New Year, New Goals

Like everyone else, I’ve started the new year with some goals of things I’d like to accomplish. Is it to late to blog about? It’s only a week into 2013, so I think I’m good.

At first, the task or coming up with goals was daunting. What do I want to do in a whole year? With my weekends generally jam packed, I couldn’t even wrap my head around all the things I wanted to get done in 2013.

I’m list-centric, almost to a fault, so my gut reaction was to want to create lists upon lists of everything. All the parties I want to throw, all of the crafts I want to make, all of the Chicago activities I want to complete, all of our dream vacation spots to visit (maybe we’ll actually get to one this year!), etc. But what would that do? Yep, just stress me out. It would be February, I’d look at the list, and I’d say, “Dan, we really should think about which weekend we want to visit Lake Geneva this summer.” Yes, I could totally hear those words coming out of my mouth.

Instead, I decided to think about the over-arching goals I want to have, instead of tasks I want to complete. I read a blog post the other day where the blogger recommended thinking of a word as the theme of her year, then living it. I immediately knew what my word would be: SIMPLIFY.

From about last October, I’ve noticed that I often felt on edge, and I was always rushing from place to place, and from one thing to the next. Certainly the fact that it was busy season at work didn’t help. Then the holidays started rolling in and I was spending time baking, cleaning, planning, buying gifts, wrapping them, and not really taking any time to enjoy everything that the holidays are about. The absolute turning point for me, when I noticed how much my busy ways were affecting me, was when I was out running a quick errand to buy a couple Christmas presents..

I was meeting a friend for dinner after a long day of work, but I wanted to do a quick stop to buy some Christmas presents first. I went to the store, gathered my items, and realized they were out of one thing I wanted. No problem, I’ll order it while at the store, and it will ship for free to my house. I got to the ordering kiosk, with my hands full of the other items. I found the item, clicked to buy it and for some reason, the kiosk wouldn’t recognize my email address. Then my cell phone started ringing, but, I was borrowing Dan’s phone for the day, so I didn’t know how to work it very well and couldn’t get the phone to unlock. I missed the call, abandoned the order, and was late to dinner. There was too much going on!

Simplifying to me means going at a slower pace, having free, plan-less weekends, and purging everything excess. It means spending your time doing the things that are important to you, which are the things you really want to do anyways.

With simplifying in my mind, here’s what I came up with as my goals for 2013:

1. Read 52 books.

Impossible? Not for me. I go through books like water. I find the time I spend reading relaxes me, and gives my mind something to focus on that’s not work or everything that needs to be done around the house.

2. Work out at least 3 times a week.

This one is the obligatory “I’m going to get healthier this year” resolution. For me, this is just recalling how much I worked out last year, before the holidays hit. I don’t work out to lose weight (though it is nice), but I do it to be in better health. With this goes the resolution of eating better, which Dan and I have made a priority this year. We named it “Eat good food,” which to us means eating food that better for you, but also making sure that those splurges truly are worth it – like enjoying an amazing risotto instead of a convenient $5 Hot & Ready Pizza from Little Caesar’s.

3. Keep my nails pretty.

I love having fun colored nails. Usually, I’ll wait until my nail polish is so chipped that I’ll just remove it and leave my nails bare for weeks, simply because I feel like I don’t have enough time. In reality, paining your nails doesn’t take very long, so I resolve to just sit down and paint them.

4. Visit museums.

Dan loves museums, though I’m lukewarm about them. I think my issue was that Dan and I look at museum exhibits at different paces. I look at the displays, read whatever seems interesting, and move on. Dan spends a lot of time looking at the displays, and reads almost every little tidbit of information there is. Because of this, going to museums together was not fun. I was always waiting for Dan, and he always felt like I was rushing him. This year, we resolve to go to the museums more frequently, but for shorter visits and focusing only on what we really want to see. For example, we went to the Field Museum a couple weeks ago. Both of us really wanted to see the Egyptian exhibit and the Early Americas exhibit. Had we researched ahead of time and settled on seeing only those exhibits, we would have been fine. Instead, Dan spent 45 minutes looking at taxidermied birds while I sat on a bench and played with my phone. See the problem?

5. Light more candles.

This may sound stupid, but I think this will be a great way to remind me to slow down. We have a ton of candles that I’m always “saving” for something. Why? I’ve just accumulated a bunch of candles. This past weekend, I lit a vanilla bean scented candle on Sunday morning. It burned for most of the day and I enjoyed smelling it. It was especially nice reading a book with the candle going before Dan was up and our day started.

6. Do a trial run of my own Happiness Project.

Last year, I read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In the book, Rubin chronicles a year of her life where each month, she focuses on a different facet of her life to work on. For example, in January, Rubin chose to “Boost Energy” and she focused on ways to streamline her family’s life and create more together time because of it. Ambitious, for sure.

Though I didn’t always think that the projects/focus areas she chose particularly useful to me, I did like the concept of choosing one area of your life to focus on each month, with the hopes that getting into good habits for that focus area will last long past the month you’re consciously thinking about it. I’m not sure I would have a whole year’s worth of areas to target, but I thought a three month trial run could work, and we’ll see where to go from there.

As it is January, Dan and I have chosen to go with a theme of organization for this month. We sat down and talked about what areas of the apartment we want organized, and boy did we end up with a long list. Some projects will be small, and take less than 15 minutes, like cleaning out a nightstand, but others will take much longer, like organizing the pantry/closets and cleaning out the spare room/office.

We’ve already tackled a few of the smaller projects over the weekend, and I think we’re off to a great start. I’ll try to remember to share once the big ticket items are completed…that is, if they get done.

What are you hoping to tackle in 2013?

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