I am going to start by taking the pressure off and stating that this is likely not my very last post. I have been trying to find the best way to wrap up this experience, and have decided that one post just won’t do it. That said, this final reflection is my opportunity to have a last look at what I set out to do this year in each area of my life, and the lessons and experiences that I will take with me going forward.
First, there have been some realizations that span all of these life areas and, I think, have contributed heavily to the personal growth I have seen this year:
- You really can’t cleanly divide your life into separate areas. The most rewarding and sustainable experiences involve blurring the lines and approaching life as a whole.
- Similarly, life balance is not about having everything perfect in each of these areas at any given time. Real balance is more about keeping yourself centered – allowing things to get behind in some areas and ahead in others without feeling like a failure. Everything eventually evens out and comes back to a sort of equilibrium.
Better than Birthday Cake... almost!
Goals: Eat nutritiously. Reduce stress. Move!
I have learned to look at food differently. Instead of focusing on fat and calories, I keep nutrition and energy top-of-mind when planning a meal or grocery shopping. While I haven’t fully developed a tried and true library of recipes to fall back on, I’ve established some general guidelines and approaches:
- I have a working knowledge of highly nutritious ingredients now, and many resource books to keep exploring them. Now I will often select an in-season, highly nutritious ingredient and base a whole meal around that (something like fennel or avocados for example). I used to always start by selecting the meat, which quite often lead to scurvy-threatening meat and potato meals.
- Any highly nutritious ingredient is worth liking. I approach these foods now with an expectation that I will like them and have been able to add numerous new foods that I previously disliked or hadn’t even tried to my repertoire with this outlook.
A properly fueled body is able to take on more in the realm of physical activity – something that I now fully appreciate the importance of. While I can definitely use more, I at least have kept up some level of activity all year by trying new things and forcing myself to step outside of my comfort zone.
The personal improvement I have made when it comes to managing stress feels significant, but is probably the most difficult to explain. I think a big turning point for me was establishing a new outlook on success and happiness, as well as realizing what I mentioned above about balance. More than ever, I know that happiness is completely free of personal achievement and goal-setting. And that success is not as much about what you do as how you do it.
Goals: Step out of my comfort zone; be adventurous. Find and develop passions. Create, don’t just consume.
I used to think that there was something wrong with not having a few regular hobbies to pour myself into, but I really enjoyed the aspect of trying new things this year. I have added lots of new activities to my roster that I am excited to keep experiencing: hiking, dragon boat, yoga, salsa dancing, paintball, travel, kayaking, caving (see right), and, of course, blogging. But I’m even more excited to get to the things I didn’t manage to fit into this year, such as pottery and snowboarding (and now I’m thinking maybe sewing!) I have a whole lifetime to fit these activities in, so there is really no need to feel like I can only do a few of them.
Willingness to do and try these things has really opened me up – I can hardly believe I am the same person that, a year ago, really only read books and went for coffee with friends. Now, I feel like I have a lot more to offer. I am interesting! There, I said it.
Goals: Grow and maintain them. Surround myself with people that inspire me.
I’ve found that strength in the other areas of life improves this one. And this area is really what life is all about. There is not much else to say.
My Birthday Dress
Goals: Have some.
Many months back, I came up with the personal mantra to “shop boldly” as I operate in this area of life. These two words have truly changed everything. Clothes are another area of adventure for me now – something to add richness and variety to life.
I had originally hoped to develop a bit of a personal brand definition – almost like an autopilot – that would make navigating this and other areas easier. While I could still very well arrive at some boundaries of my personal style over time, I’ve learned that the breadth of my personality is much wider than I anticipated. I am glad that I stepped outside of what I thought was my comfort zone in this realm of life.
I learned a bigger lesson here too: it is possible to turn something you dread into something you love. Imagine the possibilities of that.
On a practical note, there have been two things I have adopted in this area that have really helped me out. First, the concept of wardrobe essentials has made a significant difference to me and made outfit-building extremely easier. Second, I have actually started photographing outfits as I create them. It might sound ridiculous, but it has helped me to see what works and gives me something to fall back on when I really can’t seem to pull myself together.
Goals: Keep it clean and healthy. Support success in other areas.
Home is such a special word because it means something different to everyone. I’ve decided that what it means to me is really adjusting my surroundings in a way that inspires, comforts, and supports me and anyone else that shares or enters my space.
I haven’t really made as significant of changes in this area as I have in the others, but turning a house into a home has always been something that comes naturally to me. If nothing else, my new perspective on living life by the seasons will help me to better prepare my home to support me as they change.
Goals: Satisfy my entrepreneurial spirit. Stop work from feeling like work. Feel like I’m mattering.
A year ago, I was on the path to mediocre success. I thought that self-reflecting for a year would give me answers: what specific field to pursue, how to build my brand strategically, etc. Instead, it seems that this process has given me something even better: guts. I do not need to know what the end of the road looks like to take it willingly.
So, while I do not know what my efforts in this area will bring, I couldn’t feel more optimistic. I am about to undertake a whole new journey in this area as I build a career worthy of my passion for life.
My card from Leigh. Perfect.
When I started this blog last year and entitled it “Journey to 30” I did not realize how fitting the choice of the word “Journey” actually was. Because in the end, this experience has really had nothing to do with age or turning 30 as a destination – it has been about noticing and appreciating the surroundings and experiences I have encountered as I travel along the road to this inevitable milestone. It has been entirely about the journey.
And, regardless of what I originally set out to do, I have given myself the greatest birthday gift of all: I have learned to love the journey and to walk it with excitement and optimism.
I have learned the importance of looking around instead of always forward and not being afraid to take detours.
And, most of all, I have developed a renewed passion for life because I know that you are living it at every moment.