Emphasis on the “sorta”. New Year’s resolutions used to give me intense anxiety – the pressure to achieve and succeed on specific goals that I was bound to trip up on by January 5. This year, though, I’m feeling energized by the thought of focusing on certain areas of my life and growing slowly. Allowing myself to mess up, try again, forget, remember, and keep moving forward.
I spent some time over the holidays identifying the things that bring me real joy in wellness, relationships, lifestyle and business. I then infused those things into my New Year’s resolutions. One of the things I enjoy most and never, ever make time for is writing. So, here I am. Hoping to share more of what brings me joy, what confuses, excites and inspires me, and what I’m learning and have learned here with you. Stay tuned!
Today, I’m starting a new series – These Five – where I share five thoughts or things I’m finding useful or exciting. It seemed only fitting to start the series with my five New Year’s resolutions and a few resources to help you achieve them, too, if they align with your goals. Enjoy!
1. Consume Less: I am such a consumer. We all are, I know, but I have always fought the urge to buy stuff. It’s an ugly truth about myself that I know needs work. The thing I have learned, though, is that the excitement of buying typically goes away for me after I bring the thing/stuff/crap home. I find much less joy in it than I thought I would. I appreciate it for what it is – beautiful/cool/smart – but I don’t appreciate actually having it.
I’ve started listening to The Minimalists and resonate with so much of their mission. I find great joy in simplifying, identifying meaning and purpose, and needing less. I realize that my need to make a certain amount of money is only tied to what I’m consuming. Obviously money is necessary. As Joshua and Ryan say, I’m not allergic to it. But, I now see that I can make time for what I really want by working less if I consume less. I’ve also felt such freedom from purging our home and saving space for only the things that are necessary and truly beautiful. No “just in case” pillows or jackets or kitchen tools. This has been pivotal for me. Other resources on simplifying (both physically and mentally) that I enjoy are Essentialism, The One Thing, Marie Kondo, and Present Over Perfect.
2. Staying on Budget: This goal is closely tied to the above as Jon and I navigate what minimalism means to us. We have always had a budget but as our incomes grew, we were less diligent with adhering to it – as is the case with many families. One of my worst fears, though, is arriving at a financial place where we are living at the top of our means and if any life factors shift, we’re stuck depending on a certain amount of money each month. It occurred to me that we were sort of acting that way. Thankfully, we’re in a place where changing this is an option.
We sat down together and identified our real need. We included everything: the obvious essentials (mortgage, utilities, car insurance, etc.) and then those amounts that fluctuate each month (groceries, eating out, miscellaneous buying – oooooh the miscellaneous buying, y’all). We trimmed it down to a reasonable amount in each category providing enough to live comfortably and beautifully but tight enough to challenge us and help prioritize. We’re eating neither lobster tails nor easy mac for dinner, we get either one $40 “throw away” eating out dinner per week (ordering Thai takeout when I’m too lazy to cook) or two super fun and delicious date nights per month. We each get a small allowance so there is no justifying or guilt with buying treats as long as it’s within the budgeted amount. We account for the inevitable each month (haircuts for Jon, oil changes, dog food, dog sitting, etc.) and then allot double the above amounts for emergency, student loan debt and savings instead of letting those be whatever is “leftover”.
Combined with our version of minimalism, this has revolutionized the way we think about our finances. My friend Shanna says, “a budget tells your money where to go instead of wondering where your money went”. WORD.
We use Dave Ramsey’s app Every Dollar to track exactly how much comes in each month and what we have planned in each spending category. Then, we input each total spent in that category to see the total of the monthly budget we’ve spent and what we have remaining to spend. The Plus version will link to your bank account, but we have several bank accounts as well as an Amex (to earn sky miles and build credit) so we manually input each amount. Plus, I think there is more accountability in typing in that number after each purchase :)
3. Protect Mornings and Evenings: Picture this: iPhone alarm goes off at 6:30am. Startled, angry, sleepy girl swipes phone off nightstand and snoozes. Angry girl snoozes again. And again. Girl opens eyes. Girl opens Instagram. Girl scrolls and lays back down. Girl wastes AN HOUR reading about other people’s lives and emails she will respond to later. Girl stands on feet at 8am. Girl feels regret and rushes to make coffee and (maybe) brush teeth before 8:30am call.
? Hi guys! Surprise. It’s me.
Stop the madness. I know there will be days that I slip up and lay in bed until 9am but this cannot be my normal. I wrote down all the ways I feel that I have not protected my most sacred parts of the day – mornings and evenings. They were:
Looking at my phone in bed (morning and night)
Working after dinner / in bed
Noise (TV, phone) while reading my devotional / praying
Working through the gym
Then, I created schedules and “life hacks” to help prevent the things I don’t even want to be doing. I now plug my phone in and leave it in the bathroom overnight. This prevents me from looking at my phone before bed and now when my alarm goes off, I have to stand up and walk to turn it off. I also go straight to the kitchen to turn on the kettle so I can’t lay back down (unless I want a house fire).
This new schedule helps combat the noise while I pray and meditate because I feel less rushed and am not tempted to (a) skip it altogether or (b) get other things done while I “spend time” with Jesus.
Finally, I schedule my day by the hour so I give myself adequate time for each task. I find that when I work from a lengthy to-do list, I get lost in the scramble and feel overwhelmed and underproductive. By scheduling each hour of my day, I’m able to start with tasks that excite me (so I’m motivated to start work), conquer less-desirable tasks around 10am, and work on smaller, more “admin” tasks towards the end of the day when my creativity is a little spent. I end my day at 4:30pm sharp to wrap up, organize/plan for the next day and change for my 5p workout. I find that working on smaller tasks leading up to 4:30 helps me not get “on a roll” and give myself an excuse to skip the gym.
When I get home, I start cooking dinner (and usually have a burst of energy after the gym which helps if I need to tackle a few cleaning tasks). It’s important to me to be present when Jon comes home and not with my face buried in my laptop. I obviously adjust this timeline based on his work schedule and my work load – there are certainly days when I have to get back to work after the gym (with a side of FRIENDS and a beer) but this helps to protect most of my evenings.
4. Care for my Skin: I’m almost 30. I’ve lived a wonderful 29 years with only a face wipe and plenty of under-eye mascara mornings but it’s time. I was recently introduced to Urban Oreganics and gave them a try after reading about all the toxins in most drugstore skincare. I am completely hooked and so appreciative of what it has done for my skin. It’s obviously pricier than big brands but is not astronomical, lasts such a long time, and has already transformed my skin. My mom gifted me a Clarisonic for Christmas and together, I’m (hopefully) looking more like 25 than 30.
5. Carry a Journal: I’m reading Art Inc. and one of the very first pieces of advice was to always, always carry a journal to jot down inspiration, ideas, goals, and to-dos. I’ve tried this before, but found it eventually mangled and empty at the bottom of my purse. I instinctively reach for the Notes app on my phone to write down thoughts. For me, there are a few problems with this method: (a) It’s quicker for me to actually write thoughts in messy scribble or sketch out an idea than it is to type out the description, (b) once the inspiration is gone, I’m much less motivated to go back through my phone notes to be reminded again, and (c) I’m a serial simplifier (thank you Minimalists) so I end up deleting notes in my phone that don’t apply later. With a physical notebook, I can date the entry, scribble my thoughts, and when I’m feeling creative and ready to design, I just open my book and read through a few quotes, ideas, or sketches and get to work! It’s also fun to see the progression of things that inspire me when I’m out and about. I love this Moleskine because it’s compact but durable with a hard cover and band to keep it closed as well as this pencil because it’s tiny (and adorable) and clips right to my notebook.
At the heart of all these goals is the realization that I am human and I will drop the ball on one or all of these things this year. I know I’ll also encounter a handful of other realms that need work. What excites me, though, is that I have the power and capacity to try again and again and be just a little better than last year, whatever that looks like. Caroline Joy recently wrote,
“…I’m believing whatever needs to change will come to me, one day at a time.”
Amen. Happy New Year, friends!