Debt Reduction, Everyday Living

How to get beyond the New Year

If these four days of commitment to flossing, eating right and limiting wasteful spending are any indication of the future – then I should have a good New Year. Right? Right?

If I spend the week between Christmas and New Years Eve in an optimistic haze, I spend the first week after the New Year like many Americans – resolutely committed to the goals that I’ve set for the New Year and high off of the baby steps I’ve taken to impressing my dental hygienist, my Biggest Loser team at work and hopefully you guys, my readers.

But it’s January 4th. There are 361 days left in this year and I almost fell asleep last night without flossing my teeth. Ack!

While I was in my pre-New Year’s cleaning frenzy, I came across a piece of paper that I had scribbled some notes on. My scribbled notes are the worst, because they are usually fragments of thought that made sense when I wrote them, but usually translate as something either crazy or cryptic (or both?) when I finally unearth these scraps of paper. But basically the gist of what I wrote is wondering if I’ll feel like a better person once I achieve my goals.

First off – I do not think that I’m a bad person by any stretch of the imagination. While I’m not perfect, I really do strive to be a good person who cares for other people and gives back to the world. I try to be a good kid to my parents (my own folks and my in-laws), I try to be a good wife, a good sister, a good friend, etc. And I succeed for the most part, but it’s in this first part of the year, that I really take a look at the other parts of my life and I literally yearn that it wouldn’t take hard work to lose the weight that I need to shed or that I could magically turn around my spending habits so I could have a fully stocked emergency fund, maxed out investment portfolios and enough leftover to never worry about money again.

In Dave Ramsey’s books, he talks about the “gazelle-like” focus that it takes to overcome debt and get your financial health in order. From my experience paying off my credit card debt (I’ve been credit card debt free since October 2009 – woo!), it is one of the most gratifying experiences in the world to have that taken care of. But I’m not going to lie – sometimes maintaining that focus can be exhausting.

Maybe my view that the New Year is a clean slate is a little optimistic on my part. Maybe the panic that I feel at times is my psyche acknowledging that I need more than rose colored glasses to achieve my goals in this New Year. And maybe I need to remember the obvious: You need to work hard for what you want. Financial freedom won’t be handed to me on a platter unless some unknown and fictional relative in Europe dies and leaves me some crazy inheritance or my co-workers and I finally win the lottery. I won’t lose weight without burning more calories than I consume, which means eating less and moving more. I won’t finish projects unless I make a concerted effort on working on them and if I procrastinate, I’ll just bring myself more stress.

How about the rest of you? How are your New Year’s goals coming along?

Also remember – I’m giving away a copy of Judith Levine’s “Not Buying It.” Go here to leave a comment and enter the drawing.

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