. Now, I’ve been really responsible this last year and saved up a couple months worth of living expenses (first time I’ve ever been able to sock that much away in a year) and saved up for a nice vacation (again, first time I’d been able to do that in years), but that just means I’d be able to scrape by for a few months in the event of job loss. I really want to get myself into a position where, if I’m faced with a layoff or I find myself miserable at my job, I would actually feel like I have the opportunity to take a breath and think about what I want to do, instead of just jumping into something so I can pay the bills. That means some serious savings put away. But, I also want to buy a house. And I want to continue traveling. So 2014 is going to involve putting a lot more emphasis on being frugal, so I can save as much as possible. (Of course, this is in addition to my retirement savings!)
2. Invest more time in the hobbies I’ve neglected.
After finishing my first marathon in 2012, I barely ran at all in 2013. Part of it was due to injury and fatigue, and part of it was just letting other things get in the way—things so inconsequential I don’t remember what they were. I need to remember basic things, like “I feel better when I make time to run.”
Running isn’t the only thing I’ve neglected either. The blog is another, as you’ve probably noticed. I’ve barely been writing on my own at all this past year. I didn’t do much reading. I don’t think I made a single piece of jewelry. Haven’t touched my knitting needles. Lots of little things, but I feel like I neglect a big part of myself when I don’t make time to do the things that interest me. So in 2014, I’m going to actually pay attention to how much time I’m spending on stuff and commit to actively spending time on things. On Sundays, I’m going to ask myself: What am I going to make time for this week (on the agenda this week: Finish a book, work on a scarf, blog, run before work). I’m also going to watch out for some bad habits I’ve gotten into, like hitting the snooze button instead of getting up to run and binging on Netflix TV shows during the week.
3. Set out to just do a few things at a time, and do them well.
This one is pretty closely tied to Goal 2. At one point in time I had a list of 14 foods I was going to learn to make in 2014. Complicated foods that take time and practice. Now, I might still try to make all of those foods this next year, but instead of rushing through some list, I think I’d rather concentrate on a few things and really master them. Hence, the omelette challenge. Some of the other foods: Baguettes. Macarons (I took a class in Paris). Croissants. Creme Brûlée. Crepes. Yes, there’s a definite French theme. Maybe next year, I’ll vow to learn a few Polish foods or Indian foods. But this year, I just want to learn to get really, really good at making a few recipes that I really enjoy eating.
It’s the same thing with a few other projects. Last year, with the vegetable garden, I had a huge, huge range of vegetables (maybe not compared to Martha Stewart or an actual farmer, but for a first-time gardener, it was giant plot). And while I had some really successful crops, I had a few that were utter failures. So I’d like to learn from that, and concentrate on making this year’s garden better and more reliable, even if that means having less variety.
4. Give more time to other people.
I’m a textbook introvert. It’s not that I don’t like being around other people, but I tend to get very wrapped up in what’s going on in my own head, and I’m really good at spending vast amounts of time alone. I don’t think I need to change my personality (nor should I try), but this year, I’m going to make a more conscious effort to make sure the people in my life don’t feel neglected or like they are putting more effort into our relationship. I’m going to reach out to my friends more. I’m going to do more things with my family. And I’m going to try to branch out and put more effort into meeting new people. One of the ways I’m planning to do this is by volunteering (I’m excited to start – I already did some shadowing with a local literacy program). Another is simply by picking up the phone and asking people how they are, and making less formal plans to see them. Sometimes I think I making being with other people an event, something that needs planning, when the best and most satisfying relationships in my life are always the ones that require the least effort and planning.
So that’s it. Four changes I want to make in 2014. How about you?