There’s a lot on my plate this year, and that’s a good thing. When I have an unreasonable amount of things to do, it means that I need to be incredibly focused and productive in order to make time to goof off. If I resigned myself to what I knew for certain I could accomplish, I wouldn’t learn and grown. At the same time, I acknowledge that stretch goals are just that, a stretch, so I won’t be disappointed if I don’t achieve absolutely everything.
All of the things on this list are quality of life issues. A few business things are mentioned when they overlap with my personal goals. These are presented in no particular order, because they’re all interconnected.
My ultimate end game is Finnish citizenship. There, I’ve said it, it’s out in the open, and I can now prepare for people who assume that means I hate America or have some political motivation. My reasons for wanting citizenship are numerous and complex, so it’s a topic that I don’t even want to get into right now. It’s a long-term goal that can’t be achieved this year, but I can take significant steps in that direction.
The first step is to get Dancing Lights Press registered as a Finnish business. That will allow me to get residence as a self-employed person, not just the spouse of a university student. Being self-employed means I’ll pay higher Finnish taxes and contributing to the system, and pose no threat of taking a job away from a Finn. This lays the groundwork for getting permanent residence, which would only need to be renewed every 4 years rather than annually, and will pave the way toward citizenship.
I would like to pass my A level fluency test by April 2017, when our residence comes up for renewal again. My longer goal is to pass the B level, which is required for citizenship, by April 2018. This ties into not only residency, but quality of life and mental health. The better I am with my Finnish, the more I’m able to communicate and participate in things.
My new phone can handle having Google Translate installed on it, which will help me when I’m out in the field and need to decipher signs or communicate with the occasional Finn that doesn’t speak some English. I’ve been spending a minimum of an hour per night reviewing and practicing Finnish vocabulary and grammar with Katie, who has already passed her A level.
There’s no expectation that I’ll be functionally fluent in the next year. What matters is that I’m able to pass those exams. I can keep practicing and improving after that, hopefully for many years.
Registering as a Finnish business and paying into the system will get me access to the health care system. Even paying out of pocket, as I have been since moving here, health care is a lot less expensive than in the United States. I would like a thorough checkup, though, whether I’m paying or I gain the benefit as a taxpayer, so I can make some plans and possibly get on any medications I need. I am, after all, in my 50s now.
Since we moved here we’ve done a lot more walking. Last summer I walked all over town, and I felt the benefits immediately. I want to continue to do that. We’ve also eaten better since we arrived, because real food is less expensive here than pre-packed artificial crap. I also love to cook, and cooking at home is far cheaper than prepared foods or going out. I want to continue those habits in the coming year.
This ties into utilizing the health care system, above. Most of the time I can manage my anxiety disorder without meditation by minimizing triggers in my environment and practicing self-care. There are times when I think I should be on medication, when my anxiety get so bad that it becomes difficult for me to function. If I have the ability to see a professional and do something about it, I’m a fool for not making use of the resources available to me.
Two things that I want to do, that have their own benefits but tie into this directly, are get out of the apartment more and be more social. As a writer, an introvert, and a misanthrope, I tend to dig in and not leave the house for days. There are weeks when the only time I go out is to pop next door to the laundry room or to head up the street to the grocery store. It’s better in the summer, when the weather is nice, but I use the winter cold and ice as an excuse too often.
We have a lot of friends in the international community, and I’d like to spend more time doing things with them, even if it’s getting a coffee once in a while. Various issues, especially my anxiety issues and lack of language skills, have kept me from making more Finnish friends, and I need to work on that in the coming year. The revival of this blog is intended to be a broad, generailized act of socialization, to help me better connect with people.
This speaks to the business, Dancing Lights Press, but I’ll hit the high points here because everything is connected. It ties directly back to the first thing on this list, residency. Making more money, being more financially secure, aids the cause of continued residency. To make more money means expanding the business. In the coming year I’ll move from digital-only into print products. I have plans to explore more business development opportunities, including licensing and merchandising. Expansion also means bringing on more people, and by the end of the year I’d like to be working regularly with one or two freelancers who can help with some of the scut work, so I can focus on the business and marketing side of things. Preferably, I’ll work with Finnish freelancers and other immigrants to Finland.
On the home front I want to continue to save more money, which comes down to making it faster than we spend it, and spending it slower than we make it. We can’t really live more frugally than we already are, so it comes down to continuing refining existing habits. There is a specific amount that I want to have in our disposal account by the end of the year, which will be a safety net for residency requirements.