Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On Writing and the Future

They say to write what you know. What's that you say? You don't want to see me write sarcastically about employee benefits? Really? I'm so surprised. What else do I know? Let's see... I could claim to set goals and then say something negative about myself. That's really interesting, right? Yeah, that's what I thought.

I can't get the idea of writing off my mind. I've been doing a lot of work-related writing lately and, in a total geek-out sort of way, it's fun. But I would really like to write more, preferably about something other than pre-tax plans, IRS regulations and ERISA. If you don't know what these things are, consider yourself lucky.

I used to dream of being a writer. The typewriter by the window, wind blowing, frantically banging on the keys. I'd have some sort of ritual when I finished stuff. Drink scotch or smoke a cigar or something. But of course life's not like a TV show. Let's face it, if I had that open window with no screen (why don't they EVER have screens on TV?), a bee would fly in, I'd panic and end up falling over my own chair. And if I ever got anything finished, I'd probably have to go put laundry in the dryer or clean up some mess my kid or the dog made.

I was reading a blog post on Money Saving Mom (a blog I sometimes read and follow on Facebook) that was a guest post from I Can Teach My Child (a blog I've never read before). The subject was how to run an unsuccessful blog. Don't post frequently (check!), write about something you're not passionate about (check!), don't write original content (this implies I write content - see the first item on the list) and don't get in the blog world (check).

I have influences in the blog world. There are women I find inspirational or I love their style, story or mission. But their stuff isn't my stuff. I've always joked that I don't have A Thing. Jack of all trades, master of none, that's me. Wide and shallow, not narrow and deep. Probably some other trite phrases. None of this serves the goal of being a writer. If I'm not writing anything that anyone wants to read, no one will read it. It's that simple.

I recently read Bossypants by Tina Fey. I wish I had written that. I could write a memoir, but really, who cares? I could do the whole Mommy Blogger thing, but do we need someone else writing what her kid did? Sure my IRL friends care, but they are probably hearing the story from me and not reading it on the blog. Oh, and IRL means In Real Life, which again, implies I have any kind of following or In Blogosphere Friends, which I don't.

As for participating in the blog world, the recommendation was to read and comment on posts. Most will include a link to your blog. I have often felt that if I linked back to my own blog people would read it and surely not come back.

What's my point, you're wondering? Well, I think I need to give this writing thing a shot. The blog is here, so I'm going to start here. After tonight, I'm going to plan posts, write them in advance and even *gasp* edit them! So if you read this, give me a comment, show some love (or hate, if that's how you're feeling!). If you feel so inclined, tell me what I've written that you like and you'd come back for more of. If, by chance, there's someone I don't know personally reading this, say hi, introduce yourself! I'm not sure where this is going. I don't have a vision yet. When I figure it out, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I'll write what's on my mind and we'll see what sticks.

Here's to new beginnings!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Goal Setting

I'm trying something different for August. I wrote out a list of things I want to get done this month and prioritized them. I know this sounds pretty elementary, and it is what all the "experts" say you should do, but I've always just had a rough outline in my head for a week or month. Sure, I've written out long term goals for the year along with all my other bright ideas and I've made daily to-do lists, but never made a list of the steps for a medium amount of time to work towards the larger goal. I suspect in September I will look back at this as one of those aha moments.

1. Pay the bills and do the banking. Before we moved (yes, I'm aware that was over a year ago), I had a great system in place for bill paying and banking. My office was set up and in the main area of the house, my computer worked, everything was online and, most importantly, I had time alone in the house. I never quite fell into a new routine when we moved and most of our bills changed. This leads to me scrambling last minute to get stuff out on time or paying one bill at a time over the course of a week. Not good. This month I sat down and did what needed to be done. Of course, the dishes didn't get done, but you know you can't have it all.

2. Research new banking/savings options. I don't know enough about CDs, online accounts like ING and the like to move on this. But there's no way Nathan's savings account is going to grow any momentum if it stays a savings account. I'm a lazy banker. Stuff stays where it is because it's easier to not look at it. I know there are better options out there, I just need to spend a little time learning.

3. Nathan's room. In my endless attempt to have less clutter, I have to find a way to make Nathan's room a place that doesn't make me physically ill when I walk into it.

4. Pain the dining room wall. Now that the new door is in place, we need to repaint. It's one wall and there's a 5 foot door in the middle of it. This shouldn't take long. Of course, it takes forever if you don't actually go into the basement and get the paint.

5. Wellness Assessment. This one is done as of yesterday! Our insurance plan is offering $100 if you complete a 15 minute questionnaire about your health and another $100 if you sign up for a wellness program. No surprise I qualify for the weight loss program, so my Health Coach will be calling me shortly (or so I'm told) and I'll be getting $200.

6. Clean out the kitchen cabinets. After Nathan's room, the kitchen cabinets are the 2nd most cluttered place in the house. I have too many kitchen things, many of which I don't use. Partially because they aren't organized, partially because I just don't need them. Either way, something has to change.

7. Get to the gym at least 4 times. That's once per week. If I can't make start going weekly, I need to quit, so the rest of the year is a test for me. We'll see how it goes.

8. Track all expenditures to prepare a budget. On a daily basis I'm tracking all of our spending to see where our money goes. We have long term goals - we don't want to work for other people the rest of our lives (or at all for that matter), we want to move across the country, we want our family to have all it needs and a good amount of what it wants now and in the future. Financial irresponsibility is one way to make sure those things never happen. Not that we're irresponsible, but we have our moments that certainly don't fit into the big picture. I want to change that.

Some of these goals are easy, some just take some planning. None of them are inherently difficult. Let's hope this approach works!