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Writing about money, starting a business, and getting out of debt.

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Plans for the New Year: 2018 Goal Setting

Hello. I haven’t introduced myself properly. My name is Jessica. I’m self-employed. I work with my husband making custom leather jewelry we sell as Porter & Hazel. When I started this blog I wanted to be anonymous. I was (am?) ashamed of my debt. While working our long holiday hours I decided on a plan of action for 2018 and to do it justice I needed to be me. And not a pen name. So here I am, warts and all.

After all, debt is the new black right?

For me, the holidays aren’t a happy go lucky, spread cheer everywhere, kind of season. At Porter & Hazel, we get A LOT of orders between Black Friday and Christmas. And we work super long hours to try to get everyone their orders before the holiday.

Watching money come in is always fun. Especially with our goal of paying off our debt. But that doesn’t make the work easier. For us, the holidays are sixty plus hour weeks and we collapse at the end.

It is now almost two weeks into January and I am finally starting to breathe. I’m getting over exhaustion and I can finally destress and start to figure out what my life will be in 2018.

The Science of New Years Goals

According to the New York Times, “By Jan. 8, some 25 percent of resolutions have fallen by the wayside. And by the time the year ends, fewer than 10 percent have been fully kept.” This does not give any of us great chances of reaching our goals.

Early in life, I was told that to succeed I would need a lot of willpower. And when willpower isn’t enough, someone decided you needed to have “grit” as well. Grit is the difference between people who can set and keep goals, and the rest of us. The research on grit is less than enthusiastic about its importance. The article goes on to say that “people who are better at using self-control have more success when it comes to resisting temptations but at a cost to their health. They suffered from increased stress responses and premature aging of their immune cells”.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, you can even overthink yourself into failure. Research done by  NYU Professor of Psychology Gabriele Oettingen indicates too much visualizing success can be a problem. “The more positively people fantasize and daydream about their future success, the less well they do in terms of having actual success,”. The act of visualizing isn’t the problem. We start to impact our success by focusing on ourselves as already having reached goals instead of overcoming the obstacles it will take to get there.  The feelings gained from visualization don’t last as long but maybe that doesn’t matter. When facing a large task short bursts of imagined happiness can be enough to deter us from working hard.

Awesome right?

Thankfully, there is some good news. David Destino, a psychology professor at Northeastern University, has done studies that show positive emotions such as pride, gratitude, and compassion help renew us and strengthen our willpower. Choosing actions that create positive emotions has more impact than we realize. Emotions such as pride, gratitude, & compassion improve our perseverance, “and have been tied to a greater willingness to exercise and eat healthily, and lower levels of consumerism, impulsivity, and tobacco and alcohol use.”

Goals for 2018

What you need to know reading my 2018 goals is that for me the past few years have been total shit. Full of stress and stress and then some more stress. I have finally hit the point where it is too much and I have to change and I have picked Five areas to work on.

After my research on new years resolutions, I want to focus on positive emotions. Having a sense of community and creating projects that help other people is a good place to start.

1. Build Eighty-Six Debt

First, I’m going to focus on building Eighty-Six Debt. This blog will help me keep on track with my financial goals, and give me a platform to connect and interact with others. In the past, I have given up all my blog projects after about 2 months. To prevent blogging burn out I’ve signed up for FinCon 2018 in Florida. I now have a commitment that I hope will help me force myself to stick with it and build this blog. I’m conscious of not over scheduling and I want to prioritize quality over quantity. I am going to start the year writing two posts a week and will reevaluate in 6 months.

Other Blog Related Goals:

– Write 1-2 guest posts a month

– Start & grow a newsletter list

– Build a presence on Facebook & Pinterest

2. Start a new business.

This goal is inspired by my fellow personal finance bloggers. I completely agree with the belief that to get out of debt I need to clean up my spending and know where my money goes. Yet, the real secret to getting out of debt fast is in making more money. So I need a “side hustle” (a term I HATE).

Many bloggers talk about side hustles by suggesting low paying, low reward activities. I cringe when someone suggests filling out surveys, walking dogs & delivering papers. Technically, you’ll make money but the time cost is high and the pay is way to low to be a realistic suggestion. 

Next week I will be starting a Building a Side Business series, where I share the whole process from scratch. A lot of side hustle reports focus on income generated from a blog, which is great if you want to build a business with writing. However, I’ve had way more success without a blog than I’ve ever had with one. So I want to share the process of building an online business that doesn’t focus on writing. I have plans for both digital downloads, and physical products. I will use popular platforms like Etsy & Shopify. I’m  also considering a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve never used Kickstarter, but I’d like to see to see what kind of success an entrepreneur without a HUGE following can achieve.

Lists of 75 side hustle ideas a great starting point. But I want to go deeper on how to start and run a side business.

3. Paying down as much debt as possible.

This is a goal that is affected by the previous two. Building this blog and a new business will bring in extra money that will go towards debt. First credit card debt, then our car loan, and fully funding at least one of our retirement funds. After we meet those financial goals we will start attacking student loan debt like our lives depend on it.

Chris and I are seriously considering selling our home and moving into a smaller home that has a tenant to help keep our mortgage costs down. I’m sure that will throw a HUGE wrench in the flow of life, but financially it is going to really help us get out of debt faster.

4. Lose Weight.

I am overweight by more than I’m ready to admit here on this blog. I need to get healthy this year. I’ve broken out a few mini goals:  working out 4x a week and eating healthier. To be more specific with my food I will eat less bread & pasta, and increasing vegetable intake. All my food will be tracked using My Fitness Pal. If you care to join me on MFP I’m Kaleisi21. And I’m on Run Keeper as Kaleis

5. Learn French.

This is the least related to improving my day to day life, but it is the goal that brings me the most joy. Not only because I love the French language, but because it also makes me feel like I am moving closer to my goal of living in Québec. I started learning French in college and I have studied on and off since then. 2018 will be the beginning of my first serious attempt to become fluent in a second language.



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