3 questions to ask in the new year

One specific New Year's resolution I recall making year after year has been to better manage our budget. I'm a saver by nature, hating to spend money on frivolous things, so it seems like this would be a simple one for me to keep. Not so! It's the daily actions of recording our spending, and the monthly discipline of zeroing out the budget that elude me. So while we've made wise decisions with our money, we could be putting ourselves in an even better position. 

The problem I've run across with my resolutions is that I fail to plan for the incidental interruptions that life throws my way, and I fail to make prioritize the actions which I know will benefit me in the long run. For example, if budgeting were really important to me, I would make a plan in my datebook or iCal to sit down with the computer for 10 minutes each night, or early each morning, and record the expenditures of the previous day. I would set a meeting with my husband to zero out the budget and plan for the next month on the 4th Sunday of each month. Shocking twist: I never planned to do those things. With no solid plan in place, life's little interruptions, such as sickness, rambunctious toddlers, busy weekends, and social events, would easily knock me off course.

Many of us are embarrassed by such failures from past years, and wonder why this year would be any different. Why would we publicly state that we're going to do something or change something that we know we'll end up laughing about later that year? In this way, resolutions become a joke. I, however, still feel the pull of a fresh start and a clean slate, and can't help but take this opportunity of a fresh calendar page to reevaluate my priorities, and if my daily actions are helping me meet my goals.

So this year, in addition to my One Word Theme, I'm asking myself 3 questions:

1. What worked last year?

2. What didn't work?

3. What can I change in the new year?

What Worked Last Year?

1. Choosing a One Word Theme vs. Making Resolutions

My word for last year was "prepared" and I found that by focusing on one concept (how would a prepared person handle this situation?) my whole mindset shifted throughout the year. I still have a long way to go in the area of my life, but I made huge strides toward improvement.

2. Investing in myself and my business

When I spend money or a significant amount of time on something, I tend to take it more seriously. Going to a conference, investing in my health, and creating a new website have helped propel me forward.

3. First 5 App + Concordia Self Study Bible for morning devotions

I crave diving deeply into Scripture, but often have other things or people vying for my attention in the morning (no matter how early I get up). The First 5 app has short devotions that discuss a chapter or section of scripture each day. I'm being realistic about this season of life, and know that 5 minutes of my day dedicated to time alone with God is better than zero minutes. The Concordia Self Study Bible is perfect for when I have a few extra minutes to dig deeper into certain passages.

4. Meal Planning for the week

Our family has been very consistent about planning our meals, then creating a shopping list from that plan. We've been a bit boring in our meals, but many weeks were about survival, so it worked for us. Hoping to try some more creative meals in the new year! 

5. Bins Bins Bins

In every room. On every shelf. Gives the illusion of a clean house and makes me feel like an adult when I can't see the kids' toys.

6. My Fitbit! 

I was hesitant to try the Fitbit, and settled on the Alta, one of the simpler forms of this technology. I'm happy to report after using mine for 4 months, I love it! It gives me extra motivation to go for a walk, park farther away, and even do extra chores at the end of the night to get my steps in. With a rough start to my pregnancy, walking was and is often the only form of exercise I get in a day, so the Fitbit has helped me challenge myself in that way!

What DIdn't Work?

1. A haphazard fitness routine

lain and simple, I failed to plan ahead. I didn't schedule my workouts, and thus they didn't happen. 

2. Getting up before my children

I tried. I really did. But my oldest has some sort of sixth sense...if I'm awake, no matter how quiet I am, she knows it and wakes up, too. 

3. Concrete plans to grow my blog and business. 

nce again, failing to plan was the name of the game here. I thought I could handle flying by the seat of my pants, or that I would "squeeze it in" when free moments came up. Guess what? Free time never materialized. Weird. 

What Can I Change?

1. Consistently planning out and scheduling my week on a Sunday afternoon. 

This includes everything: devotions, workouts, family outings, budget meetings, time to blog, time for my business. Everything. This simple step will make me far more likely to do what needs to be done and meet my goals.

And that, my friends, is why my word for 2017 is CONSISTENCY. That is the one big change I plan to make. Schedule it all in. Have my schedule where I can see it. Follow that schedule. Plain and simple. I'm already anticipating how difficult this will be for me, because I am by nature a big ideas person, and not a details person. Every fiber of my being rebels against structure and schedules. But from past experience, I know how much freedom structure and schedules create, so I have to trust my brain and experience, not what I feel like doing. 

What worked for you last year? What are you changing?