Getting It: Investing in 2011

by Rachel on December 30, 2011

A lot of people don’t take New Year’s resolutions seriously. Sure, it’s a hot topic this week, but mention them in March and people starting chewing their lips, wondering what the hell their resolution even was.

I’m not like that. I can honestly say that my resolutions always matter; they’ve helped me sleep more, floss more, and learn the difference between “lie” and “lay” (still a work in progress).

At the beginning of 2011, I chose a verb in lieu of a resolution. As I said then, I’m a big fan of verbs. What makes a sentence? A verb. What makes things happen? Verbs. What makes a good resume? Kick-ass verbs! What do I do when I’m running and bored? Think about guys I’ve hooked up with…or conjugate French verbs!

From gerunds to present perfect, it’s a fine part of speech that serves us all very well.

Before you do anything in life, you must select a verb. You can begin, or quit, or change. You can choose, share, trust, try, think, relax, open, hope, serve, speak, write, save, flee, organize, believe, commit, or give.

My 2011 verb was invest.

Invest reflected everything I wanted to achieve this year. I wanted 2011 to be the year in which I learned to be patient, which wasn’t something I was really great at. For me, “getting it” always meant “getting exactly what you want when you want it.”

I didn’t chose “grow the fuck up” as my verb, but it turns out, that’s exactly what choosing invest led me to do.

In 2011, I made a lot of changes to the way I live. I didn’t completely stop spending money (I mean, come on) but I really changed how I spent money. I got a “real” job with a steady income and I stopped using my credit cards. I stopped making impulse purchases and bought with an attitude of Is this going to last me at least a year? Will it last me three years? How about five years? I stopped taking trips to Target out of boredom and stopped buying magazines (if I love it, I subscribe for way cheaper). I bought fewer of everything, but when I did buy, I always bought nicer, longer-lasting items.

I also invested in my health and appearance. I started this year saying that instead of flipping out when a summer wedding rolls around, I was going to invest in my body year-round — no crazy amounts of last-minute boot camp necessary. And I actually did that. I lost a few pounds slowly so my weight has felt very stable all year; I didn’t swing in opposite directions as the seasons changed. I invested more money in yoga each month than I had spent on a monthly gym membership since I left NYC, but the benefits of this investment affected every aspect of my life. I realized that getting a manicure every couple weeks made me feel more confident and motivated, and also cut my urge to go to Target and spend $80 on a bunch of beauty products, so I was cool spending $20 a month on that. I didn’t buy a lot of new clothes, but I bought a few things I loved, and I realized that with a body I was loving, a few outfits that made me feel really good, fabulous new hair, and manicured hands, I felt more polished and professional all the time.

And then last night I bought a new car! Uh, huge investment, right? My 1995 Blazer, bless her heart, was starting to worry me. Like, hold my breath every time I turned it on worried. I had a lot of anxiety that I’d need another huge repair, and rather than invest more money in a car that was so obviously not long for this world, I wanted to invest in something safe and reliable. (And professional — my Blazer’s wood paneling and turquoise graphics were kind of standing out in the office parking lot.) Buying a car this week felt so scary and so adult, but it was a really nice ending to the year I’ve had.

I feel like every aspect of my life transitioned; now I have an adult relationship, an apartment with nice furniture, clothes that didn’t come from Forever 21, a job with benefits, and I am responsible for two living things. I realize this isn’t a big deal to a lot of people and that I resemble Dale and Brennan in “Step Brothers” during the montage when they are reading a Montel Williams book in bed at 8:45 PM and cheering after buying toilet paper, respectively, but I kind of do want to cheer like that about my new car.

Suddenly, it feels like, I’m an adult. While I’ll obviously change more, I just have a sense of the beginning of my adult life. I wasn’t sure when I’d feel that way — I don’t know about you, but it sure as hell wasn’t at college graduation — but I do now.

There’s a scene in The Time Traveler’s Wife, one of my favorite books, when Henry and Claire are about to get married, and Hengry realizes he doesn’t look like he does in his wedding photos. (Because he time travels, he’s already seen what he looks like at his wedding.) So he goes and gets his hair cut and the line says, “And suddenly, I’m the man of my future.” It’s a transition point in the book and I really get it now; it’s exactly how I felt when I bought the car last night. It wasn’t really sudden of course; it was the result of a year of small changes. But now it’s like, “Oh, so that’s how I’m going to get from feeling like a kid still to feeling like a grown-up.”

So I’m thrilled my verb this year worked out so well, better than I had really even planned. I’ll be thinking about my 2012 verb today as I start the long drive in my new Jeep Compass back to Wichita to pick up Eric.

How did 2011 work out for you?

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephanie @ LoveLaughterLight December 30, 2011 at 7:10 am

My 2011 was non-descript and I have no one to blame but myself, but I have big plans for 2012! This time next year, we’ll have something to talk about.

Happy New Year, Rachel!

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2 Rachel's Mom December 30, 2011 at 7:11 am

Wow! I can’t believe I am the first person to leave a comment!

I am so proud of the adult you are becoming, and feel so much relief that you will now be driving a safe and reliable car! What a great ending for 2011. Bring on 2012!

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3 Rachel's Mom December 30, 2011 at 7:12 am

Awww…someone clicked “submit” just a moment before I did.

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4 Stephanie @ LoveLaughterLight December 30, 2011 at 7:41 am

Sorry, Rachel’s mom!

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5 Kali December 30, 2011 at 7:12 am

My verb is ‘challenge’.:)

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6 Hannah December 30, 2011 at 8:18 am

I still have trouble with “lie” vs. “lay” and it annoys me to no end! Maybe I should choose “grow the fuck up” for my “verb”, haha, cause I know I need to manage my debit card much better, for one thing…

Happy New Year, Rachel, and safe trip driving up to Wichita!

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7 Jacki December 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

Good for you! I’m glad the year turned out so well and that the verb turned out to be so appropriate. And congratulations on the new car!!

My idea for the year was “getting where I’m going” … and it was a lot of that same transitional stuff into real adulthood. There’s a lot more to go though because I feel like I still cheer after I buy toilet paper and last night? I went to the store FOR TOILET PAPER. I left with 2 coloring books, gift wrap and bows and a card for my boyfriend’s son’s birthday party, and cat food. And no toilet paper.

Anyway, I don’t totally “do” resolutions but my goal for 2012 is to live with intention. No more winging it and expecting things to work out … I need plans to support my goals in life.

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8 Paul @minutrition McConaughy December 30, 2011 at 9:15 am

I’m leaving a comment because I want to say Hi to Rachel’s Mom. I know it’s weird to have an “old guy” Tweeting and commenting on your daughters blog… but I started following Rachel when she was just wrapping up here in East Lansing and it was so much fun I just kept on. I started following her because she was so different from any girl I ever knew – I mean I dated in the 60’s – and she would just say things right out that other people would be afraid to even think. (Like I’m sure you know!) But I kept following her because it was so much fun to watch her “grow up”. Now here she is talking about it and you know what I’m thinking? Wait… don’t go too far… don’t leave “that Rachel” too far behind as you grow… and don’t think for a minute you’re not going to hit bumps in the road, when you do remember your Mom loves you and your followers “love ya”… and come back when you need us. Your Mom probably hopes your 2012 word is reproduce….I’m hoping for laugh. Love ya… Paul

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9 Rachel's Mom December 30, 2011 at 11:42 am

Paul, (I am Andrea, by the way.) I’ve seen your comments and Rachel has mentioned you before. I don’t think it’s weird that you read my daughter’s blog at all. It’s nice that her readers have some range. :)

As far as “reproduce” for her verb, remember, Rachel has a seven year old brother at home, so my arms are not longing for a grandchild quite yet! She mentioned something at the car dealership the other day about “popping out kids” and needing a car she could put them in. The thought of it makes me kind of sad because she is so far away. I would love for my grandchildren to be right around the corner, not two planes rides away. :( (Even a five hour drive wouldn’t be too bad.)

I’ll be curious to see what verb she comes up with for 2012. I am sure it will be well thought out. (She’s got 24 hours in the car to think about it!)

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10 Emilia December 30, 2011 at 10:50 am

So great to read this recap from 2011 and especially nice to hear that you feel you accomplished your goals! I’m loving the idea of having a verb as a resolution; I might do that this year. While 2011 was definitely a rough year for me, it was also fantastic and I’ve grown up more this year than I thought was possible (in the best way of course!). Right now, I’m definitely feeling inspired and motivated to take on 2012!

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11 K @ The Chic Teach December 30, 2011 at 11:06 am

Alright. I have a few things to say.

#1) I totally have seen you posting responses on GOMI, and can I say how freakin’ well spoken, respectful, thick skinned, and adult you are on there? Rather than lashing out and being a bee-otch back to some other bee-otches, you’ve really taken the high road. You realize your readers are invested in you and your blog, and that speaks very highly as to who you are as a person. I applaud you.

#2) I totally failed at picking out a verb for my last year. I thought your idea was genius, and even told all my friends and family about it, but didn’t follow through. This year I’ve got to do things differently. Thanks for posting and giving me the kick in the pants that I need to freakin’ just do it.

#3) I love you and your blog. That’s all.

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12 Rachel January 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm

1. Thank you! I really appreciate that.

2. Do it this year! And tell me what you do!

3. Thank you thank you thank you!!

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13 Cynthia (It All Changes) December 30, 2011 at 11:17 am

2011 was the year I realized I’m and adult who has to fit it in without making excuses to do it later. My health, fitness, family, friends, etc won’t happen later. I have to make time to do what is important and enjoy them and cut out what is not.

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14 Kavi @ Lab to Fab! December 30, 2011 at 11:28 am

For me, 2011 was a year of increased awareness and active decision making. It was challenging in some respects, but I think it prepared me well for everything 2012 will bring. I’m excited for the new year!

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15 June December 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I like the verb idea as a resolution. It takes action to make change. It is so much easier to remember one word and try using it in all our adventures in life..

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16 Samantha M. December 30, 2011 at 1:14 pm

My 2011 has been all over the place. Career-wise, I’ve felt lost due to another round of unemployment (thanks, education budget cuts) and wondering if I’m meant for something else; relationships-wise, I’ve had great friendships blossom and fell in love with my husband all over again; personal fulfillment-wise, I’ve (oddly enough) really felt my creativity grow and my writing progress in a way that feels amazing. So I’m ending the year on a happy note personally, but with trepidation as to what my next step should be to be happy in what I do while also making the money we need to move forward in our lives (house, kids, etc.).

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17 Katie P December 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Great post! It’s so true, “adulthood” sneaky. There was a time when I could not fathom paying rent, insurance, car payments, saving for retirement etc. and now I do all those things. But they didn’t happen overnight, it was a gradual process of taking on more of these “adult things. I am thirty now and don’t feel all grown up nor am I where I thought I’d be at this age, but when I stop and look at how far I’ve come I feel proud.
Congrats on the new car, it is a big purchase very symbolic of growing up.
Happy New Year!

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18 Frances December 30, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I honestly don’t know where this year went. It flew by in a flurry of work, I think (Bad Excuse #1). I had good intentions. I bought books, I planned what I wanted to do, but the action was missing. I am going to adopt your way of putting my goals in verbs and make sure I ACT. I don’t want to feel like I’ve wasted another year of my life because I didn’t do what I said I wanted to do. I love what you did with Invest and I look forward to seeing what verb you choose for this year.

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19 cindylu December 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Love the approach to your year. I’d rather set goals than do the resolution thing. Goals give me something to reach for, e.g. run a marathon (check) and run a sub-2 hour half marathon (check). I don’t think I set other goals besides fitness for this year.

Congrats on the new Jeep! I learned to drive on my dad’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and have a soft spot for Jeeps. If I was going to get a larger vehicle, I’d definitely want a Jeep.

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20 Deva @ Deva by Definition December 30, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Goodness, I think my verb was very similar to yours. This past year my relationship with The Boy has evolved. I’ve become more aware of where my money is going, and what I want with my life. We bought a house – which comes with all the responsibilities thereof, and there are a lot. I love knowing at the end of the day that I am coming home to MY house. That I can host guests, have parties, put holes in the walls – and not have to worry. Not too much.

I think this coming year I will grow up more. I am excited to see the person I am becoming, and the person I will be.

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21 Katie December 30, 2011 at 11:40 pm

This is an awesome post!!! I like the idea of choosing a verb instead of goals. Also, I love the idea of getting my nails done regularly in 2012. I have been contemplating it for awhile and you’re right. I feel more professional and better overall about myself when I get my nails done regularly. I too have grown up and drastically cut my spending on stupid things in 2011 and I think building the $15 or so it takes to get my nails done every two weeks for 2012 is worth it. :)

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22 Melissa December 31, 2011 at 9:46 am

I remember when you posted this last year and I chose a verb. I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to, but I did accomplish a huge amount and I often thought of my verb, especially when I was struggling. But in the last year, I’ve finished my MBA, took time off of work, moved to a new country, improved my fitness, and finally obtained a work wardrobe that I feel professional and happy in. I love your recap of your year and actually clipped it in Evernote to look at when I’m feeling in need of inspiration.

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23 Ronny January 1, 2012 at 11:00 am

What a delightful outlook you have on life. I think you have really hit the nail on the head and managed not to bend it in the process. I think I will adopt you Invest for myself. I am more likely to work hard for myself if I look at it that way. Thank you so much. xx

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24 Christina January 1, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Rachel, thank you for this fantastic post! I read it via my blog reader on the go while out of town and it really, really resonated with me. I’ve commented before – on here and I think on fb as well – about how much many of your posts have resonated with me and this was one of them.

Not to be a copycat (or maybe I should say I am copying you and sorry I’m not sorry?? LOL :P) but I think I’m going to make my 2012 word “invest” as well. Investing in myself and my health and mental and physical wellbeing, and investing financially as I get ready to take on a mortgage and develop better, financially responsible habits.

I could go on and on but really just want to say thanks for this post that struck a chord with me. 2011, as with previous years, have been ehhhhh. INVEST fits in with so many of the things I want to do and I know it will pay off. Thanks, and I hope you don’t mind me stealing your 2011 goal word :)

All the best for 2012. Keep us posted on your 2012 verb!

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25 Nicole @ Giraffelegs January 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Like your honest take on resolutions.
Mine is “stop freaking the fuck out.”

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26 Tasha @ Dine n Dash January 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm

for 2011 it was definitely: choose. I had to get more pro-active, assertive and decisive in my life.
and for 2012: it’s believe!

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