Keep Improving

For whatever reason, I not only didn’t make any new year’s resolutions but I purposefully avoided even thinking about them. It seemed that to make resolutions was almost to admit that there was dissatisfaction in my life. I felt like I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) really complain. I had my health, a job I was (still) enjoying, financial security and the promise of true financial independence on the horizon. Heck– as I am sitting here writing this inside my cozy home after a nice meal, with my husband lighting a fire in the fireplace and my fat cat peacefully snoring on the couch, it occurs to me that life is good. Making new year’s resolutions seems almost greedy.

But what hubris! As if resolutions can only be about making more money, buying stuff, or losing weight. And the truth is that I did actually have goals for the year. There are certain ideas percolating in my head that have been recurring themes. It is time to put them all in one place, though, and broadcast. For how else can I judge the level of gain if I never admit to having a goal in the first place. Blogs are, after all, great big accountability machines.

Life Improvement Goals for 2014.

1) I want to learn more about recycling. How it works, where my stuff goes, where my stuff and garbage might be better utilized. A few months back I was agonizing over paper waste. It soon became very obvious, though, that I did not actually have any knowledge of what happened to my paper if I put it in the recycling bin. And it turned out that recycling it may have been the best solution for it. My goals this year are to tour my local recycling facility and really research what can and can’t be recycled. I will also continue to reduce my household’s consumption of things that will be discarded as waste. Plastic is my new nemesis.

2) I will continue to reduce my sugar intake. I’ve done a pretty good job almost completely eliminating refined white sugar–and sweetener. But… This year, I would like to focus on reducing sugar intake in food I buy such as buns, pasta sauce, and yogurt. Did you know that we are only supposed to consume 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, but, on average, we consume around 22 teaspoons? It’s something I’ve known about for some time, but was struck by again after reading this blog article. Unfortunately, in this fat/calorie obsessed food market, it’s sometime difficult to figure out how much sugar is actually in something. The first step of this process is awareness. Only then can I systematically eliminate and reduce.

3) I want to take more advantage of the nature around me. This includes exploring new areas, helping in conservation efforts, taking tours with experienced guides and learning a lot more about plants. I complain a lot about not living in a place with mountains or beaches, but there is plenty of beauty in Midwestern plains, woods, streams and lakes. There are so many conservation areas, parks, trails, etc that I haven’t explored. I have resolved that I am not allowed to complain until I actually experience it. Plus, now that I know you can legally forage in Illinois State Parks, I am keeping my eyes open!

4) I need to do better at work. I don’t mean in my job performance, but in not behaving in the office the same as I behave at home with paper and other waste because it is not convenient or easy. Even if I cannot change the habits of my co-workers, I need to take responsibility for myself.

My list sounds pretty ordinary, but these are truly the ways I would like to improve this year. By writing them down–and now posting them for the world to see–I am making myself accountable. These are no longer secret half-formed intentions that are easily discarded, but solid goals. I hope that by this time next year, or even during the year, I can report true and meaningful improvement. If I am really being honest, this list is more for me than for you. I have been wanting to your my local recycling facility for a long time. Maybe now that I have a goal, I will make the effort to actually set it up!

I would love to hear about your goals for improving yourself, your household, or your environment. More than likely, if you find yourself saying it out loud, you will find that you conscientiously make more of an effort to meet that goal!

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