Last year my husband and I set a goal to set up our will and estate plan. This forced us to look at who would become guardians of our children, what would we do in the event of one spouse’s death, when and how would our money be allocated, and more. These conversations were tough, simply because of the subject matter. Although this process wasn’t enjoyable, I’m so glad we checked it off our list because we can both rest assured that our kids will be taken care of and our affairs are in order if needed.
As we begin a new year, it’s not uncommon to reflect on the highs and lows of the previous year as well as our accomplishments. We may also reflect on what important items on our list we did not accomplish. Even those of us who enjoy setting goals and meeting them, may have a few items on our lifetime to-do list that we have been putting off. As you set goals and intentions for the new year, consider tackling some of these important, but not always fun to-do’s that you may have been procrastinating.
Appointing guardians for your children
Our children are the most important part of our lives and it is irresponsible not to consider who would care for them if something were to happen to both parents. While this scenario may be unlikely, it’s best to have a plan in place so that the parents’ wishes are followed if they are not around to speak for themselves. Discuss with your partner or co-parent and come to an agreement you are both comfortable with. After you have chosen guardians, speak with them to make sure they are comfortable with the plan. It doesn’t hurt to have a backup in mind in the event that your first choice doesn’t work out. Make sure you put it in writing.
Retirement and estate planning
Once you have the guardians established and are ready to put it into writing, you can create a will or estate. Have you planned for retirement? When will you retire and how will you pay expenses after retirement? Who will inherit your assets and money after you pass? How will it be divided and when will it be received? Do you have life insurance to help support the surviving spouse and children? These questions are not fun to talk about but are very necessary. If your wishes aren’t in writing, you can’t guarantee that they will be carried out as you had hoped. This can lead to strife within the family or the challenge of your assets being tied up in probate for years. To set up your will or estate, contact an attorney or a financial advisor to help guide you through the process and make sure your affairs are in order.
Break a bad habit
Habits are hard to break. This year choose one bad habit such as smoking, eating junk food, or spending too much time on social media. Replace it with a healthy habit such as exercising, meditation, or reading. Set a goal, start small, and take it one day at a time. It can be helpful to choose an accountability partner who can check in on your progress and encourage you if you have the desire to give up or have a relapse.
Tell people how you feel
It’s never too late to tell someone how you feel about them. Do something special to let your spouse know you care. Call your grandparents and ask them to share stories of their childhood. Hug your kids and spend time laughing with them. Make memories, forgive others, spread kindness, and settle disagreements. Life is too short.
Clean the closet
Most of us have a junk drawer, closet, garage, or basement that we have been ignoring for months, years, or even decades. Pick one area in the house you have been neglecting and sort through the items. It feels great to donate or throw away things you no longer need. It’s time to let go of those favorite jeans from high school. You will probably never wear them again anyway. As you purge, reorganize the items you plan to keep. If you have a lot to tackle, start small. Focus on one area of the house and narrow it down to one closet, shelf, or drawer at a time if needed.
Do something you’ve put off
We all have one dream that has always been in the back of our minds. Whether it’s a fitness goal, a travel destination, or a daring adventure like skydiving, there always seems to be a reason to put it off. Now is the time. This year, make plans to do what you have always wanted. If it’s not in the budget right now, start saving and set a goal to make it happen in the near future.
As the new year begins, allow yourself to tackle one item on your lifetime to-do list that you may have been procrastinating. These tasks may not be fun, but they are worthwhile.
Sarah Lyons is a freelance writer and frequent contributor.