Fresh Start For 2019
Can you believe it? It’s 2019. The future is here.
2019 will be another big one for me as I’ll spend most of my year in Chuuk, and then start life fresh again once my contract is over.
Tim and I will be moving forward on some of our longer-term big picture goals for how we want our lives to look a few years from now. There’s another three years of grunt work before we can get into the good stuff. It’s going to involve dedication and sacrifice to get where we want to be.
I’ve never been a fan of New Years Resolutions because I’ve always been a fan of self-development any day of the year. I’m usually the one to be rolling my eyes at any proclamation that next year is the year you’ll finally change and become the person you’ve always dreamed of being.
But with a four-day weekend over the New Year and nowhere to be, I thought it was as good a time as any to slow down, get focused and start the year off refreshed and goal-oriented.
It’s now 10 days after NYE, so here’s what I have done and will be doing to start 2019 off on the right foot.
Clearing my computer out and minimising my to-do list has been amazing for bringing clarity and intention. When we spend so much time on our devices, clutter builds up and can start to overwhelm us well before we even notice it happening. Things I’ve done to declutter my virtual world:
Unfollow Instagram accounts of people I didn’t engage with or brands that were spending triggers
Delete any apps I haven’t used in months and reshuffle my most-used to the front
Clean out my MacBook ‘Downloads’ folder by sorting files into the right folder or deleting them
Delete files I haven’t opened in 18 months
Run all the CleanMyMac maintenance programs
Cull my Google Chrome bookmarks
Move my desktop folders to my sidebar
Combine all my to-do lists across multiple apps and devices into one program
The other really important thing you can do is unsubscribe from the majority of your newsletters and delete all your old emails. What I recommend doing is setting a two to four week challenge for yourself where you unsubscribe from every newsletter that comes in during that time. After that, the newsletters seem less intimidating to tackle.
To make physical space, I went through all the clothing I had to identify what I don’t wear anymore, boxed it up and gave it away. Because I don’t have much with me in Micronesia anyway I identified three items: A pair of pants that don’t fit anymore, a t-shirt that’s seen better days, and a top I thrifted for $2 but doesn’t work in the outfits I wanted to wear it with. The two items in good knick were given to friends, and the t-shirt will probably be composted.
I’ve got a thorough blog post on clothes to donate and what to look for when building a minimalist wardrobe, linked below.
To reduce waste, I pulled everything out, (wiped down the drawers while I had the chance), and went through what I had to be sure what’s going to expire is used first. Anything I’ve been neglecting is now on top of my drawers in a tin to encourage me to wear more mascara or BB cream because after all I did pay for them. I’ve been doing more face masks and wearing more foundation since I did this to use them up, so ironically it’s actually improved my appearance in a very vain way.
We also took the time to sort through our shelves and cupboard, bring anything forgotten in the back to the front, to try to eat things in order of their expiry date and avoid waste. By doing this, we unintentionally realised we could rearrange our organisational system and minimised some of the packaging into tupperware containers to fit in our very small kitchen. Food has been a lot simpler since we decluttered that area.
I have some clear objectives I need to reach in the next five years. But how can I combine career, financial, travel and family goals at the same time?
I’ve started by creating different lists of my goals and priorities:
Daily (habits to develop every day)
Long-term goals (the big ones)
Career (to map out the steps)
Finances (financial goals to save for)
Travel (places I want to fit into my schedule)
What I want in Australia (what I’m looking for in my home/community)
I’ve been using Wunderlist, and I actually have 18 lists. These vary from actionable “to-dos” I schedule for specific days, recurring tasks I have to repeat over and over (such as a reminder to make oat milk every three days), to broader lists like I’ve described above that are there to remind me and guide the “to-dos”.
Having so many lists could be overwhelming, but I’m able to set a date for each task so I can pop a reminder in and offload worrying about that task until the week it is due, when it will come back up on my radar. This helps me declutter my mind and get focused on the tasks at hand that day
Talking through your plans for the year (and the years following it) with the person you do life with is really important. If it’s not a romantic partner, you probably have a parent, sibling, friend or housemate that you do life with and talk to most days. The new year is a good time to check you have the same intentions. I suppose, the fact I’m doing life with someone else is my reason for even setting 2019 intentions.
Health goals, career goals, financial goals and travel goals don’t necessarily have to be shared, but they have to be supported by the person you’re doing life with so you don’t find yourself heading in two different directions. If one person is planning for a house deposit but the other is saving for a year backpacking around the world, you’re in for a world of hurt once you eventually have that conversation.
Tim and I had a few conversations to get clear on when we want to return to Australia, where we’ll live when we do, what our expenses will be, what we can each contribute, what kind of lifestyle we want to lead, what we need and what we’d be willing to compromise on, long-term savings goals, and timelines so we know how long to expect each phase to last. In places where there’s friction because one of us would be willing to sacrifice something different to the other, we’ve talked it out over following conversations so now we’re pretty clear.
From the financial goals I set earlier, I have been able to work backwards, decide how much I can reasonably save for the foreseeable future with my current income, and set dates I’ll reach my saving goals. This allows me to budget accordingly around those deadlines and map out a realistic timeline. In this, I include things like knee surgery in 2021 (hoping it lasts that long) because that’s the kind of cost that could otherwise sneak up on me.
The most important thing I can take away from budgeting for 2019 is finding the deficits in my budget and the gaps I need to fill to live the life I want. This will be an influence on the jobs Tim and I take in Australia, as we negotiate the hours we’d be OK spending at work, or the time we’d have to spend living apart to make our financial goals.
The rat race is something neither of us are interested in, but we’re willing to work harder for pre-determined periods to reach a target. We want to be intentional with our work-life balance and use work as a tool to design the lifestyle we want, rather than letting work be our lifestyle.
To avoid the boom and bust of trying too much and quickly giving up, I am trying to be realistic about setting small good habits to carry me through. Instead of aiming for large transformational habits, I just want to focus more on implementing the basics every day.
I am starting with three very, very simple habits. If I make it to all three, I’ll be content with my years efforts at taking care of myself. If I cross off all three in January and have plenty of time to develop dozens of new habits - all the better!
Here are my new habits, in order of how successful I’ve been so far:
Taking all my supplements at their correct dosage every day
Stretching 15 minutes a day
Reading 15 minutes a day
If I achieve these? I’d love to re-implement old habits like journalling, meditation and Pilates. But no pressure.
So while I’m not a New Year’s Resolution person and I don’t believe in “New Year New Me”, I have found that the flipping of the calendar is a nice reminder to take a beat to think, plan and refresh your space and your intentions as you map out the next twelve months of your life.
Did you do anything special to mark the new year?