Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I didn't want to talk about my New Year's resolutions at the very end of the year or the very beginning of the year, like all the other well-intentioned folks out there. I wanted to see how well I stuck to them for the first couple of weeks of the year to see how difficult they were going to be. Two out of the three haven't been difficult at all. One is more of a challenge, but I'm starting to internalize it a bit more every day.

Before I get into what the resolutions were, I'd like to mention that the last few years have been full of resolutions and change. My life today is definitely better than it was five years ago. I'm constantly honing my outlook on what is important and what is not. I have a long way to go on my journey, but it truly is the journey that is the most important thing. I am enjoying the experience, even when things do not turn out the way I would have liked them to.

This year's resolutions probably sound a lot like other people's resolutions:

  • Drop some weight

  • Declutter

  • Manage money better

On the 'drop some weight' front, I have been following the Atkin's diet since January 1. I've dropped around seven pounds at this point. While I would prefer to have gone over to a more raw and vegan diet, I know that Atkins works for me when it comes to weight management. My basic diet consists of animal protein and leafy green vegetables. No fruit, no grain, and virtually no processed foods (unless they are zero or near-zero carbohydrates). The toughest part for me is the 'no alcohol' thing. I had gotten rather used to my after-dinner drink or two most evenings. Giving that up alone probably explains a goodly portion of the weight loss, right? Surprisingly enough, I haven't really missed it. I didn't even mind turning down the wine being passed around at a dinner party last night.

On the 'declutter' front, I am trying to weed out a little something every day from my house. Every time I fill a trash bag I feel like dancing! I have decided to MASSIVELY thin out my book collection. That is going to be extremely difficult. However, I plan to keep my eyes on the prize, as it were. One of the major driving factors behind my decrappification movement is my plans for retirement. I would like to be able to move into a dwelling with half the space that I currently have without feeling cramped in the new space. That shouldn't be too big of a hardship. My current house is about 2100 square feet. I kind of have my eye on a home in another condo community a few miles from here. The houses are not THAT much smaller (nearly 1900 square feet), but they don't have basements to hide your junk in. All the junk would be more visible. Then again, so would the Merrimack River a mere 50 yards from the patio. They also have a garage, so no more cleaning snow off of my car in the winter.

The last big resolution of 'manage money better' is the biggest challenge for me. I have never been much of a saver. I grew up in a household of limited means. Once I started earning my own money I fell into some pretty bad mental habits around 'I deserve ___'. After years of struggling with debt, I had finally cleared the balance sheets a few years ago. I was about to turn things around and begin saving for things I wanted instead of going into debt to get them. Then my husband lost his job. Then our marriage fell apart. Not only is divorce expense for the employed party of divorcing couple, but my old mind set of 'I deserve ___' came back into play under the stress of the situation. Things had calmed down a great deal by early Fall 2011. I was starting to get a handle on my money again. Then a job change with a money flow change challenged my limited financial management skills. Then a situation with my ex-husband raised my stress levels again. I am starting to recover mentally from all of those changes and challenges. But I still find myself giving into my demon more often than is wise. I think I recognize the demon now. Hopefully, that will help me from listening to it. I make a really good living. There is no reason why I should be worrying about money. I create situations for myself that cause the worry.

Perhaps by Chinese New Year I will have that last major resolution full in hand.