At the end of 2022, I assessed the year and made a plan for what was to come. I created some pretty lofty goals for myself, and as January winds down, I am reflecting on how the first month has gone; whether I set myself up for success, and what I can do to keep the momentum going.
To help keep me accountable, I thought I would share my process, goals, and progress in case they are helpful to others. Here are the steps I am taking to keep myself on track.
#1 - Set goals instead of resolutions
To me, the word resolution conjures up an "all or nothing" narrative. You are resolving to do something and sometimes if you slip up, you just give up. At least, that has been my experience. Instead, I prefer to set goals for myself which can have small steps. Although I have done this many times in the past, this year I created a vision board of sorts, which I keep in my planner.
It is a live document which I can keep adding to and adjust. I check it several times a week just to make sure I am doing things that support my vision for the year.
"The best way to succeed is to have a specific intent. A clear vision. A plan of action, and the ability to maintain clarity" -- Steve Maraboli
#2 - Use Guiding Words
Over the past several years I have chosen a word, or one has been chosen for me, to help find focus and purpose in that year. Whenever I get a bit stuck, I think of the word and try to find a way that it can calm me down, guide me around the situation, or just help to look at things a little differently. Sometimes it is definitely a stretch to figure out a way to incorporate that word into my daily life (yes, I am talking about you, "Depth"), but flexibility is always the key to success. This year the word I was given is Joy. Just receiving this as my word honestly brought joy in itself! I love knowing that is what I need to strive for every day, and if I reach the goals I have set for myself then there truly will be a lot of joy in my life!
In addition to the yearly Guiding Word, I've decided to give myself weekly words to help me have a mini focus. I've put 52 words a bowl and each Sunday I randomly pick one and write it in my planner to help steer me through the week. So far, my weekly words have been:
Organize - what a perfect word for the first week of the year!
Strength - this came at a perfect time when life with a teenager has become even more challenging.
Appreciate - this one was great to help me find the positive in every situation and appreciate the lessons learned.
Thoughtfulness - I spent this week making sure I smiled and said hello to every person that I passed by at work. Even when I was in a rush or struggling a little, it was amazing how just a smile and saying hi put both of us in a good mood! I also sent a text to a friend that I haven't spoken to in months and her immediate response was "well, you just made my day."
Embrace - this is the word that I pulled for this upcoming week. There are a few things that come to mind for this word. This one will help me embrace any challenge I face, and it will also remind me to embrace the ones I love, physically and mentally.
Throughout the week I try to take notes in my planner about things I did to follow the weekly word. It's a nice reflection and reminder of the positive things that happened, or even where I struggled a bit. I also try to continue following the guidance of each word every week moving forward.
#3 - Take control of my finances
I have been wanting a new vehicle for a while now, but it has become apparent that the want is turning into a need, as my 2010 SUV is falling apart by the day. Just last week I noticed a piece of the quarter panel, which had been rusted, was now completely gone. It's only about a 4x4" piece, but I am definitely curious about when (and where) it flew off the vehicle. My heart is set on a Jeep, no matter how impractical it may be. More than a couple of people have pointed out the low ratings by some reputable reviewers, but there is just something about a Jeep that keeps drawing me in. Of course, right now car prices are crazy and even though I know used car parts are highly sought after, I am not sure my trade in will help me too much.
With this in mind, I knew straightening out my finances would have to be a top priority. I haven't had a car payment in seven years, and I don't want to take one on while I have some credit card debt, so I have put myself on a "low spend" plan. I've given myself a goal of at least 21 days of the month without buying anything that is not budgeted. This can be difficult for someone like me that is an impulse buyer and loves take-out meals. With just a couple more days left in the month, I'm happy to say that I have hit my goal and will be surpassing it!
I also have added a "miscellaneous" line in the budget to cover any of those unplanned purchases. Whatever I did not spend from that miscellaneous bucket by next paycheck, gets put towards an extra payment on my credit card to help knock that down. I could probably create an entire post on how I am trying to get my finances in order and most likely I will do that, even though I am 100% no expert, but some of my ideas may help others.
#4 - Set targets for my business
Tied in with getting my finances in order, I decided to really map out some goals for my small business, Joatmon Creations. Since this is just a hobby, I don't always stick to a plan and I more or less just wing it based on what I feel like making, which results in a lot of inventory on hand without the demand for it. I also have a list of new ideas that require supplies or equipment that I don't have and since I tend to make impulse decisions it can add to the financial burden. For example, I wanted to try laser engraving for years, but the more popular machines were much too expensive for a hobbiest like me. Then when a Kickstarter popped up for a reasonably priced laser, I jumped at it without giving it any thought. Luckily I had recently paid off my credit cards, but with a large purchase like this and a whole new set of supplies needed, it sent me down the rabbit hole again. However, I absolutely don't regret it. The laser has been a wonderful addition to my business, and I do enjoy finding different ways I can use it.
Unfortunately, almost everything I earn (and more that hasn't been earned) gets spent on new supplies, and I can almost guarantee for every one product in my shop, there are at least two mistakes that got tossed. I recently had an order for a $6 pen and I made four that I tossed before I was happy with the one that got sent to the customer. I truly enjoy what I do, and when the customer feedback is so great, it definitely keeps me going. If I set some realistic goals for myself, then I think it is going to help alleviate some of the stress that comes along with a small business and remove a lot of self-doubt.
#5 - Focus on home and self-care
Finally, another area of focus needs to be my well-being, which is also tied to the well-being of my family and the household. Toward the end of 2022, I started to feel a bit lost. The holidays weren't getting me excited. I was very busy with my shop, which isn't unusual for that time of year, and I still had time to spend with family, but I just didn't feel festive and my heart wasn't into it. It definitely worried me a bit. I was letting things go around the house and it was easier to avoid rather than address. I know it was affecting me, and I'm certain it was affecting my family.
This is where my planner comes in again. Each Sunday I write down the list to tasks I want to accomplish, even if they are "just do it" type things. Each day I make sure at least two things are checked off. By the following Sunday whatever hasn't been checked off gets moved to the next week. In the past, I would just flip back to prior weeks to see what I missed and still needed to be done, until eventually I would forget almost everything that wasn't completed. Using the carry forward strategy helped me make some appointments I had been forgetting about (some that I needed to do last October) and I was tired of re-writing them every week. One day I wouldn't let myself finish the day until I went online and scheduled them, and now I'm happy to say the actual appointments are all done! I have taken the same approach to things that need to be done around the house, too, so I'm looking forward to sharing a lot of these ideas ... and hopefully get some suggestions in return!
One month down
So, how do I think I am doing as the end of January approaches? I am actually quite hopeful. I have really kept up with a lot of these changes and I feel excited to start each day. Even when I am sitting on the couch watching tv, I am working on designs or tweaking my budget. I love cheering my small victories, like walking into Target for one item that they ultimately didn't have and walking out empty handed without letting myself browse for anything else (I actually put "No Spend Day" stickers on my calendar as a visual "cheer"). My family has enjoyed homemade dinners almost every single night and I feel really accomplished. I did recently review an old post from 2021, Mid-year, New Start, where I shared several of the same strategies, and clearly I didn't completely stick with a lot of them, but all I can do is hope that this time it will be different.
By sharing it here, I can be kept accountable, gather new ideas
from others, and maybe next year I'll be showing off my new Jeep!
(If you are interested in contributing to the Jeep fund, by way of placing an order, feel free to check out the latest items at JoatmonCreations.com. I'd love to have you stop by)!