Finding focus for the New Year 2019

I am a workaholic.

There, I said it.

I graduated from university in 1992. It was difficult finding a full time job initially so I worked casual, weekend or locum shifts wherever I could. This series of jobs led me to a full time job with an employer that I have remained loyal to ever since. 2019 will mark my 26th year with my current employer.

In that time my role has grown with the company’s growth and I have had many opportunities. With it, has come many responsibilities and challenges, all of which have contributed to making me the person I am today.

I am therefore very grateful to be continuously employed in some capacity for 26 years. But my job is a very stressful one – with long hours. And I am feeling the mental toll more and more.

So how will 2019 be any different?

I sit in my local library writing this post on my mini break between Christmas & New Year. This is my first ever holiday during this period in my whole 26 year career. I have always worked this time period including the public holidays, letting others take this time off to be with their children & family. The only reason I took this time off now was to spend some time with my little niece and family who have come to visit from overseas.

This time off has been a revelation. I never had time before to reflect on the year that has gone by or the year ahead. Sure, the lead up to Christmas has been stressful as usual but right now, I have the time to think which is such a novelty.

But I do feel guilty, knowing that work is really busy this time of year with many staff away. (And I have dropped into work to do stuff that I wasn’t able to complete before my holidays began – told you I was a workaholic!)

Don’t get me wrong – of course I’ve had holidays in the last 26 years. But they are often spent travelling. And when I say travelling, I tend to pack lots of activities and places to visit in the one trip. These holidays were about discovering new destinations, food and culture, sometimes reconnecting with family and friends. They were not about reflecting on my life or asking questions about the future. Although I did do some soul searching after my recent trip away – you can read it here, if you like.

2018 has shown me that mostly I have been drifting through life. I guess that’s what working long hours does to you. You just survive every day going through the same motions and repeat the next day. Then feeling entirely exhausted on the weekends, trying to recover. Which does not lead to any productivity including household chores. Which then compounds the feeling that things are going out of control.

I just want 2019 to be different. Deciding to sort out my finances in 2018 has led me to this path, believe it or not! (You can read about that here) Chasing Financial Independence (FI) with the possibility of Retiring Earlier (RE) has forced me to look at my life in a new way. And knowing why I want to retire or what I will retire to is now very important to me.

I no longer want to drift through life – I want to live my life with intention and purpose.

But where do I start?

By doing Montana Money Adventure’s Live With Intention series. I HIGHLY recommend this series. It is a series of 10 emails with short 5-10 minute videos and worksheets, guiding you step by step on how to start living with intention. But it comes with a warning – it makes you think! And sometimes it is uncomfortable 🙂 But it is rewarding, I promise you, so stick with it!

The most valuable exercise (to me) involves writing down 3 categories – Be, Have, Do ie what do you want to be? what do you want to have? what do you want to do? This was challenging and revealing once I started writing things down in each category. For me, it boils down to four areas – forming deeper relationships, being more productive, learning new skills and improving my physical, mental and financial health.

Wow, that’s a lot of areas to focus on! Fear not, as the series take you through each step of thinking about your ideal day, week, year; what your superpower is – something you do or a skill that comes easily to you or that you do really well; and so on.

Towards the end of the process, I gained the clarity to move forward. I must admit that I took a while to do this as I needed TIME (ah, that word again!) to digest & ruminate on the various topics.

The conclusion?

My first and most important priority in 2019 is to simply carve some time out of my busy schedule to THINK and then to act with intention. To this end, I have scheduled an hour every week just for reflection.

Sure, there are projects (such as writing this blog) to which I will absolutely want to devote time and energy. But for me, without the mental clarity that comes from reflection and taking back control of my time, I will not be very productive.

This will also hopefully decrease the stress in my life which is my second priority. Or at the very least, helps me to cope with the stress.

I want to recommit to exercising daily again – just starting to run or walk regularly & be outdoors more will improve my mental and physical health. And reduce my stress.

Writing helps me to clarify my thoughts. So I want to start journaling daily, just for 10 to 15 minutes every night, reflecting on my day. This will help me to develop a daily writing habit (which will be useful for writing a blog!) 

I will most likely travel this year, reconnecting with old friends and family overseas.

But what are my financial goals, you ask?

They are very boring! Once you have systems in place, it is a matter of staying the course and soldiering on. And reassessing every now and then. I already do a monthly check up at the end of each month when I look at my savings rate and net worth figures – a sort of financial reflection, I suppose.

I will focus this year more on reducing recurring bills such as utility bills and my gardener fees. Already made a start to reducing my electricity bill thanks to installing a solar system so will concentrate on water and gas.

Continue to build my emergency fund. I must admit I raided it to pay up front for the solar system installed in November. The state government rebate has yet to land in my bank account. My goal for 2019 is to save six months of expenses and LEAVE IT BE!!!! ie NO raiding this year.

I am also aiming to save 1% more per month towards my investment fund. Which I have set up to automatically be transferred from my weekly wages to a separate online high interest savings account.

Final conclusion

I will not bother with making grand New Year resolutions. Mine never last beyond January anyway so instead, I will focus on making small changes in all aspects of my life. Starting with carving out time for reflection each week.

Hopefully, these small changes will contribute to the bigger goal of a healthier me – mentally, physically & financially.

I will be intentional in all my activities and projects – asking myself if it serves my higher goal of contributing to my mental, physical & financial health.

How about you? What will you focus on in 2019?

2 Replies to “Finding focus for the New Year 2019”

  1. I have recently found your blog via Twitter and read from start to finish. Congratulations on finding the FIRE movement. I wholeheartedly believe it is never too late too start. I hope your 2019 in one of deep reflection and success!

    1. Thank you so much for reading and for the encouragement! I look forward to connecting more with everyone in 2019 🙂

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