New Year's Resolutions--it seems that people are either for them, or against them.
I hear often from people that if you want to change or do something in your life, just do it, don't wait for the New Year. And I guess that works for some.
For the record, I am totally FOR New Year's resolutions. I think there is always room to improve, grow and learn and I like having a set timeframe that it set apart to reflect on our personal goals.
A few years ago it occurred to me that it was kind of ironic that in the corporate world, we spend so much time setting yearly performance goals. Writing our performance objectives for our departments, determining our own personal objectives, using the SMART method (goals should be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely). We spend weeks drafting these goals for our work life, and tracking our progress on them, yet most of us don't do that for our own personal lives.
So last year, my husband and I decided to be a little more formal with our goals and we talked about them, wrote them down, and tracked our progress. And in retrospect, I think some of our goals were a little bit too aggressive for one year. We did make some, and not others. But our progress on 2011 goals (or lack of progress in some areas) helped make it clear to us where we can focus in 2012.
So, without further ado, here are our 2012 goals:
Financial: I have huge ideals when it comes to this topic. I want to be like the poster child for Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman's beliefs (be debt-free, max out retirement contributions, save for kids' college funds, have a 6-month emergency fund, pay off mortage early, etc). But the reality is, we are a one income family by choice and accomplishing all of that during this time is just not possible. So we have only one financial goal this year: Get our emergency fund in place. We have a specific dollar figure in mind for this, that would be 4-6 months of living expenses.
We feel an emergency fund is so important, especially in our situation of living on one income. If my husband got laid off, it would be extremely difficult. This was one of our goals last year, but unfortunately we got hit with a lot of unexpected expenses throughout the year (hospital bills, vet bills, house repairs, etc.) that derailed us.
We do have a plan on how to accomplish this. We started some good habits last year that will help us get there--like eating out only once a month, and pre-allocating by month any big purchases to spread them out over the year. We decided to temporarily suspend contributions to the college funds until we get our emergency fund in place. We will get this done this year!
Housekeeping: I must confess to you that I am HORRIBLE at cleaning the house. It's not that I don't hate the act of cleaning. It's mainly that I can't clean with the kids in the house. For starters, during the week I'm not home that much due to the kids' schedules and activities. When I am home, they require a lot of things from me and even if they are being self-sufficient for the moment, my youngest one tends to find me and derail my cleaning plans by sticking her hands in the toilet or some other icky act. And at the end of the day, when they are all in bed and I have about 2 hours to myself, the last thing I want to do is clean the house because I am so exhausted.
But I don't like living in a dirty house, and I love the feeling of a clean, de-cluttered house. So I need to figure out how to make it work. So for 2012 I decided to Develop a Cleaning Rotation Schedule. The best time for me to clean is 2 days a week when my 2 older kids are in school/pre-school and my younger one is napping (this is a short timeframe of 1-2 hours). So I've scheduled out my cleaning rotation on the calendar for the entire year. I'll mainly use this time for cleaning the bathrooms, because that's the main part where I don't want my baby trying to "help" me.
Don't worry, my husband is a pretty big help with the house. He's in charge of vacuuming and mopping all the floors. Which needs to be done with more frequency anyway.
And my husband's big housekeeping goal for the year is to Declutter/organize one area of our house each month. We have many areas we can work on--our mail inboxes/recycle area, the office file cabinet, our closet, the attic, the list could go on.
Health & Fitness: Last year, I set myself a pretty aggressive fitness goal and I actually achieved it! Health & fitness have become more important to me as I get older, and as I see my parents aging. Because diabetes runs in my family, I feel like I have a target on my back and I want to do everything I can to prevent that disease.
In 2011, I lost 61 pounds (81 pounds since giving birth), I started running again and ran a 5k, got back on a weight-lifting program, and eliminated most unhealthy foods from my diet. In 2012 my goals are to Lose 20 more pounds, Increase my 5k speed by 3 minutes, and Try new kinds of exercise. I'd also like to start teaching my kids more about health and fitness.
Do you have any goals for the New Year?