I love a bit of goal setting. For me, if I haven’t got anything that I’m working towards then I’m not a happy bunny. Saying that, I feel that I’ve maybe taken my eye off the game a wee bit recently. I know that writing down goals works really well and makes me much more likely to achieve what I’m aiming for. So why do I suddenly find myself almost at the end of February and I feel that I have fingers in quite a lot of pies, I’m moving in the right general direction, but I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to be working on?
I’m generally happy with how my year is going so far. I
decided to try and focus on my health this year. I’ve got an app on my phone to
keep track of the amount of fruit and veg that I’m eating each day. My thought
was that if I had to eat five portions a day then I wouldn’t be able to fill up
on rubbish. Turns out that’s only partly right. I’m happy to report that I am
now on the 36th consecutive day of eating five portions of fruit or
veg. A lot of this seems to be down to building good habits that mean you don’t
need to think about it.
I always have a
handful of raisins in my porridge, have a salad for my lunch(well not on
weekends – maybe that’s something I need to introduce) and carrot sticks to
snack on at work (again, this works less well at the weekend). So by the time I
get home I’ve already had 3 portions. There’ll always be at least one veg with
my tea, so that just leaves some fruit to have in the evening. Occasionally I’ve
seen me shoving some dried apricots down just before bed when I’ve suddenly
realised I’m not up to my five portions. I’m not overly worrying about the size
of the portions – I’m just being sensible about this. I reckon my lunchtime
salad is probably more than one portion, whereas my morning raisins are
probably slightly less than one. I reckon it more or less balances itself out
Drinks wise I’m trying to be good too. I haven’t had an
alcoholic drink in something like fourteen years. There are a number of reasons
for this, but the easy answer is I had a heavy night out, woke up and like many
people thought “never again”. For me though it was actually as simple as that.
I’m not saying I’ve never fancied a tipple in the last decade or so, but not enough
to want to start drinking again. So for me the booze is never something I have
to think about in terms of health. I don’t drink, simple as. I also don’t drink
tea or coffee (I’m starting to wonder what I do do)! Hot chocolate now is
another matter. Sometimes you just want a hot drink, but a hot chocolate always
seems to make me want more sweet stuff (not something I need much encouragement
on if I’m totally honest). So I spotted
some infusion bags in Aldi this month. I’ve tried the berry ones and the lemon
and ginger ones so far. They were a bit of an acquired taste, but I’ve
persevered, and I think I’m getting there with them. I’m drinking them at work
now, so when I want a bit of an excuse for a wander about the office I go and
make myself a nice healthy infusion drink. Naturally caffeine free, so I reckon
they must be reasonably healthy.
I’m trying to drop a few pounds too. Honestly this is an
ongoing issue. I always thought middle aged spread was just a funny expression.
Turns out it’s an actual thing. My middle has always been my problem area, even
when I was young, and having two kids certainly hasn’t helped matters any.
People think I’m slim because I’m reasonably tall and running helps of course.
I’m not really overweight, but I would just love to lose anything up to a
stone, but more realistically half a stone would do. This would help with my
running too, which I am really trying to focus on just now. I’m finding my
motivation sadly lacking as I get older. Maybe it’s just that I’m no longer prepared
to be hungry. The 5:2 has worked brilliantly in the past for me, but my God it
makes you miserable. Also I don’t think it would give me enough energy for
running. I’ve lost about 5 pounds since Christmas, but those creme eggs are a
temptation that I never seem to walk past. I really must do better.
I’m trying to get more sleep too. Again this has been an
ongoing attempt that I know will make my life so much better. Again I have an
app on my phone for this. At first I optimistically set my target amount of
sleep each night to eight hours. As I never got anywhere close to that I was
finding that really demotivated me, so I dropped it down to seven hours. I’m
much better at achieving that. Well, sort of.
As the alarm goes off at 6am, an 11pm sleep time seems much more
achievable. I definitely don’t manage it every night, but I am getting much
better at trying. I also am much more likely to go to bed at a reasonable time
at the weekend now. It took me a while to work out that although I didn’t have
work I was usually getting up to meet friends to run, or just waking up out of
habit. So hitting the sack at 1am was never going to be a good idea.
So the whole health thing is going reasonably well. Eating
five portions of fruit and veg a day is a big fat tick in the box. I just need
to ensure I keep this up, and maybe try and introduce some of my healthy
working day habits on non-working days. My weight is an ongoing battle, and I’m
not sure it’s one that I’m ever going to win. As I’m typing that I realise that
food shouldn’t be a battle ground, but I’m sure I’m not alone in that
mentality. Generally speaking I think I have some great healthy habits. My
meals are reasonably healthy, although I really do need to stop eating teenage
boy sized portions. I need to realise that I am allowed to dish out a smaller
portion for myself. I’ve introduced a lot of healthy snacks into my life. In an
ideal world I probably wouldn’t be snacking at all, but If I’m going to
(spoiler alert, I am going to) then at least I can make them healthy snacks
most of the time. I drink loads of water as this is my drink of choice, and I
am trying to wean myself off my hot chocolate habit as best I can.
I’m really trying to focus on my running at the moment too.
I’ve joined a new running club recently, and this is really challenging me,
which I’m hoping will lead to improvements. I feel that I’ve been stagnating in
this area for a while. I was injured last year and it’s taking me a while to
get back in the swing of it. This new running club does a lot more interval
based training, which should really help with my speed and endurance. I’m also
swimming once a week with the boyfriend. We’re up to 60 lengths now, so I
reckon in terms of cross training this can only help. I definitely feel that my
upper body is stronger now, which is helping a lot at the end of runs when my
legs start to tire.
I’ve got a couple of races coming up in March which I’m
really looking forward to. There’s a ten miler next weekend, which will be
tough, but hopefully good fun. There’s five of us heading off on a bit of a
road trip for that one, so that should be a good laugh. I’ve also got a six
mile trail race coming up, which should be something a bit different. I’m not
worrying too much about the times for these ones, but rather I’ll just go out
and enjoy them and hopefully feel nice and strong. I’m trying to work on my
speed as I really want to bring my park run time down. I can’t seem to get
anywhere close to my pre-injury best time, so I’m going to take the pressure off
and just try and whittle it down little by little. I’m been hovering a little
above the 27 minute mark recently, so I’m going to get it down under 27 minutes
as my next target.
So I want to continue to build on all the good work that
I’ve been doing in terms of my health. Fruit and veg consumption, sleeping
(hmmm, maybe try and do a bit better on this one) and try and get my weight a
bit lower again. I also want to keep working hard at my running so that I can
see an improvement in my park run time.
In terms of FIRE I think it’s time for me to knuckle down
and do some research. The bonus on my cash ISA for my emergency fund is coming
to an end next month, so I’ll need to shift that pronto, as the rate it’s going
to revert to will be dire. So I’ve popped some time in my phone on one of my
days off to research rates. I also need to look into low cost index trackers
too. When I get a small pay rise in April I’m going to invest that money rather
than inflate my lifestyle, so I need to figure out where I’m putting that extra
I desperately need to look into side hustles too. If I can earn some extra money I can either pay some more off my mortgage (very appealing) or invest more. I’m currently reading a book about how to make money from eBay. The great thing about my job is that I get to talk to people about their finances all day long. Well, you know, the job itself is not always that great, but I’m trying to take the positives, and recently I have definitely been focusing on looking at the many different ways that people have their finances organised. Anyway, this month I was talking to this customer who mentioned he was retired. He was only 54, so already my FIRE antennae was twitching. I quizzed him more (purely as part of my job of course, not because I wanted FIRE tips)! He then went on to say that he had retired at 40, set up an eBay business and had lots of buy to let properties. He mentioned that he still did the eBay thing part time and was making as much a year as I do working full time. By this point all pretence at just doing my job had gone out the window. Anyway, he then mentioned that he’d written a book on how to make money through eBay and that I should check it out. On my next break I was on my phone ordering a copy. It was written a while ago, so some of it is a little dated, but there’s lots of good tips in there. So my plan is to get finished that book in March and start to think about how eBay could work for me as a side hustle.
Blog wise I want to work on getting things looking a bit
nicer. I’m not really a picture sort of person, but I think that’s probably
what’s needed to break up some of this writing. I have no idea how to do that,
so I need to do some work on figuring that out. I also need to have a bit of a
play about with the look of the blog. I would like to put some links in to
other blogs that I follow, and maybe have a bit for books that I have enjoyed
or found useful. Again, I have no idea how to do this, so I need to spend a bit
of my precious time figuring some of this stuff out.
Goals for March
Run my local park run in under 27 minutes
Complete my 10 mile and 6 mile race
Get my weight down to 10 stone 9 pounds
Research rates to switch my cash ISA and get the account
Research low cost index trackers
Finish reading the eBay book
Figure out how to add pictures to my blog posts
Work out how to add links to the blog
Re-watch Game of Thrones ready for the new series starting.
A bit of a ridiculous one I know, but realistically I know it’s something I’ll
be spending a fair chunk of my time doing, so I might as well be honest about
it. I tend not to watch a lot of TV, but I do like a nice box set and usually
have one on the go for when I need to sit quietly and relax.
I think that’s probably enough for me to work on. I’ll keep
focussing on my health which will hopefully give me enough energy for all the
other things that I want to do. I’ll press on with my running training and drop
another couple of pounds. I’ll get some
research done this month in terms of my cash ISA, index trackers and a
potential eBay side hustle. By the time that March is done we’ll be starting to
think about spring and all the hopeful possibilities that come with that. I’ll
also find out about my pay rise and bonus, so will know how much extra I’ll
have to play with in terms of investing. It’s all feeling quite positive in the
Sassenach Saving garden, especially when I worked out my net worth figure the
other day. A bit of a bump in the work share price has had an exciting impact
on my figures. But you’ll have to wait for another post to hear about that.