As the New Year approaches, I think to myself: how can I make 2015 my most productive year? Not just productive—but the happiest and most meaningful too? How do I make that happen for myself, and most importantly, Lila?
I think the fact that I’m asking myself these questions is already a massive leap forward from this time last year. I’m not even sure the last time I actually meant it when I started spouting out New Year resolutions.
I know what the first step is in making 2015 the most productive, happy and meaningful year:
- Not drinking: not drinking tops my list mainly because drinking is what created multiple miserable, sad and meaningless years. Not miserable for my daughter, Lila, as she didn’t likely notice my downward spiral and I was always present and seemingly happy around her. However, with that said, inside I felt miserable. I felt worthless and ashamed. I drank and drank to numb my feelings, which in turn numbed my potential. I wasn’t a social drinker–I was a “get drunk constantly” drinker who utilized alcohol to cope with the components of reality I despised—and the more I drank, the more I despised. Not drinking for the last nine months has been a breath of fresh air. It feels so good to feel emotions again—it’s wonderful to be re-inspired and focus on the good in life, not the negative. I started out 2014 drunk, but ended it sober and in the best place I have ever been professionally and psychologically in a long time. If I start 2015 sober, who knows where I’ll be this time next year. I can’t wait to find out.
- Appreciate more: I want to look at all of the little things life has to offer, and begin to appreciate them more. The smiles, cries, laughter and hugs. The trees, grass, mountains and valleys. The sunrises and sunsets. The fact that I have a job, my daughter is in a good school and we have a roof, walls, beds and food on the table. For a while I lost sight of the fact that I have everything I need in life, and more. What do I really have to complain about? Nothing! And when I have a rough day and need to vent, I have constructive ways to deal with it like: working out, riding my bike, writing, etc. I no longer need to drink to cope with a tough day. I have healthier alternatives. I need to appreciate more—appreciate the basic elements of life that most people take for granted. I am blessed and I see that now—and now that I see it, I want to appreciate it more.
- Save and spend less: I put a lot of money in a savings account today. I decided that 2015 is the year that I make an aggressive effort to save up for a house. I am going to put a little bit of money, twice a month, into my savings account and hopefully by Jan 1 2016, I will be in a position to start looking for a house, town-house or condo. I am fortunate to have a retirement plan with my job, which I already put money into each month—the new savings account is for investing in Lila and I’s future. I am so excited to save, save, save—and see how much I can compile before making the biggest financial decision of my life. In the past I would’ve just kept all of the money in my checking account and slowly chipped away at it beer after beer—poor financial choice after poor financial choice. Saving will lead to building a better life. Saving will also require spending less. I often times make frivolous purchases at a coffee shop, Target, the grocery store, etc. I need to spend less to save more.
- Focus on growth as a parent: I love being a parent, but there’s so much I can do better. I can get frustrated/worried less, read more books with Lila, not say bad words while driving, etc. Obviously, every parent/person has something they need to work on, and personally I think I’m a darn good parent—but I’m going to do better in 2015.
I think the first three commitments will directly impact my fourth. If I drink less, appreciate more, save and spend less—it will all lead to a more well rounded, appreciative and stable life for myself and Lila. I am going to focus on these four commitments because as a recovering alcoholic, I realized you have to go step by step—not everything will change with the snap of a finger. If I make progress on the four commitments, next year I will build on that progress. After all, it’s about progress, not perfection.
Have a wonderful, safe and happy New Year.
-Leif and Lila