Are you excited for the New Year? I’m always incredibly excited to start a brand new year. I’m a pretty self-reflective person all year, but there is just something special about starting over in the new year with goals and plans and dreams of what lies ahead.
I’m particularly excited about this year because it will be my first full year out of school. I’m pretty excited about all the new possibilities in life now that school doesn’t take up the majority of my days.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might recall last year’s New Year post. I didn’t set a lot of goals for 2013, but the ones I set were pretty big ones. 2012 was a big year for us, considering we got married, Drew graduated, advances in work and our business happened, but it was a hectic year in school for me filled with some health issues and the start of some financial issues. Our goals for 2013 were for me to graduate from college, find a job, drastically change our health and diet (I went gluten-free and cut out a good deal of other not-good-for-me-stuff) and to drastically start on changes in our financial life by embarking on Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. I’m happy to say that in 2013, we did a really good job at sticking to our goals and changing those things.
-Big Health Changes. I went gluten-free, and once I did, I found that gluten (or at least wheat in particular), had been the cause of a lot of digestive problems for me. Once I cut it out of my diet, I immediately noticed that I was no longer having major digestive issues and I’ve noticed a huge change in my energy levels. I feel like I have much more energy and I feel less sluggish. In addition to wheat, I cut out white sugar (I try to only use honey, pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, or raw sugar as sweeteners, but even those I use rarely), milk (I still eat cheese and a few other dairy products, but just sparingly. I use almond milk to replace regular milk), soy, most corn products, and any other overly processed foods. I try to limit my grain intake of the grains I do eat (brown rice, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, etc), and eat a lot of meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. I’ve been at it for an entire year now, and it is amazing how much better I feel and how much the health issues I had have really minimized (read more about the issues I had in my last years New Year post). I have also lost about twenty pounds over the last year. I’m really passionate now about eating intentionally for your health and would highly recommend it to anyone, especially if you have health issues! I found that once I rid my house of the foods I shouldn’t be eating and ate healthy for a few weeks, I stopped craving foods I shouldn’t eat and it became easy to stay on track. Now, I don’t even really have to think about it, eating healthy is definitely a habit for me, rather than a challenge.
-I graduated from Tulane with a BA in both English and Studio Art! I also had my work in my first art exhibition, my BA show at Tulane! Both of these were huge events for 2013, and I’m so happy/relieved to have them in the past. College was a really stressful time in my life and I couldn’t be happier to have those days over with. I’ve so been enjoying the less-stressful lifestyle of being out of college.
-We made major debt pay-off progress! We started the Dave Ramsey debt snowball plan at the beginning of the year and our goal for the end of 2013 was to have Drew’s car and credit card debt paid off. We paid his credit card debt off last spring, and even with some set backs (like $4,000 worth of dental work for Drew) and me not working for most of the year, as of this month (January 2014) we will have the car paid off! I can’t wait to write that one last check! I’m really happy with our progress so far and I’m excited to step it up and get cracking on those student loans in 2014!
-I started working! In September of 2013, I started my first out-of-college job, as the Web & Publications/Communications Coordinator for a local church. I really love what I do (mostly graphic design, but other web/media work as well) and I couldn’t ask for better people to work with. God really blessed me with this opportunity and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to make money in a truly enjoyable and rewarding job.
-Drew also switched jobs, somewhat. Drew is still doing pretty much the same thing he has always been doing (being an IT Director in charter schools), but while he used to work in a contracted company for the schools, now he works directly for one of the schools he has always worked in. This brings along several benefit perks and means he isn’t stretched quite as thin between schools as he once was. He is still, of course, working for our business, P.S. Designs, as well.
-Better Life Balance. When I was in school, classes took up my days and homework/studying/paper-writing/novel-reading took up my nights. Now that I’m working, work takes up a good part of my day, but there is still time left in the evenings that I never had before that I can now use to focus on things I really want to do. Reading, blogging, craft projects, cooking, decorating/home projects, painting, etc! I want to try my best to make the best use of that time I have and enjoy it while I can. Learn what I have time for and what I don’t, what is a good use of the time I have and what isn’t. I want to try to keep a good balance between work and activities I enjoy, so I don’t get burnt out of my job as easily as I did with school. I also want to continue to make time to cook healthy meals, time to exercise, time for church/bible study, etc. I want to continue to be healthy in a well-rounded way.
-Expand Learning & Education in Different Ways. Now that I’m out of school, that doesn’t mean that my learning process stops. I want to continue to learn all of my life, and now is the perfect time to really focus on doing that in different ways. Reading more, maybe joining a book club, continuing to paint and build my body of work, learning even more about the design software I use every day, getting better at using my Wacom tablet, taking a calligraphy class, etc.
-Incorporating Exercise into the Everyday. Just developing a better exercise routine in general, whether that means more stretching/floor exercises in the mornings before work, attending more Pilates classes, going on more walks/runs in the neighborhood, playing Frisbee/tennis at the park, just making exercise a more natural part of my life.
-Focus on Our Marriage. We do already, but I really want us to take the time to really enjoy this time in our lives. We will only get so much time together just the two of us before we decide to start a family, so I really want us to cherish these moments as a couple before we expand our crew and the chaos grows!
-Gluten-free Baking. Now that I’ve really gotten good at eating only the foods I really should, I would like to expand my cooking repertoire of what I can do with those ingredients. Trying different recipes, different GF flours, experimenting with gluten-free bread and doughnut making, healthy snacks, etc. I would also like to educate myself better on different foods and their nutritional contents. I would also like to get better at buying/eating organic.
-Debt Pay-Off. Drew had to take out quite a bit of money in student loans to get through college. Our goal for 2014 is to completely pay off the loans in Drew’s name and begin to pay on the ones in Drew’s parents name. I have confidence that it is going to be a good year for our debt snowball plan!
-Consistent Branding and New Opportunities. Last but not least, I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve for 2014. A few things I’m interested in trying out, creatively expanding into. I don’t want to give all the details away now, but you’ll see. Part of that includes creating a more consistent brand for myself as an artist/designer across all areas and media (my blog, art portfolio, social media, etc.). I’m excited for the opportunities this year has in store and where those creative opportunities could lead!
What are you looking forward to in 2014?