Monday, January 18, 2016

Little Things

I'm still thinking a lot about goals for the new year and constantly revising my list, which I think is fine so long as I'm simultaneously getting things done. Something that's struck me lately is the importance of execution vis-a-vis extended evaluation. Sure, reflection has value, but too much of it holds back so many capable people.  This year, I'm trying to be more of a doer and less of a thinker.

Predictably, I'm fixated on my student loans at the moment. My lender has increased the rate on my loan a full percentage point in the last few months. This isn't the end of the world because the rate was so low to begin with and, thanks to years of prepayments, my loan will be repaid in full soon. I suppose my worry has more to do with the larger changes to the public and private markets. I'm hoping that the impact on home values and my employment will be minimal, but I'm nervous about it.

On to things I can control...

I'm working on discarding or recycling a couple of very old laptops. As a first step I've consolidating my digital photos and am now looking to back them up using some sort of cloud-based resource. Do you have a service you'd recommend for photo storage? I find Dropbox unreliable in my day-to-day work so I don't want to use it. Also, what have you done to dispose of or recycle your laptops in the past?

While I wasn't able to cross laptop disposal off my list, I did get a lot done this weekend.  I spent my time billing at the office, culling my closet, dropping off donations at Goodwill, stopping by the dry cleaner, visiting Costco and Lowe's for a couple items for the house, gardening, making a soup to eat for dinner next week, cleaning the house, washing the car, and making a little carrot cake. Sounds mundane, but it was... really great.

Tiny carrots from the garden that ended up in a carrot cake.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Year Goals

In 2016, I will pay off every last penny of my remaining student loan balance. That thought alone puts a smile on my face. I've listed a bunch of other goals under the "35" tab on this blog. Some are discreet and easily achievable--e.g., seal the grout in laundry room, repaint the bathroom with semi-gloss--others are more abstract--e.g., do more to make my SIL feel like part of the family.

While putting the list together, I noticed the absence of many long-term, terribly expensive goals. The days of buy a car, apply to grad school, finish my law degree, finish my MBA, buy a house and survive five years of big law are over. Which brings me to what I'm enjoying about my mid-30s: I've achieved many of my big goals and, while doing so, built a strong and stable foundation... it's fine-tuning from here on out.

This has had an impact on how I view my relationships with men. Where I once wondered what I could do to impress someone I was dating (how can I be "good enough" for this person?), I'm now confident that I have done and am doing my best. Now, I spend my time wondering whether the person I'm dating enriches the life I've built (through friendship, intellectual curiosity, kindness, courage and stability) and, when the answer is "no," I don't feel despondent.

Do I still think about the family life I'm missing out on? Yes, I think of this often. I think of the experiences I am missing and how it's harder to fit in with women my own age because I'm not married and don't have children. The good news is that it's not the end of the world.

This time in my life is very peaceful and orderly--I'm in charge of my finances and they are in tip top shape, I'm in charge of my home and it's so clean and tidy you could eat off the floors (well, except for the time I let one of the partner's adult children stay at my house while I was out of down and returned to a complete disaster), and I'm in charge of my schedule and get to sleep in on the weekends. Would I be happy to trade this for a husband and house full of rambunctious kids? Yes. But if this is the consolation prize, I'll take it.

In 2016, at a high level, I want to:

  • strengthen my relationships with family and friends;
  • be of service to the community;
  • maintain my home and make improvements that increase its value;
  • deepen my professional experience and expertise;
  • prepare for the future through disciplined personal finance and a more thoughtful approach to my health; and
  • take a vacation.
What are you looking forward to in the new year?