Here we are, slightly past the half-way point of 2019. How are your goals going? Mine are a mixed bag, but I have had some good successes. As a rule, I like to set big, juicy goals for myself. I rarely achieve all the goals I set, but that doesn’t deter me. No matter how far short I fall of the BIG GOAL finish line, I have managed to get myself down the path at least part way. That is better than nothing at all, so my approach has always been Go Big, or Go Home.
However, the simplicity goals I set for myself for this year were (and are) all totally achievable goals. Why the difference? The difference in my goal-setting approach in this instance was driven by my other goals for this year, the main one being to finish my first book. And I did just finish the book, by the June 30 deadline I gave myself. (Side note: this was after the March 31 deadline I gave myself, which became April 30, which became . . .)
The point is, I had bigger fish to fry for this year, so I made my simplicity goals challenging, but completely workable. Let’s take a look at my progress so far.
Goal: Declutter the garage
My goal to declutter the garage really only applied to the part of the garage over which I exercise any control, which amounts to approximately 20 percent of it. My daughter Rowan and I waited until my husband Greg was out of town for a few days, and we tackled this behemoth of a project.
There was no way I was going to declutter any of Greg’s belongings or the “household” items under Greg’s domain, such as tools and supplies. That is for him to do if I want to stay married and alive. But we set to work on the portion of the garage that holds surplus kitchen items, bulk storage, and the donation depot.
As previously reported, there were quite a number of things that had accumulated in the garage due to aborted trips to donate during our rainy winter. This part was easy, as I merely had to haul it out to my car to make a trip to the donation center.
I wanted a clear pathway to the cabinets I have out in the garage that hold items we need from time to time, but not frequently enough to store in the kitchen, such as our crock pot. In addition, I wanted to be able to access our bulk purchase items, like recycling and trash bags, without turning an ankle stepping over piles of . . . other stuff.
But most of all, I wanted to clear a space for our pottery wheel. Rowan has been doing pottery for almost two years now, on and off. Providing her with time on the wheel where she takes lessons was getting costly. It was more cost effective for us to save up our money and purchase a wheel ourselves. Rowan and I made a deal to split the cost, since pottery is one of the activities which I see myself taking back up again, in that mythical “someday” when I have free time.
During the winter, it gets pretty cold in the garage, so pottery was not happening. And when a valuable piece of garage real estate goes idle, it gets repurposed for something else, even if just junk collection.
I am happy to say we cleared out the space I had in mind with no fallout from my dear spouse upon his return. In fact, he picked up where we left off and cleared an adjacent portion of the garage. There is plenty left to do out there, but this feels like progress.
Score: 8 out of 10
Goal: Reduce or eliminate the aspirational closet bins
Like many people, I have held on to many items that represent the person I once was and aspire to return to, or the person I wish to become. You know the drill: clothes I will wear again when the weight comes off, biking clothes I’ll use again if I return to biking (despite the fact that I sold my bike years ago, ha!), and notebooks and papers I spent countless hours filling during classes I attended as an adult.
Some of these items were already purged prior to the start of the year. But I had some remaining bins of sentimental items that I wasn’t ready to tackle. Turns out I am still not ready!
In the meantime, I have cleared out a considerable amount of homeschool books and equipment, and that stuff is currently camping out in my closet until August when a school will look it over for items the faculty can use. The remainder will be donated elsewhere, freeing up my previously empty closet corner again. THEN I can pull out the aspirational bins and give them a good purging! (Ahem . . . place your bets!)
Score: Zip, zero, nada
Goal: Continue to simplify my financial life
Whew, a goal I have made some progress on! I decided to cancel two business-related credit cards, on the premise that we very seldom use them. We pull them out so infrequently, that it would be worth the trouble to just use our personal card for a business expense and then arrange to reimburse ourselves from the business.
Ordinarily, I am a fan of keeping business expenses (and the recordkeeping) completely separate from personal expenses. But we use these cards MAYBE once or twice a year at most. Keeping the cards around and having another bill to deal with when we used them was more of a hassle.
I have also reduced the number of times I have to sit down to work on our bills and finances to once or twice a month. That is not necessarily a good thing, but it has simplified my life! The key is systems. My systems still need a bit of work, but we’re getting there.
Score: 7 out of 10
Goal: Tweak processes
This goal was all about my routines. My morning and evening routines were inconsistent and not where I wanted them to be. I made some great progress on this during the early part of the year, but I went on a twelve-week sabbatical from work for the summer and my processes went to hell in a handbasket. I’m still getting things done, but not in a nice, tidy package. This will require reining in next month as my sabbatical comes to an end.
Score: 8 out of 10 for January through April, but a big fat zero since
Goal: Increase white space
As I explained in my original post on this topic, my default setting is to be busy. I thrive on time pressure and deadlines, and I enjoy having very full days. Getting this worked out so I have more white space in my life has been an extremely long process. Sure, I’ve made good progress overall. But there is still a long way to go.
Because of my impending summer sabbatical, I didn’t have the luxury to work on this goal much in the first part of the year. I had things to finish before I stopped working for twelve weeks, so the winter and early spring were pretty busy. I tried to be mindful of my calendar and to not fill it up without giving thought to my energy level. But overall, it was a bit of a melee, in retrospect.
And then came mid-May, when my schedule was completely overhauled by the arrival of the sabbatical. Oh, blessed day! Except that I hardly knew what to do with myself. Sure, I had things to do, like finishing a book I was writing. But to go from a rigorously scheduled life to a totally unscheduled life is a challenge. (I know, I know, cry me a river, right?)
Here I am two-thirds through my sabbatical, and I have only gotten a bit of this issue worked out. I have to work hard not to fill my days with errands and tasks. Since I am completely free, it is easy to pounce on this as my opportunity to complete the moldy items off the bottom of my To Do list.
As a result, I have come up with a compromise. I attempt to only have a couple days each week that involve running around town, and I am careful to space out those “moldy” projects. Each day I have three main priorities (other than my parenting and housekeeping priorities, that is): reading, writing, and exercise. Focusing this way makes my day have a wee bit of structure, without it feeling overly constraining. The point of this sabbatical is two-fold for me: I needed a good rest from my day job, and I wanted to spend time with Rowan, since we are ending our homeschool adventure in favor of her attending school in the fall.
Overall, the sabbatical has obviously given me an easy road to more white space in my life. The trick will be to carry on that lovely breathing space into the busy fall season. We’ll see.
Score: 10 out of 10 . . . for now
Well, there you have it, my mid-year rundown on my simplicity goals. Did you make some goals geared toward simplifying your life or finances this year? If so, what is your update? Share below! Or if you want to start a discussion with some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your thoughts!
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