The days leading up to my first day at the new job were full of anxiety. Sure, I was excited to be starting, but at the same time I’ve been putting an incredible amount of pressure on myself. I want to do well at my job, and I want to succeed. I want to save money, and retire comfortably. I want to travel, and live stress-free with that special someone. Turning 32 later this year has really scared me. I’m nowhere near where I thought I would be at this age, and while I know that the chances of settling down and retiring somewhat comfortable are pretty good, I still can’t help but stress out about where my career will be in 5 years, if my retirement accounts will be where I want them to be, and how I’ll know when I’m ready to do all the adult things all my friends seem to be up to.
I think we’ve all felt like this at some point before. It’s normal. And when I get those feelings, I just need to take a step back and evaluate all the positives I have in my life. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we don’t have, or what we want to have… instead of what we do have. :)
As for the first few days at the job? Well they’ve been great so far. It’s weird to be working within a marketing team – I’ve been so used to working by myself over the last few years, and I missed this team atmosphere we have going on. I imagine the next few weeks will be filled with trying to remember the names of people around the office, getting comfortable with the different tasks I’m given, and figuring out how I can best contribute based on my skill set.
I was unemployed just long enough to receive one EI payment, and that actually happened yesterday. So that means I went 40 days between when I lost my job, and when I got my first payment. I was worried it would take a lot longer than that – the first time I applied for EI it took 11 weeks! The $408 I received isn’t a lot, but it’s definitely welcomed. And I’m actually pretty pleased that I got through my entire unemployment without having to touch my Emergency Fund! Granted, I likely won’t get paid until mid-April, so there’s still a chance I might have to use that cash if I can’t make up the difference with my freelancing.
Speaking of freelancing, I’ve had a pretty good few days. I received a $750 payment, and have billed out for an additional $1,450 just this week. I likely won’t receive those payments by the end of March, but at least it’s putting me on the right track for a decent April. :)
Anyway, that’s the update in my world!
Every January, most of us make some sort of resolution. Maybe we want to get out of debt, save more money, lose weight, learn a new skill – whatever it is, coming up with these goals is never the issue. It’s sticking to them that’s hard to accomplish.
And it’s about this time – mid February – where our enthusiasm has slightly faded, and maybe that awesome idea we had of signing up for a marathon, learning how to speak French, or not eating out as often anymore has gotten a little old.
I’m definitely guilty of making goals for myself in the past that I end up ignoring, or have no intention of keeping. So every winter when I decide what I want to accomplish for the upcoming year, I try to choose my goals based on these guidelines:
- Choose realistic goals. One of the biggest mistakes most people make is choosing unrealistic goals. For example, if your annual income is $40,000, it’s not realistic to want to pay off $35,000 worth of debt in one year. It’s important to set your sights high, but only if you aren’t setting yourself up for failure in the process.
- Be specific. The reason why you want to be as specific as possible in your goal, is because you will know exactly what you have to do to – and when you have achieved it. Instead of saying “I want to put more money into my RRSPs this year,” try creating a specific goal by saying, “I want to put $250 from each pay cheque into my RRSP this year.” This gives you a clear task to accomplish, instead of something a lot more vague.
- Create a plan. Resolving to change something in your life is the first step, but you need to create a plan to achieve your goal. I’m absolutely guilty of skipping this step. Last year, my goal was to increase my income… but because I didn’t create a plan to help me achieve that goal, I didn’t even come close. So for example, if your goal is to save at least two months’ worth of expenses, how will you go about doing that? Figure out how much money you will need to save, and divide that amount by the number of pay cheques you will receive during 2013. Then, set up automatic withdrawals from your chequing account each time you get paid. Taking the time to create a simple plan will ensure that you have a much higher probability of achieving your goals.
- Tell other people about your goals. This is the reason why I started this blog! Telling friends and family members about what you hope to achieve makes your goals become real. The people you care about the most will be able to hold you accountable to your goals and provide support along the way. It might be a good idea to try to find someone in your life that has a similar goal. Working together provides motivation and provides a sense of camaraderie.
- Review your goals often. Take the time to review your goals on a weekly and monthly basis. This will help you stay focused on achieving your goals, and help you figure out what strategies are working for you – and what aren’t. BF likes to use markers on his bathroom mirror to write down his goals. It forces him to review what he wants in life every single day, and I think that’s really helpful when it comes to staying on track.
- Have patience. Achieving big things doesn’t just happen over night. It can be easy to get discouraged right away, but that’s when most people tend to give up and fall back into old habits. Anytime we work to change something in our lives, we are bound to stumble along the way – so have patience. Don’t give up if you don’t see progress right away. It will come in time.
In order to be successful with whatever you want in life, you have to be motivated. Decide what your most important goals are, and spend your energy trying to accomplish those things.
How do you make sure you stay on track with your goals?
I ran my second half marathon over the weekend – the Vancouver Historic Half in Stanley Park. I’ve mentioned it a few times before, but I have severely undertrained for this event. In the 5 weeks since my last half marathon, I’ve run a total of three times (13km, 19km, 10km). I was nervous, and hoping for anything under two hours.
Last month, my pace varied wildly from 5’04” to 5’54″/km. It was my first half marathon race ever, and I had no idea what to expect. Since I didn’t think I’d be able to beat my previous time of 1:54:31, this time I decided to try to improve on maintaining a more consistent speed throughout the race, and working on the areas where I had the most problems (getting out of the corral fast enough, and when I died at the 17-18km mark).
Well during Sunday’s race, I was so worried about starting fast enough that I went out way too quickly (my first km was 5’05”). But after that I was able to maintain a steady pace, and only varied by 23 seconds (my slowest km was 5’28”). Much better than the 50 seconds from last month! I paced with another woman for the majority of the race. She was consistently running at the same speed I wanted to be at (just fast enough so that I was slightly uncomfortable), so I made sure not to be more than 5 meters away from her at all times. She probably knew I was pacing her the entire time, but there were a few times where I took the lead, so maybe we helped each other out. It also really helped during the last 4 kms. I was really struggling (clearly due to my lack of training)… and I think it’s safe to say that without her, I wouldn’t have finished with a time of 1:53:51 – which is 39 seconds FASTER than last month’s race! :)
If you’ve never been to Vancouver, the run took place in Stanley Park, which is a huge park located right downtown. The course was run around the seawall, meaning I had beautiful ocean views 90% of the time. :) The weather was perfect, even if it was a little chilly. I really enjoyed myself, and am looking forward to next year’s race! My only complaint is due to my own scheduling issues – I had a field hockey game to play just a few hours after the race. That was… a bit rough.
So, while I’m pleased overall, I know that I can do so much more. Talking with a friend (whose also a running coach) the day afterwards, he said that with the proper training, I could definitely run a sub 1:50 at my next big race (BMO Half Marathon, May 2014), and maybe even close in on 1:45, depending on how committed I am. That gives me hope, and I think that’s what I love about running… there’s always room for improvement, and your only real competition is yourself.