So I laid out a lot of things I’ve been thinking about over the last week, embedded in which are goals I might set for myself. Every year I set goals. I’ve even been specific about them. Heck, I randomly set goals throughout the year. A couple of months ago, I started down the road of doing a 30-day challenge, which worked the first month and didn’t the second. Goals are great, but what I really aim to do is establish some habits that I know will put me on the path to an end goal I have in mind. I have a lot of end goals in mind. But I can’t do all the things all at once. I’ve read in many places to tackle only one thing at a time. That’s what did me in on the 30-day challenge. I tried to tackle 2 things at once. It takes approximately 21 days to establish a habit they say, but I think that’s probably crap. In fact, reading just a couple of semi-reputable articles tells me it’s crap. But I think a good start to establishing a habit is 21-30 days. If you can do a thing most days for those first few weeks, you’re probably on your way.
So, one way to approach resolutions would be to pick one to start with, work on it for 30 days and then move on to the next one while maintaining the first habit. Except, I think you may have to wait until the first habit is well and truly established. But 30 days seems like a good assessment time-frame. In thinking about what I want to accomplish this year, two things rise to the top of my list: finances and the house. These two things nag at me pretty constantly, and they’re two things I often feel like I have no control over. The reality, of course, is that I do have control over them. But now, I have an end goal for both that I think will make other things in my life possible. I’ve also already started working on both, so I think momentum is on my side. I’m going to start with process and then lay out product.
- Every day, check on spending and allocate money toward long-term goals (paying off debt, adding to savings). I’m realistic enough to know that Mr. Geeky and I are never going to be the type to write down every coffee we buy and then evaluate where our money is going and make some kind of dramatic change. But, by knowing on a daily basis, what our balances are, we can plan accordingly. We can decide to eat in or hold off on a purchase. We did this last month to good effect.
- Every week, fix some financial thing that’s broken. This sounds weird, I know. We don’t have major things broken, but I have accounts that need to be rolled over, things need some reorganizing, and I just need to make sure things are lined up in a way that makes sense.
- At the end of the 30 days, make an appointment with a financial planner. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. We’re at a point where our goals are complex enough that I think some expert advice would be helpful.
- Pay off all consumer debt. I once had a handle on our debt, but then I quit my job and it gradually creeped back up again. And that’s been the pattern over the last 5-7 years. Pay it way down, watch it creep up again. It usually happens as a result of some unexpected expense–car repairs, trips to see family (for weddings, illness, semi-unplanned events that need to happen quickly). I’m planning to be aggressive about this, because see 1 above. When the money goes elsewhere early in the cycle, we can adjust.
- Have two months salary in savings. This will take a while, likely more than a year. Achieving #1 here will hopefully help achieve this one.
- Daily. Keep main living areas clean. Don’t go to bed with a mess to wake up to. The whole family is on board with this one, and we’re being reasonable about it. A pair of shoes by the couch is no big deal, but dirty dishes in the sink is. Perfection is not the goal.
- Daily. Spend 15-30 minutes decluttering an area. I have tried this before, and it’s hard. What I’ve realized is that it’s not just doing the work that’s hard, it’s making the decisions about what to do with the stuff. Thus the weekly goal below.
- Weekly (probably on the weekend). Take donations to Goodwill, etc. This is where I often get hung up. I declutter. I create a box of giveaways, and then, I never give them away. So this must get better.
- Weekly. Arrange for professional work in some area. We have some repairs that need to be made that are beyond our DIY capabilities. Mr. Geeky always wants to tackle things himself, and I appreciate his handiness, but frankly, it takes too long to get things done that way and then I get frustrated and well, that’s not good. There may be things we can’t afford to have done immediately, but at least we’ll know what the costs are and can plan accordingly.
- At the end of 30 days, consider hiring household help. We’ve had a housecleaner in the past, but we let that go to save money. Even if we just hired someone to come in once or twice a month, I think that would help. While we’re committed to keeping a better house, we’ve grown busier over the years and relieving some of the work if we can afford it would be useful.
- Have a stress-free space to live and work in. This is my main goal in getting the house in shape. When I come home from a long day at work, it stresses me out to be facing a giant mess that would take hours to clean up. I want to be able to relax and feel good about the space I’m in.
- Have the house in shape to sell. We have no immediate plans to move, but we’ve talked about it, and if we decide we’d like to be in a different house, I don’t want to be rushing around before we put our house on the market getting it into shape. I’d rather do it gradually over the course of the next year.
So those are the two big goals, and my thought is to tackle these in January and February, in order. Personally, I also want to do things like eat healthier, exercise and read more, but I’m setting those aside for now. They’re less important and they may just fall into place as I get these other things done. We’ll see.