2018 Year-End Review

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a blog post. As with every year, Open Enrollment was nearly all-consuming. And in the interest of maintaining my mental health, I elected not to worry about updating the blog.

I’m happy to report that this year’s enrollment season was the most productive year-to-date; my agency sold nearly $1 million worth of annualized premium over the course of 8 weeks. And I did not get sick or burned out, which is ultimately more important than the level of production.

[Want to know how? Check out my post on maintaining energy levels during a busy season.]

After wrapping up the enrollment season, the Mister and I had a 10-day vacation through the holidays; we elected to stay home this year. Having a block of time dedicated to rest was exactly what I needed to recharge before the new year.

And here we are on New Year’s Eve. Like many of you, I’ve been reflecting on how 2018 went and what I want to change for 2019…

2018 in review

My 2018 word of the year was Clarify. I really wanted to cook my commitments down to just my essential priorities: improving relationships, growing my business, improving my health/fitness abilities, and improving our financial position. There were tied 4 major goals for the year:

  • Hire an employee in the business — ACCOMPLISHED
  • Pass my massage/healing exam — ACCOMPLISHED
  • Hit my goal weight of 135 lbs. — UNFINISHED
  • Pay off our credit card debt — UNFINISHED

What went right

  • I let go of several board/committee positions that weren’t moving me toward my vision statement. This allowed more time to focus on growing the income of the business.
  • The Mister and I started the year strong by completing the January Whole30 challenge, which helped me determine several dietary triggers that cause my body to drag.
  • My 2-hour solution scheduling system has become way more streamlined to accommodate the massage classes, homework & studying.
  • I stretched myself in fitness by participating in a national judo tournament as well assisting with teaching the children’s classes at the dojo.

What needs improvement

  • We fell off our budgeting game mid-year and never quite got back on track. Between that and a hospital visit for food poisoning, our debt snowball hasn’t changed much since the start of 2018.
  • I had set myself a significant income goal in the business that I didn’t come anywhere near meeting (mostly because I didn’t sell the amount of life insurance I intended to). Upon evaluation, I realized I have some imposter syndrome and fear to work through when it comes to making prospecting calls.
  • When it comes to my goal weight, in the year that I decided to eliminate the goal to focus on my income goal and hiring an assistant. That said, in the last 3 months of the year, I could have done much better with eating at home and avoiding food triggers (and alcohol).
  • Our church attendance this year was almost non-existent. The Mister and I have discussed how much we need fellowship in our lives. The biggest thing is just getting up in time to attend services so that we can be a part of the community that we value.
"Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible." - Claire Goldburg Moses

2018 Year-End Review aubreyeshaw.com

What I want to start in 2019

I have several intentions for next year, but the biggest is that I want this to be the year I get in the best “health” of my life — physically, mentally, spiritually and financially.

The Mister and I are ready to start a family. Since I’m already in my late 30s, improving my health is going to increase the chances of that without complications. And getting our financial house in order is one of the best ways that I can think to provide a stable, loving home for future children.

Looking at specifics, I want to establish the following habits/behaviors next year (though I recognize that I can’t try to start them all tomorrow):

  • Daily time reading my Bible
  • Journaling regularly if not daily
  • Meditation as part of my morning and evening routines
  • Always eat at the table (not in my car or at my desk)
  • Starting my workweek with prospecting calls
  • Go back to using cash envelopes for all retail budget categorie

I’d love to hear how your 2018 year-end review has gone. What did you learn? What do you want to change or start for next year?

2018 was a year of big goals and clarifying priorities. Here's my 2018 year-end review of what went right and what needed improvement.

Check back tomorrow for my 2019 Word of the Year and Goals.

How to Increase Energy Levels during a Season of Busy-ness

Happy October, friends!

Many of us get excited this time of year because we’re starting to slide into the flurry of the holiday season. We all get a little busier as we head to school events, plan for travel and holidays, and get our homes prepared for spending more time indoors. As our schedules get more cramped,  it’s important to focus on ways to increase energy levels and reduce stress. Here is what I do to beat a season of busy-ness.

For me, this time of year is also the busiest season at work; as an insurance broker, enrollment season is now just days away rather than weeks or months away. I feel that I’ve done a lot of work getting ready for the upcoming enrollment season. But this is the time to really clarify my schedule to be sure that I keep what’s most important in front me.

How to Increase Energy Levels during a Season of Busy-ness

With that in mind, here are my Quarter 4 priorities:

I Fuel My Body Properly.

Last year, one of the biggest game changes for maintaining my energy levels was making changes to my diet. I switched to a Paleo Diet about 90 percent of the time and simplified meal planning (and grocery shopping) by subscribing to Prep Dish.

Continuing to meal plan and prep ahead is definitely on the plan this year. But I’m also making sure that I’m taking a multivitamin and fish oil supplement daily, and I’m focusing on maintaining hydration. For me, at least 80 ounces of water daily keeps the brain fog to a minimum.

Workouts are Non-Negotiable.

I’ve said for years that when my work schedule gets busy, getting into the dojo is even more of a priority. Regular exercise is a way of managing my stress levels, and the endorphins increase my energy and help me think more creatively.

And since many of us study healing arts in our martial arts school, I can ask for a treatment (read: free massage) when a good workout doesn’t seem to help me release the tension that comes with working long hours.

I Give My Mind a Chance to Rest

This goes beyond trying to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, although that is a priority for me as well. During enrollment season, I also make a point to leave the office for lunch each day. I meditate more often, and I prioritize activities that allow my subconscious mind to free-flow a little.

For me, this means journalling (which is why I’m ordering a fresh Five Minute Journal) and trying new crochet projects. That creative time is important to avoid mental fatigue.

I Recognize I Can’t Do It All.

This is partly not committing to things that will drain me mentally. But it is mostly knowing when to ask for help. I’m fortunate that the Mister is totally willing to take care of household chores or cooking or running errands on those days (or weeks) when my focus has to be on taking care of work. We know that building our business is a team effort that will move us closer to our future goals.

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In addition to knowing when for help, I’m outsourcing some of the planning/shopping through subscription services such as Grove Collaborative to send our household’s cleaning and personal care products on a monthly basis. Like having my grocery list prepared, not having to keep track of what cleaning supplies we need creates mental white space.

So rather than trying to be Super Woman and do ALL THE THINGS, I let go what doesn’t need to be done right this moment and I ask for help when I need it. And I say no to invitations or opportunities that will steal energy from me rather than grow it.

10 Ways to Save Money This Month

Between school starting and the holiday season drawing near, many of us start looking harder at ways to save money in our budgets. In fact, one of the budgeting facebook groups has even adopted the hashtag #$avetember to encourage and inspire its members.

I’m always on the hunt for ideas to squeeze more dollars out of my budget and wanted to share some tips that we use to keep the budget on track. If you’re looking for more ways to save money and grow your savings account, here are my top 10 ideas:

  1. Save your loose change in a jar and make a deposit at the end of each month.
  2. Look up your grocery store’s weekly flyer and create your meal plan based on what is on sale; this can be especially significant for sales on meats and produce.
  3. Plan several meals using the same protein. For example, leftovers from a roast chicken would be used for tacos and soup later in the week.
  4. Purchase produce that is in-season. If possible, shop at a local farmers market or join a local CSA.
  5. Freeze or can in-season produce so you don’t have to purchase it at a higher price when out-of-season.
  6. Learn to make to make your sauces, seasonings, and broths from scratch. We make these at home: tomato/pizza sauce, chicken/veggie broth or stock, taco/chili seasoning, stir-fry sauce, etc.
  7. Group and map out your errands for one afternoon rather than taking your car out several times throughout the week.
  8. Make use of your library to check out books, magazines, movies, etc. Check to see if your library allows you to borrow digital or audio books.
  9. Make use of your library for other community programs. Our library offers classes in crafts such as tie-dye or knitting, has movie nights (or mornings), has regular yoga classes, etc. all for free to its members.
  10. Get familiar with your city’s parks and museums community events. Our community has weekly free concerts in the summer and field days with games for the kids, hosted by public safety.

When you have to tighten the budget, what do you do to save money? Share with us in the comments or send me an email to let me know.

If you're on the hunt for ways to save money and grow your family's savings accounts, here are 10 ideas that we use to keep our budget on track.