For me, 2018 ended with a stomach virus. It lasted from Dec. 30 through Jan. 3, rudely obstructing my goal to start off the new year on a healthy note. But even though 2018 obviously wanted to take one more shot at me — not to mention literally sh*t on the start of 2019 — I decided not to take it as an omen that the next 365 were going to crap off the bat. Instead, I took it as a sign that this was the universes way of telling my body to detox before what's going to be one of the best years yet.
It's now just about halfway through January, and I have a slight cough, a stuffy nose, but other than that, I'm feeling pretty good. Physically, I feel strong and excited for what sorts of workouts I'll endure in the months ahead, the recipes I'll try, and how much more I will progress on my journey of self-love and acceptance. Of course I'm aware of how cheesy and cliche that all sounds (I work in health and wellness, friends, this is my life day in and day out), but I really do believe this year will continue to be a year of growth in that department for me. I made some great strides in 2018, and I have a lot of faith that it can only get better from here on out.
Mentally speaking, things are alright. I'm happy in pretty much every aspect of my life except one: creatively. Ever since college ended, I feel like I've just been trying to bulldoze through a wall because once I break it, there's a grass-is-always-greener type of creative world on the other side where writer's block is a non-issue and I'll be able to write whatever I want, whenever I want, full time. It's a nice dream, but I don't think it's too far out of reach anymore. I've decided to buckle down and finish a manuscript this year (for real this time, guys).
I feel like there are three types of people in this world when it comes to New Year's resolutions: those who don't buy into the tradition, those who make resolutions with a grain of salt, and those who genuinely enjoy setting goals and coming up with game plans for how to achieve them. There's nothing wrong with falling into any of those categories, by the way. Personally, I've always fallen in between the last two. I'm all for brainstorming aspirations, making lists, and envisioning how I'll accomplish them by Jan. 1 of the following year. But, I'll be honest, many of them don't pan out.
Once December 2018 rolled around, I was not only in full-fledged holiday mode spirit-wise, but I also found myself daydreaming about 2019, and how I was going to make the most of the year ahead. Looking back now, it's likely that I was so unprepared for Christmas this year (think buying all the presents the Friday beforehand) because I was so wrapped up in the idea of the new year, and where I wanted to be be 2020. But I'm not naive (not all the time, anyway). I'm well aware that 80% of resolutions tank by the second week of February. So instead of putting pressure on myself to start putting in the work on Jan. 1, I decided that the entire month of January would be dedicated to planning what it was I truly wanted to set out to do. I could start putting feelers out, experiment with some stuff, brainstorm — you could think of it as a grace period, in a way.
Really, the gist here is that, I'm sure I don't have to tell you Jan. 1 is not the end-all-be-all of resolutions. You can make a resolution tomorrow and start working towards it. I'm the type of person who thrives off lists and deadlines and schedules, but I also have a ton of anxiety issues, so putting more pressure on myself just wasn't appealing anymore. Ergo, I've been thinking a lot about the aspirations I want to set for 2019. I have a pretty good idea of the things I want to achieve, and thought I'd share them here.
1. Finish My Manuscript
Rule number one of making new year's resolutions is typically to steer clear of lofty goals, but here's the thing: I've written a novel. I've written a novella. I've written countless short stories, poems, and articles. I know I can do this, and I've finally found the story I want to tell.
I wrote my first story when I was 10 years old, my first novel when I was 15, and my novella when I was 20. Aside from the articles I write on a daily basis, though, I have not committed to and finished a creative project all my own since college, and I've been itching to really dedicate my free time to my passion because before graduation, before undergrad, when my father asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was a novelist. I wanted to be the published author of books, like Judy Blume or Ann M. Martin. These days, my taste in genres may have changed, but the end goal hasn't, and I'm ready to commit.
As of now, my goal is to write a few chapters per month. I'd like to give myself the entire year, and have a first draft done by Dec. 31 of 2019. Hopefully it won't draw out that long, but knowing I have a full year to really develop the characters and craft the story is comforting. Doing it this way doesn't feel lofty or unreachable to me.
2. Take A Step Back From Social Media
I hate to admit it, but I'm just as obsessed with social media as the next person — maybe even more so because my day job revolves around media, and the news, and what's #trending. Even as an aspiring blogger, to an extent, social media is going to be a factor.
But I think most of you can relate — I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I can't stand Facebook anymore because most of the time my feed is cluttered with political views and opinions no one asked for that I don't necessarily want to see. But I still keep my account because it's a way for me to share what I'm writing, and keep up with the kids in my family. I love photos of babies and dogs, so keep those coming, please. I absolutely adore Instagram because I like photography, but even that outlet is getting tired because there are so many influencers feeding you ads, and sometimes it feels like true authenticity is dead. Not that I'm not guilty of this; I've certainly posted photos #forthelikes, but I've stopped uploading as frequently as I used to.
The bottom line here is that I want to live life more, and stop watching life being lived by other people less. I love being inspired, but I also want to be someone's inspiration. So less daydreaming, more doing in 2019. Starting with this blog, continuing with my manuscript.
3. Aim To Stress Way Less
My anxiety got the best of me in 2018. I'm not ashamed of it, but there are plenty of moments I'm not proud of because of the way I responded to what I was going through. There are many components that go into the times I lashed out, or felt lost, and though I'd like to keep those private, I will say that anxiety can bring out the worst in you, and it can also thrive on/highlight your weaknesses. I struggle with body dysmorphia and an eating disorder, and though I've been in recovery for years, there are still moments when things feel out of control externally, so I try to pull in the reins internally. It always starts with food, and an obsession with working out, losing weight, "getting lean." In 2019, I want to acknowledge my anxieties, honor them, and handle them with compassion rather than lean on my disorders to make myself feel better.
I'm a firm believer that the true meaning of "balance" is to know your body, know your mind, and be able to identify when something feels off. Yoga has helped me tremendously in recent months, and I'd like to start incorporating meditation back into my routine. There's going to be a strong focus on eating to fuel and nourish my body, not to control it, and to workout because it relieves my stress, and helps me get stronger both mentally and physically, not to lose weight.
But aside from working out and food, I'd like to tap into the other creative sides of myself. I used to knit when I was a teenager, and I've always loved to color and paint. Doing more hands-on activities could be something I pick up again in 2019. I've already started getting back into video games (thanks to my brilliant husband).
4. Less Material, More Memories
I am a true ambivert. I love being surrounded by my family and close friends, I love going out once I'm out, but getting me there can be a struggle. I'll admit, working from home has made me even more of a homebody. I've grown accustomed to keeping to myself, and staying in my bubble, but I have amazing people in my life that I would really like to make more time for in the new year.
In 2018, Mark and I traveled to Sweden, Texas, and Vermont. My family started doing more activities together, like apple picking, and walking around the boardwalk for my father's 60th birthday. I started reading more, and caring less about buying new clothes. Instead, I wanted to buy new stories. To read and explore my imagination, to develop new interests.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that in 2019, I want to focus less on material things, and focus more on moments with my husband, my loved ones, my friends. I want to take care of my body and mind, and thrive off these things. 2018 had ups, downs, and overall, it was kind of a tough year. 2019 is going to be different. It already is. I can feel it.
If you, like me, are obsessed with New Year's resolutions and setting goals, here are a few other resources I found helpful while planning my year ahead!
1. Kalyn Nicholson's video on "How To Set & Achieve 2019 Goals"
2. Kristen Martin's video on planning weekly and monthly goals.