An assessment

Now in the new year, it’s important to take an accurate look at your situation. Review things like your finances (also a good time since tax season is right around the corner), your schedule, work/life balance, etc. An honest evaluation will give you the opportunity to make changes getting you closer to your goals.

I had hoped that 2019 would have me moving forward in Success and Harmony. But I hadn’t painted a clear enough picture for myself at the beginning of the year. So this year I wanted to ensure that I had the foundation laid for progress.

What this looks like:

  • Financial Breakdown: I’ve used Mint to gather all of my financial information into one place. This includes bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and investments. I’m sure that there are other options, but I’ve had Mint for a while now, though in the last half of 2019 I let some of the information slide.
  • Work/Life Balance: This has been a bit tricky, as I’ve been working a lot during the past month. After three months with very few jobs, suddenly I was seeing a full calendar. Now, in January, I must admit that I’m pretty tired trying to keep up with the gigs and the holiday expectations. I wrote about hustling as an actor, and I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing over the past month. Hustling. I’m prepared to pull back, and starting in March I should have just one contract to focus on for the summer. That will free up the rest of my time for living.
  • Relationships: This could be lumped into Work/Life, but there are some relationships that should be cultivated that I’m not currently nurturing, and some relationships that should be looked at to see if they are still providing a healthy framework. All in all, I don’t spend too much time with toxic friendships. However, at this point I do want to review every one of my relationships to make sure that I’m being present and attentive (not toxic myself), and that they are doing the same.
  • Health: Another of my problematic areas. Having been diagnosed with RA nearly a decade ago now, I no longer take medication for it. I’ve found that the key to my health is sleeping adequately, physical activity, and eating properly. I don’t always commit to this lifestyle, but it helps when I do.
  • Goals: Finally, what are my goals? Yes, I have my focus words for 2020. But was are my goals, both short-term and long-term? There are a couple of ways to think about these. I think right now, it’s important to ask, “Are these SMART?” (Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Time-based.) If not, then reevaluate.

2019 year in review

To start the year, I had two focus words I wanted to spend my time with: Harmony & Success. I made some progress with harmony, but not so much with success.

I began the year working as a development director for a nonprofit, as well as working two gigs. My contract with the nonprofit ended in April, but I hadn’t been enjoying the work all that much anyway. I went into a sales position after that ended, and picked up a couple more gigs along the way.

When I had another sales job lined up, I left the first one – only to have my new job placed on hold. So I bounced around a lot. From August to October, I was only working gigs and relying on savings to get through. By November I was worrying about what kind of work I’d land. Then in December, I added two more jobs, one in retail and one in a restaurant. And most excitingly, a tour guide job I could line up for March – in Alaska.

As to achieving harmonious living – I believed it would take meditation, yoga, writing, and soul searching, all of which I did to some degree over the past year. I’ve been more consistent with my writing, and up until the end of November, I had been doing a lot of yoga.

Am I more harmonious? I don’t really know. But I usually feel pretty relaxed and even-keeled.

This past year had some highlights – my summer travel to Alaska; joining the improv troupe; a few really exciting gigs. But overall, it was a quiet year. A time for restructuring and decluttering. Much more harmony than success.

With 2020 mere hours away, I’m focusing on two new words to guide me through the coming year: Adventure and bravery. Tomorrow I’ll dig into my plans and goals for 2020, but for now, here’s to a safe and wonderful New Year’s Eve!

 

 

The Resolution Trap

Here it is, just a couple of days before New Year’s. You’re wondering what will 2020 hold, and what kind of goals you’ll set for yourself.

Everyone knows the beginning of their favorite new year’s sentence: “My new year’s resolution is…”

And of course, the inevitable failure that follows is also all-too-familiar. Roughly nine out of ten don’t make it. But why is it so hard to keep a resolution? To be honest, there are a number of reasons.

First, it’s likely not specific enough. In Business Insider, it’s suggested to make a concrete goal as your resolution. “”It’s easier to drop out or walk away when you set goals or resolutions that are vague. When it’s really detailed and specific, it’s harder to walk away from it.”

Second, you’ll probably come out of the gate at a sprint. But it’s a marathon, and you have all year.

Third, if you’re like me, you want all the changes to occur. When what you should be focusing on is one specific change, which you work on and implement into daily practice. That’s something you can build from. Change begets change.

Fourth, maybe they’re really big goals. So set smaller milestones. Say, cut the goal into quarters, or into twelfths. Then by the end of the first period, you should have that first cut completed. (Lose 25 pounds, for instance. Or roughly seven pounds by the end of March. And anyone can lose seven pounds, can’t they?)

And lastly, there is some psychological rationale behind why it’s so hard. We might make resolutions that are “significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with [our] internal view of [ourselves]”.

This is where I usually advocate mindfulness and honesty. Be prepared for the new year, and ring in 2020. But please go easy on yourself too. Don’t beat yourself up. Know what you want in the coming year, and take steps to achieve it. And even if you fail, you’ll still be closer to your goal than when you started.

Everything in moderation

I had a teacher once tell me, “do anything you want, as long as you do it in moderation.”

The reason for this advice was, at the time, I was not known for moderate living. Even now I still have flashes of excess. But I’m more able to control my urges, likely a result of getting older. Impulse control can be a challenge for anyone, and I certainly had troubles in my youth.

But the advice is sound, and still applicable.

Moderate spending is the key to debt reduction and building wealth. Moderate eating is good for weight management, and moderate activity for staying fit and healthy.

As we cross over into the new year, be mindful of moderation in both your lifestyle and in your resolutions. Pushing too hard out of the gate is a sure-fire way to not make it to the finish line.

Down to the wire

Here it is, December 2019. Have you accomplished all that you wanted to this year? I know I haven’t. Sometime later this month I’ll do a personal check-in, showcasing some successes and failures of the year.

I recommend you do the same.

Try to think back to the resolutions you made on New Year’s last. Then, you can set them aside. Resolutions tend to be thinly-veiled attempts to make us live the lives we think we should have.

Really, just be honest with yourself over what worked and what didn’t this year? And ask yourself why? Maybe you’ll find 2020 is a time for new beginnings, or to recommit to the things that you really enjoyed in 2019. Either way, if you start thinking about it now, it won’t come as such a shock come January 1.

An honest look at 2018

This year, closing out today, has been what I would used to call, “Meh.” There were some ups, some downs, and then the mostly flats.

To the year’s credit, I did have more time on stage; rejoined the nonprofit world; made considerable effort towards getting out of debt (given the state of my student loans, that didn’t look like much – but I made progress nonetheless); worked on relationships with family, friends, and other loved ones; decluttered; and started new endeavors.

On the other side of the ledger, there was an overwhelming feeling of not accomplishing enough. Many of the new endeavors sat unfinished, or abandoned. Some money-making ideas didn’t pan out as hoped, and were laid to the side. A few of my writing projects got pushed to the back burner, and nothing got even close to completion this year.

Som highlights:

  • With my subscription to Movie Pass in 2016, I saw numerous films throughout the year. After changes to its subscription model prevented me from buying several tickets, it was time to cancel though, and I’ve reduced the number of films I see so that I wasn’t spending so much on tickets.
  • I started the year working in telecommunications, and studying basic electric circuit design. I’m ending the year with a primary focus in fundraising and development.
  • In April I purchased my new car, a Toyota RAV4 Adventure Series. There was a notion to buy a small camper, and do some traveling, living and working from wherever I ended up. I haven’t gotten that far yet. To date, I haven’t even had a tow hitch installed.
  • A few shows under my belt – Evita, Oklahoma, and Little Women. I’m enjoying the character work that I’ve been getting, and would like to try my hand on camera again. It’s been many years since doing television work in Ft. Lauderdale.
  • During November my girlfriend and I did make the trip to Costa Rica. This was a quick jaunt, and I would have loved to have seen more. In the summer of 2019 we’ll be heading to Alaska for ten days, so I’m excited for that as well.
  • The remainder of the year was just so-so. Nothing dramatic, nothing earth-shattering (all this being on the personal front). Just a development year. It’s 2019 that promises change. As I said, my focus words for 2019 are Success and Harmony. There are no limits to what those mean, and as the Universe receives my intention, I know it’ll bring it back to me in the auspicious, Universal way.

So, fare thee well 2018. Greetings to a prosperous and healthy 2019.

Happy New Year!