For the first time in quite awhile, I feel like there’s some stability in my life. I’m (hopefully) not travelling as much this year, I don’t have any massive moves planned in the near (or far) future, and I finally feel like I’m having more down time to focus on myself again. I’m setting some big goals this year and using my Passion Planner to help me achieve them. (This isn’t a sponsored post, I’m just delighted to have one!) It’s helping me make things into actionable items and keeping them more concrete instead of non-specific ideas like “be more positive.” I have eight goals that I want to really focus on achieving this year – here they are, in no particular order!
Meditate: I’ve had the Stop. Breathe. Think. app on my phone for a few months, but I rarely use it. The times I have found myself making a conscious decision to not give in to the anxiety and panic and instead focus on this and really give it a try, it has helped a ton. I really want to focus on making use of it to relieve some of those feelings I get throughout the day.
Grow blog: When I lived in Nashville, I found myself always saying I wanted to really focus on my blog again, but never actually following through with many actionable steps (or even updates.) The last few months I’ve focused on maintenance and regular updates, and I found a community I want to join. There’s some other great stuff on the way as well!
Make $5000 beyond my regular job: Honestly, compared to what I used to bring in across various side hustles, this number seems small. But there are a lot of other things I want to do (like focus on running again,) so I’m just shooting for a small, attainable number.
Pay off credit cards: I was always The Girl With No (Consumer) Debt. That changed over the last few months due to some impulse buys and really feeling too lenient in feeling entitled to treat myself, so this is a pretty big priority. (I also have to work on shifting the entitlement mindset I’ve developed but… baby steps.)
Volunteer: In college, I volunteered regularly, and even went on many service learning trips. It made me feel great to give back, and I’d like to focus on getting back into that practice this year.
Read 15 books: I love to read, but I haven’t been doing it as much lately – even my beloved audiobooks aren’t holding my attention. I only read 12 books last year (and came in right under the wire with that number, at that) so increasing slightly feels attainable.
Start lifting again: I miss lifting weights desperately. The high of picking up heavy things and putting them down, rinse, repeat: it was the best shape I’d ever been in. I felt unstoppable, like I could do anything or defend anyone, and that’s something I miss terribly. I’ve started doing some preliminary research on gyms in the area to join, but it’s going to be so hard to start over and not be able to pick up where I left off years ago.
After that whirlwind summer, I’m desperate to get back on track. While I did, arguably, complete my biggest goals of the year in getting a new job and moving out of Virginia, many other things that are important to me flew way to the wayside.
Be active every day, even if it’s just a walk around my complex or the golf course
Pay off my credit cards (I utilized them often during my move. Oops.)
Go to 3 networking events
Eat at least 5 fruits and veggies per day
Drink 8 glasses of water a day (I used to be very good at this, but I fell off the rails as soon as I left my last job.)
Bring lunch to work 3x a week
Go to the gym 4x a week
Post 2x a week
Read 2 books
Get better organized
Through all of the moving frustration (the Ikea fail – actually, all the furniture fails, since there are more I didn’t blog about) the thing I have been most disappointed in myself for is that I’ve put my health to the wayside. I can’t remember the last time I went for a run. I eat more sugar that I need to. Actually, I eat more than I need to in general, so I’ve gained some weight back. It’s also hard to work in a restaurant where I get 50% off, so the delicious food is less than fast food… but I’m not sure how “good” for me it is. (The chefs have already caught on to me, though, and offer me a sweet potato every day.) As soon as my budget will allow it this month, I’m going to do a juice cleanse to get all the crap out of my system and really reboot everything.
I am a really big fan of specific goals, which is why mine typically include a number. But it’s hard to quantify how you “get better organized” – so I’m trying to work on a plan that involves maintaining meeting notes (I now sit in meetings for over ten hours a week), and on top of that, I have so many other things going on that I’m really starting to outgrow my Moleskine. Managing work events, networking, personal life, goals and fitness, I’m exploring all kinds of printers and planners and ways to make everything work.
The nice thing about my new job is that we have GREAT coffee, so I’m very rarely tempted to stop for Starbucks on my way in. We also get free pop or juice, and we just installed an espresso bar. The only thing I’ll need to go see the Siren for now is my sweet PSL.
In addition to my day job, I’ve also landed a side hustle in the city that I’m really excited about. So even as down as I still am a lot of the time, I’m trying to keep my head up. Good things are happening and I just need to keep believing that!
When you’ve “gone off the rails,” whether it’s with food, spending, or whatever else, how do you reel yourself in?
Admittedly, I haven’t trained for a full marathon yet. I’ve trained for (and run) several halfs, though, and read a lot about going the full 26.2. And I have been working on paying down my student loans (thankfully the only debt I have) for longer than I care to think about. The two processes feel very similar. Here are a few examples of how.
Training – to run nearly 27 miles, you have to put in the work. Not only does your body need to build endurance and muscle to run for that long, your brain needs to learn how to push through barriers and shut down the part of you that says “I can’t.” Paying down debt is the same way – no matter how much or how little, there’s always a part in your head full of doubt. Retraining your mind to think you can conquer your big goals – student loan payoff, running a marathon, or anything else that seems insurmountable can be accomplished if you get your mind right.
It sucks – I can’t think of any runner who hasn’t thought this at least once. On a less than stellar run, during speed work or hill repeats, or even during Couch to 5k, we’ve all been there. Throwing money at debt also sucks – you have to make sacrifices and skip out on things you might want right now, and there’s nothing fun about that.
It’s expensive – I’ve covered the costs associated with running before, and that barely begins to cover marathon entry fees for some of the bigger races. (Go on, Google it – I’ll wait while you pick your jaw up off the ground.) There are costs associated with paying off loans, too – interest rates and late fees can increase already high monthly payments.
Research – everyone’s an expert on the internet, but for running and finance, this can be a good thing. Not every method works for every person, but if you read enough blogs and magazines, you’re sure to find a running method and payoff strategy that suits your style. And while sometimes it’s daunting to look at payoff success stories and feel like you’ll never be able to match their success, it’s also empowering to see that it is possible.
What big goals have you accomplished? Do you think paying off debt and running a marathon are comparable?
Today I logged in to my Capital One 360 account to flip some money from my birthday savings to the checking account to buy my plane ticket for Los Angeles and was super pumped to see this:
Having set up the automated savings last month has really made it easy, and I didn’t even realize I had that much socked away. It hurts a little to not have that almost-$700 sitting in my 3% interest earning checking account, but this way it’s much easier for me to spend it specifically on LA vacation details. In addition to the automatic savings that comes out of my paycheck, I dump extra windfall money here as well – ATM fee reimbursements, interest earned in my regular checking account, eBates cashback, GymPact earnings, secret shopping payments, things like that. If you’re looking for a “special occasion” savings account, Capital One 360 has been really easy and convenient for me and since I don’t carry this debit card around with me, it’s very out of sight, out of mind money. (Plus I like the graphs.) I would love to have all of my money pooling up in my 3% interest checking account to just accrue, but psychologically, that isn’t working for me right now. I need dividing lines.
Beyond saving for Disney, I’m still trucking away at these stupid student loans. I discovered Student Loan Hero via Stephanie at Empowered Dollar, which is a tool that lets you add all your student loans (and even syncs with the NSLDS and Fannie Mae) and displays all of them in an easy to read format. The only thing I don’t like about it so far is that you can’t change your loan priority.
This fall I am really trying to refocus on paying down my debts. On the 14th, I made the last payment on my dental work (thank God) so that’s another $40 I am getting back in my budget. Here’s my pretty, up-to-date, and sad year-to-date graphic:
Sad because I have some big expenses coming up and I know I won’t be able to hit the debt payment goal I had hoped to. I will need new running shoes before Disney (and probably won’t have enough Swagbucks to buy them,) plus holiday trips to see family in Cincinnati and Gatlinburg, I need new brakes AND tires, and I’m still replacing tings in my wardrobe since things are so ill-fitting.
Little by little. I’m getting there. Adulthood is expensive.
Happy September! Is anyone else as ready for fall as I am? Summer is my favorite season but there’s one thing I can’t live another day without, and that’s the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks! 🙂 I unlocked mine early last week and felt like a total bamf while doing so. Another month has gone by and it went so fast I can hardly believe it. Here’s a recap of my goals for the month (painful as they may be!)
Thankful Thursdaypass. Two out of four isn’t bad, right?
Live according to a budget HAHAHAHAHAHA
Do four secret shopscheck
Pay $900 to debt fail because of the brakes
Sell five things fail, but sold three
Get my brakes changedcheck and ouch
Go wine tasting fail
Read four bookscheck. I read The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, and An Abundance of Katherines, all by John Green, and Struck By Lightning by Chris Colfer.
Run 60 miles (EEP)
Get some new wardrobe staples to supplement current closet, spend under $150 (I’m now going through three outfits every morning before I find something that fits well enough to wear to work. Weight loss problems.)check. I bought some new clothes but returned most of them. I can live with 5 outfits, right?
Apply to two jobscheck
Going wine tasting was that summer thing that was on our list that we just never got around to – there’s always one, isn’t there? And even though I tracked my spending religiously, I just failed over and over. I think the thing I am proudest of this month is that I started really doing long runs. The first one I did at 6 miles took me 90 minutes, and then the next week I went for 7 in 87 minutes. I don’t understand the logic here but I’m going to take it 🙂
Continue tracking food and spending
Only go out to eat twice
No added trips
Save $500 for Disney
Finish a 5k in 35 minutes
Sign up for Richmond 8k
Run 70 miles
Pay $800 to debt
Engage in two complaint-free days (this is going to really take some planning on my part)
What are your goals this month? What’s your favorite part of fall – are you with me on the PSL train?