Monday, December 28, 2009

Money Monday: December 28, 2009

On this auspicious last-Monday-of-2009 occasion (the solemnity of which I just totally negated for myself by typing ‘ospitious’ and then getting the giggles because it made me think ostrich, which is different financial management theory entirely than mine) (look, I started this at 4:45 in the morning, ya know? It doesn’t take much to set me off at this hour), I thought I’d try for one last Money Monday post in 2009.

Hmm…is there an onomatopoeia for “primal scream”? Because I very much doubt I’m alone in feeling that 2009 was a year to be burned in effigy and the charred remains buried face-down with a garlic-studded stake through its heart.

(But I’m not bitter.)

I have to admit I’m actually looking forward to 2010.

(And I hope I didn’t just become the girl in the slasher film who goes, “OhmyGAWD, I just remembered I forgot my hairbrush! It’s, like, vital and some junk! I’ll just go traipsing through these dark, spooky woods to get it! I’m sure the Spooky Wood Slasher isn’t out there right now…!”)

There have been a lot of changes in the last few years. More and more we find ourselves asking, “Where are we going with this, anyway?” and honestly…we don’t know the answer.

It’s hard to get someplace when you have no idea where you want to go.

When I look back at the plans we had in years past, I find that an awful lot of what’s on the list doesn’t really apply anymore – we’ve changed. Things that were in the top five don’t even make the top fifty now; things that weren’t even on the list have replaced them.

I guess that’s part of being a human being, living in an imperfect and changing world. We change too, as we learn more and more about ourselves and our world, and how those two things go together.

It’s the time of year whenever people start sidling up and asking, “Soooooooo…any resolutions this new year?”

Now, I despise new year’s resolutions. For one thing, if you’re going to decide to do something good for yourself, just do it. Don’t wait for January 1, or your birthday, or your first child to arrive, or the 15th of Octember – just do it.

There’s no time like the present, says I.

Furthermore, there’s This Thing about the new year resolution gambit: Nobody takes them seriously. We can make whatever sweeping, grandiose, ridiculously complex or impossible statement we decide fitting (sometimes with the help of half a bottle of champagne), and nobody bats an eye when three days later we’re right back to our old ways.

How many people, for example, will start the new year by declaring that this, THIS RIGHT HERE, this year of Grace XXXX, is The Year when they will finally lose those thirty (OK, forty) extra pounds they’ve been meaning to lose just forever.

And when we all see this friend plowing face-first into a bowl of ice cream and chocolate pie on January 15th, does anybody say, “Forsooth! Madame! What of thy pledge a fortnight ago?”

Pshaw. Of course not. It was “just” a new year’s resolution, right? A pie crust promise! Easily made, easily broken…we don’t hold ourselves to them, nor each other to them, and pretty much nobody expects that anybody has any intention whatsoever of keeping them.

And that irks the devil out of me.

Hmm. Actually? I think it irks the saintly out of me. Because if it irked the devil out of me, I don’t think I’d be so snarky about it…I’d be more like, “But that’s fine, my child, for lo! $DEITY is nothing but pure love and forgiveness…” and then I’d probably launch into a rendition of Gloria so, yeah.

I think it actually irks the saintly out of me.

The devil stays firmly put.

ANYWAY. All my personal feelings on the subject aside…it’s still a time of year when, even if you weren’t thinking about it naturally because of that whole ‘new year / new opportunities’ thing, or because perhaps the after-Christmas regrets were already settling in (I surely do regret eating all the peanut brittle my mother-in-law brought up), people are going to start asking you, in moments of idle conversation.

So. Any good resolutions for this year?

I refuse to call this a resolution, mind you, but there is something I want to do this year.

I want to give our goals a thorough makeover, see if we can’t do more than just sort of paddle along hoping the river is going where we want to end up.

It’s not exactly a simple undertaking…which of course is why I’ve kind of…uh…well…not gotten around to it, when things began changing so drastically and it was obvious I should but, well, you know…

It’s hard and some junk. And involved. And speaking of involved, it isn’t just a matter of me sitting down and figuring stuff out.

There’s an “us” involved, and “we” need to get things onto a single page, and come up with a plan, and stick to it, and pull together toward whatever goals we decide are the Top Priority.

But…it’s worth doing.

Life is full of hard things. Even when you’re doing something you love, there are times when the best you can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep on keepin’ on.

When you’re just sort of surviving, with no idea where you’re going or what it gets you, those hard times seem really, REALLY hard.

But when you have carefully thought about where you’re going and why, what you get in the end and why you think it’s worth giving up whatever you’re giving up, doing whatever you’re having to do, those hard times don’t seem so hard.

So I guess I have some homework for this week: To start hashing out where we want to end up – in December 2010, 2015, 2030. What do we still want, what don’t we want anymore, what new things have become important to us when we weren’t looking?

What do we want now…and what are we ready to toss aside.

How we expect to get there…will have to be another week’s homework. This is going to take enough thought, and discussion, and more thought, and more discussion…it’s not just a “me” proposition, but a “we” with a lot of other souls involved.

What about you? Given any thought recently about what you really want to have, to be, to do…today, tomorrow, this year, next year, in five years, in twenty?

It’s an interesting exercise, and one well worth doing. Need a nudge to get you started? Grab some paper, and a pen. Think of something you want to have, or do, or be. Get a college degree, see Amsterdam, be a child advocate, have a ranch with five acres and a six-stall barn for the horses.

Write it down. Don’t worry about how important it is (or isn’t), or whether it’s in the right order, how (im)possible it is, or any of that.

Just write them down as they occur to you.

When you get stuck, don’t worry about it. Just put the list down and leave it alone. Come back to it. Put it away for a day or two – then take it out and take another look at it. Take a stab at putting things in relative-importance order…then put it away again.

If you keep coming back at it, thinking things over and letting the list evolve, eventually you’ll find it practically sorts itself – especially if there’s only one person involved. (It can get complicated in a hurry when it’s a married couple doing this together. Oy.)

Remember, it’s not carved in stone. You have the right to change things around when you realize they aren’t quite right – even if you’re halfway through your plan when your realize it. We change, and grow, and make realizations about ourselves and our world.

That’s OK. Part of life on this planet in these freckly, wrinkly, pimple-infested skins.

The main thing is, to know that you’re doing your best to get what you want to get for all the hard work Life is going to demand you do whether you get what you want or not.

And that’s a lot easier to do if you’ve taken charge of your goals, rather than just sort of rowing along hoping you’re going to end up someplace, uh, well…good.

Give it a try. You might be surprised at what you didn’t know you didn’t know about yourself. (Or not. You might be one of those Born Organized types who has always just known you were going to be whatever you already are. Well…good on you and all, but this post is kind of for the rest of us? So maybe you could go be perfect somewhere else for a while? k-thx!)


Colleen Mole said...

I've been reading your blog for several months now (you're in my top 4!), but have never commented. Sorry about that. But I have to thank you for this post. It is just the firm poke in the ribs I needed right now to get my shit together. Now dragging my husband's shit with me is the hard part!

Thanks! I love your blog! Yeah, money Mondays!

Hoa Phat said...

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