Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thoughts on Having Safety Nets

We’re more than half the way through February and I am just starting to think about goals for the New Year. Honestly, I think I would like 2010 to be a year of rest. I’ve been feeling like Tarzan the last couple of years, swinging through the jungle of my life with crises for vines. I’ve swung from one traumatic problem to the next, barely touching the ground.

Last year I had quite a few goals and plans for the year. Some I completed, some I didn’t. This year, however, I want to take a step back. I realize that one of the big reasons that my problems were able to completely take over my life was simply because I didn’t have a big enough safety net. Divorce... fighting foreclosure... landlord problems.... every issue has been able to put me into a state of panic. Even little problems in life were able to derail me.

I have big dreams - going back to school, making some different career choices - but I realize that before I go jumping into something else, I need to take stock of where I am. Now, this isn’t to say I am going to sit around on the couch for a year and do nothing! If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know that I don’t let any moss gather on this stone! ...but, it does mean holding off on any major decisions, at least for a little while....

Being divorced put me in the strange situation of having a home I couldn’t afford, so when I first moved in, all I could think about was selling it and getting out. Now, I’m a lot more settled and I don’t feel quite the push to “escape” as I once did. I realize that the housing market has a long way to go to recovery and I am okay with that. As I’ve mentioned many times, I would also like to go back to school - but that takes a lot of work and energy, and completely changes your day to day routines and personal life. While I still want to do it, it occurs to me that if I want to do it right, I’ll spend a little time preparing first.

So, this is the year of mending and building nets - specifically, safety nets. I’m going to hunker down and build emergency savings accounts, I’m going to try to reconnect with family and friends in better ways, and I am going to try to try to get my ducks in a row, so when opportunity knocks - or crises bang down the door, I’m a little more prepared.

Here’s an example:

One of my goals for 2010 is to finish paying off my loan from my mother. My goal was to have it paid off by Christmas but, well, that didn’t quite happen. Why am I in this situation? Lack of safety nets! I ended up taking out the loan from my mother because I didn’t have quite enough money to finish paying for my to be house repainted last summer. I’m glad I got the house done, but I should have had a bigger pool of money set aside for the project before I even began it. Then, why didn’t I pay back my mom in full before Christmas? Again, lack of a safety net. I got the money to do it (I got a very nice year end bonus,) but I ended up taking most of it and putting it away into savings accounts because I was feeling nervous about not having them fleshed out enough. If those accounts had been better funded, I could have paid my mother back in no time at all.

I don’t regret the choices that I have made. I know that I made the best decision that I could given the information and circumstances at the time, however, I’m tired of feeling like I am flying by the seat of my pants all the time. Granted, its exhilarating, but it gets a bit old. One can only spend so much time on a roller coaster, after all.

So, to put it simply, I want to spend this year getting my house in order - both figuratively and literally. I would like it to be a year of fully funding my emergency fund, as well as setting aside money for the other things that come up in the course of a year - home repair, car repair, even tuition for seminars or classes I may want to take. I’m going to make a conscious decision to set aside some of the big things I’ve been wanting to do and instead, work on building a solid foundation. I’m going to continue to make my home a comfortable place to live, and organize it so it functions well with my busy lifestyle. Although I have some home repair projects I want to do, I’m going to put the big ones aside for now, and just work on the smaller ones when I have time and in my own fashion. I want to make more time for the people I love and try to strengthen those ties.

Oh, I’ll still be working 87 part time jobs, but I’m now doing it so that eventually, I don’t have to. I’ve felt what it is like to be in freefall, scrambling to make ends meet. I am very proud of what I was able to achieve and that I came out of it pretty much intact... but I’d certainly like to avoid it happening again!

There is this quote by Patrick Overton that goes like this:

“When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.”

Great quote, but I can't help but think that in either case the leap is easier to make if you know there is a safety net down there waiting for you.

Photo by: ...storrao...
Via Flickr

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