New Year’s 2014: Looking Back, Looking Forward

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Happy New Years! And just like that, another one bites the dust. 2013 is officially in the history books! Is it just me, or are the years really starting to fly by?

2013 was a great, yet incomplete year for me. It was great because it was my first full year to live as a bonafide grown-up after graduating from college AND I got engaged to a wonderful, wonderful man. I got spend time exploring my new city, Dallas, after having lived in DC for 6 years, and I met some really cool people and made some great connections.

The Recap

With all of that, I still felt that it was incomplete because I didn’t quite maximize the year like I wanted to. As a recap, last year my goals were to:

  1. Pay off my smallest student loan
  2. Blog at least once a week
  3. Deliver at least one talk/organize a workshop (to get started with my ultimate goal of becoming a public speaker)
  4. Eat healthy, unprocessed meals at least 4 days out of the week
  5. Do cardio 3–4 days a week and follow a strength training plan
  6. Grow my hair to mid-back length (MBL)
  7. Connect with siblings, friends and boyfriend (fiancé!) at least once a week
  8. Produce one piece of art
  9. Read at least 20 books
  10. Complete my “Bible in a Year” plan on the bible app on my phone/ipad

Many of the above commitments started well, but I did not see it through.

First the successes:

  1. I did pay off that loan
  2. I booked a speaking engagement but the organizer canceled it at the last minute, so I was pretty bummed about that. Luckily, I was able to later produce a financial education workshop (in partnership with the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professionals) that ended up being really successful!
  3. I read more than 20 books

And the failures:

  1. Blog once a week? Not even close! :-(
  2. I started off so strong with eating healthy, but I completely fell off towards the end of the year.
    (Which is crazy since you would think a future bride would try to eat as healthy as possible..)
  3. I averaged only about 1 cardio session per week. I was really consistent with my strength training though.
  4. My hair is still at bra-strap length (BSL)! Argh!!! (More on that in a later post…)
  5. I definitely spent time with my honey at least once a week, but I did not make the effort to connect with my siblings and out-of-state friends like I should have.
  6. I produced ZERO works of art this year.
  7. And I am only 2/3 of the way through my “Bible in a Year” plan…for the second year in a row. Eek!

So what’s a girl to do? I’m sick of not meeting my goals every year. So I’ve decided that this year, I will do something different.

  1. I am only choosing one overarching goal for the entire year. This year, 2014, I am dedicating to improving and growing my blog.
  2. For everything else, I am going to focus on simply improving my daily habits that lead to my desired result, and I’m committing to working on only one area at a time.

I read about this methodology a while ago via productivity guru and all around zen master, Leo Babauta. Way back in 2009, he outlined a process he uses where he focuses on only 6 habits of the year, and he works on drilling those habits into his brain for 2 months at a time, one by one until he’s completed all 6.

When I first came across his advice, I scoffed because I figured I was pretty capable of accomplishing a gazillion things in one year. Well, since this is my 5th year in a row (oh, the horror!) of missing the mark, I now see the wisdom of tackling bite-sized changes, one at a time. No really, this time I’m going to quit being hard headed and do it.

In fact, I’m not even going to mandate that I develop 6 habits this year. I’m just going to start with the one I want to change the most (blogging regularly) and move on to the next goal after I feel that I have successfully in-grained that habit. Then, in 2015, I’ll simply look back and see what I’ve accomplished.

The Way Forward

To keep myself accountable I plan to:

  1. Journal every evening to keep a running log of how I’m doing
  2. Blog about my challenges, successes, and even failures regularly instead of just checking in at the end of the year.
  3. Stick to the rewards system I came up with last year, where I allow myself a “treat” (new shoes, a nice dinner, a new book, yoga pants, etc) to reinforce my efforts.

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How did you do in 2013? Did you hit all your goals? What’s your game plan for this year?

(Photo Credit: mac.rj)