Every year, I try and take a look back at the year before and share key insights for my own life. I then share my goals for the coming year. Not resolutions, not "must-dos." Goals. A goal is something for which one aims. I find that putting numbers and deadlines on things stresses me out, which in turn makes me physically ill. The goal is to be healthy.
Honestly, we are all always learning something. Equally honestly, I will say that not a lot of big, huge lessons come to mind right now, looking back at 2011.
-I simply cannot make commitments. Obviously, I don't mean commitments in relationships--after all, I am in one! ;) What I mean is that I really can't plan for much, unless I already have an idea of what's on my calendar around the same time. My energy level/flare ups are too unpredictable. Sure, I can say I'll be at a friend's wedding shower (for example) in April; however, I don't know how I'll be feeling at that time. What if I have to cancel at the last minute, because I'm in too much pain/too nauseous/whatever? It stinks, but I'm better off, when invited to any kind of event or asked to do any kind of volunteering, etc., if I say "maybe" and firm up closer to the appointed day. People don't always understand, but now that I do, hopefully I can plan things more easily (or bow out if I know it's likely not to work well for me, physically.)
Work is a whole separate issue. Because of my lifestyle and obligations, work comes first and is often the determiner for the rest of my schedule. A brutal week at work usually means I don't do anything on the weekends. That is unfortunate, but I have to make sure I can pay my bills, so that's my reality right now.
-I have a lot of support from the people around me. I reached out to a few people last year--people I didn't already know well but with whom I was cultivating friendships--and I shared about some of my challenges. I was surprised to learn (sad, but true) that most of the people in my life accept me as I am, lumps and all. I am not good at reaching out, but when I do, I have learned, someone will hear me. I very easily forget this, especially when things are looking less than optimal.
I am going to work on reaching out more often and more boldly. I am also making a concerted effort to let the people in my life know that I am there for them, even if we are not in touch constantly. My health issues make this a challenge, but people know what is going on with me, so when I have to reschedule things or cancel something, they understand.
Those are the big Lessons for me from 2011.
-Seek out opportunities that more closely align with my personal goals and ideals. Right now, I am in the process of figuring out what such opportunities might look like and preparing for any transition I might make. My family and friends have my back. My priority in forging my path forward is the safety of my cats.
-Find an exercise routine or activities with which I can stick. Exercise for its own sake bores me. I have said this before. I'm a "don't waste my time" kind of person, and doing the same thing over and over, to me, is a waste. I am looking for exercises that I can incorporate into my daily/weekly routine. I still would like to get a bicycle, but I'm still not sure when that will happen. One idea I had was to get a jump rope. I have a friend who has a spare. I just need to make the time to go pick it up from her. I figure a few minutes a day, before or after work, of jumping will be a good start. I want to walk more and had actually laid out a 3-night-a-week plan, but that fell by the wayside for a number of reasons. I'm hoping to pick it back up. If I manage to get the bike, I can use it to run errands near home, if nothing else.
-Make some decisions about how to run my business more smoothly and effectively. I'm conscientious by nature and very organized; however, I recognize that there are some things I could be doing better. (Isn't that always the case?)
-Find ways to cut costs and put more into savings. This is in preparation for our trip for our five-year anniversary, some needed home repairs, and the possibility that I will refinance my house this year. If my mortgage wasn't so high, I feel like I'd have more choices in terms of my lifestyle, and I'd feel a bit freer. I am due to call my credit union in March.
I am also starting to be more conscious of the small things, like how I handle coffee and "milk" at work. I have converted from using puppy pads for my elderly cat to using newspaper. I have gone back to using shredded paper for litter when I'm between bags of pine litter form the feed store. (Come on--40 pounds for $8? You can't really beat that!) ....Etc. These are little cuts, but they add up, and it is preparing me for the possibility of money truly being tight.
I have a savings plan, but it is hit-or-miss, due to some recent expenses. When my boyfriend gives me his portion of the bills each month, I try to take $200 and just put it into savings, sight unseen. At the end of the pay period, I take any excess and put that in savings. January, unfortunately, was a tough month, financially, but most months, it works. I may need to drop the amount I put in from my boyfriend's money to $100/month, though, based on some recent bills. I figure anything helps.
-Remind the people that I love that I love them. Often. I am terrible about keeping in touch with people on a day-to-day basis. I'm not a "let's just chat on the phone" person; however, maybe I should be more of one. I hope to make a habit of reaching out to the people in my life more often, even if it's just to say "hello." My boyfriend and I spend a lot of our free time at home, because we like being there, but that doesn't mean that we don't want company. It just means that we are content. Hopefully, we can start to host some things and invite people over.
My January was a bit of a downer, but I'm sure that things will get better. I can tell you that my mind is very active, and I have a lot of ideas I'd like to convert to plans and then manifest. Hopefully, that energy will only grow with the waxing of the year!