I believe that we need to make changes as soon as we are inspired to, so as to not lose momentum. And despite its arbitrary nature, the start of the month can be an excellent time for this. Taking the time to reset on my budget inspires me to reset on every other aspect of my life; it’s one pretty specific way that financial planning has subtly affected my life.
A note on goal-setting:
Throughout my whole life, my biggest problem with goal setting has been setting timid goals for fear of failure. I’ve learned that the key is not to avoid setting true goals that you want to strive for, but forgiving yourself when you fall short. From there, you can set more accessible goals to work up to your larger goal. If you limit yourself from the beginning, you automatically lower your standards as well as your expectations. The key is to not only set goals, but create a plan to achieve them. You’ll see that in my goals below, I state my objective but also include a specific plan or resolution to get there.
So here are my goals (financial and other) for December 2018!
- This is very specific to my situation, but I have decided to stop taking toll roads as much as possible. As you can see in my December budget blog post, taking the toll road to my work and back every day eats up $135 each month. I can no longer justify this choice while I’m paying off debt. In order to achieve this goal, I’m getting up earlier each day and trying to change my mindset about commuting. Instead of seeing it as a time-waster and chore, I’m looking at it as a quiet alone time where I can listen to financial podcasts and learn as I drive to and from the job that I am extremely blessed to have 🙂 The extra money will go mostly towards debt repayment, while some will be added to gas since I anticipate paying slightly more for that with the longer commute.
- Spend less in non-fixed categories, like groceries and going out. My plan to achieve this is to make sure I question every purchase– In November, I spent a lot of money without being intentional. Furthermore, I will also set a designated amount of money before going out with friends– not planning for this each time has proven to be a bit of an Achilles heel in my budget. Even among close, non-judgmental friends, the imagined and/or real pressure to spend on food and alcohol is a big problem for me. I hope this goal will help me to change my mindset to prioritize financial wellness over self-image.
- Plan week-to-week instead of day-to-day. This might be pretty specific for teachers, but putting off lesson planning has been one of the biggest stressors in my work life lately. I absolutely don’t plan on achieving week-to-week planning immediately, but I would like to take the month of December to start working towards this. For now, this is the only goal I’m setting for work. I’ve been finding myself drowning in all of my tasks, so I don’t want to put any extra pressure on myself at this time.
- Be a better friend/girlfriend/family member. Lately I’ve been struggling with giving my time to others, as my work has kept me extremely busy and stressed. So my focus for this month is simply to be a better friend while I’m in the presence of others. Even if I’m not spending a lot of time with each important person in my life, I will focus on dedicating the time I do spend with them to being an active listener who is attentive to their needs. My hope is that, in the next few months, I can start prioritizing my actual time. For now, I have to learn to be content with this compromise.
- Work out 1x/week. It may seem pathetic, but this would be a huge feat for me at this point in my life. I used to work out 3-4 times a week every week, so lately I’ve been feeling weak and sad about not doing what’s best for my body and mental health. The last few months I’ve set the goal to work out 3x/week, but not reaching that most weeks has left me more disheartened. So, I’m starting slower this time, with something I know for certain I can achieve.
These are my 5 focuses for December 2018. I hope you find inspiration to better yourself this month, too. If you’re a big New Year’s Resolution person, setting these smaller goals now can set you up for more achievable and lasting success later on.