A few weeks ago on Instagram, a couple of influencers were talking about the hot topic of goal setting in 2021. Mainly they were asking if it’s even worth it to try and think that far forward, since this past year was turned on its head and more than likely 2021 will be as well.
Personally, I’m a firm believer in setting those goals. If you have to adjust the sails or postpone the event – specifically, the races I signed up for that went virtual or were canceled – then accept the postponement and keep going. Just because the world around all of us isn’t guaranteed to be orderly doesn’t mean we as individuals can’t keep order in our own homes.
I’m feeling renewed and hopeful, and I decided to go ahead and make my list of improvements. I don’t like to call them resolutions, since resolution always seems to imply an end point and I’m too restless for my own good, always looking for something else to build upon. This past year while I was still working I paid off my credit card, and then after that I felt it was time to revamp my savings account set up. This upcoming year, in addition to getting a new job, I’m focused on paying down my car payment and continuing to beef up my safety net.
I’m going to share my 2021 improvements, which hopefully a few of you can use for yourselves and your families going into the new year.
Improvement #1: Pay myself first no matter what
In college I read Rich Dad Poor Dad. I’m not looking to get into a debate about Robert Kiyosaki’s merits, and there was some advice in his book that I didn’t think would be practical for daily usage. However, he shared an anecdote about some advice Rich Dad gave him: pay yourself first. From every paycheck, set aside an amount for yourself first before you start paying any bills or go shopping.
Admittedly I have done this in the past, but was inconsistent about it. After paying off the credit card this past summer I started taking out cash for spending, since I couldn’t justify getting out my debit card on a Taco Bell run. Now I’m setting aside cash on hand in case of an emergency. At first I wasn’t paying attention to how much I had saved up, but then I finally counted everything out. I’m not going to disclose how much I have on the internet, but I will say I was pleasantly surprised to learn that taking out small, consistent amounts of cash, setting it in my emergency spot and then “forgetting” about it on a regular basis has gotten me into a good spot, in spite of losing my job.
Going into 2021, I’m continuing that habit and I’m pretty excited to see where I’ll be in a year with it.
Improvement #2: Read a book a month
I realize one is an unimpressive number. However, adult me struggles with finding time and maintaining the focus to finish a book, so one book a month is a big deal (my former bookworm kid self isn’t proud of this fact.) I like to alternate between a longer book and a shorter book, page-wise. 12 Rules for Life was my longer book, at over 300 pages. The current book I’m reading is Make Your Bed: Little things that can change your life … and maybe the world by Admiral William H. McRaven, which is a little over 100 pages. I just started it and so far I like it. I’ll write a review next month.
In college I had a habit of getting up early so I could read from my 365-day devotional, and I picked up a new devotional that was on sale at the supermarket. While libraries are economical – and I love moseying through them during non-pandemic times – there’s something about buying a book that reinforces that I need to get my money’s worth and actually read it. So in 2021, I’m not letting myself turn into a mental loafer.
Improvement #3: Schedule social media time
This one is pretty straightforward. I spend way too much time on social media doing nothing. I’m shifting my social media presence to be more semi-professional, and that means sharing posts that are thoughtful and look presentable, instead of just selfies after a run when my face looks like a baboon’s butt. Planning ahead as to when and what I’m going to post on Instagram helps to meet my goal of being intentional and create quality content, and also keeps me from wasting too much time scrolling and not getting the important matters of the day completed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten wet towels in the washing machine because I was too busy playing on my phone. I’m not proud of it either.
Improvement #4: Clean up my eating habits
During the first month of working from home I spent way too much time snacking out of boredom. While I’ve never been overweight, it doesn’t take much for me to fluff up, and when I am a bit fluffy, I feel sluggish, bloated and completely uncomfortable in my own skin. Back then I reached my highest weight and was disappointed in myself enough that I cleaned up my diet, started walking regularly (at this point the gyms were closed and that really didn’t help the eating) and kept a food journal to prevent grazing. Within six weeks I lost the fluff and felt so much better.
From Thanksgiving on I got pretty lazy – eating everything, enjoying take out on my grocery shopping days, not exercising for extended periods of time and morphing into a potato. I hopped on the scale this past Sunday and saw my weight is now tipping my highest weight. However, I wasn’t disappointed or unhappy with myself – it happened, and I know what to do to get myself back on track. So my goal for all of 2021 – aside from eating vegetables again – is to create a flexible but sustainable nutrition plan so I don’t have to deal with the fluff-again, off-again cycle. From now on I’m prioritizing water, tea (I’m a big coffee drinker), fruits and vegetables with plenty of eggs and fish.
Improvement #5: Commit to a run streak
Out of all my improvements, this one is going to be the hardest and the one I’m going to hate myself for. I haven’t been running for the past few weeks, which is fine since all we need breaks every once in a while. However, I know that running fitness is one of those things if you don’t use, you will lose, which is something that scares me. I was looking at my running calendar and for a long time, I knew I was one of those people who needed variety to commit to training. For example, I would alternate between riding the recumbent bike and running every other day for six days a week, and three of those days were committed run days.
However, I haven’t been active at all and I’m realizing the lack of motivation isn’t going away. So the best thing when motivation isn’t present is to be disciplined and commit to doing something no matter what, even if that something initially comes as a shock. For me, running every single day is the shock. And I’m tired of the same old thing no longer working for me, so I’m going to do something out of sorts for me. To hold myself accountable, I registered for the First on the First Virtual 5k. I’m literally starting 2021 on an active note and I’m going to re-become Allison Gallagher, the broad who runs Broad Street and every other thoroughfare in and around Columbus, Ohio.
I hope you all have enjoyed today’s post. Go out there and show today who’s in charge.
Yours in reading,