I’ve thought a lot about this post, and about what I wanted to say. Every year, I reflect and share my thoughts on the past year, taking stock of the resolutions I’ve set, how I did, and how I feel about them one year later. Every year this is an easy, and enjoyable, task. I intentionally set clear goals with measurable outcomes so that 12 months later, it’s fairly clear where I stand.
This year I had to dig a little deeper. In the past I’ve set aside some time each month for a check-in to assess how things are going. This keeps me on track in January and February and March, and prevents me from relegating the things I want to work on all year long to November and December, when it’s next to impossible to make real and lasting change. I didn’t do that this year, because my resolutions were less measurable. They were never far from my mind, but they weren’t necessarily something I worked on daily either.
Let’s recap. Last year I said I wanted to write. I had a lot of plans for this blog and for my writing in general. I said I wanted to save money. I said I wanted to learn about wine. I said I wanted to do a smattering of things in my daily, weekly, and monthly routines that I thought would enhance my life, like improving my physical and mental health, my relationships and fostering my love of learning.
Those are all great things, and things that I still enjoy and upon which I still place a lot of value. But, aside from saving money, they weren’t measurable because I didn’t say how I was going to do this. Not surprisingly, none of those things are something I can definitively say, “Yes. I did this.” When I started reflecting on this year, for the first time since I started this journey I was dreading it.
I felt like I hadn’t actually done anything. I could say I’ve made some progress in each of those categories, but none that I could definitively check off. And I like checking things off!
At moments like this, it’s easy for me to quit. To say, “this is supposed to be enriching and fun and if it’s making me feel badly, why am I doing it?” I put these goals and expectations on myself, and I can take them off! I’m the decider!
But what if, instead, I pushed on. I could quit and pretend like none of this matters, or I could let myself feel this weird brand of dissatisfaction and use it. That’s exactly what I did. I pushed through, I made myself reflect and check in and I wrote. I wrote down all the things I did do. I wrote down why I thought some resolutions were less successful, and why some were all-out failures. I drilled down to the heart: did I not do them because I really wasn’t that interested in the first place? Did I resist because the outcome, which I actually want, is pretty dang scary? Or because putting it off one more month was easier than doing said thing and failing?
These are some pretty intense questions with damning answers. But out of them, I have a clearer picture of what I’ve learned this past year, I’m able to celebrate what I did accomplish, and I’m able to move forward into 2015 with a restored sense of living intentionally.
And so, I look back.
This is something I’m really proud of. In January I said I wanted to post more, use some organizational tools, and redesign. In July, after months of feeling bored, guilty, and stagnant, I decided to overhaul the whole thing. I’ve opened up what I write about, and because of that, it’s not a chore to churn out a certain number of posts a week. It happens naturally! I get to share with you things that I really like and that inspire me to no end, and you actually read about them.
This blog is again something I am eager to return to daily, not because of stats or follows, but because I just plain enjoy it.
Last year I said I wanted to learn about wine. I returned home from my trip to Napa with a thirst for knowledge, but looking back on my post last year, I ended this section saying, “I really just want to learn something new, and wine seems like the perfect thing.” That should have been my first clue.
Honestly, I didn’t even start this one. I didn’t read a single word about wine, I didn’t even look up classes. I did drink some, but homework only counts if it was assigned. When I look back and think, though, I was feeling just as I said. It was my first full year out of school in 20+ years and I really just wanted to learn something new.
I did learn a lot this year. I gained a lot of skills professionally, some I didn’t even know were an option one year ago. I taught myself some very, very, simple HTML coding, and learned how to roast a chicken. When I was looking back, this was one of the areas I was dreading, but upon further reflection, the things I did learn so outweigh all of the wine knowledge I missed out on. Good news? Wine isn’t going anywhere.
This was by far the most vague resolution of all. I wanted to be healthier. I wanted to save money. I wanted to read 4 books a month. I wanted to keep up with and foster my relationships. I wanted to write. I couldn’t be more generic.
I didn’t specify what healthy meant to me, and so I half-heartedly tried a couple of different strategies before settling in to a daily routine that wasn’t necessarily not healthy, but wasn’t creating any good habits either. This was a hard one to just come out and say to myself. I did not succeed. Instead of feeling bad, which is entirely too easy for me to dive right on into, I’m choosing to see the next 365 days as a new start. Every day I get to choose, and every day I’ll choose well.
I did save some money, and I did read, but not four books a month. I was constantly reading, though, and read some really great books, most of which I shared with you.
I didn’t continue my Signed and Sealed resolution, but I tried to make a conscious effort to reach out to those that mean the most to me. Relationships can always be improved upon–there’s no end goal, no time when I’m going to think I’ve reached the threshold of a friendship. That’s a good thing.
I wrote. I did! I wrote here, and I journaled a bit. I didn’t write a book proposal, because I don’t actually know what that is (maybe that’s something I can learn about?) I wrote for me this year, and I enjoyed it.
The very nature of a bucket list is that items are crossed off. This is the area I was most successful in this past year, which is telling. I am motivated by tasks. I’m motivated by a list, and crossing that list off. This is helpful information (that I already knew, let’s be honest) when crossing into the new year.
At the end of 2014, my Bucket List looks like this:
- Research and try a juice cleanse. I bought a juicer, I juiced, and I liked it! I didn’t cleanse per se, but I added a healthy option to my life and that was really the whole point.
- Redesign the Blog. Yep. You’re looking at it, baby!
- Take a vacation to a warm beach. I just got back from Key West, and it was warm, and it was beachy and I loved every single minute of it.
- Go to my two wonderful friends’ wedding in March. We went and K got to see just what West Texas was all about. It was such a fun wedding, with such beautiful people.
- Meet Tom. Then continue to visit Tom (and company) as much as possible. Oh yes, I did this. That red headed kid stole my heart.
- Participate in Rachel Ray’s Great American Cookbook Contest. I did, and while I didn’t move forward into the finals, it was fun putting it together and thinking about if I did write a cookbook, what would I write about, I also learned that maybe TV isn’t my medium. Putting together a video for this thing was rough.
- Buy a new bed. I did! And it’s wonderful and I miss it when I’m not home.
- Visit my tall blonde friend as much as possible. I think the final count was 3! I’m so grateful for each one of them, too.
- Go to a concert. I saw Billy Joel last month at Madison Square Garden, and yes, it was incredible. This is a life bucket-list item too. Maybe a recurring one?
Didn’t quite make it:
- Write a book proposal. I didn’t. I wrote a lot for me and for this blog, and maybe sometime soon there will be a book in there.
- Go on the 2nd (hopefully annual) Girls Trip with my Mom and Sister-in-Law. Schedules didn’t permit this year, however, we did drink the bottle of wine I was saving for our girls trip while in Key West where we spent lots of time together, so I don’t feel cheated. This is one I have no problem taking into next year!
- Make Homemade Pasta. Last year, I actually wrote, “some [resolutions] are going to be to easy (pasta has never been a problem for me).” Oh, sweet, innocent Hatsie. I tried, in earnest, to make this happen. All I got was flour up to my elbows, in every nook and cranny of my kitchen, and a pan of baked (from a box, thank you) ziti. Lessons learned: keep at it, but respect the process. There’s a reason why this technique is so revered.
Almost 2,000 words later, I feel adequately reflected. If you made it this far, thanks! I learned a lot this year about myself, my limits, and what I’m capable of. I also learned that checking in, and checking off, however arbitrary or neurotic it seems, is how I get things done. I wanted to grow this past year, and I did. I also left lots of room for growth in the new year, thank goodness.
Every year starts with a blank slate, and by looking back, one can take what they want into the coming days and leave the rest. This helps me prioritize and grow. You may be the type of person who doesn’t do, or need, resolutions or clean slates. You may just decide to do something and do it. I live with that type of person, and I admire it. However, if you’re like me, it’s helpful to take some time to look back, and then face forward and march fearlessly into the new year. Anything can happen, and that’s exciting and a little scary, but mostly just incredible.
Happy New Year, friends!