This is a two-parter. At the New Year, I share my annual strategic planning session, and that starts with a review of the previous year. This helps me to figure out where I've been annoying myself (and others) and where I'm being my own obstacle as I set out to do fun and awesome things. It's so easy to go through life on autopilot, where every day feels like yesterday and tomorrow will, too. What did I do today? Get up exhausted, try to multi-task while gasping down uninspiring meals, drive in heavy traffic, stare at my phone a lot, skim through 200 emails, get wound up by something that annoyed me on social media, stay up too late staring at various screens, and finally collapse in bed? 20,000 times?? Is any of that on James Bond's to-do list? I think not. How about Glinda the Good Witch? Nope. Awesomeness takes planning. Both James Bond and Glinda are most likely spending New Year's Eve at white-tie formal parties with superb catering. Maybe they'll meet each other and dance cheek to cheek. This stuff doesn't happen by accident.
So anyway. Here's my year. First I'll share some highlights, and then I'll share where I kept or dropped my resolutions from 2015. Tomorrow I will post my resolutions for 2017.
Started running again!
Got jumped on and hugged by a wild monkey
Visited five countries on two continents, plus whatever category is Gibraltar
Touched a camel
Saw a hoopoe
Did three backpacking trips, including two weeks in Spain
Started a business and got a product onto store shelves (!)
Went to World Domination Summit
Had my first-ever room service
Stayed in a five-star hotel and wore a bikini in the pool
Went to a drive-thru and got vegan cheeseburger, fries, and a strawberry shake. EPIC!
Joined Toastmasters and became a Competent Communicator
Started doing standup improv comedy (!)
Wrote a blog post that was shared on Facebook over 4,000 times
Got a mountain goat selfie
Realized that I can suddenly eat spicy food again without getting a migraine, after 18 years
Found that I can sleep without melatonin, after five years
Learned to make sauerkraut
Noelle started saying a pretty clear 'Good Morning'
Decided to go car-free; now just waiting on the paperwork
Did not pack, unpack, or relocate during an entire calendar year
Digitized all my old writing notebooks
Read through my entire news queue
Read 251 books
Posted on this blog every business day all year
Made my activity goals on 362 days
We had some major disappointments, grief, and struggle this year, one of the toughest since we've been together, so it really helps to focus on the positive.
Personal: My major personal goal was to join Toastmasters and work on my dread of public speaking. I wrote that "As with running, I feel that public speaking makes my legs shake, is extremely scary, difficult, contrary to my nature, and not something I would really voluntarily ever want to do, and thus likely to be really valuable." It did indeed make my legs shake, as recently as November, but I've stuck with it. TOTAL TRANSFORMATION. I won several ribbons, mostly for Best Table Topic, which is an impromptu speech on a topic you don't find out until seconds before your speech. Terrifying, right? Not only did I start getting great feedback, but everyone kept telling me how funny I was and that I seemed like a natural. I was encouraged to try stand-up comedy! I ACTUALLY DID THIS because there are a couple of venues for open-mic improv in my city, and it's gone well. Last New Year's Eve, imagining myself speaking on a microphone under a spotlight in front of a roomful of strangers would have probably made me faint. Just the idea of it. Now I'm like Hey, no problem, tip your waitress. My instinct about resistance is starting to feel true: the more I hate the very idea of something, the more I will get out of it. If I learned to love running and public speaking, what else do I hate and fear right now that could transform into curiosity and passion?
Career: I resolved to get my own business cards for the first time. Then I promptly forgot to bring them to the major networking opportunity of my year, which was World Domination Summit. Duh. I loved how they looked when I first got them. Now I sort of hate them and don't feel like they are relevant to what I'm doing. But I did follow through. I had the goal of expanding my coaching business, and wound up instead making it more exclusive. I had the goal of starting a weekly email newsletter, which I did for a few months, until realizing that my subscribers were in the single digits. I didn't have a clear vision for what the newsletter would offer that would be different from the blog. These are examples of how goals can sometimes be too specific and not always effective for the ultimate purpose, which in my case was to Earn More Money.
Physical: My focus was on experimenting with a cross-training schedule while healing my ankle injury. I can happily report that I have started running again after a two-year hiatus! I worked with a recovery trainer and a shiatsu massage therapist. I learned that some of the exercises I had been doing were exacerbating my problems, which were tightness in certain muscles and weakness in others. What we want is strength and flexibility everywhere. I learned that my issue with constantly banging into stuff is related to proprioception. 'Clumsy' is not my personality. I also resolved to get a micronutrient blood test done. This turned out to cost twice as much as I had thought, and we didn't have enough in our HSA account to cover it. While I won't complete it during 2016, it has been scheduled for January. Lesson learned: Research first, resolution second.
Home: I wanted to learn more about interior design. We wound up acquiring new living room furniture. I realized that my major issue was that the overstuffed bookshelves made an unattractive focal point. Over the course of the year, I got rid of about 2/3 of my books. I also digitized about two feet of notebooks and paper files, making room in the office closet and eliminating more of the visual clutter. Not only does the living room feel more relaxing and homey, but the office is more functional, too. We had another goal, to put in a vegetable garden, which we did. We grew kale, collard greens, basil, parsley, peas, tomatoes, and rosemary. I planned to put in some saffron, but changed my mind based on the product reviews of the saffron corms I could find. Expensive for a dicey experiment. This still interests me, and I'm now on the lookout for a local source as opposed to an internet operation.
Couples stuff: We decided to have a set dinnertime. That basically worked. We've been eating at least an hour earlier, sometimes two hours, than we did in 2015. We've also been cooking fancy breakfasts on the weekend, and sometimes lunches too. We were going to do quarterly reviews of our goals. That turned into a 'me' thing, because my husband is a do-er and whenever he makes a goal, he just instantly crushes it. We have continued to have our weekend status meetings, so we're tracking our mutual bureaucratic stuff far more often than quarterly. We were talking about ballroom dance lessons, if my ankle behaved, which it did not. Only now that it's December do I feel like this would be plausible. We were swing dancing at the store earlier this week, though.
'Stop' goals: I had a goal to "Stop beating myself up on stuff." I had been pinching my fingers and bruising myself on the furniture. I knew this was something I could figure out, and I was right. Proprioception. Yoga is helping. I also had a stop goal to "stop rage-crying when I go through TSA secondary screening." I flew more than usual this year, and the ONLY time I got picked for secondary screening was in Germany, due to my boots. The last time I flew? Get this. The agent played Simon Says with me! I think I'm over it. It makes me wonder more about the Law of Attraction and how much I was creating my own tense experiences through my focus on negativity.
Lifestyle upgrades: We were going to spend more time eating on the patio, and I was planning to use it as my new writing spot.That worked out really well on the days when it wasn't already too hot by 9 AM. Noelle my parrot loves it so much that she resists going back inside, which is great incentive to get us out there.
Do the Obvious: "The most obvious thing for me to do right now is to focus on my business and start earning more money." I wound up going into business with a close friend, and within weeks we actually got a product onto store shelves! There was nothing obvious whatsoever about that course of action during the first 3/4 of the year. However, without my focus on the topic, our ideas never would have converged or become what they are now, which is a formal entity. Again, this is an area where resistance is the real problem.
A quest: We went to World Domination Summit, which completely changed our lives and our relationship. We talk about it constantly. Now, one of our big motivators is to "have this done before WDS next year." I had wanted to go to a Polyglot Gathering, which I knew I wouldn't be able to do in 2016, and I was hoping to do a language exchange as consolation. This turned into speaking German with a German in Germany and French with a French person in France. In Spain, I was able to buy train tickets in Spanish, and we got to the correct destination! This experience completely revolutionized all of my ideas about language study. I need to spend 80% of my study time on active listening and bureaucrat-speak, dealing with pragmatic transactions. "Conversation" is usually going to be about getting something done, such as booking a tour. I now feel much more competent, yet also much more ignorant!
A wish: I wished to make a new friend in 2016. One summer day, I was walking to the library, when I ran into an acquaintance from Toastmasters. He saw me and said, "Hello, friend!" I about fell over. Not only did I make several new friends, I deepened an existing friendship. On the other hand, I basically fell off the radar of social media.
It looks and feels to me as though I followed through on every single thing I planned for 2016, with the exception of planting any saffron corms. I'm willing to throw that particular item under the bus in exchange for the major stuff that did go well. This was a painful, sad, exhausting year for us, for several reasons, but somehow having goals to focus on was really helpful and effective.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.