Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolutions for 2015

I love making New Year's resolutions.  Each year at the end of December, I spend some time thinking about the things I'd like to accomplish in the upcoming year and the things I'd like to change (or improve upon).  While I know that I don't have to wait for a new calendar year to create goals for myself, I tend to think of a new year as a blank slate.  Maybe this goes back to all of those paper journals I bought as a kid with prelabeled pages that always started with "January 1," but at the beginning of the year I always picture an empty book ready to be filled with the details of the next 365 days.

Although I always try to put some thought into my resolutions, I don't always stick with them.  If I'm being totally honest, I usually give up on one or two of them early on.  This year, though, I'm a little more motivated.  Maybe this is related to getting older ... Now that I'm 30 I don't have that same "I have plenty of time for this" feeling I used to have when I was a teenager (or even in my 20s).  If I want to learn a new skill or write a novel or get healthier, now is the time to do it.

I've broken my resolutions up into categories in order to better organize this post.  And, in an effort to keep myself on track, I'm planning to make some posts throughout the year (maybe quarterly, though I haven't decided for sure) with updates on my progress.

Every year I claim I'll stick with my resolutions, but maybe this time I actually will.  (Or at least a good percentage of them ...  I'll be ecstatic if I can stick with at least 80-90% of these!)


Health/Fitness Goals:

I love this quote!  Image courtesy of 

1.  Continue going to yoga classes at least 2-3 times per week.  These classes have had such a positive effect on me (both physically and mentally), so I think it's really important to continue practicing regularly.

2.  Work out at least 3-4 times per week.  Yoga classes definitely count, but I should also supplement those classes with either another class (or two) and/or some basic cardio (treadmill, bike, etc.).  This is something I struggle with at times because it's so easy to come up with an excuse not to go to the gym.  Since I love yoga, it's not too difficult to motivate myself to go to those classes ... But if I'm trying to get myself motivated to go to another type of class or to go walk/jog on the treadmill, I can always think of something else I'd rather do.

3.  Lose weight.  This is literally on my list of New Year's resolutions every year, and I never lose as much as I would like (and keep it off, of course).  I lost a decent amount of weight before our wedding in 2013, but most of that was due to stress.  (When I'm really stressed, I completely lose my appetite.  While I'm glad I'm not a stress eater, this isn't really healthy either.)  Since I'm no longer a big ball of stress, a lot of that weight has returned.  I'm not going to set a specific goal weight to be reached by December 2015 because I don't want to feel discouraged if I can't reach it.  If I'm being completely honest, though, I'd like to lose at least 10 lbs.  I think that's a reasonable goal to start with, but I'm also not going to beat myself up if I only lose 7 lbs (or even 5).

4.  Continue utilizing MyFitnessPal to track my exercise and caloric intake each day.  I'm such an on-again-off-again MyFitnessPal user, but I've been pretty good about logging everything lately.  I set a pretty difficult goal for myself (lose 1.5 lbs per week), so my daily allotted calories are kind of pathetic.  I almost always go over, and that can be kind of frustrating.  Despite this, I've found MyFitnessPal to be a pretty good way to force myself to at least consider what I'm putting into my body.  (And it's pretty eye-opening on the days when the calories from my alcohol intake cover more than half of my daily allowance.  I mean, I know alcoholic drinks are filled with empty calories, but holy shit!)

Reading/Creative Writing Goals:

I found this on Pinterest, but couldn't find the original website it came from.  It was the
 perfect image for this section, though, so I had to use it!

1.  Read 50 books.  The 50 book goal has been on my list of New Year's resolutions every year since 2005.  10 years later, I still haven't reached that goal.  Yes, I think 50 books in 52 weeks is a lot, but I know plenty of people who have reached (or surpassed) that.  (My best year was 2012, and I only finished 32.)  My problem is that I don't stay focused.  I'll read something for a few days then get distracted with something else ... And suddenly I realize that I haven't opened that book in a month.  If I take a significant break from a book, I can't really get back into it very easily ... So I just never finish it.  It's an awful habit that I'd really like to break.  This year my plan is to start going to bed at least 30 minutes before I'd want to go to sleep and use that time to read.  Additionally, I'll devote at least one evening each week strictly to reading ... No TV, no music, no blogging.  It will still probably be difficult for me to finish 50 books since my life can get kind of busy at times, but I think if I stick to my plan I might actually be able to do it!

2.  Write creatively at least once a week.  For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to publish a novel.  I wrote my first "book" at a very young age (around 7 or 8), and while it's a terrible pile of shit, it's proof that I can finish a project if I really want to.  (I use the term "book" loosely because it was around 60 pages long ... Though I guess that's probably impressive for a child in elementary school.)  I also wrote another book when I was in high school, but it was also a terrible pile of shit that should probably never see the light of day.  After I finished that project, I started others ... I just never finished any of them.  I don't expect to write the next great American novel in 2015, but I do want to push myself to carve out some time (even an hour one day each week) to work on putting something together.  If I ever hope to write something that I would be proud to publish, I have to start somewhere!

Financial Goals:

Image courtesy of

1.  Continue putting money in savings every month.  I've been doing this regularly for the last 5 years, so this shouldn't be too difficult.  I'd like to eventually bump up the amount I'm saving each month, but that probably won't happen until I get some other stuff paid off (and that's totally fine with me).

2.  Become (mostly) debt free.  I don't think I can pay everything off this year, so I don't want to set a completely unattainable goal.  I think I can at least get the 3 credit cards I have balances on paid off, though, since none of them have a huge balance (I've just been lazy about it since they're 0% APR right now).  I'm also going to start making larger payments on my car when the cards are paid off.  I'd love to get my car paid off in 2015, but there's a good chance I won't get it paid off until the next year.  I also know I won't be paying off my student loans this year, but I should be able to get those paid off early if I don't have any credit card or car payments to worry about.

3.  Use Swagbucks more often.  I was using Swagbucks a lot for a while, but then I got busy and found myself just doing the bare minimum each day (answering the daily poll, clicking through the NOSO, and getting an occasional code).  I do have quite a few Swagbucks right now (almost 13,000!), but I'm trying to save for an Amazon gift card that's worth at least $250.  There's an expensive (like $600+) item I have my eye on, and if I could pay for at least half (or more!) in gift cards, that would be awesome.  (I have another $50 gift card to Amazon already.)  I can't even believe I'm seriously considering this item, but I'll share more if/when I take the plunge and get it.  In addition to getting this specific item, it's nice to earn Swagbucks for other stuff too.  We used another gift card I earned through Swagbucks for a dinner out a few months ago, and we paid almost nothing for an appetizer, two entrées, and two alcoholic drinks.  It was awesome!

Food Goals:

I doubt I'll learn to make macarons this year (much less adorable macarons that look like
penguins!), but maybe one day.  Image courtesy of

1.  Create at least 3 original recipes.  I'm not awesome enough to come up with super creative recipes, but I'd like to make at least 3 things that aren't just simple changes to an existing recipe.  I've posted a few recipes that were adapted pretty significantly (as well as some that combined at least a couple of recipes to create one dish), but I've really only posted one "original" recipe ... And, as you can see, it's not really that groundbreaking.  However, I was really proud that I made something up as I went along without even using a recipe as a guideline.  I'd like to continue pushing myself to do that (at least occasionally).

2.  Bake a little more often.  I'm not going to set any specific goals for this since it will kind of work against some of my health and fitness goals, but I've wanted to work on my baking skills for a long time.  So why not do it a little more often this year?  (If nothing else, it will give me an opportunity to post some dessert recipes on Divulge and Indulge ... And everyone loves a good dessert recipe!)

3.  Try at least 12 new (to us) restaurants.  Eric and I both love food (in case you haven't already noticed), and I honestly think this will be one of the easiest resolutions to stick with.  There are a ton of restaurants in Omaha alone that we want to try, but any restaurant we try for the first time counts (regardless of location).  I didn't count the number of new to us restaurants we ate at this year, but I can guarantee there were at least 20 (but probably more).  I'll even attempt to be a good blogger and share pictures from our meals!

Blogging Goals:

I decided I should probably take at least one picture in this post myself.  This pretty much
sums up my blogging tools right now: my laptop and a cup (or several) of coffee.  I usually write while
 sitting on the living room couch, but the lighting was slightly better in the dining area ... So this is what
you get.

1.  Work on a blog schedule and really try to stick with it.  This worked for me for a while, and then I just started feeling uninspired.  I know that will happen from time to time, but I don't like feeling disappointed in myself when I don't post as much as I think I should.  Scheduling posts is the only way I can be even remotely organized when it comes to this blog, so I should really focus on that.

2.  Participate in more link-ups.  I've been participating in a monthly personal challenge link-up and I've definitely noticed some additional traffic based on my participation, but I think if I'd like to gain more readers, I should probably participate in a few more from time to time.  And, let's be honest, even though it's nice to see that more people are checking out my blog, link-ups are also just fun.

3.  Comment more often.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I read a really great post and think, "I really want to tell them how much I enjoyed this post, but I'll do it later," and then a week or two goes by and I realize I never commented.  I should probably just go ahead and comment even if a lot of time has passed (better late than never, right?), but I always second guess myself and feel like it will seem dumb to comment on an older post ... So I just say nothing.  I do try to make an effort to respond to all of the comments I get on my own blog (and I think I do a pretty good job), but I really need to start commenting on other blogs as well.  I mean, isn't that kind of the point of these things?  To create a community?

4.  Invest in Divulge and Indulge.  I'm not going to spend tons of money on this blog or anything ... It's just a hobby, after all.  I am considering upgrading to a Premium Wordpress account, though, because I think it would be nice to have my own domain name as well as the ability to customize my blog further.  I'm also considering paying someone to design a layout for me, but I know that's something I'll want to put some more thought into.  Finally, I've been thinking about sponsoring at least a couple of blogs.  I know it's a great way to gain exposure (especially if the blogger offers an opportunity for a guest post or "interview"), but I just haven't taken that plunge yet.  Again, this is something I'll want to put some more thought into.  (This will also probably be the last thing I do since I'd prefer to have my own domain name and a more customized blog before I start advertising on other blogs.)

5.  Make a new "About Me" page.  I don't really like the one I have now, but I've been really lazy about changing it since I never really know what to say.  Why is it so hard to come up with a simple introduction to myself and this blog?

6.  Work on my social media presence.  This is such a huge part of blogging, and I've been neglecting it completely.  When I first started Divulge and Indulge, I created a Pinterest account specifically for this blog.  I love Pinterest, and it makes sense to have an account linked to a blog (especially a blog that features recipes on a regular basis!) ... But I never really did anything with it.  In addition to Pinterest, I'd like to start an Instagram account for this blog.  I've never been an avid user of Instagram, but I can understand why bloggers use it.  I'm still not sure I'm willing to make a Twitter account, but I do understand that it can be a powerful tool when it comes to promoting posts and connecting with other bloggers ... So maybe 2015 will be the year that I get over my dislike of Twitter.  I'm also not sure if I'd want to use Facebook to promote this blog.  I mean, I rarely use my personal Facebook, so I can't imagine trying to keep up with another account.  I do think if I at least focus on Pinterest and Instagram, it could potentially help me gain new readers.  I don't really expect (or even want) this blog to become "big," but I think it would encourage me to continue posting regularly if I gained some new readers and knew that they actually cared about what I was writing.

I know my list of New Year's resolutions is ridiculously long, but there are just so many things I'd like to accomplish in the upcoming year.  I would actually like to add a few more goals to this list, but I wanted to be at least somewhat realistic.  As I said at the beginning of this post, I'm hoping I can at least stick with 80-90% of these resolutions throughout the entire year.  And if I somehow manage to stick with all of them, I'm going to be so proud of myself!


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