2017 Challenges

I don’t really feel passionate about making change* this year. I know that doesn’t really roll off the tongue for a wannabe self improvement blogger. Maybe I’m getting a little soft, or maybe I do not have quite as much discontent that needs to be addressed. But for some reason, I don’t have the strong internal desire to make drastic life change this year. Similarly to how I felt the previous six months, I’m prepping for a lot of new commitment and life change as-is. I certainly have plenty of minor goals and things I want to accomplish, but I’m not really looking to make a ton of personal lifestyle changes. The upcoming activities of life will be sufficient for me to scratch the itch of progress.

I enjoy thinking through personal goals while trying to design the next few months and years of my life. I also enjoy the end of a year and prospecting of a new one. I often think through five to six key areas of life and brainstorm where I want to make progress. However, this year, I’m moving to a less complex set of goals, challenges, and resolutions. This year will be conceptually much simpler than many before it. I won’t be making lots of different major changes- I’ll only be working toward one or two big ones. I prefer to think of it as focused. Instead of doing lots of different life experiments and making incremental change, we will simply be working through a few major goals with focus. I think an apt example would be someone working five different jobs to make ends meet. While possibly commendable, sometimes it may make more sense to work a single job and concentrate one’s efforts there. With that in mind, the focus of this year will simply be renovating our home and making our family relationships stronger.

The Crazy Seasons of Life
There are certain seasons of life where we simply go into survival mode. There are points in time where we are in mental crisis mode and we just need to get through. Our bodies can handle a general lack of care for a short period of time; however, if we constantly leave our body in crisis mode we eventually fall apart. Our health, our finances, our relationships, or our environment will eventually suffer if they are not cared for. When we are in survival mode, making ‘change’ for the sake of change doesn’t really seem that important. As Americans, and probably most other countrymen as well, we live in a saddened state of self imposed crisis way too much of our time. We add obligations, expectations, and stress to simply be like those around us. We are often driven by consumption, progress, or achievement that doesn’t necessarily bring us long term happiness- especially considering what we are willing to trade for it (relationships, debt, excess, even higher expectations). Sometimes the biggest challenge we have is to move past a crazy season of life.

We are now in the process of exiting a crazy season of life. While I actually enjoyed most of the change, excitement, and stress of the previous year, my life will be fundamentally much simpler this year. We made a lot of big decisions and transitions that may honestly shape our next 10 to 20 years. We’ve decided where we will raise our family and picked some fun schools. We purchased a new house. I’ve moved into a career. And I’m completely finished with college (Hey, it only took 12 years too). Our kids are getting older and more interactive. Our life this year is mostly about following through with the decisions we’ve made over the last few years.

Maintenance Mode
Again, If I had to characterize the upcoming year, I would simply think through it as a maintenance year while completing major projects in life. For example, in past years one of the primary goals I’ve had was to increase my networth. This typically was a result of movements in the market, saving money, and increasing my income. My expectations this year are a little different. I’m in much more of a maintenance mode than hard-charging increase mode. We’ll be tackling an expensive home renovation with many different unknowns. In addition, markets recently hit all time highs and my income will have little movement due to changing industries and starting a new job. For the first time in life I have little to no expectation of building significant wealth this year. And I’m ok with it. Next year that may be much more of a priority, but this year I’ll be content without moving the needle in that direction.

Similarly, I’m not looking for any crazy new health initiatives. I’m looking to maintain some of the good habits I’ve picked up over the last few years and minimize some of the bad ones (my unabated weakness for processed (often sugary) foods). I haven’t had to worry as much about alcohol or caffeine as I have in the past, and generally I’ve been sleeping surprisingly well (at least when the kids aren’t waking at all hours of the night).

I could certainly use improvement in several key relationships, but I’ll even put those on hold temporarily while I spend a few weeks focused on other major life projects. So this year is really about focus. It is about single-tasking. I have fewer goals than before but they are big. I want to buy and fix a house. I want to make my marriage as strong as possible. I want to maintain my health and spend a lot of time with my kids. The first six months of the year will focus on these objectives. Then, I’ll spend some relaxing before reevaluating what other areas of life need experimentation. I don’t even want to make or accumulate a lot of new money this year; I’d simply be happy ending in a similar place to where I started. I’m looking forward to a simpler set of challenges this year and finishing a few big projects. Maybe next year I’ll go back to my list of notes on Distractions, Gratitude, Writing, Health, Transportation, and Emotional Health. Until then, I’ll stick to a few basics this year.

What about you? Do you tend to have one or two big goals or many small ones? Have you ever been overwhelmed at the prospect of many different changes? For those who are older than me, how should I expect my goals and challenges will change in the future?

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