Good Old Fashioned Accountability - 2017, Here I Come!

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December 12, 2016

The end of another year. I remember when I was a child and I was told that time passes faster as you get older. I never understood how that could be true, but the older I get, the more accurate it seems.

Because I now accept this as my own truth, I have learned to think of the end of the year, not at as an end, but as an opportunity to reset and not only celebrate your accomplishments of the current year, but properly set yourself up for success in the new year.

Like the freshly sharpened pencils of a new school year, the plan that I have created for myself this year is a little more specific that the new calendar I usually purchase. I have set up a very specific set of goals for the new year. I feel very strongly that these goals and their set up will be my tools for success in the new year. Your own personal goals might be different, but my sense is that these are very universal.

I call the New Year a “personal reset” because it allows me to look back over my reset for the previous year to see where I fell short of my own goals. Typically, the areas for my reset are the following:

  1. Financial
  2. Health
  3. Spiritual

As I begin my own reset, I figured that this might be something good to share. Although I am reasonably far removed from my own divorce (over ten years now), to this day, I can remember the feeling of not having money to buy milk because the account had been frozen and I had not yet gotten my child support. I remember feeling the greatest sense of anxiety over the loss of control. When married, things are far more predictable that that which we experience when the marriage breaks up. Whether you are already divorced as I am, or if you are just trying to figure things out, I feel very strongly that having your own “blueprint” for moving forward is essential to any progress.  I can also tell you this, my readers, any area in my life where I have struggled since my divorce, it is because I did not actively create that blueprint or plan and then actively work to make it a part of my day to day life. So, here we go… I am going to discuss each of my three categories.  Yours might be different, or they might just be labelled differently. I start each year with a new planner. No matter how much I love my technology, which I really do, it is essential for me to be able to write when I plan. My college choice was a Filofax that I carried and used until the poor thing just fell apart. My planner of choice is currently a bit different. I have been using it for about 5 years, and the habitual writing and planning has helped me a great deal. It is an active record of my life, and it came in very, very handy as I was working to plan through visitation and failed visitations. OK, here goes… (Second try)

Finances: This is one of the fields where I have made the greatest advances.  I am not rich, but I am in control. If you have not already done so, it is essential that you do. Take a calendar and divide in by everything that happens before the 15th, and everything that happens after the 16th. If you do not know when your bills are due, and you are not planning that out in relation to when you receive money during the month, you will forever be paying late fees etc. This may seem obvious, but when you lose your initial control, and you are starting from scratch, you start at the very beginning. Here are some other things that have helped me a great deal over the years. No more bounced check fees, or late fees. It is essential you know what is coming in, and WHEN it needs to go out. Time to reset and get organized.

  1. Set up a bill payment account. Once you have planned what must be paid during each section of the month, it is essential that you transfer it out of your debit card account. I used to ask how I could budget when I had no money, and for me, the answer is that having little money makes it that much more important that you know where every dollar is, and where it is going. For me, out of sight equals out of mind where money is concerned. Having the bill pay account also lets you use the half-payment method to plan for large bills.
  2. These savings accounts have been a very good friend to me. I have several of these accounts. They are free to open, and make saving much easier. For example, each year, I do some sort of a money savings challenge. Here are some ideas to get you started. If you do one of these, look for one that scatters the large and small amounts. Personally, I use a savings account for these and put the expected amounts directly on my monthly financial plan.  I hold myself accountable by making it a bill, and transfer it into the other account, rather than putting the cash in a jar. Cash in a jar to me, says “Sephora Trip”, not savings. Know your own weaknesses and plan carefully.
  3. My own financial focus this year is going to be closely linked to a kind of “clean up”. I tend to add subscriptions and go lax with things like food planning. Closely related to the health category, there are few budget blowers like grabbing food outside instead of carefully planning each week or month. My own plan will be to carefully scan the charges that are automatically coming out of my account and then assess whether they can be cancelled.  If I can cancel it, I will increase that amount into my savings transfer. I tend to be tough on myself, but easily tempted, so this should be interesting. Meal planning will be essential for me as I plan my health goals this year.  I don’t have a lot of time, so I need to develop something I can stick with.
  4. My last financial goal is to find one more revenue stream – plain and simple. My goal is to get as much in the to the bank as possible. Small amounts really add up.

Health: Each year, I make lofty goals for myself and like the gym industry knows, people do not stick to those goals. There is no clear plan for me here, so I have decided to plan my health out, in the same way that I got my finances in order. My goal this year will be simple. The goal will not be weight loss. The goal will be to get my meal planning in order, and to hit my daily 10,000 steps. My idea here is that good things will come from the good planning. My health this year has made my usual physical activity very difficult. I have been angry at myself for failing at those loft goals, and I will not do it to myself again. Simple attainable goals will by my mantra. Yours might be different. It doesn’t matter. Set an attainable goal, and put it on paper to hold yourself accountable. It’s funny how I manage to complete my checklists because I learned how to make those attainable, yet I never thought of my health in this way. Time for a new approach. Failed BIG goals make us feel horrible. Completed smaller goals are inspirational. This year, I need to be inspired in this category.

Spiritual:  This was my worst category this year. I hate to say it, but I am going to because my spirit is at an all-time low. Both of my older kids have moved out of the house. My older one is getting married, and my feelings about this are seriously mixed. I feel as though all I do is work to pay the bills. I have not dated in a while, by choice. I am lonely and emotionally dissatisfied. So, my goal here is to figure out what at this stage in my life will make me happy. Again, my goal is to attempt to hold myself accountable. On each day, I plan to write a list of 3 things that I enjoyed doing that day. I am looking for patterns and consistency. Even small things may matter. For me, this is not about religious spirituality; it is about feeding my own soul and finding happiness again.

In case you have not picked up my pattern by now, each category demands accountability, good old fashioned pen to paper accountability.

 

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