[think kit. day thirty.]
ELMHURST, Ill. — I like to say I’m in the business of self-improvement. As a personal finance reporter, I spend each day coming up with ways to connect with people who want to achieve financial goals like paying down debt, getting higher credit scores, budgeting and so on. With DietBet, I work with people who want to be healthier and have fun as they work toward fitness and weight-loss goals.
You could also say I work in the resolution business, since financial and health goals are among the most popular New Year’s resolutions out there.
Given that background it’s unsurprising I have a few changes I want to make this year as a way to improve my happiness and quality of life:
Goal: read more
Goal: watch more films
Goal: accept imperfection
Read more. I can’t imagine not being able to read. Especially when I think about the work I do for Credit.com, it’s mind-blowing to realize how many people in need of financial guidance can’t read what I write.
When I became a tutor for IndyReads, a student of the program told a group of us at volunteer training how tough it is to manage money when you’re illiterate. He couldn’t read his bills or any other financial forms, and the person he entrusted to take care of those things ended up stealing from him. That’s when he realized he needed to learn how to read — I think he was in his 40s.
I’ve been dedicated to literacy efforts for about six years now (I got started when I joined Pi Beta Phi, which focuses on literacy for its national philanthropy), but I know I should do more than help others read. I need to read more myself.
When I first started seeing people post about #Read26Indy, a citywide challenge to read 26 books in 2014, I thought I should join in, but I didn’t. Not sure why. As January went on, I saw more and more people posting about it, and even though I was behind, I finished my first book in February. I’m on No. 3 now.
I’m going to make sure I read all the books I own that I haven’t yet read, since I always ask for them as gifts and never get around to picking them up — also, it’s really fun to buy new books on a whim. I must resist.
- Book One: “Bossypants” by Tina Fey. Finished Feb. 4. (Bought in an airport, Nov. 2013)
- Book Two: “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay. Finished Feb. 13. (Christmas gift, Dec. 2011)
- Book Three: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. In progress. (Christmas gift, Dec. 2011)
Watch more films. I don’t like going to movie theaters. They’re expensive, people are annoying, deciding when to pee requires a massive internal debate and if I want a snack, I would rather not have candy (nor do I want to pay several dollars for it).
As such, I rarely see movies. This time of year, I always become painfully aware of how few films I see, because people often discuss Hollywood awards shows and Oscar nominations. I have many friends and family members who are really into going to the movies, and when the topic comes up, I feel shut out and culturally deprived.
This is all my fault, of course. Matt loves seeing movies. He often has a running list of films he’d like to see, and I’m no help in that department.
I found myself in the middle of one of these movie conversations last week, and I finally realized something: I’d much rather deal with my distaste for movie theaters every once in a while than be totally out of the loop. And with Netflix and Amazon Instant subscriptions, I can watch plenty of films at home.
The trick is actually sitting down to watch the movies. I won’t deny I have a multitasking problem. My desire to constantly be productive leads me to choose watching old episodes of “Law & Order: SVU” so I can get work done at the same time, rather than dedicate two hours of my life to nothing more than watching a film.
My solution to this problem lies within my freakish love for organization: Scheduling. Matt and I are going to do movie nights on Wednesdays, starting this week, so we can finally tackle that list of Best Picture winners or have fun with Netflix roulette. The plan is to go to the movie theater once a month.
Accept imperfection. I’ve been told I’m a perfectionist and that I’m too self-critical. Yeah. Probably.
Side-effects of such conditions: I miss out on the satisfaction of accomplishments because I tend to focus on what could have been done better. As I mentioned in an earlier Think Kit post, one of my mantras for this year is “Done is better than perfect.” I’ve been repeating that to myself on an almost-daily basis, and I think it has helped me be more productive. As long as I keep that in mind, I think I’ll continue to make progress on this goal.
Example: I’m done with this blog post now, even though it could be way better. Deal with it, DiGangi.
[Think Kit Dec. 30 prompt: What’s one step you can take to support a goal you have for 2014?]