Well, That Didn’t Take Long

I usually don’t publicize any plans I make. This is partly because I always have at least three back-up plans and no one has time to read all of that, but also because I’m fairly superstitious. A non-small part of me has always believed that if you speak something out loud, it won’t happen. I blame the rules of the Birthday Cake Candle Wish for this. The fact that I can say “platypi wearing hats” out loud within earshot of my phone and my Facebook feed will fill with ads related to semi-aquatic mammals sporting headgear has also not served to dissuade me of this belief.

Further proving my theory, my 2019 resolution plan has quickly been thrown into chaos. I’ve temporarily lost one job due to the government shut-down, and the other three are being affected by the slow retail season (I have four jobs, it’s a thing, we’ll discuss it later I promise). Right now, I’m bringing home about 75% of my previous average monthly income. It’s not an unsustainable cut, and it’s not forever, but it is the current reality and it has to be accounted for.

Adding to the complications is my desire to move to a 50/50 budget, where 50% of my income goes to debt payments or savings accounts. With the cuts to my monthly income, the closest I can get right now is a 60/40 split, where 40% is going to debt or savings. My monthly budget, which was already slim to being with, now looks like it’s undergone a drastic and ill-advised cosmetic surgery. Two of my Resolutions, so carefully tailored to my previous monthly income, will now have to be altered to fit.

It’s disappointing to be here, especially so early on in the year. But it is part of life that things happen. Adjusting a goal isn’t admitting failure. It’s being honest about where you are, and there’s a lot of power in that. It also means that there’s a greater chance for success later on. So that said, here are the changes to my Resolutions:

Previous Resolution #5: Reduce Student Loan Balance by $3,000.

The interest rate on my student loans is 6.8% (the interest on my house is just over half of that, but that’s fine. Everything is fine here). To reduce the total balance by $3,000 by the end of 2019, I’d have had to pay around $270 per month. My current minimum monthly payment is $140, so I was hoping to almost double that payment per month. That just isn’t going to happen right now. So I’m amending this resolution to the below:

New Resolution #5: Pay 150% of the minimum monthly Student Loan Payment

This puts me at a new monthly payment of $210, which is manageable along with other budget cuts. It’ll still put me over the monthly interest amount, which means that I’ll still see balance reductions. It just won’t be as fast as I’d like.

Previous Resolution #9: Visit Somewhere Old

One of the first cuts to my monthly budget was the vacation fund contribution. While there’s still a small amount for that each month, it does mean that this resolution will have to be scaled back. Returning to Scotland, which was my secret wish for somewhere old, isn’t going to happen this year. But that’s ok- Scotland isn’t going anywhere (I hope), and it’s unlikely that they’ll figure out that my family is banned from that country before I can afford a return. (This is also a true fact, and one that we’ll discuss later too.)

What I do have planned already is my annual return to Dragon Con. Driving 45 minutes to the city for a weekend wasn’t exactly what I had planned when I wrote this resolution, but it is a place that I’ve been before and it is a vacation of sorts. It’s also an expensive one, between the hotel costs ($300+ a night split across four roommates), parking costs, food, and my own failure to avoid the Dealers’ Halls. So, I’m revising the resolution to the below:

New Resolution #9: Save $400 for Dragon Con Prior To August 1st.

This would cover my portion of the hotel room, parking fees, and food. It may even cover a few small things from the Dealer’s Hall. With seven months between now and the convention, that means saving just $57 per month. That’s way more doable than planning an entirely separate trip, and it’s an already tangible goal to aim for.


General Resolution Update:

Now that the edits are out of the way. here is an update on the status of all 12 Resolutions:

Resolution #1: Finish editing a book. I’ve made zero progress on this so far. I’m ashamed of me too.

Resolution #2: Publish something more than a blog post. I started working on a new writing project that could be published, so I’m counting that as progress.

Resolution #3: Finish the library shelves. This one actually does have an update! I’ll write a longer post about it soon, but I’ve finished the second wall of shelves in the library. It took about a week and was paid for entirely with gift cards I received for Christmas (huge thanks to my family, who went along with that request).

Resolution #4: Cut trails through the woods. No progress here, but I am going to Home Depot soon to return some unused items and pick up a chainsaw. That should make this project much easier.

Resolution #5: Pay 150% of the minimum monthly Student Loan Payment. I paid $139 in January, which is 100% of the current minimum monthly payment. I was not able to pay extra this month, as I had a few other expenses to take care of first.

Resolution #6: Read 24 books. I’ve read two books this year so far! A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows, both by V.E. Schwab. I’m currently on my third book, Fables: 1001 Nights Of Snowfall, by Bill Willingham. The Fables series is my favorite comic book series, and I’m slowly collecting all the volumes in hardcover.

Resolution #7: Hold onto kindness longer. I’ve been working hard on this one, and I’ve already caught myself having to remember it several times. There’s been at least one person who seemed intent on testing my resolve, too. But it does result in better outcomes, so I’ll keep working on it.

Resolution #8: Visit somewhere new. The original plan for this resolution contained a failsafe plan: “even if it’s a new place within an old place.” That’s what has saved this one from editing. I have two family vacations planned: one for March and one for July. Both are to places that I’ve been before, but both have plenty of places within them that I haven’t been to before.

Resolution #9: Save $400 for Dragon Con Prior To August 1st. I set aside $50 for this in January. Not quite the $57 needed, but pretty close.

Resolution #10: Sew a costume. Haven’t started on this one. Can’t say I’m surprised in myself. Also can’t say that I’m proud of that. Haha.

Resolution #11: Sew 300 stuffed animals. I have all the materials to make a few dozen stuffed rabbits, so I just need to make the time to start working on them. My goal is still to make 25 rabbits per month.

Resolution #12: Tell people the truth. I knew as soon as I wrote it that this would be the hardest one to accomplish, and I’ve been proven right. There’s a fine line between wanting to share and wanting to protect an image. I struggle with the idea that being honest about my physical limitations will make me look weak, or even worse, like I’m exaggerating them. It’s easier to keep my mouth shut, breathe through the pain, and sleep with a heating pad. But it’s definitely not healthier, so I’ll keep working on this one.

The Beginning

I’ve never been one for resolutions, mostly because it seemed silly to wait until January 1st to start working on a goal. I’m more of a now-or-never type, where things either get done immediately or put off until the eventual heat death of the universe. This has worked pretty well for the first 32 years of my life, but it has its drawbacks too. This year, I wanted to see how it worked for the others- what is it like to set a goal on January 1st and then actually complete it?

In order to do that, I need a goal. Back in 2012, I made a resolution to pay off my undergraduate student loans in one year. I had about $12,000 going into it, and actually did succeed in paying them all off. My current graduate schools loans are over $85,000, so that’s not going to be this year’s goal. Or next year’s, or the next, or ever really. (Paying off the grad loans is one of those things waiting for the heat death of the universe.) I blogged during that year and enjoyed it, but I don’t want to recreate that experience here.

Instead, setting one goal for the entire year seems both too big and too small. I’m very good at planning and I always have at least three backup options at any given moment. This is courtesy of my Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and it’s probably the only thing I like about having it. If something falls through, I don’t need to worry because I’ve already spent approximately 3,000 hours planning out the alternatives. That’s a skill that I can put to use here.

I’ve come up with a list of twelve things (thus the blog name) that I want to accomplish in 2019. Some of these are tangible, some are financial, some are emotional, and some are just for fun. None of them have a set end date. This isn’t a “one goal a month” type thing. Instead, these are things that may get done quickly or not at all by December 31st. But regardless of what happens, it should be an interesting year.

Before I get to the resolution list, some housekeeping notes. There are three menus to the right of this post. One is for tracking the newest updates on each of the resolutions if you want a quick catch-up. The second is for following this blog if you want email notifications of new posts. The third is a link to my Ko-Fi page. If you enjoy reading this blog, please consider donating through that link. It’s just $3 each time and it helps me keep the resident rabbits fed and a roof over our heads. If you decide to donate, please feel free to mark which resolution you’d like your donation to go towards. I’ve marked the ones eligible for donations below with ($).

The Resolution List:

  1. Finish editing a book. I’ve been working on a novel for nearly five years now. My first goal this year is to finish editing it so that I can see if anyone wants to publish it.
  2. Publish something more than a blog post. I had a short story published a few years ago, but then stopped writing and submitting for a while. My second goal this year is to find an outlet for something that I’ve written, besides this blog.
  3. Finish the library shelves. In my house, I have a library. It’s a room off the living room and it’s probably my favorite room outside of my bedroom. (I really like to sleep.) It also doubles as a sewing and writing room and is in desperate need of additional shelf space. My third goal this year is to build those.
  4. Cut trails through the woods ($). My house sits on about 5 acres of land, most of which is heavily wooded. There is one trail that winds through it, but I’ve been dreaming of having another one that runs around the perimeter. My fourth goal this year is to prioritize the outdoor work and make this happen. This is a goal that you can donate towards directly.
  5. Reduce student loan balance by $3,000 ($). My minimum monthly payment on my student loans isn’t enough to cover the monthly interest. This means that while I pay each month, my balance is actually still rising. My fifth goal this year is to reduce the overall balance by $3,000. This means bringing it down to a total of $83,850.19. This is definitely a goal that you can donate towards directly.
  6. Read 24 books. Two shelves in the library are just books that I’ve purchased but haven’t read yet. My sixth goal this year is to read 24 of them.
  7. Hold onto kindness longer. I work in customer service and education in all three of my jobs. This means encountering a lot of wonderful people and a few not-so-wonderful people. I try to be patient and kind to everyone, but some people are wonderful at finding the right words to get a reaction. My seventh goal this year is to hold onto kindness for at least one more sentence each time someone is being not-so-wonderful to me.
  8. Visit somewhere new. One of my jobs allows me to travel to quite a few places. My eighth goal this year is to visit somewhere that I’ve never been before, even if it’s a new place within an old place.
  9. Visit somewhere old. There’s comfort in returning to a place that you know well. My ninth goal this year is to visit somewhere that I’ve been before, to relive memories or see how it’s changed.
  10. Sew a costume. I enjoy sewing but time management for projects is not one of my strong suits. My tenth goal this year is to turn one costume idea into a reality and to accomplish it before the event actually occurs.
  11. Sew 300 stuffed animals ($). All three of my pet rabbits came from the Georgia House Rabbit Society. The GHRS does amazing work for abandoned and discarded domestic rabbits, as well as helping to find new caring homes for all their residents. I make stuffed rabbits so that the bunnies have something soft to cuddle while they wait for their forever homes. My eleventh goal this year is to make 300 of them. This is a goal that you can donate towards directly.
  12. Tell people the truth. I have PTSD as well as OCD, but I don’t talk about either one very often. When one or the other is flaring, I don’t explain what’s happening to others. Instead, I isolate myself and wait for it to pass. I tell people when my back is hurting or when my vertigo disorder is acting up, but for some reason saying that my brain chemicals are out of whack is a lot harder. This does me no good and it damages the friendships that I worked hard to built. My twelfth goal this year is to stop being silent about my mental health.