Sunday, December 25, 2011

Is my life a baseball game?

Sometimes life throws you curve balls when you're anticipating a fast ball. You have two choices: let it fly by you and risk missing a great hit or swing and hope you make contact. I've been doing a lot of swinging, hoping to make contact with these curve balls in my life. No big hits, but I've learned a lot about my swing. I've also learned to be less worried when a curve ball comes my way. I've learned to take it all in stride and keep moving forward. Yes, my life is a baseball game.

It's almost the new year, so I figure I should look back on the goals I had for this year and start making new ones.

Here were my goals for the summer:

  • Move downtown. Currently, I live right in the heart of the valley (seriously, I'm a mix of Darboy, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Appleton, and Buchanan). I live in an 1,100 sq.ft. 2 bedroom apartment...alone. It is 2.6 miles to Target, Festival, and MotoMart, 6.3 miles to Copper Rock, and 6.6 miles to work. Add that all up...and it just doesn't make sense for me to live there anymore. So, first goal: find a rental unit within walking/biking distance to downtown and work.  UPDATE: This goal is unofficially complete! I signed a lease today! Just a few blocks from downtown and less than 2 miles from work. SO excited.
  • Buy local. I feel that I am fairly conscious about buying local already, but moving downtown will further enhance this practice as I will be closer to the local shops I already frequent and to the shops I'd like to frequent. Here is a link from Appleton Downtown, Inc's website about shopping local: Give Your Community a Reason to Shop Local. Another part of this goal includes the farmer's market in downtown Appleton. I want to make an effort to go to the market every Saturday that I am available. My fun spin-off on that goal: try a new local-made salsa every week. YUM.
  • Get involved. I've already started the process of achieving this goal. The way I see it, if I'm going to live in this community and enjoy all the benefits and activities that it has to offer, I better be doing my part. I currently have three potential opportunities lined up: I have attended 2 Appleton Fox Cities Kiwanis Club meetings and have now been invited to apply for membership, I am in the process of joining the Appleton Downtown Rotary Club, and I have expressed interest in volunteering with Appleton Downtown, Inc (for their Thursday concert series, and also possibly on a committee). Kiwanis and Rotary will provide excellent opportunities to get involved in service projects in the community and volunteering with ADI is my way of giving back to the organization that provides much of my summer fun in Appleton.
These were great goals. Where am I now? Well, I don't live downtown. I miss it. I miss the atmosphere, the noise, the convenience. But I am in a great living situation that is probably healthier for me. I am a local-shopping nut. If I went back and looked at my bank statements from the last 6 months, I'd be willing to bet that 75% of my money stayed local. I didn't try a different salsa every week (there weren't enough to try)...but I did buy cheese curds pretty close to every week. Win. I think it is safe to say that I'm involved. I'm a Kiwanian, Rotarian, PEO, regular ADI volunteer, and active AFP member. What am I getting out of all of these silly titles and acronyms? Confidence. Friendships. Leadership skills. Community involvement. Inspiration. Mentors. A good life.

Those were my first goals. Nothing too deep or difficult, but they've added to my core. I'm happy I made them, and I'm happy to have followed them.

What about the more serious goals I made?

  • Impress Yourself. Sometimes I say yes, when I really want to say no. Sometimes I go out when I'd rather stay in. Why? Because I've fallen into a pattern of doing almost anything to make others happy, to impress others. I can think back to a specific time in my life where I literally did not think of anyone but myself. I don't mean that in a bad way - I was not hurting anyone, I was just so focused on my own happiness, that there was no room for me to care about what others thought about it. I miss that. So it's time to make my way back to that, to at least find a better balance.
  • Tidy Up/Declutter. I am a messy person. Not to be confused with a dirty person - that I am not. But I am messy. And disorganized. I've been this way for as long as I can remember. My mom and I have spent countless hours, and far too much money, on organizational tools to try to teach me to be less messy, but none of it has ever really stuck. But I'm going to try again. Differently. I know that when my house is organized and presentable, I am much less stressed and definitely happier. So I need to make it a priority to have my house in that condition more often. Thanks to another optimist in the Happiness Project Meetup, I have a great new The website gives babystep instructions on how to declutter and tidy up your house. By taking the babysteps and turning them in to  habit, I really have a chance at changing my lifestyle and becoming more organized. I like it.
  • Spend Right, Save Better. Like many others, money is one of the biggest stressors in my life. I know that money can't buy happiness, but being financially stable and healthy definitely has an impact on my happiness. I need to find a way to create a budget and really stick to it. I'm also going to create a calendar with all of the due dates for my bills, their average amount due, and whether it is an auto-withdrawal or manual payment. I hope that this will help lessen the stress I tend to feel between paychecks.
Alright. This is a little more difficult.  Impress yourself. The last few months have been an adventure. I made some decisions I'm not proud of and I came close to losing myself. But again, a curve ball came my way...I swung. I'd like to say I hit it out of the park, but that isn't true. Instead the ball hit me and I walked on to first. What did I learn? I'm in control of me, my happiness, and my future. The last few months have taught me more about what I want out of life, out of my friendships and relationships. I learned how to communicate those things and not be ashamed of how I felt. I'm developing.

Declutter? Well...maybe. I moved from a two bedroom house to a single bedroom. I'd say I did some decluttering. My room is still less than perfect though. I have still-to-be-unpacked boxes and unfinished projects tucked away in the corner. However, it feels better. I make a point to pick up my room every few days. Having it clean more often has made it more difficult to bear it when it gets out of control. Progress.

Spend right, save better. I put money into my savings account this month for the first time since I don't know when. I may have over-shot just a little bit because I did need to transfer a small amount back to checking, but at least it was something. I've started to take cash out of the bank at the beginning of the week and trying to only spend that. I have my bills calendar at work and it has definitely helped! More progress.

So what is next? Obviously I want to keep working on all of the goals I have set for myself, but I also think I need some new ones to keep me engaged. So here's my goal-making goal: finish out the holiday season with at least 2 goals in place for the new year. Here goes nothing.