Today is New Year’s Eve, and with every New Year’s Eve, I consider ways I can make myself a better person during the 365 days to come. Usually I write about it, only to revisit the musings a year later and feel bad because I didn’t do any of that stuff I said I would do. Yet, this year, I revisited my post from last New Year’s Day and I realized I really have done most of the things I set out to do. And I was proud of myself. I am proud of myself.
This post is a reflection of what I wrote on January 1, 2011 and my notes on what I said I would do.
1) I said I was going to clear my schedule a bit. I did and I didn’t. I really reduced the amount of activities I had become involved in, and I reduced a lot of ‘clutter’ therefore reducing my responsibilities to my ‘things’. However, I started a new job in the summer which reeked havoc with my free time. Alas, I did do my best to protect my weekends from anyone and anything work-related. The result is that I embraced a new hobby (knitting) and found time once a month to meet with some of my girl friends to just hang out. Also, my relationship with my husband grew stronger and as I look back on 2011, can really only remember one argument. That’s really cool since stress & money are the top killers in relationships. We didn’t have much stress…and we didn’t have much money. So I guess I was committed to trusting the process.
2) I took a look at my credit report. I don’t know about you, but pulling a credit report to me is like going to the principal’s office. I really get sick at my stomach regarding the entire thing. However, I didn’t do this until the end of the year, so consequently, I have declared 2012 to be the year I start paying down debt beginning with changing things in my life that contributed to using or increasing my expenses. Ironically, getting out of debt started with my decision to quit my job. I know, right?? But manicures, business suits, airport lattes, data plans on my cell phone, and dry cleaning expenses were a nuisance. I wanted peace and prosperity. And I wasn’t getting either.
3) I re-evaluated my ‘social’-ness on my social networking sites. I decreased the amount of info on LinkedIn, deleted anyone who reminded me how much I hated high school from my Facebook ‘friends’ list (and even axed a few family members whose drama gave me heartburn). And decided to make this blog more about helping people embrace the conceptual ideas and less about venting my rage on what had started as a creepy online diary. To erase my entire cyber footprint is a fantasy of mine, but I don’t think that is really possible anymore.
4) I made a list of the 5 people who made 2010 fantastic and I decided to spend more time with them. Some I didn’t get to see in 2011 as much as I hoped, but they still made the cut for 2012 of which I will make more of an effort to hang out. At times I kill two birds with one stone, inviting a friend to come to another friends house with me, but still…I now know when things get tough on whom I can really count.
5) I don’t know if I made something better than anyone else this year, but I did commit myself 110% to all the things I did attempt. I think my Banana Bread is still the best ever, my second knitted hat was much better than my first knitted hat (and my knitting instructor told her husband “I taught her to knit and I think she’s going to be better than me”. That was a proud day, since really; I didn’t embrace knitting until sometime in September 2011).
6) I let go of my quest to earn more and made a promise to spend less. In fact, at the end of 2011 I looked at the job I mentioned previously and I decided it wasn’t for me. For one, when you travel for a living you have expenses that other people don’t have. Even if the company reimburses for meals, you don’t have the comforts of home each night and go out on your own dime to simply fight off the boredom. It was a difficult decision for me because the firm was great and my co-workers even greater. But, I didn’t like some of the things I thought I needed to do in order to fit into the role and I didn’t particularly like the fact that I was gone all the time. I decided to cut spending and find a job that was more in line with my own core values – which at the forefront is ‘simplicity’. Traveling for a living does nothing to encourage a simplistic lifestyle – starting with dumping all your belongings out twice a week so TSA can rummage through them. I began to loathe the entire experience. I started out as a new recruit and quickly began road-weary. I never wanted to become a veteran business traveler.
7) I made a list of 10 things I could do without and seriously did an okay job at steering clear of them. The hardest? Half & Half in my coffee, wine every night, a data plan on my phone, and pedicures. After 2011, I will still admit this to you, faithful reader: I do not miss that data plan AT ALL but I admit…I would truly LOVE getting a pedicure and sipping wine on a Tuesday night. Yes…Every. Tuesday. Night. And any other night of the week, for that matter.
8) I finished something. Oh God. 2011 become the year I battled the infamous knitted hat. To my close friends and family and the ladies at A New Yarn, it simply became known as ‘THE hat.’ I started this darn thing a month before my husband’s birthday in 2010. When his birthday came and went, I said “I’ll give it to him on Christmas (2010).” Then it began…the anniversary gift that never transpired, the Valentine’s Day gift that never transpired, and finally the 2011 birthday gift that never transpired…you get the point. Everyone said “Maybe you should just get some new yarn or even just admit that this hat isn’t going to happen” to which I would reply “Oh. This hat will happen.” (For emphasis, reread that statement imagining a slight shake in my voice and gritted teeth.) In October 2011 I ripped the entire thing out, rolled it all back into a ball and started all over again. That hat had become the epitome of two things in my life: Failure and the inability to finish a project. I took one look at that grey ball of yarn, cast on 100 stitches, and decided once and for all that this hat and I were going to finish what we started. On Christmas morning, 2011, I threaded the 3 inches of yarn through the top of the hat and pulled it tightly, weaved in the ends, and sighed a bit of relief. I then wrapped the thing up for a Christmas gift for my husband. Since then, after 14 months fighting with one hat, I’ve managed to make another one – for myself – in about 14 hours. I don’t know. Don’t ask me.
9) I set one goal in 2011. That goal was to go to work for a major consulting group. I reached my goal and realized (although the company is excellent and full of excellent people) that it wasn’t a good fit for me. I was crushed to realize that all I had worked for up until that point was not all that I had hoped it would be. Alas, I am sticking to the plan and only going to set two goals for myself in 2012, although I’m toying with not setting any at all – a Virgo’s nightmare.
So the overall arching theme for 2011 was to practice rational minimalism, decrease my desire to buy things I didn’t need, simply my schedule and my life, and spend more time with the people of whom I care about deeply and to decrease the amount of time I spend with energy-sucking, drama-filled individuals. Overall, I can say “I think 2011 was a very good year”.