You may have noticed that this blog kind of died out. We posted the away notice in March, and have not revisited. There are many factors which contributed to this, but they can be summed up fairly quickly- we failed. We failed brilliantly on finding the sweet spot and assembling any amount of balance in our lives. Summer (and I’m generously including snowy April as the start of said summer) was a blur of an insane amount of projects, very satisfying on the professional front but leaving little to no time for play or homesteading activities.
Reality slapped us in the face like a scorned lover, when we returned from our wonderful midsummer gig and found ourselves in our RV with no utilities and our next intense work gig 3 days away. Full-fledged panic set in, as we compared the time available to tasks ahead as we attempt to survive winter in our lovely tin can. There were tears, there was whiskey, there were disgruntled grumbles (those last ones came from Golde, reminding us that no matter the circumstances, dinner better get served!). Eventually, we calmed down, reevaluated, came up with a plan G (B, C, D, E, and F were already played out) and reset course.
A clear case of chipmunk cheeks- as in we bit off more than we could chew! You already know about the RV move (and complete mid-winter renovation), cord cutting and frugalism. Additionally, we decided to try to dramatically limit our car use and bike everywhere, attempting to utilize the car no more than once per week. All of these big life changes were implemented between March and May, and there was little to no learning period.
As I was brought up Catholic, I love creating regimented rule structures devoid of any amount of flexibility- what can I say, it just comes naturally. Combined with my perfectionist leanings the slightest infraction is seen as failure- even something as reasonable as using the car a second time in a week to take a friend to the ER. FAIL! Yes, we built a system in which it is impossible to succeed- if you measure success as scoring 100% in all the categories, at all times.
Trust me- this comes from hindsight. At the time I felt like I was failing really, really hard. Our first big failure was adhering to our budget. In our day-to-day life, Mr. SweetSpot works part time, allowing him to create awesome vegan and vegetarian culinary creations.
This summer, we were both employed at full time capacities, which meant that cooking became more challenging. While we didn’t retort to continuous going out, we did end up spending more on groceries to make cooking a bit easier. We also worked at a place where we had to bring in our own lunch, and we couldn’t leave until the end of the day. Packing sufficient lunches and snacks for that set up took more food.
Additionally, we were in a new place. With fun restaurants. That we only get once a year… See where I’m going with this excuse? We did end up going out around once a week and as a result of both of these factors we were over our budget by about ~$50 per week. And this made me feel like crap! I should have read our blog post, It’s not magic, it’s math… as the part of the equation I forgot during my self-flagellation is that additional employment meant additional money. So perhaps unsurprisingly…
We have met and surpassed our goal to pay ourselves back for the land and the RV by the end of August! That’s right! Our vast 10 acres and our tiny tin can have been recouped in our savings account. We are very, very proud.
The nice thing about biting off more than you can chew: if you don’t choke and die, you might look silly processing all that food, but ultimately you’ll be fine. You might even learn to take smaller bites.
- Building habits takes time
This is something that I think we all know in principle, but it’s hard to remember when you get impatient with yourself for failing. Embrace small changes, and allow at least 3 weeks before attempting another shift. Make sure you applaud yourself as you go along- you are the most worthwhile project you will ever work on.
- The 80/20 rule
Rather than my insane measure of success, strive for the 80/20 rule. Guess what? We didn’t always stay on budget. But we were very conscious of it, and followed our guidelines at least 80% of the time. This added up, and we can really see the difference in our savings. Sure, there were weeks when we used the car more than once a week, but overall whenever possible, we commute on our bikes. Both our butts and our wallets are better off for it. When I think hard about it, our glorious failure has a number attached. The glorious failure number is 20%. Big changes will come from succeeding 80% of the time.
This summers’ biggest take away was balancing goals. We were very overworked, but we thrived professionally and financially (duh!). However, we made sacrifices in our homestead and personal life, leaving us feeling very dissatisfied and headed for burnout. Now, we are pursuing something in each of the four categories- professional development, finances, personal life and the homestead. We try to have only one active goal in a category at a time, to hopefully prevent an overload. As we do, we will continue to learn.
Amazingly, it’s already September. Summer is (almost) over and we are back in town, slowly settling into our usual routine. I have high hopes for glorious failure in four balanced categories. The path of least resistance is crowded, and you wouldn’t want to be friends with anybody on it anyway.
So engage in glorious failure! Until next time- THE BLOG IS BACK!