My Mantra for 2014

January 13, 2014

statues in bali

Over the past few weeks, I’ve read countless posts filled with other writers’ resolutions for the new year. Some have resolved to only make and keep one resolution, while many others have written lists upon lists of goals they want to accomplish before the year is up. I’ve been struggling with how to format my own goals for 2014, as 2013 taught me that life is not entirely in your control and that you do need to prepare for hiccups along the way. So, should I set SMART goals? Have stretch goals? Be realistic or ambitious? Ok, it’s fairly safe to say that I’m often more realistic than ambitious, so that’s a silly question. But this year, I’ve decided instead to live by a mantra:

Do good, feel good.

What exactly does that mean? And in what situations could this mantra apply? It’s taken me a couple of weeks to answer those questions for myself, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

If you type “do good definition” into Google, the search results suggest it means one of two things: to make a helpful contribution to a situation, or to act virtuously (morally) – especially by helping others. So, if my mantra for 2014 is to do good, I need to be more helpful all around – plain and simple. Sounds easy enough, right? But I’d like to take it a step further and say that “doing good” also requires that I be good, meaning well-behaved. And I don’t just mean that in the literal sense of my behaviour, but that I must aim to do a good job of everything I touch. I’m not aiming for greatness here – I just want to be good.

I want to be good at my job. Over the last year, I set some pretty high expectations for myself at work, and whenever I couldn’t meet them I felt as though I had failed. But I’m the only person who set the bar that high – nobody made me do that. This year, I’m setting more realistic expectations for myself in my position, as well as forcing myself to take real breaks – both during work hours, and in the form of real weekends and vacations. By working smarter, not harder, my hope is I’ll be a better employee and managing editor overall.

I want to be good to my body. In fact, it’s safe to say that health will be my top priority this year. I could tell you that I’d like to workout x-number of times each week, lose x-many pounds or fit into a particular clothing size, but those aren’t the goals I want to set or reach this year. Instead, I want to workout in a way that will help my body heal from my accident. I won’t be tracking my running pace or training for any races… I just want to workout as often as I can and, one day, not feel stuck by residual pain.

I also want to be good at listening to my body. And not just at the gym. I’ve been paying more and more attention to how I feel after I eat certain foods lately, but I want to slowly eat less and less of those foods. I want to nap for 20 minutes when I feel I need to, and go to bed / wake up at times that work best for me. I want to take a rest day from the gym whenever I need it, and switch up my workouts to do what will help me feel my best. Most of all, I want to trust my gut always; doing so in the past has always been worth it.

I want to be a good member of my family. I want to spend more time with my parents and siblings, make more time for extended family and help wherever possible. I also want to “enjoy the now” when we’re together, because time and priorities have a tendency to change often. For example, this summer, Baby Bro will be moving to another province, and I’ll likely only see him a few times each year after that. So, we need to take advantage of our close proximity now, before life takes us to new places yet again.

I want to be a good friend. Since many of my friendships are long-distance, that means checking in more and being more thoughtful. I like to think I’m good about sending thoughtful texts and cards, but I’m sure I can do better. I also want to continue to build the new friendships I’ve developed over the last couple of years, especially the very new ones I’ve made since moving to Greater Vancouver. Friends are the family you choose for yourself, and I want mine to know that’s what they mean to me.

Finally, I want to do some good in my community. I’ve started to, by doing things like joining the YWCA’s high school mentorship program, donating blood for the first time and making charitable donations a priority, but I know I can do more. I don’t have a plan mapped out for this goal yet, other than to donate blood on a regular basis, but I’ll be looking for something I can donate my time to this year. I’m thinking/hoping it’ll be along the lines of literacy, if not financial literacy, but I guess we’ll see…

Since my mantra is “do good, feel good,” you can imagine my hope is that by doing all of these things I will feel better overall. Mostly, what I’m looking for this year is to find some balance. I don’t want to set the bar too far out of reach, I don’t want to face another panic attack and I really don’t want to move again. I simply want to set down some roots, establish a healthy routine, foster my relationships and take care of myself. And if life tries to get in the way, I’ll continue to adjust, as I do.

And if you’re not satisfied with my mantra, and you really want to see a list of goals, I’ve obviously mapped some out (hey, I’m a planner!). In 2014, I want to:

  • boost my Emergency Fund to $10,000
  • contribute $5,000 to my RRSP
  • travel wherever my budget allows (dreaming of New Orleans, Denver, and either the UK or Indonesia)
  • purchase a new bed, as well as a desk and chair
  • finish the Canadian Securities Course / pass the exam
  • start communicating offline more
  • read 24 books (or more!)
  • incorporate yoga into my workouts
  • donate blood at least quarterly
  • give back whenever, wherever, however possible

If you could only accomplish one thing this year, what would it be and why?

Flickr: michis0806

  • Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions January 13, 2014 at 5:01 am

    I love your mantra — we can all aspire to that simple (but difficult!) phrase. I’m one of those bloggers who wrote out a bit of a list, but I’ll pick one thing ;) One goal I really hope to achieve above all else is to grow our small business to the point where it is self-sustaining.

    Hopefully that will help me achieve our financial goals too, but most of all it would be wonderful to see that venture succeed because it is my husband’s brainchild and it would be a huge boost to his confidence and his career, as well as be a boost to our finances and create more financial independence :)

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Your comment made me smile, Rebecca. Good luck with your goal this year :)

  • Rob January 13, 2014 at 7:08 am

    Well Cait, I figure that I need to improve on my “be good, feel good” stuff a tad more effectively cuz it’s only been a few days into 2014 and already I’ve partially blown my “healthy, wealthy and wise” New Years resolution! :-)

    So if I can accomplish one thing this year it would easily be the “healthy” part. 3 kidney stone attacks last week and spending 5 hours seeing my old buddies in Emerg last Friday was not my idea of “entertainment”. And so it goes, eh? :-)

    Your list of goals for 2014 is quite impressive and I’m betting that you will accomplish every one of them.

    Before I retired, each year I used to have to set up a number of business goals at work – as well as schedule a number of interim checkpoints throughout the year to determine “how are we doing on the goals”. These checkpoints were as important as the initial setup of these goals themselves so don’t forget that step this year.

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Hey, you’re supposed to stay out of the hospital this year! No more of that.

      And I think you’ll remember I did quarterly check-ins of last year’s goals. I’ll likely do the same – or at least one in June, and another at the end of the year.

  • Sara Hamil @ They Call it Gumption January 13, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Excellent mantra! I like it it :) It’s the sort of thing that (as you clearly outlined) leaves the door open for a lot of possibilities!

    Your specific goals are great too. I’d love to start volunteering, I just need to figure out where to start!

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      Hmm, I’d say decide a) on a few causes you would want to give your time to, and b) how much time (or what other ways) you could give. I was a volunteer dog walker at the Victoria BC SPCA for 3 years, and that was an easy commitment… I just went in whenever I could! Once/week, 3x/week, only once/month… just whenever my schedule allowed. It was an easy way to give back, and playing with dogs and puppies was just an incredible bonus.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach January 13, 2014 at 7:39 am

    That’s a great mantra. One thing I’ve discovered with this 1/2 training is all these things I’m “supposed” to be doing has been pretty hard on my body. Don’t get my wrong, I’m SO glad I’d doing it, but when I was just intuitively working out, I was still in good shape, but I wasn’t tired/sore all the time! lol! So I totally get that about your health goals!

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      Yea, training for long distance runs is in a very faraway future for me, but I have so much appreciation for those of YOU who can do it! I’m now steering clear of even walking as part of my workouts, as it’s potentially bothering my hips even more. Will be testing out how the exercise bike feels next. Good times! lol

  • Alicia @ Financial Diffraction January 13, 2014 at 7:45 am

    I love that you mantra encompasses all aspects of your life: career, personal, physical. I love that it leaves room for interpretation.

    I already know I won’t be making my retirement savings goal, and it’s only January 13th (long story involving a promotion that will never materialize, it seems). So although I will fail at that goal, it will still be 80% accomplished – I don’t see how that’s truly a fail. And if I had left more room for possibility it wouldn’t feel like a fail.

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      Well, it’s not too late to readjust your goals! Make your goal the 80% now and see if you can save a little more. Then you’ll come out on top. :)

  • Leslie January 13, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I like that you have a mantra and a list. Since you are a planner, I have to check that you also have a “how” as to how you plan to reach these goals? How you plan to keep to your mantra in these categories? It’s easy to lose focus if you only have an end result in mind but are not clear on the middle (underwear gnomes, anyone?).

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      Of course! I’ve written posts about a bunch of them already.

  • kelly January 13, 2014 at 10:18 am

    GOOD goals….I am GREAT at lists…just not following thru on DOING what is on said list…SIGH..THAT is a top priority for me….

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Then maybe that should be your mantra for the year: follow through. :)

      For me, I know I need to do most things as soon as I think of them, otherwise I’ll procrastinate until it’s *almost* too late!

  • Girl Meets Debt January 13, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Do good, feel good – this mantra is sooo you Cait! :) If I could only accomplish one thing this year, it would be to pay down my debt as aggressively as possible while planning and paying for half of a wedding! EEEK!

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      You can do it! I know you can.

  • prosperousnotforprofit January 13, 2014 at 10:48 am

    This is excellent! I love it and it’s a great frame for a new year or new everything!

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      Thanks! 2013 was just crazy… I needed to enter this year with some positive thoughts.

  • Steve January 13, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Great goals. Reading these 2014 goals is motivating me to get mine down on paper… er blog :)

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      Do it!

  • Elizabeth January 13, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    I love your mantra and admire you!

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth. :)

  • Shannon-ReadyForZero January 13, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Very admirable goals, Cait! And I like the way you formatted them so holistically – with that format I feel like it’s much less likely you’ll beat yourself up over any bumps along the road. I may have to take a lesson from your book on this one ;).

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Life’s too short to beat yourself up – especially over silly little things like how many calories we eat or how many times we go to the gym. If your goal is to do better, just do better! :)

  • Cassie January 13, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    And you say you don’t set ambitious goals ;)

    I love your inclusion of donating blood as a resolution. If I could do it I would too :)

    This year, if I could honestly and truly only accomplish one thing, it would be to maintain a balance. Spending frivolously vs. strangling my wallet. Pushing myself vs. giving myself time to relax. Splurging on treats vs. eating healthy. Listening to the opinions of others vs. ignoring external influences. Socializing with friends and spending time with my fiancé vs. having some quiet alone time. That sort of thing.

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      Hahaha… oh dear. I know! The numbers are ambitious, for sure.

      And balance sounds nice. I think you’ll be able to achieve that… maybe after your house sells, anyway!

  • Ashly January 13, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    I love your mantra “work smarter not harder.” That’s something my boss tells me all the time and I am constantly looking for ways to incorporate it into my life. As of late I feel like I’ve become a bit of a procrastinator… I think its a combination of feeling overwhelmed, stressed and complicated daily tasks that really are much more simple then they appear.

    Where health is your big thing this year, money is mine. I’ve talked about opening a TFSA and growing a personal savings account (that’s there for more than just travelL and a personal investment portfolio but I think I have been putting it off knowing I have my joint finances to fall back on. And while I hope nothing would ever happen to Andrew and I’s marriage where I would feel like I have to rely solely on my personal accounts to keep me afloat, at the same time I want some personal accounts saved for my own sake.

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Oh, I’ve been there before too! I find that one really productive day usually helps… one day where I ignore my emails and just get a ton of shhh done. When I can have one of those days (which I did yesterday, actually) then I usually feel better about whatever the rest of the week is like.

      And I love that money is your major focus this year. So excited for brunch!

  • travis @debtchronicles January 14, 2014 at 3:47 am

    My mantra for 2014 is, “don’t screw it up!” As we make the final payments of our debt management program we have an amazing opportunity to solidify our finances as our available funds gets a huge shot in the arm. With great opportunity for great things, comes great opportunity to blow it as well. :)

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      There’s no doubt in my mind that you guys will stay on track, and use your money to achieve your next financial goal!

  • Anne @ Unique Gifter January 14, 2014 at 6:42 am

    I like your mantra, it sounds like a solid way to approach the year :-) I hear you about things not going the way you plan :-S
    I love your increasing volunteering and charitable donations, love, love!

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Thanks, Anne. :)

  • AshleyD January 14, 2014 at 9:04 am


    I have been to both Denver and New Orleans in my misspent youth.
    Amazing places to visit.

    I would also throw Montreal in there. It is one of my favourite places to go. We are planning a trip there for September. (also hopefully New Orleans since the boyfriend has not been there)

    I loved taking yoga at the PM rec centre. Drop in rates were fairly cheap at around$5.00. I wish it was that cheap here (closer to $11.00).

    Good luck on your goals

    • Cait Flanders January 14, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Yes, that’s exactly where I’d go! There’s a yoga studio right by where I live, but their fees are outrageous. Anyway, the rec centre has a number of yoga classes that fit into my schedule perfectly. It’s $5.50 now, but I think I can handle that. ;)

      And I’ve been to Denver once before, but am hoping to go again in October. New Orleans would be a new one for me… really hoping I can make that happen!

  • Dear Debt January 14, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Love it! I resonate with your mantra a lot. I want to do good AND feel good. As someone that can suffer from depression and anxiety, I really want to make sure I am in a good place, so I can be the best person I can be. This means being good to myself and others. I also want to pay off as much debt as I can, side hustle and be well rounded and not stuck in one place.

    • Cait Flanders January 15, 2014 at 5:09 am

      Based on everything you wrote in this comment, I imagine/hope the first thing you said (being good to yourself) will be your top priority. The rest will follow. :)

  • Marieke January 16, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    My mantra last year was “The grass is greener where you water it”, and focussed in enjoying the life I have here where I am now, instead of thinking the grass is greener somewhere else and dwelling on it. That was a great success!

    This year I think it will be “don’t wait for perfect”, because I am always waiting for all the pieces to fall into place before doing anything. Time to stop waiting for everything to be perfect and just live! :)

    I really like yours, too!

  • Carolin January 25, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    “Friends are the family you choose for yourself” – love it! Great post.

  • Chelsea January 26, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    Love your mantra – I have a similar philosophy this year as things will be changing quite a bit with my studies/work/work/life it will be hard to stick to concrete goals so I went with a more flexible approach as fresh way of looking at life.

    My mantra: “Be micro-ambitious”

    I love it because I tend to try and do EVERYTHING, and then I end up feeling overwhelmed and disappointed with myself ’cause I don’t measure up to my own unrealistic expectations. With this mantra I can make smaller changes and feel successful when I achieve them!

    For example, I would normally think something like “I’m gonna organize everything in my entire house – all the cupboards and drawers by tomorrow!” Now, I’m like “uh, self, how about just doing two drawers in the kitchen tonight, so there’s time for dinner and do some more tomorrow.”

    It totally works and feels awesome. Be micro-ambitious!