January 2, 2019

a look back at the year of balance

A year ago, I declared that 2018 would come with one major goal: balance. Like many resolutions and goals, I fell short in completely achieving that. It's just how I roll! But as I looked back at my word of the year for 2018 and the goals and dreams I'd made for myself, I was surprised to discover I'd actually done better than I thought.

More, I'm happier today than I was a year ago. That's not to say my life is never-ending rainbows and sunshine, but overall, I feel happier with who I am and the progress I'm making to live my best, most fulfilling life.

While I still haven't achieved total bliss or balance, I learned a lot about myself, who I am, and how (and why) I function best. Here are some takeaways and surprise achievements from this year, beginning with my top three goals:

1: Be Present

I'm one of those people who is super guilty of doing too many things at once and thinking about what I need to do instead of being in the moment of what is happening. (For you Clifton StrengthsFinder people, my top two traits are Strategic and Achiever. Something else I learned about myself.) In 2018, I went to more movies, accepted more invitations for lunches and dinner, and did more crafting and baking. So much that I actually started another side project dedicated to crafts and baked goods. All of these activities are ones where I needed to be more in the moment. The result: I loved it. While the year was crazy hectic at my day job, I also managed my time better. I "worked harder not smarter." That meant adjusting my work hours a little to give myself more quality time at home. I still get hectic and crazy at times. But I'm also giving myself permission to be in the moment and enjoy it.

2: Reach a Healthier Weight

Thanks to my changes at the day job, I used my extra time at home to do more cardio and make more of my own meals. I also started weekly meal prep on Sundays. Though it took some adjustment at first, it's now one of my favorite parts of each week. I have lost a little weight (not a ton) but more importantly, I've taken fewer sick days. And, most of the time, I have more energy than I have in the past. I'm still working on this, but now it's more about lifestyle changes than expecting big differences on the scale or in the mirror.

3: Write an Average of 1,000 Words per Day

I totally blew this goal from the start. While it initially stressed me out (and made me feel like a complete failure) I eventually had an epiphany. It's so obvious, I can't believe I didn't realize it sooner. I'm not a daily writer. Not now. Though many authors I know and admire are, the pressure of producing daily word counts gives me performance anxiety. Instead, I do my best writing (and am most productive) when I approach my stories as short-term projects. That's why NaNoWriMo works for me. In between big bursts of writing (which extend for several weeks) I constantly think about and develop my story. So when I sit down to write, it happens faster. Maybe that approach will change someday, but right now I'm going to embrace rather than fight it.

These big realizations have been so important toward helping me feel more well-rounded. And (as a bonus) I also accomplished a few of the dreams from my bucket list. In some cases, I did so without realizing until I did my end-of-year evaluation.

In 2018, I:

  1. Took a real vacation. (Hey, Australia!)
  2. Launched a new book series.  
  3. Found an exercise routine I enjoyed.
  4. Read more. (Barely, but still.)
  5. Tried more healthy recipes.
  6. Saw more movies.
  7. Took lunches I enjoyed eating at work (thus ordering less takeout).
  8. Keeping it together when under stress. (I'm still work on it, but I have fewer meltdowns.)
So, in hindsight, even though there were times I felt overwhelmed and just plain over 2018, ultimately I can look back and find plenty to be proud of and happy about. I still have more I want to do in 2019 (check back tomorrow), which will keep me going and growing. Plus, I learned more about myself.

That's always a good thing.

How did your 2018 shape up? What were your favorite moments and greatest accomplishments? 

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