It’s Been Awhile: A Year in Review and “New Year’s Resolutions”
Well, hello again to all of you badass frugalites out there! Yes, it has been awhile since the last post. This was due to a flurry of Post-Christmas and New Year’s activity. That Learning Gal and I both took New Year’s Eve off and actually went out to eat (at Red Lobster of all places – thanks for the gift cards, parents!) to celebrate a year of being engaged, being six months from holy matrimony, and her new-ish (at the time) job. We had a lot to be thankful for over the past year.
We got engaged, moved in together, made a big move together (her second one in a year – she moved to Michigan for me last April, and then to southern Indiana in September!), and then both started new jobs that pay well. It has been an emotional roller-coaster of a year if I didn’t make that clear enough. However, it was also an expensive year. We have had to pay for a few wedding related items so far. I bought her engagement ring, we paid for the honeymoon, and then we purchased the wedding bands last month. So, looking back on everything we accomplished (and spent), we decided to look forward and make our New Year’s Resolutions!
Not to be confused with the typically hollow ringing “new year’s resolutions”, our “New Year’s Resolutions” are things we are going to follow to the letter. If you’re curious, they are as follows:
That Learning Guy
- Get down to 185 lbs
- Read at least one book a month
- Start podcasting on both websites
- Podcast/blog once per week minimum
- Publish at least two books this year
- Finish at least 5 rough drafts this year
- Brew at least 8 batches of beer this year
- Lift 1000 lbs between the Big 3 Lifts
Combined Resolutions Between That Learning Guy and Gal
- Pay off at least 1/3 of Student Loans
- Stick to monthly budget at least 8 months of the year
- Eat fast food twice per month or less
- Drink less alcohol
- Learn how to cook at least 12 new meals
I would say all of those goals are easily attainable with moderate effort put towards them. We’ll definitely have to stay on top or ourselves. Keeping yourself accountable is a huge part of goal-setting. So, in light of that nugget of wisdom, let’s discuss how to really stick to those goals so they aren’t “new year’s resolutions” by March!
Raising the Bar, But Not Too High
Let’s rap folks. If a few, some, or a lot (I don’t think you’d be reading this if you weren’t in the latter group) of you are ambitious, then you like to set lofty goals. This could definitely be because you expect a lot of yourself, you know you can complete a big milestone, or you like a good challenge. However, if there is something too many people do to their amazing “New Year’s Resolutions”, it’s that they set the bar too high and get discouraged, thinking they are setting the goals one hundred feet away, when in reality, they are a mile away. Doing this can potentially (and literally) spawn failure, and make it a more common occurrence in your life.
As an example, let’s say you weigh 225 pounds and are 5’6″. You make a “New Year’s Resolution” to get fit and in shape. You’re super motivated! Hell, maybe more motivated than you’ve felt in the last six months. Golly gee, you think. It’s a new year! A fresh start! A giant grin sits on your face while you contemplate all the possibilities. You decide to drop down and get down into the healthy weight range (or BMI) for your height. That would put you at 154 pounds for the top of the range. Even to the average person looking in from the outside, it should be obvious that this is a monumental task for a single year. To lose weight on a strict diet and exercise in a healthy manner, you should shed between 8 to 10 pounds a month. In theory, this makes it possible to lose the 71 pounds in a year, but as stated, this is with strict diet and exercise. If you’re someone who hasn’t regularly exercised before, let alone dieted, starting off in that manner is going to be rough going. This is where things can take a nasty turn.
You might shed 5 pounds the first month. This is actually a very good rate! Over a year, that would equate to 60 pounds, bringing the final total to 165 pounds. I would say that is pretty darn close, and an admirable job. However, someone may see those 5 pounds as being a failure since they didn’t hit their goal. They might feel like they are wasting their time, as the visual aspects of their body haven’t changed with all of the new effort they have been putting in. Soon, they may give up, even if they have consistently lost 5 pounds for three months in a row. So, I’ll reiterate, sensible and achievable goals are important! We want to pay off 1/2 of our student debt this year, but we stated at least 1/3. It makes the goal more realistic, and sets an accomplishment milestone, but still spurs us on to blow past that goal.
Balance to the Force
This brings me to my next point. Find a good balance for your goals. What I mean is, depending on your goals, don’t be too specific or too general…that was slightly confusing, I apologize! Some goals, it makes sense to be specific for, as in the previous weight-loss example. If you go into weight-loss and just say, “I want to lose weight”, that’s great…but what exactly is the goal here? Do you want try for a healthy weight? Do you want to make it under a specific weight? Such goals require more focus and specificity to make them seem achievable. “I want to lose weight” is a laughably hollow goal. However, the opposite could be true depending on the goal. You could be too specific. For my “Drink Less Alcohol” resolution, it being more generalized makes sense. If I were to say, “I will not have more than 2 beers in a weekend” or “I will only have 5 drinks when I go out to the bars” (which you shouldn’t do, ’tis a waste). What if there is no beer during a weekend party at a friend’s house? Will you not drink at all? Are you allowed to drink multiple drinks of hard cider or liquor? For the second resolution, what constitutes drinks at the bar? Does that mean a combination of multiple alcohol types? Can you get 5 long island iced teas? To me, goals like these can become bloated and messy with all of the various clauses that could potentially be tacked on. So, make sure you evaluate your goals thoroughly to ensure they make sense and provide a smart balance.
Too Many Goals, Too Little Time
Finally, we come to the last two, which I will combine here. Setting too many goals, and not looking back on or congratulating yourself for your progress. I’ll start with the latter, and I think it is pretty self-explanatory. If you continue to only look ahead, push yourself, and not take stock of your situation or progress at least every once in a while, you are definitely going to get burnt out, and most likely pretty quick at that. As I stated in the weight loss goal, if you shed 5 pounds in a month, you’re doing a damn good job in my book! So, if you were to weigh yourself at the end of every month and take stock, after two months and 10 pounds, you would actually be over 14% towards meeting your goal. No small feat. Don’t lose the forest for the trees, my friends. Last but not least, do not set too many goals! This mistake haunts me personally. All. The. Time. If you’re ambitious and a doer (like myself), you always have ideas or goals you want to achieve swimming in that giant brain of yours. However, setting too many awesome goals can make your chances of accomplishing each individual goal decrease. This makes sense, not just with goals, but with anything in your life. If you try to spread yourself too thin, you’ll start a lot of different projects (which is great), but I think you will find yourself finishing very few of them. If this is your case, cut down your goals to something manageable. Maybe you have a family to take care of. Maybe you have your job routinely requires you to work long hours. Whatever the case may be, setting too many goals could mean setting yourself up for failure. As the motto goes, always be learning. I think this will help you manage your goals and help you realize what is truly attainable. As always, keep on keepin’ on, all of you learning guys and gals. Happy New Year’s to you all and may all of your “New Year’s Resoultions” come true!
-That Learning Guy