Happy, happy New Year!
While I’m not a big believer in New Years’ Resolutions, I am a very goal-oriented person and have found that when I set goals for myself, I’m more motivated and more likely to achieve whatever those goals may be. Last year, I shared three goals I wanted to focus on in 2017, and then checked-in with a mid-year update. They were all pretty simple, but really important, priorities: put my finances in order, work on my fitness, and figure out my next steps since grad school had ended.
Overall, I think I did a really good job of making progress on these goals—and want to spend 2018 making even more strides on the first two. I’ll update you on my experience with LearnVest and how they helped me put my finances in order in a post soon, but a big goal of mine this year is to save more, which I elaborate on below. And, I’m really proud I found a fitness routine that I enjoy and fits well in my weekly routine—something I want to keep up in the year ahead. However, this year, as I also expand on below, I want to work on a more balanced diet to complement my hard work at the gym.
In terms of figuring out my next steps post-grad school, in last year’s post, I mentioned exploring whether or not I want to stay in DC and finding another creative outlet. Since I signed a 13-month lease on my new place, I think it’s pretty clear I have no plans to leave the area anytime soon! As much as I hate the winter weather, I love the network and life I have created here, and would have to have a really good reason to give that up for somewhere new.
By mid-year, I did explore the idea of also running an Etsy Shop, and even launched one, called Scott Street Paper. In the end, decided I’d rather freelance on the side for close friends and family, as opposed to the general public. The Etsy marketplace was undercutting my ability to charge fairly for my work, so this system works better for me. I’ve actually worked on two wedding stationery projects this month!
I loved sharing and checking-in on my 2017 goals last year, so I wanted to share a few of my goals for 2018 with you today—and would love to hear about any you have for the next year!
01. Save More Money
I feel like this year more than in year’s past, I’ve gotten too caught up in useless consumerism. I can’t tell you how many pieces of clothing I’ve purchased because I saw it on someone else, tried it on and liked it ok, decided to keep it anyway, and end up never wearing it. If I had only kept the clothes I truly loved, felt good in, and that fit correctly, I could have saved hundreds. I feel the same way about some the home goods I’ve purchased. And don’t even get me started on how many Ubers I’ve taken when I could have easily walked. I’ve gotten too caught up in the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, and my long-term savings account has taken the hit. Luckily, I’ve avoided completely diminishing my savings, have stayed out of credit card debt, and still managed to increase my 401(k) contributions by 3% this year.
However, in the coming year, I want to really focus on building up my emergency fund. To assist with this, I want to focus on only buying things I can truly afford with the money currently in my checking account—as opposed to the upcoming paycheck!—and be smarter about saving money when I can in my everyday life—cooking at my house more, walking or taking the Metro when possible, investing in a pair of spin shoes so I don’t have to pay the rental fee every time, etc. It’s so hard to fight the temptation to not online shop a great sale or snag a cute top every time I see one—but I know that in the long run, my money is better off in my retirement fund.
02. Be More Cognizant of What I’m Drinking + Eating
This past year, I found an exercise routine that really works for me. I typically spin or go to Orangetheory three to five times a week, and I love how exercise makes me feel. My stress and anxiety levels are so much less than in years past, and I always leave class feeling strong and empowered. Because paying for classes really motivates me to go—I hate wasting money!—I’ve only skipped one class I was registered for since March.
I’ve found that while I’ve definitely toned up in certain places, I’m not seeing significant changes in my body. If I am being honest with myself, I think that’s because I enjoy wine a little too much ;]! I’m starting the year off with Dry January and think that will be just the reset I need to really commit to drinking less in 2018.
I also want to strive to eat foods that fuel my body better, both in workout classes and my daily life. I’m definitely a big fan of the Trader Joe’s frozen section, and while that definitely is cheap and convenient, I want to make more of an effort to cook at home and be more aware of the food choices I’m making. Who knows, maybe I’ll even learn to love cooking—which, at present, is probably my least favorite chore—it’s so hard to cook for just one person!
(As an aside—one of my big pet peeves is when people assign morality to food—i.e. this food is “good” and this food is “bad.” I think that sets people up for a guilt-driven relationship with food, and creates a mutual exclusivity—food is either or good or bad, but not both. One doughnut isn’t going to make or break our bodies, even though eating doughnuts everyday probably isn’t the healthiest choice. Kale can be good, but eating only kale would deprive our body of much-needed nutrients. I try to be especially aware of not assigning food morality when I’m out to dinner with other people—you never know what their relationship with food is, and what I eat has no bearing on their life and vice versa. If you’re looking for a good read on this topic, I can’t recommend Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat by Michelle May enough—it definitely helped me redefine my relationship with food!)
03. Take a Solo Trip
This goal is less abstract than the others, but it is something that has been on my mind for a while—I’d really like to take a trip by myself. I often fly solo, but meet up with friends or colleagues at the final destination. The closest I’ve come to traveling alone is when I went to San Francisco ahead of a work trip this last October. I went out on Saturday and didn’t have any obligations until Monday—but I met up with friends for my meals and for exploring, so I was only alone about half the time.
Like living alone, I think traveling alone will teach me a lot about myself and, selfishly, the idea of taking one trip where I’m the only person’s opinion I have to take into account seems really fun. Several bloggers I follow have explored Europe solo, and while I’d love to work up to that point eventually, for starters, I’ll probably take a weekend trip to a domestic city. If you have any great destinations to travel to alone or any tips for solo trips, please let me know!
While I have some other goals I’d like to work on this year, like putting myself out there more, finding ways to push my comfort zone more often, and travel (even) more with friends and family, these are the three big things I’d love to focus on achieving over the next 365 days. I’d love to know if you have any goals for the upcoming year, or if you have any that worked particularly well in 2017! x