Hello, dear friends—happy New Year to you and your loved ones! I genuinely hope that 2017 is a better year for all of us. While I’m not deluding myself into thinking that all of last year’s problems vanished when the clock struck midnight, I do see January 1 as the perfect time to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned and the goals I’d like to focus on.
Also in 2016, of course, I launched this blog! I’ve enjoyed the last 4 months so much, and I’m genuinely looking forward to connecting more, writing more, and learning more in 2017.
Without further ado, here are my New Year’s resolutions for 2017!
My New Year’s Resolutions
Procrastinate less. I’m motivated by deadlines… to the point where I’ll put things off until the eleventh hour. Working under pressure can be exhilarating—it forces me to focus, and it sometimes results in innovative ideas. However, over the last year, I became far too familiar with the feeling of my heart pounding in my chest as I looked over an impossibly long to-do list, the minutes ticking away at a frightening pace. This year, I need to do myself a favor and start projects before I’m forced to so that I can enjoy my work, come up with better ideas, and (literally) give my heart a break.
Create more. One of my favorite ways to pretend that I’m not procrastinating is to spend time on tasks that are related to my work, but that aren’t actually essential. I do this when I’m feeling uncertain about a project, whether I have lingering questions about what needs to be done, haven’t come up with the perfect idea yet, or doubt my ability to do a good job. This year, I need to spend more time actually writing, and less time preparing to write. Instead of spinning my wheels, I need to tackle my uncertainty head-on so that I can move on to the most important (but most difficult) part: Creating. Related to this, I’m excited to have 3 guest blog posts lined up in the next month and a half, and I want to keep this up in 2017! It keeps me from getting into a rut with topics, builds lovely relationships with other bloggers, and opens me up to a wider audience. I can’t wait to show you!
Respond quicker. I’m notoriously bad at keeping in touch with the people that I care about. I think about my friends and family every single day, no matter how busy I am; I wonder how they’re doing, and I think, “We should really catch up soon,” but then I forget to actually ask. It’s a vicious cycle—I put it off, then I feel guilty, which makes me avoid it even more. This year, I need to just answer my damn messages when I read them, rather than always waiting for the right time to give each response the thought I think it deserves. Perhaps, I’m realizing, crafting the perfect response is less important than just responding.
Walk more. At my last two jobs, I’d spend my lunch breaks taking an hour-long walk with my coworkers. It was the perfect way to get some exercise, sunlight, and fresh air, while also getting to know each other, talking through work-related issues, and taking some gorgeous pictures. I stopped doing this at my new job because I feel weird leaving the office for an hour by myself—what if I miss out on a chance to get to know my new coworkers? However, I could really use the exercise, and I’m dying to explore my new neighborhood… so it’s probably time to set aside my fears of appearing aloof in favor of doing something that’s good for me. Hopefully, I’ll discover that I’m not the only one interested in lunchtime walks!
Take vacations. In 2016, it took quitting my job for me to finally book a vacation to Iceland. I felt like I couldn’t step away from my desk long enough to get away for a few days, even though I desperately needed to take a break. However, let’s be honest: My work can wait for a week while I take a damn vacation. Traveling is when I feel the most alive—nothing makes me happier than exploring the winding streets of a new city, taking thousands of pictures, and trying incredible food with my husband. I’m making it a priority to take one weeklong vacation a year, and a handful of three day weekends here and there, no matter how important my work might seem at the time—because if not now, when?
Stop hitting snooze. I’ve been very bad about this lately, but a new year is the perfect time to change my ways. Either I need to set my alarm later, so I actually get 20 minutes of sleep rather than 5-minute increments of restless dozing; or I need to get up when the alarm goes off and enjoy getting ready at a less frantic pace.
Stop shopping. Did you know that credit card debt still exists when you avoid looking at your bank statements? I guess I knew that too, but I’ve been living in an alternate reality lately, and it’s time to snap out of it. I have a bad habit of convincing myself that I “deserve” things—whether I’m stressed out and need comfort or distraction, or I’ve done something great and crave a reward. However, while it might make me feel good, buying new things because I “deserve” them doesn’t negate the financial cost. I need to stop spending money on non-essential things when my closet is already bursting at the seams, and do a better job of appreciating what I already own.
Started in 2016: Spend time intentionally. Early last year, when I was in a bad place with my job, I was working almost every waking hour—workdays, nights, weekends, commutes, lunch breaks, holidays. It was hell—and because I was so miserable, whenever I had a spare moment, I spent that time doing whatever I could to feel a tiny bit better. I binge-watched Scandal and Bones. I did a lot of my favorite time-wasting activity: obsessively curating my Pinterest boards. But I didn’t actually feel better—I was just occupying every moment with distractions so I didn’t have to face how much I hated my life. And then my team hired some additional writers, so my hellish workload abated a little bit, and I got to reclaim my free time and—gasp—take a day off here and there. That’s when I started this blog, and it gave me a legitimate reason to use my nights, weekends, and commutes for something else. I now have an unofficial rule that I can’t watch TV without simultaneously doing something productive, like editing photos or responding to comments. My commutes are my dedicated social media time—two hours a day that I’d otherwise be wasting. This is something that I will absolutely carry into 2017, because not only am I doing more with the same amount of time than ever before—I also love doing it.
Started in 2016: Prep weekly meals. For the first half of 2016, I was spending a lot of money on breakfasts and lunches out. I believe in (reasonably) spending money if the cost is proportional to the amount of enjoyment I get as a result. But $6 soy lattes from Starbucks and $10 salads from Sweetgreen? Probably not worth it on a daily basis. When I found out how much of my sad paycheck I was actually spending in a given month on transient things that weren’t bringing me joy, I gave up Starbucks completely and started prepping my breakfasts and lunches for the week every Sunday. While coming up with ideas every week is challenging, I’m eating healthier, saving money for better things, and enjoying the ritual of spending every Sunday doing creative things in the kitchen.
Started in 2016: Sleep 8 hours. Last year, I started going to bed at 9:30 every night. At first, it felt like a luxury; but I noticed immediately that I was literally a better human being after sleeping 8 hours. Now, it’s non-negotiable for me.
What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2017? What are you most looking forward to in the new year, and what were you most excited to leave behind in 2016? Let me know in the comments!