New Year's Resolutions aren't something most people are thinking about in September of any given year. That's because most people don't choose goals that they find so interesting they'll still want to work on them nine months later. Well, some people do, and those goals are called "babies." I figure if someone can make an entire human being in nine months, then surely I can make at least minor progress on something less significant! I keep a written list and make sure to check in at least quarterly. Do the goals I chose on New Year's Eve still matter to me? Am I putting in the effort that Future Self wishes I would?
The first resolution, my Most Obvious Thing, is to earn more money. This goal has expanded into a new direction, which is that my husband and I are now assiduously working on becoming financially independent. I should have my student loans paid off by the end of next year, a few years early, and at that point we will be completely debt-free. We were introduced to a spreadsheet that shows that anyone at any income level can become financially independent by saving a specific percentage of income for a designated period of time. Metrics are very motivating for me, and we've both been galvanized by this concept that has an exact dollar amount attached to it. Something specific to work toward by a set date. It's like training for a marathon, only you're not as sweaty at the end.
My second goal was to work on my fear of public speaking. I joined Toastmasters. When I started, I would wake up every Wednesday morning with a pit of dread in my stomach. Just walking in the door of the meeting room scared me, much less being called on to do an impromptu speech. My legs would shake so much I could barely walk back to my seat. Six months later - total transformation! Apparently I am "a very witty, sophisticated comedian." I've won a best speaker ribbon and three for best table topics. Who knew impromptu speaking would become my strong point? I came in second place in our humorous speech competition, against much more seasoned speakers, and I placed higher than an actual stand-up comic. Someone even suggested that I perform at a local open-mic comedy night! The most bizarre part is that it actually sounded fun and like something I would do well.
UPDATE: I spoke again the day this was posted. I won another Best Speaker ribbon!
My next resolution was to work on cross-training. I wasn't even sure exactly what I was looking for, just that I knew it was time to level up physically and that most of what I needed was information. I finally joined my husband's gym and did a package with a personal trainer. His focus is on corrective training and rehabilitation, and we worked on my lingering ankle issue. It turns out to be referred pain from a hip stability issue and tight calves. I learned that many of my go-to exercises were exacerbating some chronic tension issues. I now have a very clear idea of exactly where to focus, a depressing image of my actual vs. ideal posture, and a set of corrective exercises to do. I've gotten much better results from the trainer than I did in six months of physical therapy, where they focus on the precise area of pain but don't spend much time on broader structural issues. It also turns out that I'm not so great at proprioception, or the sense of where my body parts are at any given moment, and that's why I keep crashing into things. Weight training and yoga are really helping with this. Also working out next to a mirror and having a partner (my husband) guide my wandering limbs back into proper position.
I wanted to be able to run again. It's been two years, but... I ran! Just a little bit, a run-walk to the gym, to test my ankle. I told my husband last night, "I'm going to start running again next month," and surprised us both by bursting into tears.
I had a goal to make a new friend. One day, I was walking through downtown, and I happened to run into someone from my Toastmasters club. He said, "Hello, friend!" I was so surprised and happy I almost fell down. Little did he know he had granted my wish. Also, we went to World Domination Summit this summer and made some real connections there. I still need to keep pushing myself to show up, to answer my email, and to check in on Facebook, where I have been a virtual non-presence all year.
Still not taking melatonin, and still able to sleep without it. WINNING!
After twenty years, I somehow find myself able to eat spicy food again without giving myself an instant migraine. I have no idea how this happened, but I'll take it. I've been putting chili sauce in my food, eating jalapeños, and gradually starting to trust that I am now "allowed" to eat what used to be a trigger food. (Gut flora? Spleen function? Adequate consumption of micronutrients?)
This is a big part of why I keep written records of my goals and my attempts to meet them. It helps me to take notice of other wins that come up throughout the year. Anyone who is lucky enough to sleep without thinking about it, or fearlessly enjoy spicy food, should pause to be grateful for that. Not everyone is so lucky. Not everything comes easily to everyone. After all these years of making and keeping my New Year's Resolutions, I've come to realize that most things are far more amenable to positive change than is generally believed.
Here is the FI spreadsheet link: http://www.madfientist.com/financial-independence-spreadsheet/
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.