Happy New Year, everyone!
This post is going to be a bit personal, so I’ll first give a quick update: in December I successfully defended my dissertation, which marks the end of over five years working in the same lab. It also means I’m unemployed. In other words, this particular New Year happens to coincide with a major life transition for me: I’ve finished one chapter and am in the midst of figuring out the next one.
This blog has been personal from the start, in certain ways. One of my goals has been to talk openly here about things that I think are tough and important to discuss, including coming to terms with one’s past choices (see The Myth of the Yacht and The Mysterious Case of the Poorly-Defined “Living Expenses”) as well as the nature of fear and anxiety (e.g. Take Courage and My Message to Others in Debt).
But it’s about to get personal in another way too. I’ve shared relatively little thus far about my current journey with finances and student debt, but that is about to change. And I will share my student debt numbers, to answer those of you have been asking about this. However, I’m going to hold off on that for a tiny bit longer, as I’d prefer not to share my numbers without also sharing a plan regarding how I’m going to change them, and I won’t be able to formulate a plan until I have a job and a salary. But as soon as that happens, I’ll give you some more information about what I’m facing. I’m scared to talk about it, and a little self-conscious…but I’m also excited.
Like seriously: I’m really, really, truly excited to start paying my loans back. A lot of the anxiety I’ve had about my loans during the past five years has been exacerbated by not being able to actually do anything about them—my grad school stipend was definitely livable, but it didn’t involve a lot of money left over for debt repayment.
I’m still planning to post on the types of topics I’ve been writing about thus far, namely the various psychological, philosophical and emotional aspects of personal finance and all things related to those topics. But those posts will be interspersed with posts about what’s going on with my own finances and debt repayment.
I have literally no idea what’s going to happen this month in terms of my job search. I do have some savings. Not a lot, but enough that I’ll be okay for the time being. I do, amazingly, have health insurance. And that means that I have the incredible gift and opportunity to take a small amount of time now to reevaluate and regroup. I’ve taken very, very little time off during the past five years, so this is kind of an unfamiliar situation for me. And I want to be extremely conscious about what I do with this precious time. I want to spend it wisely.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of New Year’s resolutions, and I think that at least for now, I just want to focus on intentions (I prefer that term over “resolutions”), and just for January 2016, since it’s hard for me to see beyond that point right now. So here they are:
JANUARY 2016 INTENTIONS
- Apply for full-time jobs. More specifically, apply for at least 15 jobs per week.
- Send out at least two freelance writing pitches this month. I’ve never done this before, but I really want to try it. (And if by chance you or someone you know might want to hire me to do writing or editing work, I’d love it if you would contact me here.)
- Tie up the remaining loose ends in my lab (mainly formatting my dissertation to send to the university library and revising some papers for publication in journals).
- Fully assess my student loan repayment situation (more updates on this in future posts!).
- Spend less than $300 this month on food. I realize this may not sound too difficult, but it will actually be slightly challenging for me. Even during the month when I cut out takeout completely, I still came in over $300.
- Participate in at least two paid research studies. This is a great way to earn extra cash if you happen to live near a lot of universities and/or hospitals as I do. I have two lined up so far and will look for more.
DAILY ROUTINE (I’m okay with adjusting this as necessary, but this is my intended routine for the majority of days, until I get a job.)
- Get up at 6, aka my normal non-vacation wakeup time.
- Start my day by reading a book for 30 minutes while I have my coffee—thanks to Cait for that idea.
- Check my blog and blog email only briefly—I’ve been noticing recently that time spent “blogging” can easily turn into mindless Internet surfing time.
- Spend the bulk of the day working on my job search, either at home or at the beautiful public library around the corner.
- If it is above freezing outside, go for a run at some point during the day. Yes, I am a total wimp who will only run if it is above freezing. Otherwise, bundle up and go for a walk.
- At some point during the afternoon or evening, spend 30 minutes working on the Python course on Codeacademy, as well as 30 minutes brainstorming an idea that I have for a new website, to see if it is feasible.
- No complaining. I don’t know how well I will succeed at this, but I really want to be conscious about not saying negative things about people or situations (unless I’m talking about a difficult situation to a close friend in a truly constructive way).
- I simply love this post by Leo Babauta. I want it to be part of my manifesto for blogging and all other creative endeavors.
- Check out this post by Amanda about making a list of 100 Dreams. I tried doing it and could only come up with TWELVE (??). I want to keep working on the list and get to 100 by the end of the month.
Wow, that’s a long list of intentions! It will be interesting to see how the month plays out, and whether or not I have a job at the end of it (fingers crossed).
That’s it for now. See you on Twitter!
What do you have planned for January 2016? Tell me about it!