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Month: December 2017

It’s a new year. You don’t have to feel ready for it.

It’s a new year. You don’t have to feel ready for it.

As you may have noticed, we’re a few days away from the start of a new year. I’m not going to tell you whether or not you should set resolutions or goals or challenges. Partly because I did that last year, and partly because only you know what your mindset is right now. Maybe it’s the year for a resolution and maybe that just won’t work for you.

I’m just going to talk. Because sometimes it’s good to pause and think about how you feel about the new year. Whether you feel confident, optimistic, anxious or fearful, or have a mixture of feelings.

Success and happiness don’t always look like we expect them to

Sometimes life doesn’t go to plan. And sometimes it does, but we don’t expect it to feel as it does.

In 2016, my husband and I had our most financially successful year in our then 5 years of marriage.

It was also the hardest due to a period of unemployment, ill health, family crises and a life lost too early.

I have been extraordinarily fortunate in many respects, but life isn’t plain sailing for anyone. Our huge financial achievement seemed irrelevant and unimportant.

This time last year, I couldn’t muster excitement for the new year. I couldn’t orientate my thoughts towards moving forward with greater purpose, or clarify my goals. Maybe you know this feeling too. You don’t have to feel like you have to kick start, reboot, triangulate, or any other fancy word for changing your life. You can just keep tackling each day, because in the tough seasons of life, that is more difficult that broaching a life altering mission in the good seasons.

Do you feel ready for the new year?

You don’t have to feel ready for the new year. Most years, I haven’t. It is only having a different feeling, an excitement for January, that has made me recognise that I don’t normally have the same thirst for a new year that many writers at least have you believe.

This year is different. I don’t know why, and if I work it out, I’ll share the secret! But for possibly the first time ever, I’m actually excited about January.

But you don’t have to feel ready. You don’t have to be excited or feel like you need some life altering challenge to tackle. If January is a month to get through that gets you closer to spring, then know that you aren’t the only person to have ever felt this way. You will get through it and spring will be a month closer.

You don’t have to deprive yourself of niceties or burden yourself with a challenge that you feel that you’re supposed to do in the most miserable month of the year, which is how January has always felt to me.

Take care of yourself. Keep tackling each day. And if periods of time come when you feel energised and excited, seize them as they appear.

This new year, I don’t have a resolution, but I have a renewed enthusiasm for looking after myself.

I don’t understand why the start of this year feels different and I don’t feel like January is going to be a chore. Nothing ‘amazing’ is expected to happen, there are no big events, and the main thing on my mind as a ‘2018 must-do’ is re-potting my cactus without a) prickling my fingers and b) killing it. Suggestions in this regard most appreciated!

Take time to appreciate what you have

This isn’t a golden bullet and some days, in spite of everything I have, I find myself feeling a little lost and lifeless. Honestly though, the most powerful way of creating happiness is recognising how lucky you are.

After that challenges of 2016, I know that  I’ve never appreciated any year as much as I’ve appreciated 2017. Rather than telling myself not to count my chickens until they’d hatched, I realised that many of them had already.

That doesn’t stop me getting more chickens in the future and maybe I won’t keep all my chickens forever. But it does mean I’m going to enjoy and appreciate the good times. Even when they may be a little mundane to outsiders!

You’ve heard this before because it’s true

Increasingly over this year, I have become more and more aware of the abundance and opportunity in my life. I’m far from the first person to say this, but recognising the good things in your life and being genuinely grateful for them does much more for happiness than measures and metrics.

I’ve always hit (or come extremely close to) the financial targets I’ve set myself but finally I may have learned that money doesn’t equal happiness. And when you look a little beyond the numbers, life is altogether more exciting.

How are you feeling about the new year? 



2017: A year of ill discipline… and self doubt?

2017: A year of ill discipline… and self doubt?

Well you’ll no doubt have noticed that the year is drawing to a close, and as it does, I think most of us are thinking back over whether it has been a good year or not.

A year of ill discipline

For me, there has been no year since 2010 (when I moved out and no longer relied on my parents’ financial support) where I have been less disciplined financially.

I am in the fortunate position of having developed certain habits, admittedly, that make my spending look pretty frugal. But I have not pushed to make the best used of every pound that has come into our household, not made the most efficient windfalls that come along now and then. When insurance prices have come down for example, or when replacement items have come in under budget.

Not only that, but if you pop by my blog now and then, or follow me on twitter, you’ll notice I’ve lost my discipline of posting here regularly too.


A year of self doubt

Perhaps my self doubt is the cause of my ill discipline. You see, last year (and the start of this) I was unemployed. Being unemployed, but in the fortunate position to not need to work to cover our bills, was like a mini taste of early retirement. And I realised that maybe the relentless slog to early retirement wasn’t the way I wanted to live my life. Of course, I want financial comfort, and the freedom of choice and flexibility. I’ll continue to be a good steward of our resources. But I won’t sacrifice quite as much of our today.


Was anything about this year good?

Looking at those two things, you’d think my year had been pretty disappointing. But it hasn’t. In fact, it’s been a great year for me personally.

The slight let up in focus on the pennies has made day to day life more relaxed, more focussed on what is important to me. If you’re the sort of person that has money spinning round their brain all the time, seemingly without an off switch, you’ll know how much of a success that actually is.

This year, my husband got his health back, and I got a new job. 2016 felt like we were wading through treacle that was slowly setting. It was tough and frustrating and some days we felt that all we could do was put on a brave face and trudge on. By comparison, we have glided through 2017. And jumped and leapt and danced. We have recovered and made up for lost time and we’re ready for whatever is next!

What else? Well writing a bit less was a deliberate choice. And instead of writing, I’ve gotten into a board gaming group, which has provided a lot of fun this year. AND, I’ve spent more time my with my sister and nieces. The eldest is learning to read, and being part of that is such a huge, huge privelege. I can blog any time in my life. She will only learn to read once.

So I put less than I could have in investments? Big deal!