2019 Resolution: Check In Time!

Alright. Valentine’s Day is over, which means we are more than halfway through February. How is your resolution coming along?


I have tried in recent years to choose “big picture” resolutions.  For example, two years I set out to change my relationship with money. I could write a whole book about everything I learned on that journey, and truth be told I am still working at it every day. But I did find that I felt the exact opposite of how I thought I would. I thought by putting myself on a strict budget, I would feel controlled and powerless. (I am a stay-at-home mom, so my income is $0) But instead, I no longer stressed about the money I spent. I knew exactly where our household income was going and when I had wiggle room for a splurge…or seven. Have I fallen off the proverbial wagon since I started? Absolutely. But looking at it as a big picture growth goal keeps me from scrapping it altogether when I do slip up.


So this year, I set out to live smaller. What does that mean? I just want to continue to take steps to make my life simple. Every aspect.  (Told you it was big picture!) Here are the suggestions I can make from what I have accomplished so far.


1.     Embrace JOMO. The joy of missing out. (That term came from a brilliant friend, not me.) I’m one of those weirdos from the writing community that falls into the category of extreme extrovert. Small talk is my strong suit and I can pretty much talk to anyone. (I definitely talk too much.) But I found that I was accepting every invitation, joining every committee and every group, not because I truly wanted to, but because I didn’t want to feel like I was left out if I wasn’t there. (This would be the FOMO – fear or missing out – that the young kids are talking about.) I had so many things on my calendar that I dreaded, but I was still going. NO MORE. I quit my moms group, stopped making a gazillion plans and enjoyed just being with my kiddos. It’s awesome.


2.    You don’t need more space, you need less stuff. I have yet to have the time to sit down to watch the Marie Kondo show, but I’m making a real effort to purge this year. We have so much stuff in our house that we don’t use, but that is not technically in the way, so it stays.  Then, when we inevitably do acquire more stuff, there’s no place to put it because the other stuff is taking up all the storage. Old Easter baskets. Video Games for consoles we don’t even own. Paperwork. I’ve been trying to go through it all to make better use of the space we have. Like money, this is my life long battle, but I’m trying!


3.    Learn to live with less. We are a tv family. Do we read books and spend quality time together? Absolutely. But ever since I was old enough to stay home alone, I like having something on in the background. In the morning, I turn on the news, first thing. At night, I fall asleep to Friends.  So, when my husband suggested cutting the cable cord, I was resistant. But he did a copious amount of research and found a way for us to best utilize our technology, while saving $100 a month.  I couldn’t say no. It has been the best thing ever.  We have Hulu Live, Prime and Netflix, which is still A LOT. But then the first month, suddenly we were hitting our data limits. Wah-wah. So since then, we have been making a very deliberate effort to decrease the amount of screens on in our home. The second the kids walk away from a tv show, I turn it off. I realized we don’t need Doc McStuffins on during breakfast.  If you’re sitting there saying, “Well, yeah, duh!?” You probably were not raised in a tv home or are further along in the process of detoxing then I am. But we are making great strides, and I am proud of us.


4.    Make the grown-up decision. Truth time: I like “things.” Back to the whole money thing? It is how I was taught to treat myself. Tough week? Buy something that makes your feel good. Great day? Celebrate with something. Spend. Collect. Feel good. This is not how healthy, functioning adults live. I used to make a whole lot of decisions that gave me a guilty pit in my stomach but made me feel good in the short- term. I leased a brand new SUV. I bought name brand junk that made me feel like I belonged. I wasted so much $$ and energy trying to feel good. You know what feels good? Living simply. Making the grown-up decision that makes your life easier. In my case: stop leasing an SUV that doesn’t fit our needs and buy the damn minivan. My life got exponentially simpler the minute I did this. Smaller payment. More space for the kids. They can get in on their own. Is it a flashy car that makes me feel like I’m still young and hot? Nope. Do I really need that?? Nope. Grown-up decisions are like that. They don’t feel as great in the moment, but they almost always make life easier.

So that’s where I am in this 2019 journey.  It’s not Earth-shattering. **And let me be clear: I completely realize that even to have the CHOICE to make these decisions represents an enormous amount of privilege. The fact that we can pay our bills, feed our kids, and make choices about entertainment means we are incredibly lucky. I get that.** But I can say, these decisions have led to so many more days where I look around and feel incredibly happy.  Where there is no heavy cloud of guilt, or junk, or commitments weighing me down. I hope all of you are feeling that happiness too, or can take steps to get there this year!

Emily Ramquist