Into Uncharted Waters: My Other Plans for 2016

First of all, I hope everyone had a totally delightful holiday. Mine had its ups and downs (honestly, I am not a fan of Christmas in general) but I love my parents and brother and it’s been good to see so much of them. I’ve got a long drive in between me and Indiana right now, but I think it’ll be good to get back, too. I’m fired up about my work for the coming year and really ready to plunge back in.

When I set my financial goals for 2016,  there was something conspicuously missing: in among all those hard dollar amounts, I didn’t write anything about the rest of my plans for the year. But I do have some. Unlike the financial goals, which are highly measurable, these plans all involve exploration: I don’t know what will come of them.

1. Explore freelance writing.

In March I’ll celebrate two full years of writing The Single Dollar. However, this is the one-year anniversary of moving to self-hosted wordpress. I made some gestures at the time in the direction of making some blog-related income: adsense, affiliate links, etc. I think I also may have said I was going to look into freelance writing. However, it was such a busy year, both work and personal, that I did no such thing. I’ve already taken concrete steps towards changing this in 2016. I took a gig to write a few short posts on another blog, and have a tentative agreement for a sponsored post/review in February. I’ve also sent a few emails to acquaintances asking to be thought of if they find themselves with more work than they can handle. For those first few gigs, I’ve pitched my rate low, and then we’ll see.

2. Explore my options around children.

Duh, I’m still single. But I’ll also be 37 in January. If I want to have a biological child, the time to be thinking seriously about how much I want to is now. This is kind of controversial, and to be honest I’m not sure what I think about women deliberately having children without a partner in the picture. It’s one thing to accidentally get pregnant, or to leave or lose your partner, but I just don’t know if I would be up for deliberately having a kid who would never know his/her father. So, note, I am NOT saying that I intend to have a kid in the next few years, or at all! However, I have decided that I’d like to spend 2016 exploring the idea. I want to look into costs and technicalities, but I also want to talk to single mothers and to read stories both of women like that and of the kids they’ve had. I mention this because I suspect I’ll end up writing a number of posts about it as I do this research. My goal here isn’t to figure out how to have a child; it’s more to spend time seriously thinking about what the implications would be if I did. It’s more than possible that I will end up deciding not to try.

3. Explore Volunteering

One of the best things I did for myself in 2015 was get pretty deeply involved in volunteering for a local community. It’s a little hard to describe — it’s part shelter, part food pantry, part mini-farm, part religious group. I took on a few tasks for them in fall 2014 and spring 2015, but didn’t commit too much time until summer 2015, at which point the number of hours/week I spent on this went way up. I love it. And I want to do more, maybe with another group. I have a few local groups in mind that would be a different kind of volunteering than this is, and I want to figure out which of them needs new people and would be a good fit for me.

4. Explore my area.

It’s looking very likely that I’ll stay in Indiana for quite awhile. Both because I’m busy and because I’m a stick-in-the-mud, I haven’t gotten out much. I know the city I live in pretty well, but beyond that, I haven’t been doing things like taking daytrips on the weekends, seeking out places I can hike, etc. I might make this into a more concrete goal, like “at least 30 trips to new places in 2016,” but for now I’m leaving it more amorphous: I just want to prioritize breaking out of my comfortable routine, in the hopes that I’ll find lots of new and interesting places.

25 thoughts on “Into Uncharted Waters: My Other Plans for 2016

  1. Debtman says:

    Great list! My resolutions have always focused around paying x amount of student loan debt. This is the first year where my resolutions won’t focus on debt, as I’m now debt free. I’ve been thinking a lot lately what the new ones should be, so I may need to use some of your ideas!

    I really like #4. I’ve become quite the hermit, in order to pay down my large debt load so quickly, so this year I want to focus on getting out more and exploring.

    Thanks again for this!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Wow — that’s quite a transition to make. Congratulations on becoming debt-free! That’s a huge milestone. And I think it’s very easy to be a hermit when you’re watching your finances closely; it’s true there are always lots of free and cheap things to do out there but…somehow it just seems easier to hunker down at home and not spend. Exploring seems like a great way to spend some time. Good luck in 2016!

  2. Hannah says:

    I bet you will really like freelance writing. I’ve enjoyed it a ton because I get to wonk out on things like tax software or credit scores. Really, what’s better than waxing poetic about my favorite topics when somebody is paying me to do so?

    I want to explore my area more too, but I think I will have to settle for a few more hikes this summer.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yes, the writing itself I definitely like. It’s the finding work that I have trouble with — I can easily find time to complete assignments/posts/whatever, but pitching and contacting potential clients seems like a ton of effort. I’m going to try, though! When the baby is born, maybe you can all go exploring together 🙂

  3. Wow, what a cool list of 2016 exploration plans! I appreciate your honesty about wanting to explore the topic of having a child. I imagine that may feel a bit overwhelming so I’m hoping you’ll find just the right people and resources to learn from. And that’s awesome you’re also spending time volunteering!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thanks — I know that even mentioning having a child without a partner is pretty controversial. And I don’t know if I’m crazy for even thinking about it. But I do think that now is the time to think about it, if you know what I mean. So…exploration.

  4. I think it’s great you are exploring the possibility of having a child with or without someone! I’ve been toying with the idea of “actively” dating again. I just feel so damn lazy about it now, I don’t know how to get past that. 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      The thought of actively dating exhausts me way more than the thought of single parenthood, which is (a) very revealing about me and (b) probably crazy 🙂

  5. You’ll be awesome at 1. Go get ’em.
    Good luck with 2. I’m curious to read what you find out.
    3 & 4 I hope to do a bit of myself. I moved away from friends and family 5 years ago (40 minutes from everyone) and I haven’t set down any roots where I am. I would love to explore and make friends in my “new” area. It’s getting old having to drive 40 min to see anyone!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      With #1, I’m afraid I’ll be too lazy — not to write, but too lazy to spend a lot of time trying to track down clients. It seems sort of overwhelming. But I’m going to give it a shot! It’s funny that you say it takes 40 minutes…. In the big cities I grew up in and then lived in after college, that was such a normal amount of time to travel to see a friend! And now my best friend lives about six hours away by car–>airport–>plane–>bus, so 40 minutes seems awesome. That said! I totally think the more friends the better, and it is so great to have people you can just get a low-key cup of coffee with.

  6. amanda says:

    I look forward to reading about your adventures in 2016! I’m about a year older than you and have done my own explorations of single motherhood. Unless my life changes radically in the next few years, being a mom isn’t in the cards for me, but my BFF has two little ones and I’m their wacky fake aunt and I love it! I just recently (this month!) paid off the last of my student loans and my credit card debt will be gone after my next paycheck. It’s weird to not have that hanging over my head anymore. Of course saving for retirement is always a worry, but I also want to make giving back a priority in 2016. Anyway, thanks for writing this post and thanks for sharing your journey with us!
    – your superfan in seattle <3

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Hi Amanda — thank you for the comment! Off the topic of children, I just went and looked at your blog and love it. I am the world’s most amateur quilter (I taught myself, only work by hand with no machines, and take like six years to do a project because I go off and on with it) but I really love fabric and sewing and looking at people’s work. On the topic, though, thanks for the comment. It’s really good to know that other people out there have at least had the thought! I totally hear you on the radical changes. I think that’s what’s happened in my life — after years of broke nomadism, I’ve finally got some stability and it makes it seem more possible to contemplate. My BFF also has two, and I adore them, but they live so far away…I miss seeing them growing up. ALSO, so many congratulations on paying off your debt. It’s such a big deal in general, but I think especially for us single ladies of a certain age. It is a little weird at first not to have it around. But after a year or so of debt-freeness I finally feel more normal about it.

  7. What a great list! I, too, will be interested in reading about #2.

    I currently volunteer in my daughter’s classroom once a week, and got roped into – I mean volunteered to – co-leading my daughter’s Daisy troop. I enjoy both, but would really like to get involved with the local food pantry this year.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Hee, being roped into is also a classic. I love working at food pantries, for what it’s worth; it’s not terribly intellectual work, and I enjoy the break from thinking. Instead I just pack and hand out useful things. It’s great.

  8. catherine says:

    You’re going to be b-u-s-y! Good luck and I’m excited to hear more about potential future babies 😉

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I’ll be interested to hear folks’ opinions. It’s certainly not how I ever imagined having a baby. But I guess people do it?

  9. Great 2016 goals! I think all of them are admirable – from freelancing and volunteering, to exploring “how to make a baby”. 🙂 I love the plethora of opportunities that come with a new year.

    Have a great last few days of 2015!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thanks! And thanks for your email too. I was traveling today but will reply tomorrow….

  10. Maria says:

    Good goals!

    It’s likely this thought has already crossed your mind, but if not, a possibility would be finding a man who could be the biological father of your child and who you could (non-romantically, unless you both wanted to of course) co-parent with. He could be straight, gay, whatever. Then the kid would have a father and you would have someone to share the burden with. But of course, then you’d have to negotiate a whole lot of stuff with another adult aswell. :p

    I understand that you’re not actively looking to have a kid right now, just that this could be something to ponder as well. 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Hi Maria, thanks so much for the comment. I would actually love to have that kind of situation, but I don’t know any men who fit the bill. I might, however, look into asking someone I know to be the donor — even if he couldn’t co-parent in that way, at least we’d know him and it wouldn’t be such a mystery. But it would have to be the right person of course. Thanks again!

      1. Maria says:

        I’m sure the internet could be a great tool for this. It will certainly increase the possibilites!

  11. Jason says:

    That is a great list and I think exploring #2 is great. I have had two different friends who are single, wanted to be a parent, and decided to make it happen in their 40s . They say it is a a bit of struggle but wouldn’t change it for the world (and with students we have cheap child care :). Although I am married we are going through the same process with children. Good luck on the exploration.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Thanks! Interesting that you have two friends like that. I kind of want to think this through BEFORE I get into my 40s, since it seems like it would be harder with each passing year 🙂 Good luck to you and your wife, as well!

  12. Yay — an open comment box at last! I’ve been catching up on your posts I missed, and the comments were closed on all of the wrap-up posts, so I’ll probably refer to several of them here. First, your book — congrats on being so close to finished! I’m sure that feels fantastic. It’s crazy how much academia has changed and fragmented. Some of our academic friends make tons of money AND have tenure (or are at least tenure track), because their fields get tons of grant or research dollars, while others perpetually scrape by. I hope you find a good solution that gives you stability but also enough income to reach your goals. Also, I love the way you talk about exploring maybe having a child, and all of the implications that go with that. It’s so personal, so I won’t comment, and we don’t have kids anyway (which gives me zero authority), but I applaud the way you’re thinking about it.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      You’re so sweet to catch up. I cannot WAIT to be finished with the book, LOL. I’ve been at it for-freaking-ever. This year is it, I swear. And yeah, I’m not really in for the “perpetually scraping by” thing. It’s one thing to do that if administrators and students respect you, but more and more it seems like people just try to take advantage of the self-sacrificial. So, I want to earn some actual money while developing a life and career that work for me. And I think I can do it!

Comments are closed.