I played around with a lot of words for 2017. I don’t even know why I was so determined to have a “word” for the year; it’s not like any word I picked for previous years panned out past March. But I wanted a word nonetheless, because I’m nothing if not stubborn. As I brainstormed and sketched and shifted what I wanted my 2017 to look like I realized that it all came down to one thing: focus.
The goals I’ve reached in the past, both in 2016 and beyond, were reached because I zeroed in on what I really, truly wanted to achieve. I committed to accomplishing my desired result and cut out all of the crap and the noise and the distractions and the excuses. I lasered my focus on that one thing that I wanted to check off on my list of things that I set out to do. And whenever I was able to narrow my focus, I was able to achieve.
So 2017 is going to be my year of focus. Of getting down to exactly what I want and setting out to achieve just that.
I flirted with a lot of ideas on what to focus on for the year, but in the end I decided to limit it to just three specific topics/areas. Any more than that and I was afraid I would stretch myself too thin and be unable to achieve what I wanted within the year. By spotlighting my focus on just three things, I’m hopeful that my bar for success will be met on a consistent basis for the next twelve months.
(P.S. The first 2017 edition of Notes from MP, my monthly newsletter, goes out on Wednesday! Subscribe if you haven’t already!)
Become strong (and sexy).
Last year, I started moving my body in different ways than I had before. I ran, I did yoga, I indoor cycled, I did barre. I loved them all in different ways, but I didn’t stick to a consistent schedule. It wouldn’t have mattered even if I had, though, because I ate like crap for most of the year. And thanks to a hectic schedule and delicious holiday eats and general laziness, the last two months or so of 2016 did a real number on my waistline.
So I’d like to focus on becoming strong and sexy in 2017, since right now I am very much neither. My spin studio also offers classes where I can box and lift, so I want to try those. I want to keep up with spinning and barre, and maintain a consistent schedule with both. I want to run regularly again, knee issues permitting, even if the distance isn’t very far. I want to further cultivate my yoga home practice and continue my dalliance with Pilates, even trying out PIIT28. In short, I want to keep moving, because I don’t like what being stagnant does to my body — or even my mental health. By becoming stronger, I will feel sexier, and ultimately the two are so intertwined for me that I can’t possibly achieve one without achieving the other.
This also means I need to eat better if I want to feel, and see, the difference I seek in my body and my mind. I am not an advocate for fad diets or unsustainable eating practices, but I know I need to regulate my wheat, dairy, and sugar intake and up my fiber, protein, and healthy fats. I definitely need to cut down alcohol — not that I drink much to begin with, but my consumption could always be reduced. I’m hesitant to write in further detail the changes I plan on making to my diet and how I plan on making them until I have a firmer progress report to share. Each person’s relationship with food is so personal, and any body talk can quickly become a battleground, especially on the internet. But know that I plan on buying only ingredients, and not premade food or meals, from the store, and I want to eat more of what will complement the physical changes I am making to my lifestyle. At the end of the day, I want to eat what makes me feel good mentally, physically, and emotionally — or rather, strong (and sexy).
Build up my finances.
2016 was the year my finances changed for the better. There’s a reason for that, but that deserves its own post. In short, circumstances in my financial life allowed me to, for the first time in too long, hit two savings goals I set for myself. I’d like to build on the momentum I’ve created for myself and hit the new savings goals I’ve set for the new year.
This means several things. I need to work on my savings habits, a perpetual thing that I feel like I’ll be working on for my whole life. I need to work on diversifying my income, likely by writing more and pitching everywhere and freelancing when able. I need to work on my budgeting skills, and better projecting the expenses of anticipated events like weddings or birthdays or travel. I need to work on balancing my wants and my needs and continuing to remind myself that the difference between the two may mean meeting, or not meeting, a savings goal.
For me, my finances are a perpetual work in progress. I know this, and I am confident that this knowledge will allow me to absorb inevitable missteps or slip-ups without completely derailing my financial goals for the year.
Be a good friend.
I like to think that I’m already a good friend, but I know there’s room for improvement. I want to start mailing an impromptu letter for no reason other than to say hello, or bringing over a plate of freshly baked peanut butter chocolate chip cookies just because. I want to be a better listener when my friends reach out to me, and to proactively reach out to let my friends know I’m there for them on a tough anniversary or occasion. I want to hang out more for no other reason than to hang out, and to reach out to those I don’t know very well but would like to get to know better.
On the internet side, I need to work on answering emails more quickly, and responding to stuff in a more timely fashion. Too often I let too much time pass before I respond, and then I’m left wondering if the big lapse in time has given an unintended indication that I’m not interested. I want to be a better reader and commenter of blogs, because I want to show that I support my blogging friends in the way that they support me. I want to share stuff more, both as a form of support and, well, because sharing stuff with the world is one of the best parts about the internet.
And on the ~society~ side, I want to do a better job of showing up. I already donate to charities monthly, and I upped my donations after the outcome of the presidential election. But I want to do more than that. I want to start volunteering, and to do more to make a difference. Dollars go a long way, but so do other forms of advocacy. I want to spend more of my time devoted to causes I champion.
At times, I know these goals will be tricky to balance whenever work is demanding or other stuff, for reasons out of my control, has to take precedence. But I want to do what I can, when I can, and hope that the progress I make will eventually lead me to my goal of being a good friend.
So, that’s what I’ve got for 2017. Become strong (and sexy), build up my finances, and be a good friend. I’ve got my work over the next twelve months cut out for me 😉