Saturday, January 1, 2011

Accurate Achievement Accounting

It's 10:30 a.m. on New Year's Day. Other than ice in the  pseudo birdbath on the deck and no snow ANYWHERE, today looks pretty much like yesterday did. (Oh wait. I lied. I see a small patch where I'd shoveled a pile.)

I'm doing dishes with the idea that I shall clean today; put away today; organize today and take stock today. It's time to shine a cold light on last years attempts at resolutions and decide what I wistfully hope to accomplish this year.

#1  Read a book a month.
      Um...yeah. I got 3 read last year. April and Perry gave me The Shattering by Christie Golden. It's a World of Warcraft book about the events that lead to the current game. I've been told by several people I know that the book is very good and will explain some things that aren't completely apparent.
      So, I've had Time Lord sitting on the dresser as my next book for many months. Haven't picked it up since I selected it as my next read. I think I'll stick it back on the stack and put The Shattering there instead.

#2  Read a magazine a week.
      Um...sort of. I started out well, even over reading in February and March. I have probably tapered off to a magazine a month since August. The pile isn't noticeably smaller, however.
      I've decided not to renew any magazines except for Cooking Light, this year. I don't make the time to read what I have. I shouldn't continue to add to the pile. When the pile gets down to 6, I will consider resubscribing to something. That's money saved that I can apply elsewhere. I do read Cooking Light within a few weeks of its arrival, so that's the only exception.

#3  Write a friend a real letter once a week.
      Complete failure. If I could find a way to immediately channel my thoughts onto paper, I could meet or exceed this resolution. I compose letters in the car driving to and from job sites. I compose at the sink. I compose in the shower. None of those causes me to put what I've composed down on paper and get it into the mail. I'm sorry to say that some people's Christmas letter was the first they had heard from me in months.

#4  Add one more fruit or vegetable to my daily diet.
      Moderate success. I'm not good about every day, but I am better. I've talked about this before how, when you are pinching pennies, you look for something that will last longer. Fresh doesn't last plus, it's not cheap. I can't take advantage of produce sales where I could freeze stuff. So this is a difficult resolution to keep, but I did fairly well.

#5  Pay off one credit card.
      SUCCESS! I got one card done with December's payment. I start 2011 without that bill. As I wrote out October's check, I realized I would have this bill gone with December. When I received my statement at the end of December, it was true.

#6  Pay for everything with cash.
      SUCCESS! I have removed the cards from my wallet and put them away. At the beginning of the year, through September, I kept a card with me as back up. But I realized that if I was ever to get a handle on my finances, I needed to not have it. The trip to see Carole and David was totally cash. There is almost no room for error when I have only cash, real time money. I think I have to continue doing this in order to keep on top of things. It's stressful. I won't kid you that it's not. My checkbook was off by $28  right before Christmas. I forgot to make an entry. It gets me down. But I see it as a necessary in my life. There is a long hill to climb before I will be comfortable and this is the road I must travel.

#7  Don't get down on myself.
      Fail. I am my worst critic.

So, looking into 2011, what would I like to accomplish?

#1  Pay off another credit card. 
      I have a good start on the next one as I've been working overtime with several projects. The paycheck was fatter and I could send a bit more than the minimum. This one is more than the card I paid off in 2010 so just paying the minimum isn't going to get it paid off this year. It's going to require thinking and application of funds properly.

#2  Pay for everything with cash.
      I can do this. I've proven to myself that I can. I am amazed at my capacity for doing without and making do. I don't need a lot of things that I thought I did, i.e. magazines. I can keep on keeping on and know that I am comfortable and safe.

#3  Don't get down on myself.
      I may have accomplished a lot but there is still a lot to do and silencing the inner critic is hard.

#4  Read a magazine every two weeks.
      Let's make this more reasonable.

#5  Read 6 books this year.
      Again, let's make this reasonable.

#6  Tidy up and deal with one small pile every day.
      This means I don't move it from one place to another. This means that I take a section where there is a stack and deal with everything in the stack. File it. Answer it. Recycle it. Store it. Dust it. Sweep it. Clean it. Whatever needs to be done with it, I do it. Then, "cleaning up the house" doesn't mean firebombing and starting anew. I think I will feel better about my capacity for self-improvement if it's baby steps.

I'm not abandoning writing letters or eating more fruit and vegetables but I don't want to give myself impossible ideals. I need to be realistic on what I can and can't do. I think, for me, this year, this is a good list. I'm reminded of a stanza from "Let's Start The New Year Right" from the movie Holiday Inn.

Let's watch the old year die
With a fond good-bye
And our hopes as high
As a kite

The key is, even in the face of adversity, to keep the kite flying.

Beverage:  Apple Cider tea


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