Like many, I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions mostly because I understand that psychologically, many resolutions are made to be broken. We Americans joke about it every year, don’t we? When we lived in Indiana we were faithful members of the local YMCA. Since it was less than five minutes from our house, we could easily stop there any time it was open AND they had free childcare for our kids. When my husband and I were getting really serious about working out, we could have a work out “date” while our kids played with other kids. We would laugh at the crowded parking lot during the first few weeks of January and I often found myself irritated with the people who I knew would soon be falling off of the bandwagon. I wasn’t irritated that they wanted to better themselves, I just wanted them to decide whether or not they were serious so I wouldn’t have to drive around the parking lot three times looking for a parking space so I wouldn’t have to walk half a mile in 20 degree weather.
But there is something to those resolutions, isn’t there? We all want to better ourselves. There are things that all of us want to change about our lives and the start of a new year seems to be the best time to start. After all, the year is fresh, new. We can forget the mistakes of the past year, the horrible things that happened, the poor decisions made, and we can start over. While I like the idea of a fresh start, I prefer to look at a new year as a chance to make new goals. They aren’t resolutions, promises made with the understanding that they will probably be broken by February. Instead, these are goals that I am always pursuing but goals I have chosen to put more time and energy into as I start a new calendar year.
A couple years ago I used my old blog to do a yearly list of “Sarahntees” for the New Year. For those who never read my old blog, a “Sarahntee” is something that I have every intention of doing, but sometimes it just doesn’t get finished. I want to do them, I mean to do them, but life happens or I get distracted by something else I would rather be doing. My husband coined the term, mostly because he needed a term to refer to one of my more annoying traits. I find that it is more honest to make Sarahntees when I discuss the new year. So here it is: my list of Sarahntees/goals for 2016.
- Get back on the health track. Three years ago I managed to lose all of the baby weight from two kids and got down to my pre-college weight. At one point I weighed the same that I weighed when I graduated from high school. It was a lot of work, but with faithful allegiance to my Fitbit and My Fitness Pal, I was successful. The move wreaked havoc on my body. Living in the camper for six weeks and the stress and busyness of the first year in a new school added up to increased poor eating habits and irregular exercise. Add to that the loss of a YMCA membership and I had a perfect storm that led to a 10 pound weight gain in five months. It’s not just the number; I FEEL like I gained 10 pounds and I don’t feel healthy. In an effort to get back into shape and lose the weight again I have rededicated myself to My Fitness Pal and I’ve added C25K into my workout plan. I have also taken three bike rides over the Christmas break, with the most recent ride being 8.5 miles. I don’t enjoy running, but now that I live somewhere that is warm year-round I’ve decided I really don’t have an excuse. I want to be able to run three miles without stopping and I am giving myself three months to get to that goal. I don’t need a Y membership to be healthy and it’s time I make that change, again.
- Get back on the budget track. Two years ago we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and it changed our lives and our marriage. But again, moving messed with our careful budgeting and our drive to pay down our debt. First, we were prepping the house for a sale. We spent money we didn’t have to ensure a quick sale for the most money. The hope was that we would sell our house for enough money that we would be able to just pay everything off. In less than two weeks we sold the house for our asking price. We were ecstatic. Our plan would have worked IF the home inspection hadn’t come back with a request that we pay for an expensive roof replacement. The eventual profit left us with enough for a small downpayment down here in Texas and enough money to pay off some but not all of the expenses we had accumulated in our attempt to get our house sold quickly for the most money. With our nomadic lifestyle and then moving in and trying to balance work and home life, we have not done a good job of tracking our budget through our YNAB app. But I am close to getting our budget back on track and we start fresh tomorrow. Hopefully by the end of the weekend we will be totally cleared and balanced from August on.
- Write more. And so I am spending my New Year’s Eve writing out my goals for the year. I need to write more but I’m also being realistic. I have another rough semester ahead of me as I try to figure out three new courses at a new school. But I will get through the school year. I will make it to summer. I will not be moving across the country next summer (God willing). I will have an easier year next year as I move into year two times five. Therefore I should have more time to write. A career goal continues to be getting published someday in English Journal and I want to blog more. At some point I would like to try National Novel Writing Month, but I question whether that will happen this next year. I guess I could say I’m working on goals, not resolutions, so maybe I should make that goal here, but I also don’t want to set myself up for failure.
- Read more and read instead of watching TV. It should be a no-brainer for an English teacher, right? But I’ll be honest: after a day of teaching, conversing with my kids after school, making dinner, getting kids ready for bed, attempting some neglected chores, walking the dogs (remember that desire to work out more?), doing whatever work absolutely NEEDS to be completed before leaving for school the next day, and having a conversation with my husband, I really just want to sit in front of the TV for a couple minutes and watch a story instead of reading a story. I really do understand why many of my students over the years have lamented the fact that they don’t read for pleasure anymore: they are exhausted and so am I. But that is no excuse and I need to be a better example for my daughter, the budding reader, and my son, who is reluctant to even learn the alphabet. If I’m going to tell my students to read more then I need to read more. So here is my two part approach to this goal for the year. First, I am going to attempt this 12 book challenge. I’m excited because it appears to be achievable. Second, I will start listening to more books on CD or through streaming devices. There are many classics over the years that I have ignored for a variety of reasons and I have decided that time is no longer a valid excuse. I spend 40 to 45 minutes a day in the car driving to and from school and at least 30 minutes a day walking one or both dogs. If I use just that time to listen to books I can easily knock out several of the books that I have been putting off reading, including several classics such as Charles Dickens. Time is no longer an excuse.
- Continue decluttering. This is a constant goal and something that will be the focus of a future blog post, but while this is not as measurable as the above four goals, it is something I will be able to notice as I look around my home.
There they are: My goals for 2016. If I keep my goal of writing more in 365 days I will be reflecting on those goals to see how successful I was. Until then, I am going to spend the rest of 2015 sitting in my PJs and preparing to ring in 2016.