3 Ways to Start the New Year With Optimism
Happy New Year's Eve Day!
I want to take a short break from writing about all of the healthy, minimalist, unprocessed foods that the Standard American Diet (SAD) has neglected for far too long to tell you that I appreciate you, dear readers. I hope that we can all make 2019 a year of positive change, full of gratitude, joy, and purpose.
Here are three ideas that might inspire you:
1. Pick a word.
Choose one word to define what you want to experience this year. Maybe your word will be freedom (from debt, from regret, from fear). Maybe it will be joy, mindfulness, or gratitude. If you desire to get fit or lose weight, you might choose health, movement, or even vegetables. Once you choose your word, let it influence other choices you make. Let it be your mantra and your guide.
2. Make a plan to get out of debt.
A load of debt is absolutely no fun, and can stress you and your family every single day. When my husband and I were in debt (with an underwater mortgage, large auto loan, and about $12,000 in credit card debt), every paycheck was impacted by the need to pay at least the minimum on every bill. We had no money to go on a date night, pursue hobbies, or even to buy extra gas to visit out of state family members. Every time something not in the budget happened (it could be as simple as taking coats and suits to the dry cleaner, or needing to replace a bunch of worn out underwear), it was a big deal. We had no money except what we needed to pay bills and buy basics like groceries, insurance, and auto care. Debt made us anxious, stingy, and no fun.
What an awful way to live. We could have been smarter. We could have traded in the car for something cheaper, and figured out ways to bring in a little extra income. Just a bit of budget flexibility could have kept us from continuing to use our credit cards for "emergencies."
What we really needed to change was our mindset. We needed to see paying off debt as a challenge that would make us stronger and smarter, as well as bringing incredible freedom. Instead, we focused on the burden and the entrapment of our situation.
If you are in debt, then you know about all of those feelings. And the absolute best way to start 2019 with more energy and hope is to picture yourself out of debt, with a small nest egg for emergencies. No more reliance on credit cards! You don't need them.
A lot has been written about getting out of debt, and I'd like to recommend Dave Ramsey's work. The Simple Dollar is also a good resource.
But the most important first step is your attitude of hope, excitement, and the can-do feeling that you don't have to be held hostage by your debt forever. You can live now, and plan for the future, rather than be shackled by what you owe from your past. You can breathe freely, and face each day knowing that you are in charge of your life choices, not your debt.
3. Take small steps and a long view.
It's so easy to be discouraged when you expect yourself to change overnight. Debt that took several years to accumulate won't be vanquished in a month. Ditto for the extra weight you want to lose, or the clutter you want to purge. But change that comes in small steps taken consistently adds up to something amazing! That's where it helps to take the long view.
Yes, today I'm "x" number of pounds heavier than I want to be. I can either give up and decide I'll always be fat (nope), cut out all foods except broccoli and quinoa (and completely fail before day one is over), or start taking small, achievable, daily steps in the right direction (take the stairs, eat fruit instead of cookies, get outside, add a vegetable).
Small steps on a long journey will get all of us where we want to go. Little and often -- that's the key.