2020 is mere days away. Usually, by this time I’ve already hashed out my new years resolutions and have quite a few superfluous ideas about how I will lead my life in the new year. Some of my usual intentions of the past have included not chewing on my nails, working out all the time, and giving up all things sweet. This year, however, I’m taking on a different approach. I’m not vowing to give up this or vow to do that. No, this year I am going to live my life to the fullest and continue on with the healthy habits I picked up over the past ten years, all from the help of some very influential women I began following during this decade.
First and foremost I’m going to take some advice from New York Time’s Best Selling Author, Rachel Hollis. In her latest inspirational book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, she discusses dedicating five hours a week toward a specific goal. Five solid hours. Now, at first thought this may seem intimidating, but as Rachel explains, five hours isn’t a whole lot of time. After digesting this newfound information, I decided that I could easily manage to dedicate five hours per week toward a goal, whatever that goal might be, and you should too. You should also get yourself a copy of Girl, Stop Apologizing, and read it stat!
Now, what exactly will I be dedicating these five hours to? Well, that’s what I’m currently debating on. Some of my adult goals include the following:
- Buy a new home!
- Pay off debt using the Dave Ramsey snowball method (it works, I’ll explain later)
- Write my first novel
- Lose the 30 pounds I gained the year I quit teaching
- Earn my Masters degree, and
- Read more books
Well, lets start from the bottom of my list: Read more books. Back in 2010 when my husband and I relocated to Houston, I searched my young little heart out for a local book club but came back empty handed. So, to solve my nerdy woes, I started my own book club and thanks to the social platform www.meetup.com, the book club I began became an overnight success that continues to meet to this day. I’d love to say I’m still a member, but sometimes life throws you lemons and in 2016 that lemon thrown was a move to the middle of west Texas. Unfortunately, meetup didn’t offer much in the realm of book clubs in my new home, and trying to meet people outside of work with similar interests seemed near impossible until I joined the local Junior League chapter. Although not your typical Junior Leaguer, I was able to connect with like-minded women and joined two book clubs by the end of 2019! Now, two book clubs may seem like overkill, but the reality is that both groups represent women of different walks of life, with varying interests and book selections, and I’m not obligated to join each group every month (although that is the goal). So, with all of that in mind and a subscription to audible, I’ve already managed to maintain a “goal” to read more books. Simply stated, I’ll have one paperback in hand and another through audible. And, if you think this is a set-up for failure, I’m already in the habit of listening to podcasts during my morning and afternoon commutes, so I’ll switch out listening to MFM for an audio book.
Moving up on my list presents: Earning my Masters degree.
Ah, a goal I’ve had since my senior year in high school. Yes, seriously, since I was 18 I’ve dreamed of earning a masters. Back then it was fantasized by the musical number “An English Teacher” from the famed musical Bye, Bye Birdie, in which I portrayed the role of Ursula Merkle, shocking audiences everywhere that I could indeed be loud and scream my ever-loving head off (I was a reserved child, and not to shock you, but I’m a reserved adult…imagine that). As a young, naive student of the theatre, I imagined I would go from my undergraduate studies onto my masters, but marriage, a move, and living life as a military wife in early post-9/11 America presented different challenges, and pursuing another college degree no longer topped my list.
Fast-forward to a few years into my teaching career and I considered the idea yet again, but due to being overwhelming busy and consumed in my teaching duties, it didn’t seem possible. Now, nearly a decade later, that thought process has changed after discussing a desire to move forward and grow in my field with fellow teachers near and far, and in the spring I will be applying for a masters program through my alma mater.
I figure if I don’t go for it now, I’ll find an excuse to not pursue it altogether, and to me, that’s unacceptable.
Next up is: Lose the 30 pounds I gained the year I quit teaching.
Did I mention I quit teaching a few years ago? Don’t worry, it wasn’t the first time and it wont be the last. I’ve gone back, again. Sometimes we need a break from it all, a new outlook, a new journey, and in order for me to refresh sometimes, I have to take a break.
Anyway, the year I quit teaching I did a lot of traveling between my new home and my old home. Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and in turn, destroyed my grandparents home; the home I also basically grew up in. This having been the second time a huge disaster struck my hometown after I moved away (first Ike, then Harvey), I felt obligated to help my family during their time of need, and that’s exactly what I did. But what I also did was sit on my ass while I drove multiple times across the state, focused on my studies, changed my diet to fit into a $50/week grocery bill which wasn’t all that healthy, and stopped working out after I was followed home on a run by a strange man in a white pick-up truck. Yea, scary.
After deciding to return to the classroom the following year to save money for my masters, I started to lose a little bit of weight and became more active. I began incorporating fitness back into my regular routine and ultimately became a happier person. Unfortunately, I go in and out of fitness phases, but over the past year I have consistently been more active and workout at least four times a week (unless I’m sick).
Working out isn’t always a hardcore HIIT routine, and it wont always be that way. So, a big goal of mine is to begin incorporating daily yoga when I first wake up and before I go to bed to help center my mind and body, in addition to help with my anxiety and teeth grinding (that’s a post for another day). At the beginning of this school year I was really good about doing this and saw an increase in my overall daily productivity. Of course, I’m also doing the Tone It Up #LoveYourBody series (working out either in the morning or as soon as I get in from work), because that’s how my friend R and I always begin our new year. I’ve never fully completed a series as intended, but maybe this year will be different.
Once the Love Your Body series is over, I fully intend to join a local gym. It’s going to happen, but not immediately, because I’ve already set my sights on completing my first fitness endeavor of the new year: the TIU LYB series.
Now, these next two goals is where I can finally get into those five hours of weekly commitment I mentioned earlier. Since I have two goals, that really means that I’m looking at a total of ten extra hours dedicated to achieving goals, and already I can feel failure creeping up on me. Perhaps this is where Rachel Hollis is undeniably right: you should only focus on one goal at a time, and I agree. But I have a foolproof plan.
One of my goals is to write my first novel; another dream I’ve had since I was a babe. I love writing. It’s in my blood. I’m passionate about it. Hell, it’s what helps me process my being, and it keeps me mentally healthy. I’ve had a solid idea since the beginning of this decade. An idea that transpired after a trip to Santa Monica for a wedding and a drive down the five to La Jolla jamming out to SOAD, and a long open brain dump of ideas with my husband (he’ll have to be credited in the novel, of course). If you ask him, my husband, what this idea of mine is, he can easily provide a brief summary of ideas and even identify specific characters and their attributes. Clearly, we’ve discussed this idea a lot.
The problem is that every time I’ve wanted to sit down to write, something else inspires me and I lose the drive to work on this one project. So, taking the advice from a guy that pitched an idea for everyone to write their own novel and Rachel Hollis, I am dedicating a minimum of five hours per week to writing. I’m going to set specific word count goals, and by the end of 2020, I will have written my first novel. Yep, you heard it here first. It’s a done deal. Gosh, that sounds frightening. Can this be real?
My next goal is to pay off debt using Dave Ramsey’s snowball method. This being the most adultish goal on my list is a habit I have been incorporating into my life for at least four years. Years ago I expressed to my mother a desire to pay off my student loans, and she handed me her Dave Ramsey tool kit. I listened to the CDs and tried my hand at creating a zero-balanced budget. I failed at the budget, but what I mastered was finding ways to save money and to throw as much money as I could at debt. Within a year we had paid off one car and began paying down my student loan debt. Later on we sold our home, moved to a new city where we lived mortgage-free for a few months and were able to pay off another vehicle, and then finally my student loans. It was amazing! So amazing I cried because I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself and all this extra income we suddenly had access to. And that’s where it all stopped.
Life happened, new jobs were taken, and more debt was acquired. Within two years both my husband and I purchased new vehicles: he a work truck (a necessity); me a play toy to replace my luxury vehicle that held a host of problems the dealer or manufacture would not remedy. What I should’ve done was go for a modest replacement vehicle, but symbolism and status got the best of me, and now I have a car payment that costs more than my husband’s truck. Yikes!
To remedy our debt woes, my plan is to dedicate five extra hours a week to work through the online teaching platform VIPKid. Understand that I have been teaching through VIPKid since 2018 and have a dedicated group of students I regularly teach. Although I haven’t taught since August/September, based on my previous successes retaining students (and the number of priority bookings I still receive), I know I can bring in at least $500/month with this side hustle. During the summer I will be able to increase my hours between working on my masters and educational conferences I am scheduled to attend.
If you have a bachelor’s degree, have a desire to teach, and you are looking for a way to supplement your family’s income, VIPKid could be an option for you. I waited a solid year before I applied to become a teacher through the platform, and after starting I wish I had applied after the first time I saw an ad. If you’re interested in applying, click here. And no, you don’t need any prior teaching experience or have to hold a teaching certification to teach through VIPKid.
And at the top of my list is a far-fetched idea: buy a new home. There really isn’t much to this “goal” other than my husband and I aren’t too fond of our current neighborhood, and after paying the $430 for annual assessments to our HOA, I didn’t feel they were warranted based on the lack of amenities our community provides. So, we are actively hunting for an energy star rated home that has better windows, better insulation, maybe a 200+ more square feet, and is within a nicer community on the opposite side of town.
Chances of us actually committing to a new home are very slim considering the conversations we’ve had about debt, but it is something on our mind. The least we’ll do this year is save up money to have better insulation installed in our attic, as well as energy saving windows on the front of our home.
With all that said, cheers to 2020!
What goals do you have for the new year?