Changing the system

I was recently reading Changing the System on Chris Buillebeau’s blog and the content came at an opportune time. I’ve been thinking for some time about what kinds of changes I need to make to my own system.

Last year was rough and looking back on it gives me the willies. As a new empty-nester, I didn’t think much about the changes because the girls were a quick drive away. I saw them about as much as I did when they lived in our home because those last couple of years means you hardly see them at all. I could have lunch with them, see them often, and know that things were OK.

Now, I live two time zones away from one and many miles from the other – a half a country away and America is big, really big. It’s been dawning on me for awhile that I really do have my life to focus on. I can only help my girls so much now. I also see that I’ve got a lot of things to be very, very grateful for – my husband, my work, my teeny home, my kitty-pals, my friends (who are all far away) and much more. Near the end of last year, I was in a bad state. I was very depressed, but some inside work, some help from my guy, and some other steps have made that a memory and one I hope not to revisit soon.

So, now it’s time to look forward and decide what I want my year to look like – it’s time to engage with a changing of the system. I decided that a full year commitment is too much. It’s not that I may not keep the same goals all year long, it’s just that I need a target review date to see that things are on track. Luckily, my birthday is in the near middle of the year, so it’s a perfect time to re-tool or tweak the system again.

I want to focus on a few things for the first half of the year:

  • my health
  • financials
  • getting settled and having fun

My health goals

I need to stop turning to drink on auto-pilot, and for more than a few reasons:

  • I’m concerned about long-term damage
  • It doesn’t help my mood at all – makes me quick to anger
  • I didn’t used to do this, so something has gone lax
  • I’m gaining weight, and I think this is partly to blame

So, this year, I’m establishing some healthier drinking habits starting with drink less period. I’ll have a glass in the evening if I haven’t had one in a few days, but only after I drink a glass of water and had a good stretch of workouts.

Bad day? I’ll turn to a cup o’ tea instead.

I also need to lose some weight. To accomplish this, I’ve started taking some new classes at the gym and re-keying the workouts. I know they (the great omnipotent ‘they’) say you should re-jigger your workouts every 4-6 weeks, but I’m human and I like my ruts. They’re comfortable. I understand them.

Still, the weight has piled on and it’s not going to get better if I don’t change the system. So, I’m changing it.

My financial goals

With the move, and trying to kill some debt, I slowed the investing down to a trickle. That has to end. After all, I’m not getting any younger and I look forward to retirement even if I don’t know what it will look like when I get there. So, I’ve budgeted the last payments and retooled the budget to make sure the last of the debt gets gone this year. The investments will start being cranked up to full throttle in March. Yay!

This one was easy – I’ve been working it for some time.

Getting settled and having fun

We’re well on our way to getting settled, but it’s been a tough start. Now that we’ve moved into our house, I have a fresh start. I’ll explain this a bit: at the YMCA where I was working out in the throes of the move, trying to find a house, living in the stinky, noisy apartment, I spent nearly every workout crying on the elliptical.

Not kidding. Tears running down the face crying. I’m pretty sure there are stories about me floating around in the locker rooms still, “Hey, where do you think that miserable crying chick went?”

So, we’re in a new place and a new gym now, and before I strode in for my first workout, I had a little talk with myself. It went a little like this: “OK, now you can continue being miserable and not making friends and messing up your face, or you can put on a smile and go in there, and start feeling better, and start making friends again! Even if you don’t make any friends, you’re going to feel a whole lot better and this is the start of your new life, so do it.”

So, that’s what I did. I try to notice when people are doing a good job – there’s this one woman who can lift herself so far off the mat as she does sit-ups that I’m impressed. I told her I was impressed too. When we think something nice, it doesn’t do any good to keep it to ourselves, does it?

The work on the house is getting done as quickly as it can, and our truck o’ stuff will come soon. I know that will help and also be hard because we’ll have to get rid of a lot of things that just won’t fit and I don’t believe in having too much stuff hanging around. Sure, I could get a storage unit and put it all in there, but the emotional weight isn’t good for me. If I don’t love it or it doesn’t fit, it needs to go to another home to live. That’s just how it is. Still, I suspect that parts of it may be hard, so I think a lot about things that I won’t need. Lots of books can go – they belong where people can read them more often anyway. Lots of clothing can go – no one in sunny California needs the 30 or so coats I have. Some things will be easy and some may be hard, but I think it will go pretty well.

For fun, I plan to get to know this area even more. Visit the art museum and the botanical gardens. Get out on a kayak occasionally. Ride my bike around the area – especially along the coastal trails.

I also have a yoga retreat in the summer – in Big Sur! That should accomplish my solo trip this year and will certainly do the trick of resetting whatever is still wonky after all the work I’ve done up to that point.

I just need to change the system a little, I think. This is how I’ll do it.

Oh, and I need to climb a fourteener here – otherwise, I can’t very well keep my license plate, now can I? I’ve got one picked out too. I’ll let you know when my hiking boots get here.


fourteenergirl Written by:

A mother, sister, wife, and daughter who writes, knits, hikes, and practices yoga on the west coast. Loves a zippy chardonnay or a tart margarita!


  1. Ell Lukasik
    January 29, 2013

    You once said to me that the women in our knitting group were an amazing group of women and that you had a great deal of respect for them. Look in the mirror, lady. You are an amazing woman yourself! I’m so glad that you are coming through this rough time. Love ya lots,


  2. January 31, 2013

    Aw thanks … it’s been a long haul. Now is supposed to be the good part. I’ve just got to make it happen.

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