It’s nearly that time of year again where everyone makes their new year resolutions. A brand new year is the perfect time to start fresh and make positive changes, however, even though we may have the best intentions, unless we write down an effective action plan, come February, those big promises we make to ourselves are destined for failure.
Two of the most common resolutions people make are to do with personal finances and health and fitness.
In 2009 when I started my business Creative Elements, our financial situation became out of control. My husband was already self-employed so his income has long varied from week to week. When I started working for myself, things became extremely unpredictable! At the end of 2009 I realised that we really needed to change how we managed our money and so I made the resolution to get our finances under control. As part of this intention, I wrote out an action plan which helped immensely.
Here are some of the things I started to do which has enabled me to manage our money more efficiently:
- Go through all bills and bank statements and add up all expenditure for the year and break down into categories – bills, loan repayments, groceries, clothing, entertainment etc. This will take a while but it’s very important.
- Divide yearly expenses into a weekly total. The first time I did this, the weekly amount blew my mind as it was a lot more than what I expected! As prices and family expenses have increased over the years, this weekly amount has also continued to grow.
- As we are self-employed, this amount is what my husband and I strive to earn each week.
- Compare the weekly expenses total to your weekly income. If your expenses are higher than your income, look at how you can cut back on spending or think about how you can increase your income so you can afford to maintain your lifestyle and/or reduce debt.
- If there is an income surplus, create a savings plan or use this extra money to make extra repayments on your debt.
- Create a spreadsheet to monitor and manage income and expenses throughout the year. This also makes the first step of adding up all expenditure for the year a much simpler process in future years.
At the end of every year, I always complete this exercise and now I even forecast my expenses for the coming year so I know how much money we need to be earning and saving to offset the slower business months.
For 2015, my resolution is to take better care of myself and to develop more healthy habits. Here are just some of the actions I am implementing to my daily life to help me achieve this:
- Eating – I have always pre-planned our weekly dinners to help plan my shopping list but this year, I will extend this to include breakfast, lunch and snacks. I will make my lunch when I make everyone else’s (why I never did this to begin with I will never know!) and organise pre-prepared snacks so I am not digging around in the pantry and making unhealthy choices when I am working from home. This should also help my grocery shop be even more efficient!
- Exercise – Create weekly exercise schedules to include a variety of exercises such as group training sessions, exercise sessions by myself at home and regular walks/runs. When it comes to exercise, I get bored and unmotivated very easily so if I mix it up and build some momentum, hopefully I will stick with it and see some long-awaited results!
- Water – I have been told that we need to drink 40mls of water per kg of body weight each day. I have always struggled with my water intake and this is something I desperately need to change. I have new water bottles ready to go in the fridge and reminders set on my phone to make sure I am getting enough of the clear stuff.
- Time management – When you work for yourself, it is very easy to get carried away and blur the lines between work and home life. Living with purpose each day is key to making the most of the time we all have available to us. I will start using my diary to create a daily to do list with tasks that are prioritised to make sure I stay on top of my home and work obligations and hopefully unlock more free time!
- Sleep – I do not want to make working until midnight a regular part of my routine so I have set specific wake up and bed times for myself to ensure I get enough sleep and also have adequate time and energy during the day to get through my to do list.
- Reflection – In this hectic life I lead, it is essential to take time out to reflect on my thoughts, to think about my writing and to switch off from the daily demands placed upon me. Come 1st January, I am going to start some simple journaling including a happiness journal. Reflecting on those things that make us happy and expressing gratitude is essential to the health of our state of mind, our purpose and our focus!
So these are my intentions for 2015. To make myself accountable, I’ll even keep you updated on how I am going throughout the year!
What are your new year resolutions? What actions are you going to take to make sure 2015 is the year you finally see your resolution right through to the end?