Time for the recap of my 2016. The current opinion is that (unless you are Donald Trump or Nigel Farrage) 2016 has not been a good year for the world. Honestly, I think that there have been worse years and I’m not terribly optimistic for 2017, however, I had a pretty good year. Most of it was down to the allotment, I was honestly not expecting to be allocated a plot so soon and it derailed quite a few of my goals, because it ate all my time and most of my money but I love it and the responsibililty I have to maintain it. I’ve also gained more oportunities to exercise and socialise and I feel I have a mental calm that I didn’t have before. I am emotionally fairly self sufficient and pretty good about being on my own but if there is a negative side effect to being so self sufficient it’s not having a focus outside of myself. The allotment has provided another focus, I’ve joked about it being like having a baby, which of course it isn’t, but it is something that needs attending too and that had been good for me.
I had three things that were all about focussing on the flat..
- Decoration. In 2016, I need to paint the bathroom, bedroom and living room again. I’d like to tackle the bathroom before June but the other rooms will have to wait until I have full use of my foot again!
- De-clutter. I want to have another clear out of the cupboard of doom and have a serious look at what’s in the kitchen.
- Deep cleaning. I will assign a weekend every three months to deep clean the flat. In this weekend I will scrub the floors, clean the oven and windows and all that stuff I’m not good at remembering to do!
I think I did really well in the first half of 2016; January was a mouse fuelled whirlwind of cleaning, mopping and generally being worried about the vermin. That lead to a natural declutter of the kitchen and I did have another clear out the bedroom in September time. The other work on the flat was held off because May to October was mostly all about the allotment and Winter is not a good time to paint the flat. I do really need to get to it in 2017, all the rooms, so if I have to take a week of work to get it done next year, so be it. I have done more deep cleaning but not as much as I planned, but the daily things are all done and 2016 raised the bar for what I consider tidy. Generally, when I look around and think that the flat is really messy most normal people point out that it isn’t (that’s everyone except my mother!).
My major goal this year with money was to face it head on and the goals were all about that. Here were the goals…
- Tracking. I’ve been using a spreadsheet, that Ma (the queen of the spreadsheets!) helped me set up. It tracks what goes in and out of my bank account and what’s left. It also helps me plan for the year. In 2016, I will be consistent about using it.
- Food Budget. This one is already in play, in 2016 I will set a food budget of £15 a week and I will record my spending and eating on this blog each Tuesday. Any money I don’t spend each week will go into the change jar, which is sealed and won’t be opened until 1st December 2016.
- Overdraft. I have one and I want it gone, so I will pay it off in 2016.
- Credit Cards. I won’t use them in 2016. I reserve the right to use them in an emergency but I can’t plan for those…
So generally, it’s been good which is not to say that it’s been easy or that I met those targets. My big successes were the food budget and the tracking, which are ingrained now, ask me about last week, when I misread or mistyped a 3 as a 2 and my determination to work out where the hell the missing penny was! The penny wasn’t the issue, the money was. There have been some things that have thrown me off track with the targets for the overdraft and credit card spending. They came down to the allotment (yep that again), work mucking up my travel loan not once but twice and have left me paying them back more money that I planned and me not being as disciplined as I could be. So I’ve paid off half the overdraft (and it’s costing me less than £4 a year) and I’ve worked out that I’ve spend less than a quarter of a months salary (net) on my credit cards this year. This is a huge improvement on 2015. It’s not perfect, I’m not perfect but it’s a huge leap in the right direction.
My spending generally is more considered and less spontaneous although I’m a nightmare in a garden centre nowadays. The £15 food budget has been mostly met and I’ll talk about that in more detail tomorrow.
BODY AND MIND
Physically my major issue was recovering from the osteotomy and feeling good. Here were the targets…
- Walking. Walking more was a game changer for me in 2015 and I want to get back to that, obviously that will depend on how my foot recovery goes. So I need to have small, long term goals for this, a) by the end of March 2016, I would like to be walking either to work from Paddington Station OR from work to Paddington Station, that’s about 35 minutes a day. b) by the end of June 2016 I would like to be walking both ways and getting my 10,000 steps a day.
- Body Balance. I love doing this when I do and my work gym membership resumes in July. So I’d like to go to one class a week in July and August and then resume 2 classes a week from September.
- Yoga. The evening routine is good for me so by the end of February, I want to be doing this at least twice a week.
- Volunteering. I want to start attending the volunteer allotment days in June and this year use the two CSR days work gives me. I’m sure that my Mum can find a use for me either at the foodbank or the homeless project!
- Books. The 12 book target was good but restrictive last year, I’m going to give myself a bit more leeway and have 24 books this year.
- Work Uniform. This year I want to have a work uniform, but not use it as an excuse for buying more stuff. I need to wear office clothes 4 days a week so I will create 6 outfits for work make sure that 4 of them are clean and ready to go for Monday morning.
Some of these were really successful. The work uniform was a genuis idea and has made mornings so much easier. The book target – I bought 23 books this year. I got lots of books free or borrowed from the library, I also did really well at Barter Books in April because I bought books to trade and got a £20 credit. I have a different mindset about when I need a book now and am deferring gratification a bit but I still have a ridiculous TBR pile and I need to work on that next year. I did more volunteering in 2016, the Ealing Half Marathon, the allotments, I also did less formal volunteering with my various babysitting duties (which worked well for me, weekend in Paris, Match of the Day watching and so on!). I want more of that next year. The walking and the body balance got abandoned because my foot wasn’t up to it and my breathing wasn’t up to the polution, the yoga was more sucessful but not as regular as I could have been. Other than the goals, there were two other things that had a real impact on my heath and wellbeing. First was the the allotment (it really did effect everything in my life!) there was a point last month where I was shovelling woodchip into a wheelbarrow realised that this wasn’t nearly as tiring as it had been in May, so physically it’s good for me and mentally, I don’t know if it’s the happy microbes, the community, being out in the ‘fresh’ air or eating so many courgettes but it makes me a more cheerful balanced person and that is a good thing. The second thing was finally getting a confirmation of asthma. Not a cough, not acid reflux, asthma. I have had some awful colds this year and all but one triggered horrible coughing hell, I thought I had asthma, everything I read suggested I had mile adult onset asthma and I also am in the perfect group for it; history of family with ENT issues, check; live in a city with bad air quality, check; perimenopausal, check; coughing when I catch a cold, check; hayfever, check. It was frustrating and scary but the best news is that it’s fixed! Hopefully, I’ll be healthier in 2017.
Word for the year
I chose authentic because I wanted to work on being honest about who I was and valuing myself and my interactions with others. Which I believe I did, and it was easy to do because for lots of reasons, I really like myself and my life and it’s mess and imperfection and ability to cope with 36 courgettes in one week and not throw any of them away!