Thanks for visiting Joy42. Follow along on my adventures as an American Expat. I hope to encourage you to seek out the little joys in your life.

Dear January 2018

Dear January 2018

My Insta Friend, Anne (Instagram, blog), wrote a letter to herself on her blog with her goals for December and it inspired me to try a new format for my goals posts. Instead of listing out what my goals are and a brief description of whether or not I did my previous months' goals, I thought I would write it more fluidly and maybe give a bit more insight into why I chose each goal. I'm not sure anyone actually cares about these posts, but making a public declaration to the blogosphere and having them written down somewhere manages to keep me semi-accountable for what I set out to do each month.

"New year, new me" is such a cliche and while I think it's often said tongue-in-cheek, I think it can actually set you up for failure. Why is an arbitrary date the end of the "old me" and the beginning of the "new me". What safety features have been added in to ensure that with the stroke of midnight, you can suddenly be exactly who you want to be? Instead, I try to focus on ways to improve myself in many areas each month, hoping to establish better habits over the month that can carry on as I focus on something else. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed. Still, here we go.


After a busy December, I'm hoping to get reacquainted with church. We had some different service times and we struggled to make it every weekend last month. January started on a Monday, which gives us an opportunity to plan every Sunday around the service we want to attend to ensure that this month it's a priority and not a last minute add-on to our weekend. It will also help us get in the right mindset for helping our friends lead a small group with fellow board game enthusiasts toward the end of this month.


It was really nice getting a paycheck in December and contributing to our household for the first time since I moved. I don't want to let go of some of the financial discipline I gained during that period when I actually resisted some of the frivolous spending I once enjoyed, particularly around eating out. We've been able to tweak our financial plan as we go, and it's probably still changing, but we've hit a good stride in the last two months, even though our December spending isn't a sustainable budget going forward into 2018. This month brings an opportunity to cut back on spending with no obligation to spend hundreds of pounds on a holiday season. But it also brings an opportunity to move to a better bank now that I've established a tiny financial history here in the UK. Moving to Luke's bank will give him a bonus for the recommendation and a chance to earn interest and enjoy a few other perks that the bank account I have now doesn't offer.


We're moving into the homestretch of wedding planning now. We need to finish making "the big decisions" and start working on some of the minor details as well. The Knot tells me I'm only a third of the way done with wedding planning and I didn't let that truly scare me until now. Now it's time to focus on planning and this month we need to make sure everything major is done so we don't have to worry about it anymore. Over the next month, I'd love to move that percentage from 33% done to at least 50% done.


Luke suggested that I host some women I know here in Birmingham for a girls night at our house in order to help further develop friendships I've started building. January tends to be exponentially less busy than December, but my goal this month is to get something on the books, even if it's not until February.


I wasn't ever able to fully kick my bad habit of falling asleep watching Netflix, though I've had seasons when I've done better than average. The problem was, I discovered I could watch Netflix very quietly on my phone without disturbing Luke one evening when I had a hard time falling asleep and have defaulted back to that setting frequently since. We agreed that this month, we would go to bed 30 minutes earlier, which means being in bed 30 minutes earlier than when we have been starting to get ready for bed. Both bedside tables are stocked with books, so we'll spend the evening reading instead of transferring what we had been watching downstairs to one of our laptops until we fall asleep. I don't know how many times I've set a goal hoping to kick this particular habit, but perhaps being a little more strict on my "bedtime" is the missing piece. I might just have to be willing to suffer from less sleep for a night or two in the meantime.


I don't want to get carried away here. I don't think I've worked out once since Thanksgiving, back when I was unemployed and needed some way to pass the time in the afternoons or even scheduled buddy work outs with my friend Taylor who lives up the road. I wanted to try to find a gym last month now that we have a bit more money coming in, but I just didn't. Between the amaretto hot chocolates and sugar cookies, I just didn't have the time to Google "gyms near me". So, I'm going to start small. I do want to find a gym because I've discovered in the last 7 months that working out at home doesn't keep me accountable, even if I have the time. But in the meantime, I want to say I'll work out once a week this month. That's only four times, for crying out loud. If I work out more than that, I crushed it. But surely I can spare 30 or 60 minutes four times over the next four weeks.


My goal last month was to pack my lunch at least 4 days a week. I think I did about that and usually packed a salad and munched on carrots and almonds throughout the day. This month, we're trying to have a rotating dinner schedule. We've created a 2 week schedule of kind of types of dinners that we can plug different recipes into. For example, we've assigned every Tuesday as salad night, when we can have different salads so it's not always the same thing. Every other Friday night is our Italian night when we can have pizza or pasta. Since we both love pizza and pasta so much, our hope is that if we know it's coming, it will kind of take care of that craving the rest of that fortnight. We're implementing that this month to kind of see how it works--and if it does--which means we really need to stick to it. Luckily, we're actually pretty good at meal planning.


This month, I should be kind of settled into my job. I worked four short weeks after my very first week at the end of November, so now I'm kind of hitting the ground running and scheduled to work Monday through Friday every day this month. The thing is, I don't really like it most of the time. It's slow at times, but that's honestly when I like it the most! It's great to work the same hours as Luke and to be able to ride to work together, but it's miserable to spend 40 hours of your week being miserable. So maybe my goal should be to find a new job, but I can't snap my fingers and do that, so instead I really should focus on my attitude at work and stop acting like such a brat when someone asks me to do something, interrupting how I actually want to spend my time.

Christmas in England

Christmas in England

2017 in Review

2017 in Review