My focus for this year is making time for some fun activities, and spending time on passion projects.
I’m still tracking my health and wellbeing, and personal finances from previous years, but keeping these on autopilot rather than trying to actively work on them.
I’ve set up a calendar spreadsheet to help me plan trips and ensure my passion project tasks are spread throughout the year (see my post on my system and task list for 2022).
Fun activities update
It’s going to take a while to build up a pipeline of plans, especially for bigger trips that need a bit more organization, but I did manage to do a few fun things this month.
I went on two day hikes (both around 15km each), took our nieces on a nature walk, and did quite a few shorter evening walks including some new tracks. We are so lucky that our city has lots of little nature reserves that are easy to get to on the way home from work!
One of the 15km hikes was to a local peak, and although we didn’t get a view because of the misty weather the wild flowers were out in force thanks to the La Nina weather pattern. I’m already feeling the benefit of spending an entire day outdoors on a regular basis.
I also tried two yoga classes, one close to my work and one close to home. Although I prefer the teacher at the studio close to my work, I could tell the timing wasn’t going to suit as I had to stay in the office until 6pm. I’m not pressuring myself into having to attend classes either, by not signing up to a regular ‘membership’. Even though it will save me money if I go twice a week, I want to go whenever I feel like it rather than feeling like I need to get value out of it. I’ve budgeted for a class once a week.
Finally, I got a massage at the start of the year before going back to work and sitting at a desk all day. There’s a good Thai massage place near me that I like, and I really feel the benefit in my posture from having all the kinks worked out. I treated myself to an additional body scrub as well but it wasn’t that amazing, so I’ll probably just stick to the basic massage in future.
I also completed a few planning tasks:
- Set up a separate ‘Travel and fun’ savings account (I’ve already budgeted for fun activities this year). My bank allows me to set up multiple savings accounts for no extra cost, so I got a separate account to help me differentiate between my emergency savings and what is there to be spent guilt-free.
- Researched a weekend hike. I have an easy overnight hike for us to try, we just need to allocate a weekend with good weather to go and do it.
- Bought some gear for the overnight hike – a Jetboil and a compass costing about $195 in total and coming out of the travel and fun fund. I did get a rucksack gifted from our local Buy Nothing group though and will be fixing an existing camping mat that has a rip in it.
- Booked tickets for an outdoor orchestra event in December. A long way off but nice to finally start being able to plan in advance!
- Got season tickets for the local rugby and AFL games. I already had my rugby ticket booked late last year, and for my birthday received AFL tickets for four home games.
Passion projects update
The point of my passion projects is not to make money (although that’s a nice side benefit), more to ensure that my creative efforts are a bit more focused and actually get completed. I had planned to focus just on my Vocal experiment, but found the time to do a few extra things as well.
Vocal is a platform for stories and article type publications. You earn cash for each read, but it’s very low (1c per read) and there is a big push to upgrade to be a premium subscriber. I’m not sure it is something that I’ll continue with, as it doesn’t seem to have as organic a readership as WordPress, but it has motivated me to complete a couple of short stories I had lurking in my G drive. You can check out my Vocal profile here if you are interested in reading them! You usually have to be a premium member to submit to their ‘challenges’ (with cash prize money!) but I had a free upgrade for three months so made the most of it and entered two.
I signed up to a freelance writing agency. It took quite a while to write up a decent application and create a specific CV for writing, plus I had to do a zoom interview. It was well worth it though, I’ve already completed a few jobs and like the work, earning $80 in my first two weeks. I’m not sure whether I’m going to funnel this extra cash into more travel and fun, or onto mortgage repayments. I don’t think I’d be able to keep up this volume of work once the year gets going but it’s a good way for me to develop my writing skills and get a bit of side income.
I set up an Etsy store and uploaded my zero dollar budget template. It was good motivation to make a proper version of the ‘beta’ version that I had put up on this blog for download (with better instructions and fixed a few errant formulas), but not sure I’ll be bothering to make any other resources for this platform. Etsy not only takes a commission from every sale, you have to pay an upfront fee for listing (only 30c, but still…). I did send my friend my new improved version however, and she found it much more useful and less confusing than my first template and managed to plan out her mortgage repayment targets for the year, so even if I only helped one person it was worth it.
I set up a Redbubble account and put up two Japanese style artworks that I had made, with origami paper and ticket stubs and wrappers from my holiday there. Haven’t sold anything, but I have seen a lot of artwork there that I really like. You can buy things like prints, but you can also buy cheaper items like journals and notebooks that feature original creations. I’ll probably be looking at this website for gift ideas in the future, and maybe for house/office prints. Nothing worse than feeling like everyone’s home looks the same, because everyone shops at the same mainstream stores.
Health and wellbeing update
I’m still tracking my health and wellbeing, which was my focus for 2021 (see my end of year wrap-up here), but keeping it on ‘auto’ rather than trying to optimize this area. I’m tracking with a simple traffic light system, where I don’t have to be perfect to get a green light, just doing 75%.
I’ve trimmed the number of focus areas from last year. ‘Stretching’ is now incorporated into my exercise routine and I got rid of ‘stress’ as a separate category, as I found it is more of an indicator of my other habits rather than something I can control or change directly.
So far this month I’ve managed to stick to good routines, probably because the pace at work has been much more manageable at the start of the year. Flossing has been almost non-existent however, as my evening routine is not well established. Something to try harder at in Feb!
Personal finances update
This month I topped up my emergency savings fund back to $5k (had to pay for my driving licence and a medical thing at the start of the year), paid of an extra $1,223 of my mortgage and added $600 to my FIRE fund (investments).
My target this year to pay an extra $36k of the mortgage, a shift to the investments focus as we are starting to get a bit nervous about interest rates and at the moment I feel like reducing my debt will give me more psychological security. I’ve put a maximum onto this target so that I can allocate funds for travel and fun.
What are your focuses for 2022? I’d love to know how other people are approaching their goals for the year!