New Year Objectives.

First lets review last year’s objectives.

My tangible goals for this first year of self-improvement were:

1: Be fluent in French.

I met this objective. My French is to a level I can consider fluent, although I will always strive to perfect it. I can now work tutoring, translating and writing in French, as well as enjoy French news, films and novels.

2: Speak at least GCSE standard German.

I missed this objective by quite a margin, so I will recycle it this year. I started strong, but got waylaid as I delved into work and other objectives and my German level hasn’t really moved since May.

3: Get to a point where my artwork is selling.

I only just met this objective by selling a couple of paintings and scoring three ghostwriting deals in the past month. Gods bless the internet.

4: Get to a point where my tutoring is providing the £50-100/week minimum I should contribute.

Objective met, hugely exceeded and I’m really glad it was, seeing as I may be the main earner for a few months in the New Year. Hoping Jon will find his feet quickly and get a new paycheck soon, but anything could go wrong, so I’ll need to keep earning around £300-500/week to keep us steady. In early January it may be hard, but from February it will definitely be back to usual earnings.

5: Get my garden and chicken-keeping started.

The garden has been kept beautiful, though it’s a bit dead and snowed under at the moment. The flowers are very attractive and I look forward to their return in the New Year. We got a great harvest of parsnips, broccoli, lettuce, herbs, beans and radishes and a moderate harvest of tomatoes, potatoes and courgettes. Heavens know what happened to the beets, swedes, pumpkins, melons and peppers, though! Despite the illness that took the flock, I have learned a lot about keeping laying hens and look forward to getting some pullets late next Spring.

6: Finish writing two books.

Not really met. I finished my novel and started the second book. And my guide to economizing is about 2/3 there. Haven’t started my book on beginners housekeeping yet. I’ve written a few children’s books, but that hardly counts.

7: Deadlift, squat and shrug my bodyweight.

Objective not met. My deadlift died a death when I started getting back tension that wrecked my form, but I’ll try again soon. Last I did them they were at 35/65kg for doubles. Squats are at 40/65kg for doubles at the moment. Shrugs are not on the rota right now, but are at 45/65kg for sets of five.

My less tangible goals for this first year of self-improvement were:

1: Keep fit and healthy.

Met. I have maintained my body weight, increased my weightlifting and flexibility, lost some fat and even decreased my WHR by shrinking my waist and “gaining” in the chest and hip areas. I’ve been generally eating well, even if I abuse carbs and coffee from time to time, have eaten plenty of organic vegetables, fresh meat, some game, own produce and foraged fruit. Almost every single meal has been cooked from scratch. As a percentage, well under 1% of meals were not made by me and under 5% included pre-prepared sauces or products containing dubious substances.

2: Learn as many skills as possible pertaining to running a home.

Met. I can now: darn, knit, bake, make jam, make pickles, make chutney, grow various plants, keep hens, keep a cat, clean a car, light and cook in a fire, control mold outbreaks, iron, hand-wash, bleach things, scent a house, cut and dry kindling and logs, make useful bags and household items, coupon shop, make compost and hold dinner parties. A total of 23 new relevant skills.

3: Be as self-sufficient as possible.

Met. We supplies our own eggs, greens, potatoes and beans. Soon I will not have touched benefits in a year. I have earned my keep through housework and paid my keep in moneyed work.

4: Read whenever possible.

Not fully met. I have had chances to read that I have used watching animes, documentaries or films whilst crafting.

5: Paint whenever possible.

Not fully met. I have slacked a bit in the past few months. Although general crafting has been continually productive.

6: Experiment more in the kitchen.

Met. I have worked out several ways of making Paleo baked goods, of keeping the WWW interesting, of using a roast or reusing leftovers. I have made my own chocolates and oat bars for Jon.

7: Keep the house in order and Jon happy throughout.

Seeing as this was something that wasn’t really for me (well, not directly), I am asking Jon to rate it out of 10 and add his commentary.

“House in order would be a 9/10. There have been times when we have been busy, but other than that it’s always been in order. She has kept me happy to the best of her ability, but with the issues I’ve had with work and health it must have been a difficult job.”

That gives me a total of 9/14 goals met, or 64%. Obviously the unmet goals are mostly at 50% completion, not 0%, but it wouldn’t be right to count them as successes. And 50+% success isn’t bad at all.

So, with everything in mind, what are my goals for the new year?

Tangible goals:

1: Make £50/day, 6 days a week minimum so as to keep us supported until Jon gets his first new paycheck.

2: Finish “On a Budget” and write “The Beginner’s Guide to Housekeeping”. Self-publish both.

3: Speak at least GCSE level German.

4: Get certified as a native speaker of Spanish and a fluent speaker of French.

5: Deadlift, squat and shrug my bodyweight before I’m pregnant.

6: Continue to adhere to my #NoNothingNovember challenge.

7: Establish the eBay shop once Jon’s back at work and I’m pregnant. No upper limit, but would like to break £50/week in profits at least.

Less tangible goals:

1: Work towards TTC, prepare for the baby and learn about basic childcare.

2: Try and avoid buying most things new. Make, grow, buy second hand, barter/trade, buy in a charity shop. Always consider the cheap options before buying anything.

3: Grow and forage more plants than last year. Document growing and foraging.

4: Keep the blog as active as possible.

5: Read or craft whenever possible.

6: Continue attending events and clubs and holding dinner parties as soon as we’re stable enough.

7: Keep the house in order and Jon happy throughout.

As stated on the objectives page, there is no minimum number of goals I must achieve. It’s just a list of things to give my life direction and make the most of the year ahead. These objectives will not change, but if anything interferes with them I may postpone them or prioritize another one. Hopefully I can exceed this year’s 9/14. 🙂

#NoNothingNovember: A Happy, Low-Stress, Wealthier Home.

So, it’s officially no longer November. That means the challenge is up and I’m free to go back to my old ways if I wish to. I’m so glad I didn’t give up chocolate or coffee because that would be an instant reversion. :p

However, I’m fairly confident that I will be able to adhere to these changes.

I will keep an eye out for everyone else’s conclusions and add them to this post, by the way! Feel free to comment with your conclusion if you want to share. 🙂

So what was it I gave up?

Whilst there is no upper or lower limit to what you can give up or change, three seemed like a rounded number. This was not least of all because thinking of two problems was too easy, so adding a third, more-thought-out issue felt like the right way to balance it.

Most of the men doing #NNN were quitting porn/masturbation, video games and some form of mind-altering substance like illegal drugs, medication dependence and/or alcohol abuse. Most of the women were quitting spending too much/too frivolously, idling around instead of exercising, eating rubbish food and/or slacking on the housework. Now, if I’d set any of those goals for myself I could probably go into “perfect princess” mode, sat back and enjoyed November.

Whilst I drink alcohol and caffeine, they weren’t really options as I don’t drink very often (making a month easy) and caffeine controls some of the symptoms of my depression (making a month non-conductive to results).

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I have a pretty strong hold of my diet. I don’t watch actual TV, rather choosing to watch videos and on-demand whenever I actually have the time. I am very money-focused and hate to spend, even small amounts on necessary items are scrutinized before I allow myself them. I try and keep on top of the housework so, whilst it isn’t perfect, it wouldn’t take long at all to make it so. But I knew that I was losing time and gaining stress somewhere in my life and it definitely wasn’t “just one of them things”, as I’d been telling myself. We all have our flaws and, though it pained me, I had to dig just a tiny little bit deeper than stereotypes or common problems to find what was eating away at my time, my money and my sanity.

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Shockingly, the main one was time-wasting websites. (I bet you’re shocked, right?) Literally the first thing that came to mind was “You spend so much time trawling Buzzfeed, Cracked or TheBerry, never mind the websites you actually enjoy reading!” Of course, quitting the internet wasn’t realistic. As a from-home tutor, an online tutor, a writer, a proofreader, a translator, etc, I depend on the internet to advertise my services, hold online classes and find and submit writing work. There were a few websites I could block right off the bat. These were the ones that whenever I was bored I would click on. If I didn’t have internet access and was that bored, I would have done my work, just as I used to when spending 3-5 hours traveling by coach or train to see Jon. So if I blocked them permanently, I would definitely do more work. I also noticed that I spent too much time on useful websites that I use to advertise, learn or unwind. Therefore I gave myself 15 minutes every 6 hours to access those websites. Yes, between all of them. This meant I would update or check my ads, read the odd piece or chat to someone in the morning, do the same to relax around lunchtime and have one last gander once the working day was over.

I guess I won't be using this any more.

I guess I won’t be using this any more.

The next thing I chose to give-up was interrupting people. This one may genuinely shock some of you who know me online, but I am not the quietest, politest of people in real life. A combination of being reasonably bright, well-read and self-centred means that I am loud, opinionated and generally won’t let others get a word in edgeways. Giving up interruption is surprisingly hard, not least of all because I generally don’t care much for what other people are saying. However, it had become a habit that offended people around me and sometimes was directed at people whose opinions I did want to hear, it was so automatic. In order to stop myself from interrupting people I decided to employ the “Boo the Villains, Cheer the Heroes” mentality, listening carefully to what others were saying and constructing the narratives in my mind. I would apologize if I spoke over someone and shut up so they could speak. At first it confused a lot of people, but it was welcome soon enough.

I may still need this one, though.

I may still need this one, though.

Finally, and I had to think quite hard about this one, I decided I would give up stress. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Giving up stress is impossible. It’s a biological function to an unpleasant situation. It can even be good!” But I didn’t mean to fully choke and kill my stress response. All I wanted to do was get rid of unnecessary stress. I stress very easily. First sign of a problem and I panic, hide from it, procrastinate, spin a mountain out of a molehill and start getting physically unwell because I’m stressed. Which in turn stresses me more. All of this was fine (albeit very unpleasant) when I was just studying, could take any day off, could let the house turn into a pigsty. But it’s not so tolerable when you’re actually busy and need to get things done. In order to fight stress I applied a simple plan: whenever a problem arose, I would set a reasonable time-frame in which to fix it. I would then spend as much time as possible looking for a solution. If no solution was found, I would swallow my pride and ask the most suitable person for advice on the matter. As I had no solution of my own, I would have to adopt their solution. If their solution was impossible or very impractical or if they didn’t have a solution, I would just endure the problem until it ended and not stress about it, as it was unfixable and not worthy of stress.

At first everything was pretty difficult. Keeping off the blocked websites wasn’t much of an issue, but I found myself looking for more things to distract myself and having to subsequently block them also. Keeping from interrupting people was hard in and of itself. I found myself apologizing a lot more than I was stopping myself. And not getting stressed was fine until I became so overwhelmed I couldn’t think.

From the extra stresses of #NNN, website bans and a high workload, I found myself unable to unwind at the end of the day. Fifteen minutes of idly browsing the net just wouldn’t cut it. Instead of giving myself more idle browsing time, I did the opposite: without altering my main blocklists, I blocked most time-wasting sites from evenings other than Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Instead I focused on relaxing with Jon, cooking, watching cartoons, chatting and getting creative. The stress faded back and I was better able to sleep. I also improved my diet, cutting back carbs and wheat and controlling coffee intake, which further improved my mood and helped me concentrate on destressing.

Eventually, I employed more tactics for noninterruption, such as breathing deeply and paying attention to my own surroundings rather than my own mind. I found out that most people, even those who didn’t know how bad I used to be, will really take advantage of a situation where you aren’t talking. I get less socially exhausted when I don’t talk, but I find myself running out of patience very easily. I’ve started to largely surround myself with people who talk about pleasant or interesting topics and avoid those who go on about minor problems, fears and dull topics. I’m finding conversation more enjoyable now that I’ve improved the quality of the speakers.

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Likewise, the quality of material I’ve been reading has gone up. With only 30-45 minutes to spend on certain sites, I find myself not finishing duller articles, not opening clickbait or shock-value ones and largely looking out for things that actually interest me. I’m reading more solid articles and essays, more studies and more self-improvement, marketing and cooking themed blogs. I’ve even been able to delete some blogs I was following and haven’t clicked on in ages. I feel I’ve advanced my IQ an entire SD.

Unsurprisingly, wasting my time on clickbait, pictures, drawn-out conversations and stories whilst reading or discussing topics that are dull or frustrating with people who are boring or annoying had also been stressing me. Having no time left at the end of the day with little to show for it whilst mulling over inane topics or annoying voices in my mind would leave me feeling like I was wasting my time, which would stress me. Now that I’ve freed up my time and use my spare time productively I don’t feel bad about a slow day or a busy day or having work leftover for tomorrow. I also found myself less pre-emptively worried about incomplete work, a busy day ahead or problems that arose from rushing things. I work towards avoiding being in those situations again, but if I’m already there then stressing won’t change anything. Pushing things behind me and moving on has left me feeling better, with more free time to work with and with more money in my pocket. Being highly strung really does you no favours.

My final adjustments were to further limit my Twitter access and cut out a number of websites entirely through Sunday, adjust my noninterruption tactics for working around students and throwing myself into my work so that my time is better spent and I have less reason to feel stressed.

Now that I’m so busy all day and have lessons or writing almost every evening, Jon and I can only truly relax on a Sunday. Sitting around on time-wasting sites just because it’s my day off is not conductive to happiness. Neither is forcing him to join in on my #NNN challenges. Instead, spending more time paying attention to him, talking, working on projects and helping him get ready for work has left me feeling far more relaxed.

Likewise, I am now commanding more attention and respect from students without necessarily shouting them down or shutting them up. I am better able to enjoy my time with friends, but likewise to control my environment during lessons.

And finally I am currently sitting in a perfectly ordered house, with the laundry moving through apace, the cat well-fed, the rubbish and recycling sorted, the sinks clear and clean, everything in its place and a few bags of forage on the hearth, ready for making wreaths. I have been writing and proofreading all day, made a few phonecalls and am prepared for the next lesson in around thirty minutes. My income is now at a steady £350+/week bar the odd bad one and I feel far more confident in my ability to support the home for a few months starting January.

All in all, through restricting my ability to waste time, stopping myself from interrupting people in social situations and not getting myself wound up over every little detail, I have managed to get my house, work and life in general under control. Which is pretty impressive, from a one-month, cold-turkey, triple-challenge, isn’t it?

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#NoNothingNovember.

A project started by KidStrangelove last year that he has opened up to a larger community at /r/NoNothingNovember.

Also in it:

Magoosa.

Stingray.

MrsKTC.

The concept, rules and prize:

“It was time to challenge myself with No Nothing November once again, but this time I want to extend the challenge to you – my loyal readers.

I want you to join me in “No Nothing November” to get rid of your vices, better your life, and live one month with sheer discipline just to see if you can. And of course, no challenge is complete without a reward – and this is a good one.

I would like you to document your progress on your own blogs, and share them with the #NoNothingNovember hashtag in the title. Once November ends – I will pick one blog from the participants – the blog that impresses me most with it’s author’s No Nothing November participation – and feature it on my site.

Your blog will not only be permanently displayed in the featured blog section – but all of your blog posts for the month of December will be stickied on the first page of Manosphere.com – which will result in a guaranteed spike in readership.

This is a great opportunity for you up and coming bloggers to shine through, and I am looking forward to your submissions!

How To Enter:

  1. Email me at kidstrangelove@gmail.com before November 1 and let me know that you are participating
  2. In November – post on your blog with a title that starts with “#NoNothingNovember” detailing how your battle with your vices and your quest for self discipline is going.

[…]

After the end of November, We will post another thread with people’s final progress, and voting will begin.

If you need a place to track your progress, and you don’t have a blog, consider:

  • Twitter, use hashtag #nonothingnovember
  • Use this subreddit to post your progress: /r/nonothingnovember

[…]

The Rules (and examples): In the comments below – post and update a comment about your #NoNothingNovember progress – including a link to your blog updates (if you write a blog of course).”

 

So, naturally, I thought it was a brilliant opportunity to also work on giving up some vices for a month, even though I’m not entering the contest, so there’s no incentive other than my own motivation and improved focus.

I noted down the first three vices I could surrender. Turns out that after some introspection they are actually the three things I would most benefit from giving up. So here they are:

  1.  No more time-wasting websites. Need to focus on work (got tutoring, translation, essay writing and online tuition now), writing (blog, books) and the home (settling the garden for Winter, stocking up, cleaning down the house) a lot more now that I have more to do in all those areas.
  2.  No more interrupting and speaking over people. I’m a bright girl. I’m a reasonably well-read girl. As a consequence I’m also opinionated, loud and forget to shut up. I need to work on that.
  3.  No more letting myself get wound up about things. I need to be more decisive about everything and, where I can’t make a decision well or soon enough, to seek and follow advice. Procrastinating decisions only stresses me out and makes me doubt them right up until fruition.

Initial efforts towards each.

  1. I have installed LeechBlock 0.6.6 on Firefox. I have permanently blocked timewasting pages and put time limits on good or useful pages I spend too much time on. I don’t think I’ll dare use Internet Explorer, but if I get desperate I’ll just put the parental time lock on it.
  2. I will wait for others to finish before saying anything in debate or polite conversation. Even when I have a point I want to make or if I find their point or speech boring, I will listen carefully, cheer the Heroes and boo the Villains in my head and keep track. If by the time it’s my turn I’ve forgotten my point then it wasn’t that important. If by the time they’re done my point is no longer pertinent then so be it.
  3. I will set myself time limits for my troubles. If I haven’t found a solution by the limit, I will ask for advice. If advice is offered and it’s the best option and better than inactivity, even if it isn’t perfect, I will follow it. If no advice is found, then I will accept the problem, work my hardest to circumvent it and prevent it happening again and accept that it isn’t worth getting stressed over.

So those are the three things I will quit from Nov 1st to Dec 1st. I will post updates of my progress weekly and whenever there is any trouble or difficulty following through.

Let’s see how I do!