Year of Change 2020: A Year of Maintenance
A year of nothing new. A maintenance year. A year of taking it easy. Whatever I call it throughout the year, it all means the same thing: This year, we're taking a little break from all the busyness, trips, and big life changes. For the past 6 or 7 years my wife and I have gone through a lot of changes and done a lot of things. We're in our late twenties and have been married for just over 5 years and those 5 short years have been a whirlwind of activity and movement and changes and holy crap we're pretty tired. We haven't taken time to slow down, take a few steps back, and take a good hard look at the direction we're headed.
To give you an idea of what we've done since ~2013, here's a short list of some of the pretty major changes and events in our lives: I moved back to Utah and started at a new college, bought a car, got a job, we both graduated from that college, we got married, we moved into our first apartment, Sarah got a new job, we bought a second car, we moved into our second apartment, we bought a house, we renovated most of the basement in our new house, we had a baby, I got a new job, we rented the basement to some family, we traded in a car for a new one, we tore down a shed and built a deck, and during that time I was trying to do monthly or quarterly habit experiments, some of which succeeded and some of which failed. We've also taken trips to California, Moab, Hawaii, Florida, NYC, several national parks, and Philadelphia. And those are just the major events. We've welcomed new nieces and nephews, had family weddings, taken shorter trips, and on and on.
What I'm trying to get at here is that our short married life has been amazing, wonderful, and very busy. We've been through a lot, planned and unplanned, over the past 7ish years. And we felt it was time to take a break from these major planned changes.
So we're taking a maintenance year instead of seeking out major changes, projects, trips, or life events. Of course, things are always changing and some things we just can't control. But we've decided that what we can control should be put on hold as much as possible until next year.
We've done so much and it's all been so amazing! I wouldn't go back and change anything that we've done or do anything differently. This year of maintenance is not about feeling guilty for being so busy or having such a full life. Rather, it's a recognition that sometimes instead of always rushing from one thing to the next and being in a constant state of change, it's healthy to sit down and rest for a season.
So, here are a few things we won't be doing this year:
- Taking a big family vacation (we still have a few small outings and a weekend family reunion planned).
- Moving. We've moved 3 times in 6 years and we're ready to settle in for a little longer. We like to dream of living in other places, so this will be tough, but healthy for us.
- Making big purchases. Save a crisis (totaled car or a major appliance blowing up), we won't be making any major purchases this year. We're defining “major” as anything over $200 or so that we haven't already planned for in advance (we knew we'd need/want a few things, so we wrote them down in 2019 and we're saving up for them)
- Remodeling/renovating rooms. Since we moved into our house just over 3 years ago, we've done a lot of work. We tore 2 rooms down to the studs heavily renovated 2 other rooms in our basement. We've also replaced windows, doors, painted a few walls, and built a deck. It's time to be content with what we have and love our home the way it is. We have a few things that we need to do and a long list of things we want to do, but they're waiting until 2021 and beyond.
- Committing to massive lifestyle changes. Yes, both of us are still working on eating healthier and exercising more. I have a few little habits I'm building. But I'm not doing any large scale changes or experiments this year.
- Starting new projects. I have a problem with starting things that I don't finish. Especially when it comes to creative projects. I've got folders on my laptop filled with video, audio, images, and text that were attempts at a new creative project. Whether it's a podcast that didn't get published or an attempt to improve at graphic design, there is a seemingly endless virtual trail of dead projects I've abandoned. This year, I'm focusing on one or two projects that I've already started, including this blog.
And as part of our maintenance year, here are a few things that we're trying to do more often:
- Create more than we consume. We consume a lot of media. I don't know how we compare to the average family, but I know lately I've been on my phone or on the couch a lot more than I'd like. So this year we're going to focus on creating. Creating blog posts, videos, pictures. Creating memories together. Writing in a journal. Creating little efficiencies in our lives.
- Reading more. We watch a lot of content. And while watching is a fun and quick way to digest entertainment, it can start to wear on your imagination. My mind and imagination are fed when I read a good book, so this year I'm going to maintain my mind and imagination by reading more and watching less.
- Being present or in the moment or mindful. Whatever you want to call it, we're going to be there when we're together or with family or friends. I get so distracted by screens and work and social media that I feel like I only ever give the physical world around me half of my attention at best. I'm working on paying attention and giving my current task (whether it's writing a blog post or eating breakfast) my full attention.
- Planning for the future. The last time I remember planning something further out than a month in advance was before Sarah and I got married. I had a five year plan and vision for where I wanted to be and who I wanted to become. I think I accomplished almost everything in that plan. But since then, we've been too busy and distracted to really consider the next five year or ten years. So as we slow down and maintain, we're going to plan for what's next and create a vision to work toward over the next five or ten years.
- Maintaining what we have. This is kind of the reasoning behind this whole year of maintenance. If there were a summary for this whole idea, this is probably it. We're savoring and maintaining what we already have. Taking care of ourselves and our possessions instead of adding, changing, or removing them. We're making sure things are tidy, clean, and functional (this goes for our physical possessions and our bodies and minds).
And that's my year of change this year. The real change is that we're not planning on much change at all. So I'll be calling this our Year of Maintenance. I'll provide updates as I remember during the year to let you know how it's going (probably not as smoothly as I think). I'm also planning to write an in-depth reflection at the end of the year to see how a year of maintenance compares to previous years.