Every year I make new goals for myself. Below are my goals for the current year, as well as my progress on them.

2019 Goals (Revised)

Back in fall 2018, I created a massive list of goals for 2019. They were scattered, an attempt to address everything that I felt was a shortcoming in my current life. Instead, they ended up more a list of tasks rather than actual goals to strive for. I didn’t feel any sense of accomplishment in completing them, and the last thing I needed this year was a long to-do list of difficult-to-complete items. Near the end of March, I scrapped the goals I originally chose for the year and created a new set focused on the things that are most important to me.

1. Improve my overall health.

I began the year not knowing that my health was in the process of fast deterioration. Not only did the nose/anosmia issue continue despite multiple doctors and treatments and tests, but I began breaking out in hives daily. Rampant inflammation causes dozens of problems – worse insomnia, weight gain, depression, chronic fatigue, etc. My brief round with a steroid treatment taught me that inflammation was behind even more than I realized, including the nose/anosmia issue. Unfortunately, my team of doctors and I still haven’t pinpointed the cause of inflammation and hives, and some don’t even believe inflammation is related to any of it.

My goal this year is to find the cause of inflammation and deal with it, with or without a doctor’s help. Once I can calm my body down, I will be able to work on other goals, such as improving my mental health and sleeping enough and losing weight, all of which are highest priority for me.

Current Status: I’ve removed several immediate sources of inflammation (probiotics, any foods with live cultures in them) and changed to eating a higher carb, lower fat diet, both of which have helped. Various rounds of medication and medical tests revealed nothing further, but the addition of lots of Pepcid in May got rid of the hives and about 75% of the anosmia. An antidepressant is helping with mental health, though levels are still being tweaked. At present, I’m working to rebuild healthy exercise and nutrition habits after a disastrous few months with an injectable medication. (10/20/19)

2. Write.

Writing makes me happy, regardless of whether or not I plan for it to be a career. I haven’t written at all since spring of 2016, and I haven’t written regularly since 2014. When my life got thrown through the grinder in 2014, writing was one of the things that didn’t make it out of there alive. And without it, I don’t feel completely alive. I feel like a soulless shell of a person with no purpose in life, someone who just exists for existence sake. I’ve tried to give myself other purposes over the years, but none of them make me feel whole the way writing does. And yet writing acts as a constant trigger, a reminder of when life was so much better, I suppose. I haven’t been able to work through the mental blocks that keep me away from writing. If it was just straight-out writer’s block, I could deal with that. This instead is more like panic attacks every time I try to write, and my goal is to figure out why this is happening, address the triggers, and get back to a regular writing habit again.

Current Status: This may sound silly, but the biggest thing I’ve done for this goal is to get myself out into the world again. I’ve used my USAA Active & Fit membership to join several gyms, and I’ve started to attend group classes, getting to know new people. These are new people, new experiences, and generally a way to get myself out of the house. Not only do I take inspiration and ideas from the world to incorporate into my writing and make it richer, but being out among people helps to reenergize me and keep depression, stagnation, and lethargy at bay. I haven’t yet started writing again, but I’m in a much better place to do so, and improving daily. (6/1/19)

Unfortunately, after the above update, the stresses of the summer, Morrigan’s college plans going awry, and later house-downsizing, meant that I had to drop the gym membership. I’m still no further along with this goal, though I’ve realized that while I want to write again one day, I no longer want that to be my career. (10/20/19)

3. Improve our financial situation.

I don’t yet know how to tackle this goal, but our finances are a major source of stress. I wish it came down to spending habits that could be changed, but Jason and I have already streamlined our budget and ruthlessly cut our spending down to bare minimums. The thing is, in early 2018 we were doing fine. We had no credit card debt, no car payments, and a budget that allowed some money to be put in savings each month. Then we had $25,000 worth of repairs on our house over the summer, and unexpectedly had to replace both cars. Now we have a giant chunk of credit card debt and two car payments. Those debt payments together make up more than we had leftover each month before, so we’ve cut everything we can out of our budget (no TV, minimum phone and internet, etc) and still don’t make it most months. We were relying on Jason’s bonus and our annual tax refund to help lower the credit cards by a lot, but then the bonus was much smaller than it usually is, and Prump’s tax reforms meant instead of a $5k refund, we owed $2k (thanks, asshole), so all our debts are still massively high. We don’t make enough to cover bare minimums each month at this point.

So we’ve come to a tipping point and need to make some changes. I either need to try to get a job – difficult to find one that will pay me more than minimum wage, which would add just about nothing to our finances especially once the costs are weighed in – or I need to take out loans (more debt!) and go back to school so that I can get a decent-paying job at some point. Or we have to figure out a Plan C. Whatever we do, we can’t just keep going like this. We’re drowning. We need a solid plan and to then implement that plan this year.

Current Status: Our situation has changed drastically from what we expected this year, but we have made a few good strides on this goal. A couple small things this fall have helped. For a short time, we had one less person in the house to support, and Jason got a tiny bump on his salary. Beyond that, Jason and I took out a debt consolidation loan – a legit one, that will actually help us pay off our debts quicker and with less interest – and zeroed out our credit cards. Yay! The cards are being put away, and we’re now on a cash economy at home. Our expenses still outweigh our income each month, though, and that’s purely because our current house situation is just too much for us. We’re in the process of downsizing to a smaller, cheaper house, which will hopefully be done by the end of 2019. (11/1/19)