Driving Towards Goals

snowyroad

January is flying by and any resolutions that were promised at the beginning are becoming distant objects in the rear view mirror. Every year I promise myself that I’m not going to let that happen, but it still does. Again, I’m making the promise to get those things done that I want and to do it in this new year.

Something needs to change this time and I went looking for the solution. Other than a strong resolve, there isn’t a lot of innovative thinking when it comes to achieving goals.

Nearly everyone who pontificates about goal setting tells us to write them down. OK. Done that. Now, where did I put that list?

For me, it isn’t enough to just write the goal down. I need more help.

Of course, goals must be achievable. That hasn’t been my problem either. I think we all know that there are some things we can never achieve no matter how often we write it down. We can’t find talent we don’t have in the pages of a loose-leaf binder.

My problem is not thinking things through in detail. For instance, I want to do some redecorating in my home. What am I going to do to achieve “redecorating?” In the past, I would have some ideas in my head but they flitted in and out and, often, never made it into the real world.

The goal for goals this year is to write details. I found I need some detailed guidelines to stay on track, so that’s what I’m working on. I know I want to recover the throw pillows in the living room and repaint the front door. My redecorating goal is becoming itemized. I’ve already bought the perfect fabric for the pillows and I know what color paint to buy. (I had to convince my spouse that the color I wanted to use would look good. Thank goodness for pictures on the web.)

I will add things to my “redecorating” goal and I will get specific on all the other goals, too. Some will need just a list, like my decorating projects. Others will need a complete road map with the first step clearly spelled out. The amount of detail depends on the goal, of course. Think of how tedious it would be to do a step-by-step about recovering my throw pillows.

Step 1: Decide to recover
Step 2: Decide on a color or theme
Step 3: Decide to go to the fabric store
Etc, etc, etc…

This is my answer to keeping up with all those New Year’s goals. Yours may be different. The key concept is to find something that works for you. I’ll get back to you with a progress report later this year.

Here are a few more ideas to ponder. You can use one, two, all or none:

Rewrite your goals daily
Tell your goals to someone else
Align your goals with your dreams
Visualize
Use affirmations
Have only a few goals at a time
Take daily action
Track your progress
Celebrate milestones

Together Again

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I can’t tell you I’ve been on an extended vacation. I wasn’t.

I can’t tell you that I’ve been unable to contribute to this blog. I was able, but didn’t.

I can’t tell you that any other external reason kept me from posting. What I can say is that I didn’t know where I was going with this blog, or with life. There are too many choices and, with more years behind me than ahead, some tough choices had to be made.

Living frugally my entire life has helped us get to this point. We always lived within our means. We avoided debt. We have been happy with older cars. It all adds up to being financially secure in retirement.

It took some time for our income to stabilize now that the regular paychecks are gone. Being frugal eased our way through that time and I focused on those topics here. While I will always practice frugality, I don’t want to make it the centerpiece.

My goal from this point is to chronicle my journey to the best retirement years I can imagine. I have to learn some new skills. I have to leave my comfort zone. I have to be bold and grab what I want or the years will simply pass by and I’ll be in the same place as I am now. Nothing would be more disappointing.

This blog will continue to be my outlet for things learned, for celebrating successes, and for the teachable moments that only come from failure

Frugality Requires Things

I might be retired, but that doesn’t mean that I want to spend any more time than I have to in the kitchen. Saving money isn’t rewarding if I don’t have time to enjoy it. I’ve got things to do. That’s why I use machines.

 Four of my most-used machines

Bread Machine

Does anything smell better than baking bread? OK. There might be something, but I think it’s still near the top as far as good smells. Using a bread machine simplifies making fresh bread. I’ve tried making bread the traditional way. It never turned out well and I gave up on fresh bread for many years. The bread machine solves my heavy, dense bread problem. It also solves my pizza dough and Hawaiian rolls problem.

Dehydrator

My husband likes jerky but it’s expensive to buy. Buy a dehydrator and the problem is solved. It’s incredibly easy to make jerky and at a significantly lower cost than commercially prepared jerky. I’ve dried fruit and fresh herbs with it too, but the main use in our house is jerky.

Slicer

We wait until beef is on sale before making jerky. Only one store in our area has a meat department that will slice roasts for you. That’s what we did when we wanted to make jerky. Unfortunately, this store has stopped slicing roasts that are on sale. We bought our own slicer. Now, we can buy beef anywhere it is on sale and not just at the store that would slice it for us.

Food Processor

Does it slice, dice, and julienne fry? Maybe not, but it will do a lot of great things. I use it to make mayonnaise, finely chop vegetables and nuts, and puree sauces. Again, all of these things can be accomplished by using hand tools, but I like the time-saving advantages of machines.

Kitchen tools

I can make great specialty breads for a fraction of the price. I can make a pizza with my homemade dough that rivals any restaurant pie. I can feed my husband’s jerky habit for much less. Add the time-saving benefit to the monetary savings and it’s a double whammy. It does cost money to buy machines and perhaps that isn’t always in the budget. I think we’ve saved the cost of all the machines by making jerky but something more difficult to quantify is also at work here. Life is short and time is precious.

Life Morphs

A picture of a path isn’t a very original or creative illustration for an article about life planning. I’ve been guilty of being unoriginal in my life plan, but now I’m stretching my creative wings to plan a retirement that is anything but ordinary.

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Our life plan has experienced some recent changes. My spouse finally came around to my way of thinking. I’m not sure what his reluctance was about, but he finally saw the light. The interesting thing about his change in thinking is that what I’ve been proposing recently is something we dreamed of doing many years ago. It’s now possible. It wasn’t possible then.

You know when something isn’t right when you aren’t enthusiastic about it. The things we were discussing about our retirement were ordinary. There was nothing about our plans that was exciting or even interesting. I knew I would have regrets if we followed that path. It’s all about making the best choices and when you find the right path, you will be filled with motivation. It’s still possible to fail, but staying on track minimizes that possibility. Keeping focused is key.

The problem with setting goals and envisioning how your life will progress is the constant changes of life. We’ve all done it: decided what we want, determined the steps to get there, and before we achieve success, we found that we didn’t want it anymore. .

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
-George Elliot-

Now, it’s all about a new direction. Start by creating a vision and not just goals. How does a vision differ from a plan or a goal? A vision is the general direction. A goal is more specific. Think of a clear vision as a compass which will continually point you in the correct direction. Having your own vision prevents others from directing your choices. My vision of our retirement is to elicit a “Wow” reaction from people I tell about it. Nothing else will do.

This will take some time and it must be cultivated before you can design the details. Answer the general “What do you want?” question. It seems like a simple thing. Keep focused on what you want and leave what you don’t want out of the process. If you pursue what you want, then things you don’t want will likely stay out of the way. Of course, this has to be realistic. You can’t plan bad things out of life. They happen.

Give yourself permission to dream, and to dream big. This isn’t about what should happen in your life. Things we must do are a part of life and will never go away, but they are often confused with the “shoulds.” Know the difference between things that have to be done and those that should be done. There aren’t many choices in “have to” but there are many in the “shoulds.”

One last piece of my dubious wisdom: Enjoy the journey. Life is short.

5 Reasons to Scratch It

brownie and coffee

 

Why do I cook from scratch? The stores are full of wonderful ready-to-eat products, why make my own?

1) I have time
Cooking from scratch does take more time, though often not a lot more time. In the case of homemade yogurt, the time is spent on waiting. Heating the milk takes only a few minutes, but the rest of the process takes more than 6 hours. Of course, I don’t have to stand there and wait for it, I just have to not forget about it.

2) I can control my ingredients
Packaged foods contain a few ingredients that help to preserve the contents and provide a longer shelf-life for the product. I don’t have to eat those. I’m sure none of them will prolong my shelf-life.

3) Things taste better
I had a package of seasoned coating mix in the pantry. (I think it was there for a while.) It tasted like salt. There were many other ingredients listed, but all I could taste was the salt. If I want my chicken to taste like salt, I can do that myself. I can add more or cut back on one or more ingredients to make it taste like I want it to taste, even if what I want is salty.

6) It’s usually cheaper
I did a cost comparison for baking mix here. While it may not prove to be true every time, overall it is cheaper to make your own.

5) I can’t go back.
Since I started cooking more things from scratch, packaged foods just don’t taste good to me anymore. I prefer what I make.

This Time It’s Gotta Be Right

I always thought I should earn an advanced degree.
I always wanted to write.
I always wanted to travel extensively.
I should have majored in photography.

These are a few of the overwhelming array of possibilities that I could pursue in retirement. Maybe, I should have done all of these things by now, but the reasons I haven’t yet pursued them are irrelevant.

Many of us have regrets in life, especially when it comes to what we could have been when we grew up. I am no different. While I don’t think I did poorly, I do think that when I was young, I didn’t set a search that was broad enough.

options

This time, with retirement, I’m looking at everything I can think of that’s possible for me to do. There’s only a little time left, as depressing as that sounds. Certainly, there are more years behind me than ahead, but there is still time to do something major if I want to and more than enough time to do a bunch of little stuff.

It all boils down to the question: What do I really want to do? That’s harder for me to answer than I thought. I guess I’ve never decided what I want to be when I grew up. I’ve had lots of ideas, but the little devil on my shoulder, whispering all the pitfalls that will come with a decision, often wins and I abandon the thought.

There is time for some things, but not all of them so deciding what’s important and doable is the goal. How to Make Decisions is an article published on the Real Simple website. The author divides us based on our decision-making style:

Poll Taker
Procrastinator
Overcautious
Make Snap Judgments
Overanalyzer
Overconfident
Waffler

I see myself in several of the descriptions.

I sometimes put off making a decision thinking that there will be time later. When there are too many choices, it results in a paralysis. I’m afraid I’ll make the wrong decision, and there won’t be time for a do-over. Sometimes, I make immediate decisions without adequate thought.

In my mind, a procrastinator and someone who is overcautious are two sides of the same coin. Am I procrastinating because I’m overcautious or is my caution causing me to put off the decision? Which came first and does it really matter?

giraffe

In the movie We Bought a Zoo, Matt Damon’s character explains that sometimes in life, you only need 20 seconds of courage to get what you want.

That’s what deciding what to do in retirement is about–finding 20 seconds of courage to make a decision and not worrying beforehand that it might be wrong.