2023: The Year of Budgets

I know what you’re thinking. Budgets? That’s what you’re going to base your entire year on?

I know this because that’s what my wife said. But fear not, my friends. Like Transformers™, it’s more than meets the eye.

But first, I need to grade 2022: The Year of Retreat.

Grading The Year of Retreat

As a reminder, I was retreating in 2 ways:

  1. Move away from from the things I don’t want to do and where I spend my time unwisely (retreat like withdraw)
  2. Make more time for solitude, deep thinking, and growth (retreat like secluded place)

And I’ll say upfront I think this has been my best implementation of a yearly theme. I absolutely crushed Way #1, retreat like withdraw.

I could have done better for #2, but given that as I penned that blog post, I had a 1 week old, I did what I could.

Overall Grade: A-

I shot myself in the foot a little bit giving myself an A- last year. This year was better than last year as far as graded theme goes, but it wasn’t perfect, so I can’t give it an A.

But I do have a scorecard this year:

The only place I really failed was spending more time “with” myself in a work-sense. I managed one think weekend, which was great. I also did spend more time in-front of a whiteboard.

But I didn’t do more, and aside from a few evenings to myself, the end of the year especially felt like I didn’t get much “me” time.

I’m also not entirely convinced I created a clearer schedule…at least intentionally.

However, I had some major wins that did clear my schedule.

The biggest win was finally cutting out all non-podcasting work. I’m now fully focused on Podcast Liftoff, so much so that I’m also:

  1. Shutting down Creator Courses, effective February 1st
  2. No longer creating new LinkedIn Learning courses. My last one is slated for production in mid-February.

I also successfully removed myself from the WordPress space. I didn’t even know 6.1 was coming out, and I didn’t watch or see anything on the State of the Word.

I replaced that community with several creator and podcasting communities, and it’s been splendid. As a result, I get to see how the non-entrenched use WordPress, making my content around platforms and building a lot more relatable.

Finally, I:

  • Deeply improved my mailing list as far as focus and growth.
  • Delegated more (but not enough)
  • Let go of most web-related work. In 2023, I will likely let go of it all.

So that was 2022. Let’s look at 2023.

The Year of Budgets

If the Year of Retreat taught me one thing, it’s that I’m still stretched to think. Evaluating how I was feeling at the end of the year, I wrote down a few ways I was frustrated:

  1. Isolation. I live far away from my family and closest friends. While I like my wife’s family and friends, it’s not the same. I smoked a lot of cigars alone and it got lonely after a while.
  2. Inconsistent income, along with too much spending.
  3. Not really understanding where our money is going.
  4. Too stressed
  5. Fluctuating weight.

At first, I was going to go with the word “normalization.” I’m happy to say we didn’t have any new children in 20221, so getting into a normal rhythm seemed like a good way to go.

But as my kids get older and we do more extra curriculars, I thought that would be a tough things to grade. Life changes quickly with 3 small kiddos, and it would be unreasonable to try to grade myself on scale that could change if my daughter starts doing gymnastics or the kids’ daycare has to close.

What I can control is how I use the resources that I have.

So I came up with the word Budgets, and as usual, it has 2 meanings:

  1. Stop frivolously spending money, especially when it’s scarce, by creating real budgets.
  2. Properly spend other things of limited quantities (like time, patience) by budgeting my own time and creating better systems.

Spending Money

Last January, we had a lean month, where we didn’t need to spend money we didn’t need to spend.

But I fell short of really understanding how much we spend on variable amenities, like groceries and gas. Inflation didn’t help.

Child Care also increased, both for daycare and our babysitter.

So this year — early this year — I want to get a handle on our spending and create a budget for the variables.

This includes tracking our inventory better, so we spend smartly at grocery stores, and having a cap on other budgets (like going out to eat/ordering in).

But that’s the less interesting, more common aspect of my yearly theme.

Budgeting Other Limited Commodities

I don’t spend my time well. I’m easily distracted, spend too much time on minutia, and then wonder where the day went.

So I’m going to explore a time budget this year. I suspect (ironically) this will take the most time in the year to get right. But I’m going to experiment.

I also find myself short on patience with my kids as a result of other stresses. So I’m going to find a way to be more patient and practice mindfulness.

This is the most…whimsical…way I’m using the word “budget.” It’s really about properly managing my energy and my mindset.

Actions and Goals List

In my Yearly Theme doc, I like to make a list of actions (that I will add to throughout the year). Here’s what it looks like at the start:

  1. Make a list of places I spend money and time
  2. Create budgets for common spending, like groceries, outings, child care
  3. Create time budgets for work and personal time
  4. Time track
  5. Stop spending my time where I don’t need to
  6. Practice “emotional” budgeting through mindfulness exercises
  7. Properly budget my energy by really understanding my Green, Yellow, and Red Zones.

…and then the goals:

  1. Put more money into savings
  2. Work on the things I need to work on
  3. Be more patience
  4. Be in the moment
  5. Create a “budget” to spend time with people so I don’t feel so lonely all the time
  6. Lose weight
  7. Sleep more
  8. Have more energy

I’m Excited

I think this is my loftiest yearly theme yet. There’s a lot of ground and I need to be aware of it all 12 months. Last year, I could pick a couple of big actions or goals and count the win. It was more mind over matter.

But 2023 will be a year of mind and matter. Mind to create the budgets, and Matter to actually implement them.

I’m ready for the challenge.

  1. First time in 2 calendar years, folks. ?


  1. Love it. and love the idea of budgeting other assets such as time. You didn’t ask but I def recommend YNAB 🙂 it helped me pay off $20k in debt and I plan to tackle the last $20k this year

  2. That’s amazing Lauren! I did pick it up last year (partially on your recommendation). Looks like it’s the next book I’m reading!

  3. I got the Time Block Planner from Cal Newport last year and now I’m much better at budgeting my workday on day to day basis than I used to be. I use it every work day and I feel much more in control of my work time and tasks. Highly recommend it.

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