During a car ride with a friend recently, we started to chat about the upcoming new year and the resolutions we all make and break. She said she likes to stick with the 5 “F’s” — faith, family, friends, finance and fitness — and just pick out one or two things to change in each of those categories.
Having been a horrific underachiever of past resolutions, I figured out why I was always setting myself up to fail. I was either being too broad or unrealistic. As a result, within a month’s time, the resolutions were abandoned.
It’s predicted to be another challenging year in agriculture. Set goals, but be kind to yourself. Think about what you would like to start doing in your life, as well as something you want to stop. You may just want to continue what you are doing — not everything has to change. Remember to make resolutions that are realistic, specific and achievable. Write them down or share them with family for accountability, and reflect on them regularly.
I took the suggested 5 F’s and added a sixth. This is my start for accountability. What are your six F’s?
• Finance. This is going to be the heavy-weighted “F” for growers this year. Gaining a perspective and keeping it on what is most important will be critical. While I’m not a farmer, there will be a significant tug on our budget this year as we prepare to pay for our daughter’s wedding in October. It won’t be a year of paying down debt; we’re already resigned to that. We’re going to need to tighten up a bit and plan to do that through our food and energy use. Specifically, remember to make your resolutions tangible, so I vow to cut the food bill by $30 a week. Chances are, nobody in the family will even know except me. I’m the grocery shopper and the cook. I’ve wrote about this before, but I’m terrible about fixing too much food. I really haven’t adapted to not having a flock of neighborhood kids at my house after school eating leftovers. I throw out way too much food, which is rooted in my cooking-for-the-masses mentality. I resolve to cut the waste, not only in food, but also in energy use. Too many times lights, the television and other gadgets are left on without any reason. I also recently bought a Bluetooth-enabled thermostat to allow for remote control of the temperature; no need to have it at 68 (my standard) if no one is going to be home for hours. Look for ways to tighten your budget with the least impact.
• Faith. I pray every day, sometimes formally and other times not. It’s often a nonverbal conversation I have with God. I call on Him in times of need for myself and others. I also thank Him — probably not often enough — for the many gifts I have in my life. I want to work on making sure I thank Him at least once a day for a blessing. No matter how bad a day it might have been, how pressured I feel or how grim a situation may appear, there is always something to be thankful for. Find good in your world, too!
• Family. This is the one category I don’t feel I strongly need to change or improve upon. That’s a blessing, and I know it. Maybe the resolution is maintenance. I come from a tight-knit family that always gets together for birthdays, holidays or for no reason at all. We look out for one another, and we’re ready and willing to help each other whenever it’s needed. So, I will pray for the status quo in this category and for my family’s continued good health. Celebrate what you have, or take stock of your own family’s needs, prioritize them and evaluate your role in improving the family dynamic.
• Friends. My husband and I have a wonderful circle of friends. We’ve been fortunate enough to have been invited to several outings and get-togethers this summer. However, even though we have a large back deck and backyard, we did not host any gatherings ourselves — most likely because I’m not a fan of all the prep work. Still, I love to entertain. So, this summer, my resolution is to have at least three cookouts with games and bonfires. I would love to have more than three, but I am remembering to set realistic goals.
In this busy, hectic, time-strapped and stressed life that many of us live, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision. Take note of friends’ needs and struggles, and how you might be of help — maybe it’s just to listen. Some of the best memories I have with friends were when we worked together on tasks. Work goes by so much more quickly and is way more fun when tackled by many — e.g., laying concrete, raking leaves, building sheds, putting up sheet rock and splitting wood. Sure, this is work, but when it’s done together with friends, it’s amazing how laughter makes it that much better.
• Fitness. I want to make exercise a regular part of my routine. It’s currently anything but regular. I’m a walker — no, not part of TV’s “Walking Dead.” But if I don’t get serious about increasing activity, I may not have as many healthy years, or even years period, to enjoy. I’ve made baby steps in a better direction. Last fall I bought a Fitbit — one of those wristbands that records exercise activity. I know I will not hit the goal of 10,000 steps every day, but I am going to make it a goal to hit at least 5,000. My husband and I also bought a professional rower. I make it my goal to get at least a 15 minute workout 5 or more days a week. I already lift arm weights, but I’ve been slacking a little there as well, so I will get back into the routine of lifting repetitions at night while watching TV… somehow it doesn’t feel like exercise then.
• Fun. This is the “F” I added, and I think it’s just as critical as the other five. This is an area that needs greater attention in my life. It seems most days are filled with obligations, from work and laundry to paying bills and mowing the lawn (or snow-blowing now). It’s been years since I’ve had a real vacation — one without a laptop packed. I took my folks to Florida this past spring to visit relatives, but I spent half of the time there writing, going through mail and even editing pages. It’s easy to blame the internet; it’s a wonderful thing most of the time, but it also chains me to work. However, in reality, I am chaining myself, and I do have a key. It’s called organization and planning — readily identifiable problem areas for me. I resolve to find time, real time — not just a day or two — to really go off the grid and take a vacation. A whole week! I’m not sure how I’m going to do that yet, but I’ve got 2017 to figure it out.
I love the saying “New year, new you.”
Happy New Year!