Friday, December 21, 2012

Reality Check: The Evolution of Your Goals

If you asked me over four years ago at my college graduation what my goals were, I would probably have said the following:

1. Work at a magazine.
2. Make $30,000 during my first year in the workforce.
3. Marry my boyfriend of four years.
4. Settle into a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house.
5. Have a kid by my 25th birthday. (Hint: I'm nearing my 26th birthday and still childless!)

Who did I think I was?! Considering I had just earned a degree in journalism, had only four months of experience with my college student newspaper, no clear understanding of the job market and that we were about to experience the worst economic downturn since I was old enough to pay attention to the news, all of my "dreams" were unattainable and unrealistic to say the least! Since then, I have checked off goals one and three and severely rearranged and added some to the list since then. So where am I now?

1. Tag team my husband's student loans and pay them off in the next three years.
2. Live simply and with {much} less stuff. Bonus: this goal saves time and money!
3. Write and write until I no longer have anything else of value to say. (Ha, believe me, I have plenty!)
4. After crossing off dream numero uno, begin to entertain the idea of having a child.
5. Harness my passions and creativity to be utilized for a stimulating and rewarding career path.

Not only are my newest set of dreams much more defined, but they seem more in reach and realistic. Most people don't agree with my approach to parenthood and I've heard plenty of pieces of advice along the lines of "If you wait until you have money, you'll never have kids!" Oh, having money is not the problem! Paying off our student loan debt is. Many disregard debt as a roadblock and charge away whatever they want on their credit cards. We're fortunate that we didn't amass credit card debt over the years and I am proud to say we never carry a balance for more than a few days.

However, the real problem is budgeting to make my top dream come true. I just discovered and my jaw dropped when I realized how much we spent on food last month. Don't get me wrong: eating vegan is NOT expensive. Dining out too much and heading out for lunch everyday is. Once I figured out where the money was spent, we quickly discussed how we can change it. We've been eating at home much more often and cooking meals the night before for lunch the next day.

The point is, dreams are not easy to make a reality. I don't doubt that I will accomplish all of these and I think of myself as a hard working and dedicated human being that can do just about anything if I put my mind to it. Even the whole vegan thing seems like no big deal when you're facing other lifestyle changes. I figure if I can go vegan overnight, why not pay off the student loan debt in a few years? I'd rather not be paying on something twenty years from now.

Here's my advice: make a list of your goals and really evaluate them. It's ok if they change monthly or yearly. I always have goals and challenge myself to reach them before I'd ideally like to. When we push ourselves, amazing things happen. Our health can improve, our careers can get a boost and our attitudes can be shifted. Don't let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn't do. This is your life and you have to live it. Only you can push yourself to make your dreams your reality.

Kelsey is a passionate vegan living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of eating a healthy, plant-based diet. She's also a minimalist enthusiast, a self-proclaimed financial guru of her household, and founder of The Little Red Journal.

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