Year of Discipline: The Wrap Up

Did I live up to my theme this year? Well, sort of…

General Motivation

2019 was a middling year for me. There are some distinct high points and progress, but quite a few rough patches and some of them are ongoing. While discipline was a useful framing device for many aspects of life this year, it was fundamentally inadequate in others and possibly held me back in a few areas where what I needed wasn’t discipline at all…

Quite often “discipline” became a code word for “sticking something out” when what I actually needed to do was make a change, confront an issue, or seek help. I’m still unpicking this revelation and trying to learn the difference between things I need to endure and the things I’m allowed to opt out of or switch up. While I wish I didn’t have to learn this lesson in the hard ways that I did, I’m grateful to have this insight and will be taking it into the new year with me.



This was up and down until September when a lot of mental health and adjacent health issues were well and truly confronted. The wrestling match continues, but it feels like a big missing piece to the puzzle of my health overall and I’m looking forward to hopefully continuing the necessary work in 2020 to get better. I’m still not ready to write more publicly about this yet, but things are improving.



Financial discipline continues to be an area of growth of which I’m extremely proud. It’s far from perfect but I’m ending the year nearer my goals than I was when I started. While we still have too much debt, our spending habits underwent another year of change, helped by things like moving to a cheaper home and reducing our expenses overall. This turned out to be a double good thing when things like therapy and tackling mental health came into the picture. I can afford it and add to savings at the same time, which was not the case at the start of 2019! This is a work in progress, and a lot of my 101/1001 goals have helped continue to curb my old consumerist habits. Two credit cards have been paid off this year, several personal buying challenges have been completed or are in progress, and a much more aggressive approach to savings has been implemented.

But money has been a particular stress point this year that has infected almost everything in my life, from work to relationships. In 2020 I want to achieve a number of things that I think will break the hold money has on my brain and allow me to feel in control of it, rather than the other way around.

  1. Achieve my first “fuck off fund” goal and have three months of living expenses set aside permanently
  2. Pay off our largest credit card in full
  3. Begin investing properly and proactively instead of allowing my work conditions to manage it for me – this means consolidating my historic pension information and opening a portfolio
  4. Doing more personal no buy/low buy challenges to ensure my current habits stick. Namely, I’m going to try and only purchase 20 personal items in 2020…wish me luck!


Grooming and style were big goals for me because of a change in my work circumstances in 2018. I was put on a board in my company which made me one of the two youngest people around that particular table–a fact of which I’m both proud and constantly self conscious. Presentation matters at work and it’s an area that I still struggle with. However, 2019 was the year that I did, in fact, “tame my mane” and learned how to style my hair properly–it turns out that hairstyling products are the key. WHOMEVER COULD HAVE GUESSED. And, as I have mentioned before, my closet is probably the best it’s ever been due to consistent evaluation and decluttering. I’ve donated or sold a decent minority of stuff this year, and what remains is a much more curated batch of clothing that better reflects my life and style.

Ditto for my bathroom shelves. Abject beauty lover that I am, this year I used up or gifted an absolute shedload of products in the aim of generally downsizing my life. All of my makeup now lives in two acrylic containers, and I am going to try and only repurchase items that I use up fully in 2020 without purchasing anything new at all. Wish me luck again.


In Summary

Adulthood is hard, my ducklings. Every year in recent memory has had challenges and headwinds (see again, my conversation with my doctor…), but it has also had victories and growth and goodness. This year was no different. Much went wrong, much went right. I think I can safely say that 2019 was the year that either enabled or forced me to make some big changes that were long overdue and while the growth has been painful in places, my chief regrets have to do with waiting as long as I did to make them in the first place. Of all the lessons I’m taking from this year, a rejection of apathy is the biggest one.

Huh. Which, come to think of it, may be the most basic tenet of discipline there is…

7 thoughts on “Year of Discipline: The Wrap Up”

  1. Change is hard. Growth is hard!

    I am super thrilled and proud of you seeking more help. The only way to break unhelpful patterns is to let someone skilled/detached/professional in close and long enough to see them and name them…It can take a LONG time (cough) to do this.

    As for spending $$$$, living in glam London would be half the battle, for sure…I know that living decades in the boooooooooooring suburbs has easily curbed my spending since all I usually buy is gas and groceries (i

  2. sorry…i.e. necessities…and to actually buy anything FUN (shoes, makeup, clothes, books, anything!) I have to get in a car and decide to drive somewhere or spend $19 on trainfare just to get into NYC. And I tend to buy very little online (varying shoe sizes now quite inhibiting) and actually enjoy in-store much more….which means making a deliberate choice to…spend.

    Having the eff-off fund is HUGE. Your worldview really shifts in a very powerful way when you KNOW you can walk away from a job and not just sit there helplessly.

    And saving $$$$ is, yes, really boring UNTIL (wait!) you suddenly have a serious pile and go “Wow! I DID THAT.” I have more than $100K in my own IRA (and more in another in Canada) and the interest from a roaring stock market has helped us tremendously the past three years, without touching capital.

    NEVER touch capital.

    Happy to advise further if desired,


  3. It sounds like you’ve made a lot of positive change in 2019!

    It’s a very reassuring feeling to have savings in the bank. By the way, have you tried Monzo for budgeting? My colleagues were raving about Monzo the other week. Apparently it categorises your spending so you see where it all goes, and you can set different ‘pots’ for bills, eating out etc.

    It takes courage and bravery to face up to tackling mental health (and £££! After speaking to an NHS practitioner recently, they advised me to continue with my private therapy as they don’t have the resources. Ouch!).

    It’s an ongoing challenge to deal with anxiety, but therapy helps. And there are a ton of online resources which my therapist has signposted me to. Happy to share via email if you’d like.

    I hope 2020 is a positive year for us both! 🙂

    1. I use Mint for budgeting but I’ve also heard good things about Monzo, might check it out in the new year to see if it helps.

      Very pleased you are able to get mental health support but it’s so disheartening to hear that from the NHS–we need to support this service and in more complex ways than ever before. The ability to go to a doctor for FREE and get a basic prescription for pennies is incredible to me…when I think of what this would cost me in the States, I break out in hives. Would love to know more about your resources! Drop me a line here:

      Sending you much love and positive wishes for 2020, can’t wait to discuss how we do!

      1. Absolutely, and the increasing privatisation of the NHS is cause for concern. I really hope that we don’t end up following a US-style medical system!

        I sent you a message. Hope it’s helpful 🙂

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