There's something very motivating (and terrifying) about making goals known to others. I've experienced a renewal of accountability in 2013 through, of all things, Facebook. I joined several groups on Facebook in 2013, mostly related to fitness. In these groups, which are private, you post daily how you worked toward the goal of the group. For example, I joined a fitness group where I had to post a sweaty picture of myself after a workout and a record of my daily consumption of calories. I was on a team with other members and earned points for every posting. If I didn't post (which means I didn't work out or eat well), I was costing my team points. Talk about pressure! All I can say is: it worked for me. I lost 20 pounds and got in pretty decent shape.
Because of this first FB goal group, I decided to sign up to run a half marathon. My longest run at the time was a 10K with lots of walking. It was going to take a lot of focus and training to run 13.1 miles, so I joined another FB accountability group to keep me (literally) on track. Well, goal achieved. I finished that half marathon on November 8th and am doing another half in February. So, I'm now sold on accountability and motivational groups.
With these things in mind, I've decided to set some goals for 2014 and make them...gulp...known.
1. Save more, spend less...
It seems like every time we get some savings built up, some crazy unexpected event happens (a new puppy with parvo, one of our trees falling on our neighbor's house, two unplanned surgeries, and so on...). It's time to get serious about the savings account. Life isn't getting any cheaper and our daughter is 2 years away from a driver's license (eyes wide with terror). Having a more substantial emergency savings account will certainly help ease the stress I feel from my huge weakness in life: FEAR.
Update: Did pretty well.
2. Set a realistic budget and STICK TO IT!...
Obviously, this is a necessary step to achieve #1. We have a budget, but still can't seem to get it just right. Dave Ramsey needs to personally come have a sit down with this family. I plan on using his Total Money Makeover book for 2014. In order for our budget to work, we need to use cash instead of the check card. It hurts more to use cash and we will be less likely to buy the "stupid stuff". The check card is the death of many budgets, including ours.
Update: Did it! YNAB (You Need a Budget) software is awesome! I literally know where every cent is, where it's going, and where it went.
We have horrible, hand-me-down, living room furniture. It's old, ugly, torn, and way too big for theroom. The tables are stained with marker, scratched mercilessly, and way out-of-style. We have mismatched bookshelves and a huge TV console that takes up half the room. Let's put it this way, my kids are programmed to hide in the dark and pretend no one is home if the doorbell rings to keep ANYONE from seeing the house (even the UPS delivery man). New furniture and refinished floors are topping my must-have list. With two kids and three dogs, this needs to be some heavy-duty, indestructible, easy-to-clean, furniture. Furniture is EXPENSIVE! My goal is to buy this furniture in the early fall so we can enjoy movies and football and friends.
Update: Terrible. This is again a goal for 2015.
We went on a great Disney and Universal vacation in 2011, but haven't been anywhere since then. My kids beg weekly to go back to Disney, and I want nothing more than to take them again. My husband loves it as much as the kids, so we are hoping to find extra income to pay for this through extra jobs. We hope to take this vacation in 2015, so we will have 17 months to save. We'll see...
Update: Didn't do great on saving due to those stupid budget busters that creep in each year, but we're still on track to go in 2015!
This will certainly help with the financial goals, but it's not easy for this family. I am a terrible cook and a poor meal planner. I work long days and I despise the grocery store. Our kids are involved in sports and church activities, so we're often out late multiple nights a week and eating out frequently is the solution for dinner. But, even when there is no need to eat out, I'm still likely to want to. I like eating out. No planning, prep work, cooking, or clean up. Right up my alley. My kids are also super picky and I get irritated when I actually fix a meal and they won't eat it. I've got to step up and get cooking in 2014. I just need to think about new furniture and Disney World to help motivate me in my weak moments.
Update: Did much better in 2014 and have an even better plan for 2015.
2. Take advantage of more local events...
Chattanooga has a lot of things for a family to do that are either free or very cheap. We rarely take advantage of them! I blame myself because I am such a homebody. I like to be at home and it takes a lot to get me out the door. I also don't like crowds, so that makes things challenging. There's always so much catching up to do at home on the weekends when most of these events happen. In 2014, I want my family to get out more and make more memories.
Update: Nope. We're still boring.
3. Spend more family time together...
It seems that we're often at home together, but not actually spending time together. I'm sure we aren't the only family caught in this rut. With an almost 14 year old and a 6 year old, it's not always easy to find "family fun" that everyone can enjoy. In 2014, I'd like to find more ways to spend family time at home that everyone looks forward to each time. My plan is to schedule family nights on a monthly calendar.
Update: We've done much better with this, especially lately. We're eating more meals together instead of eating in stages and we spend about an hour each night in the living room together. More progress planned for 2015.
1. Organize, Renee, organize...
I say this every year, but I just can't take it anymore. Before the producer from Hoarders shows up at the door, I am going to get rid of, for lack of a better word, stuff. Lots of stuff. We do not live in a big house. We have stuff everywhere. It makes me sad, angry, depressed, and defeated. I must organize this house, and I will have to do it (mostly) alone. This is not a goal for the other members of my family. They are fine with the narrow trails through each room. I am not. I am going to make a realistic plan for organizing throughout the year. After all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The stuff that survives the cut will have a place. A place for everything and for everything a place. There are tons of tips for organization and purging clutter online. This will be a 12 month project. I must succeed.
Update: Not even close to finished, but making improvements.
2. Run, Renee, Run...
I finally got serious about running in 2013. I completed my first half marathon in the upright position, had a personal best 10K time, and am in the midst of training for the Disney Princess Half in February. I want to do at least 2 half marathons in 2014 along with several other races. I really like a 10K race. The distance is enough, but not too much. I'd like to really improve my 5K time. I would love to run a 5K in under 30 minutes. Races really motivate me to stick with the training and challenge me to improve my pace times. I feel great after a run and I'm learning a lot about myself, especially on long runs. Hopefully, I can avoid injury and keep running. It also helps to keep some of the weight off.
Update: I was doing great until October. I've been on the injured list since then, but plan to start training for an April Half in the next week. It's going to be hard to start all over again, but I'm not stopping now!
3. Read, Renee, Read...
I set a 2013 goal of reading 40 books. I'm probably going to fall a few books short of that goal for
Update: BOOM! 67 books in 2014.
Writing is therapeutic. Whether it is blogging, journaling, or writing a book review, I need to get back into the habit of writing in 2014. My goal is to write at least 2 times a week during 2014.
Update: There's really no need to talk about this...ever. Epic fail.
5. Eat better, Renee, eat healthy...
As I mentioned earlier, I'm a terrible cook. That has made unhealthy convenience food a staple in our house. I want to eat more clean in 2014. I've also learned that running well requires eating well. I can tell a real difference in a run after eating junk and a run after eating well. It's time to clean up the diet, wean off the sugar and processed foods, and fuel properly.
Update: Not going well. A goal for 2015.
I hope 2013 was good to you and 2014 will be even better.
Happy New Year!