Happy New Year! It’s that time when everyone starts talking about all the changes that they are going to make in the new year. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to try to reinvent myself this year. I want to make some changes and get some things done, but I’ve learned that the all-or-nothing approach usually ends up with nothing.
We chatted about our plans for the new year on our podcast, but now that we’ve both had more time to ponder, let’s talk about where we actually landed. I know that our brains work differently for this type of work. I get specific and make lists and check them off, which is not your way. So, I’d love to hear about your approach.
I have a notebook that I use for this type of planning, and it’s fun to look back on what I wanted to work on a few years ago, both to see what I’ve accomplished and to see what things get carried over year after year (I’m looking at you weight loss!)
Before I even get started thinking about the new year, I make a list of What Went Well last year. This is a great way to help you remember that you really do get things done! It’s also fun to look back on. Some things on that list included our trip to Italy, the bathroom renovation, getting Ollie (our second dog), and (re)discovering cross stitch.
And then, to keep me honest, I make a list of What Didn’t Go Well. My list for 2022 included losing weight, finding a strength training routine, and my plans for a cutting garden (thanks California drought!).
Last year I stumbled upon a way of working on goals that really worked for me–making a list of just 3-4 goals for the year and making sure that I consistently work on those each and every week.
To find my Big Goals list, I start with a brain dump of everything I might want to change or accomplish in the new year. I try not to overthink it–just a 10-15 minute brainstorming session. Then I go back through and see if there are themes, like health, home improvement, relationships, finances, etc. From there it’s usually pretty easy to pick a few big items I will be so happy to have accomplished by next year. If it’s hard to limit to just 3-4 things, just remind yourself that once you complete one, you can add another.
The point of having such a concise list is that every day/week I am consistently doing something (no matter how small) to move that goal forward. When I plan my to do list, I’m always thinking about what can I do to take one small step. It could be a few minutes of internet research, making an appointment for a painting estimate, or creating a Pinterest board so that I can figure out what I actually want a room to look like. It’s the consistency that matters! I started planning our bathroom renovation in January, and it took until the beginning of December to hang the last picture in that room! There was so much frustration with that project, but it kept moving forward a little bit every week.
My Big 4 Goals for 2022 were:
- Health: Lose weight and find a strength routine
- Family: Plan a big family vacation
- Home: Renovate the master bathroom
- Home: Plant a cutting garden
The drought nixed the cutting garden idea, and while I started strong on weight loss, that petered out. We did a family trip to Italy and it was the vacation of a lifetime. The bathroom project squeaked in under the wire and it makes me happy every time I walk in.
My Big 3 Goals for 2023 are:
- Health: Lose weight and find a strength routine (Hello again! I’m never giving up on this one.)
- Home: Redo two kids’ bedrooms to reflect our new season of life
- Home: Preparedness–be able to live (relatively) comfortably for two weeks with no power and grocery store access
Some steps that I’m taking on health are trying out the Apple Fitness app to help me find a strength program that I will actually stick to and getting back to some healthier eating habits (I know what they are, I just need to do them). I’m making an appointment with two companies to get estimates on repairing and painting the kids’ rooms, as well as stalking Facebook Marketplace for furniture. And over the Christmas holidays, we did a lot of garage organization for our extended pantry. We have agreed to work on the garage project a bit every weekend until it suits our needs. A year is a long time, so I know that small steps add up.
I’m feeling energized by narrowing down and defining what I want 2023 to look like and am actually excited about knocking some of these projects off my list!
Now it’s your turn–what do you want to do in 2023?
One of the things that keeps our friendship evergreen is that we are so much alike and at the same time so different. You are a planner and a listmaker. You set goals. You construct maps for achieving those goals. And last year, you knocked two of your goals–renovating the master bath and taking a family trip to Italy–out of the ballpark. I feel like we should have a big parade in your honor!
I do have goals for 2023, but I know myself well enough to know that if I’m going to achieve those goals, I have to somehow incorporate them into my daily and weekly routines. As much as I love lists, I typically make them and then never refer to them again (with the exception of the lists I leave myself on my kitchen counter, which tend to be short, specific and sometimes downright emphatic: YOU MUST MOP THE FLOOR TUESDAY MORNING OR ELSE). Your way of doing things appeals to me so much, and yet I know it will never be my way.
One of my big goals this year is to once and for all deal with the walk-in attic. Anyone who has spent more than fifteen minutes in my company knows about my walk-in attic, how for nearly sixteen years it’s been a repository of everything we no longer use (games, toys, clothes, equipment, a huge terrarium from that year Will got into lizards) that’s not easily disposed of. It is Marie Kondo’s biggest nightmare. I’ve made inroads over the years, but it has been a two-steps-forward-one-step-back kind of project. But now that we’re empty nesters, I’m hoping I can tackle the project once and for all.
Here’s a Before photo (I’ll post periodic updates if anyone is interested). You can see that at some point this was an orderly corner. Then things got pushed aside, searches were made for a book or an old file, and entropy did its thing as entropy tends to do.
Inspired by your big accomplishments of 2022, I have decided to make decluttering this attic junkyard my big goal of 2023. Now, if I wrote out a plan for accomplishing this, Week One: Remove all trash; Week Two: Box up books; Week Three: Do something about those bags filled with fabric, I’d probably give up by February. Other tasks would begin to take precedence. Whatever zest for the project that I felt when making my schedule would fade.
No, the trick for me is to make decluttering the attic a small part of my weekly routine. I’m good at routines. In fact, I love routines. I love not having to think about whether I’m going to walk Travis in the morning; it’s just what I do. I don’t think about whether I’m going to write. When I get home from walking Travis, I pick up my laptop and get writing. No energy goes into making that decision.
So what I have to do is make decluttering part of my routine. Here’s my plan: Every Friday or Saturday (I haven’t decided which yet), I’m going to take one or two medium size boxes up to the attic and fill them with stuff to take to the Scrap Exchange, our local reuse/recreate center. The Scrap Exchange takes nearly everything (other than bed linens, because last year someone donated bedbug-infested sheets), from books to games to bits and pieces (puzzle pieces, three Christmas cards (used or new, doesn’t matter), buttons, nametag holders, etc. etc.).
If I feel like having an agenda (It’s stuffed animal day! It’s old CDs day!), that’s great, but otherwise, I’ll just fill up the dang boxes and drive over to the Lakewood Shopping Center. Going to the Scrap Exchange and the Lakewood Shopping Center is my idea of a good time. After I drop off my attic junk, I can take a peek at the Scrap Exchange’s used book section (the Scrap Exchange is less than a mile from Duke University and its selection of used books is excellent). Or I can wander a few stores down to Freeman’s Creative and check out the latest Ruby Star fabric line. I can head over to the Food Lion and get some of those low carb Breyers ice cream bars I like so much.
If decluttering the attic becomes part of a fun routine end-of-the-week outing, I might just get ‘er done. I just need to get to that place where I don’t think twice before heading upstairs to fill up a box with old table cloths and hermit crab shells.
My other goal for 2023 is to walk and exercise more. While my weight isn’t exactly where I want it to be, especially after an impressive four pound weight gain over the holidays, it’s getting close (I’m five pounds away). So how am I going to accomplish this? Walking more is easy (especially because I love to walk). It’s also easy because, as I mentioned earlier, I walk Travis every morning. What I’ve done for the last two weeks is come home from my walk with Travis, give Travis his treat, and then head back out for another mile or two. It’s that old trick of making a new habit by hitching it to an old habit.
As for the working out, I’ve recommitted myself to doing Paula B. workouts every day except Sunday (my day of rest). Paula B. calls herself “your best middle-aged fitness friend, and her YouTube videos are a delight. Twenty-two minutes of stretching, light weights, moderate cardio and balance work. So far, I’ve done a great job of tuning into Paula B. every day at 4:00, but as we know, life gets in the way of our best laid plans (and routines). So how do I keep it up? I don’t have a mid-afternoon habit to hitch Paula B. to.
For now, I’ve put Paula B. workouts on my refrigerator memo board checklist. Even though I’m not great at referring to to-do lists, I love checking off a task when it’s done The memo board is to keep track of Travis’ and my daily meds (heart for him; cholesterol for me), but there’s room for other stuff too. It’s very satisfying at the end of the week to see all the little squares checked off. Maybe that sense of satisfaction is what will keep me on the Paula B. bandwagon. (I’m a simple girl.)
My other goals are less concrete. I’d like to have more time to read and write letters, but so far in 2023, I’ve been as busy as ever (although I’m hoping once we get the Quilt Fiction Story Guild moving like a well-oiled machine, I’ll have more time for lazing about). I’m still reading instead of scrolling first thing in the morning, so that’s going well.
Here’s to meeting our goals in 2023!
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