I just turned 26, and I’m not where I’d like to be in life. On my birthday I decided to take stock of where I fell short – and why – as an activity to be prepared for 2020.
This past year I meant to 1) get in shape 2) get my retail store going officially and 3) travel and visit a few friends. I also had more general goals like pare down my belongings so I’d spend less time cleaning, find somewhere to volunteer, be more intentional with my finances, and invest more in my relationships because it gets harder as you get older. Nothing crazy – I’m sure this is a common list.
Instead I ended up gaining a few pounds (not muscle), binged on desserts, avoided working out even when I had a 10K coming up, made 0 to bare progress on my business idea, spent more than I planned every month, and fell into a major “funk” that felt like chronic fatigue and lack of energy to do basic things.
To cut myself some slack, it was a tougher year than most. To add to the quarter life crisis every 25 year old will go through (it IS a thing), we also had death in the family, and then a stroke, and also a new role as a caregiver for someone sick.
But that’s not an excuse. I don’t want 2020 to follow that same route.
I’d say I’m a practical optimist, so as I turned 26 this weekend I felt it was important to look at what I did accomplish along with why I didn’t make moves on the things I cared about. A tough year put a bit of a delay on it, but you only get more of that as you get older. I want to be able to stay focused no matter what the year brings (with a healthy dose of compassion).
Think of it like a reflection on what you’d like to change and do differently by looking at the habits/actions that kept you stale. But to start with the good news, here’s what I AM proud of:
- Signed up for a mentorship through SCORE Small Business and got paired up with a phenomenal mentor who helped me break down my business and focus on the right things at the beginning
- Finally Self-published a children’s book along with my brother called “The Cloud”
- Got the courage and signed up for therapy, it’s like having a judgement free zone to work through your head even if you’re just stressing about day to day thing
- Learned to sing and play on the ukulele – everyone needs a creative outlet they enjoy doing
- Joined The Lounge (by Girl’s Night In) for a DC based network of women
Starting with the good is a nice way to remind yourself that even if you’d had a shit year, you still got something done, even if it wasn’t exactly what you planned. Progress is progress.
One the flip side, it’s important to reflect on what you weren’t able to do, and even more so, why. Everyone goes through a funk (life events, depression, whatever) that forces life to slow down. But a small funk can turn into a longer phase that prevents you from living your life if you don’t give yourself a reality check and a plan forward.
Here’s why I feel short this year that kept me in my funk:
- Set big goals, never readjusted: I remember drunk planning to my friend on New Year’s Eve about how great 2019 was going to be – Business! Love! Adventures! Sadly, none of those happened. But when all that shit went down and circumstances changed, I didn’t readjust my goals to fit and clinged too hard on the ones I originally set
- Took an “all or nothing” approach: I’d been actively lifting weights 3x a week before this year, and when I didn’t have the flexibility to make it to the gym for 1.5 hours a day, I resorted to doing NOTHING. Not even 20 pushups at home. Obviously 20 pushups is better than 0, but I figured since I couldn’t workout properly, I shouldn’t bother at all! Even though 20 pushups a day would have easily compounded into better fitness at the end of the year.
- Focused on the small things: whether it was obsessing about having the right logo or diving into why someone was saying X about me, I’d sit there and over-analyze the details instead of nailing down the bigger strategies like my business model and if I’m investing my relationships
- Stayed up late: we all know sleep is the most important thing since our bodies, through thousands of years of evolution, are designed to sleep X hours a night to properly recover. Ignoring that though, I’d easily stay up until 2 AM on work nights and foolishly think my body could handle it
- Not acted: I consider this a great year of self-reflection and thinking about who I am, but I didn’t actually DO anything about it. I realized I hated “high impact” exercises since it messed up my knees, but after realizing that I never took the step of finding low impact exercises I’d do instead
- Forgetting face time: I don’t mean the FaceTime feature – I’m talking about missing events I probably would have actually enjoyed in order to stay home. As a natural introvert, I don’t mind staying in, but it’s healthy to spend time in real life with people, networking, and at events, plus getting to experience new things
- Not scheduling priories: as life gets busier, it becomes more important to prioritize what you spend your time on. And just like if you don’t budget your money and risk overspending, you’ll waste time if you don’t schedule it. Exercising and working on my store should have been priorities but I didn’t give them time to do it
Note: I’m doing this with a sense of compassion. I had a hard year and it took a while to adjust to my new reality. That’ll can happen to you, too. But I’m not calling myself lazy or an idiot for slacking off, just taking an objective look at what actions I did that kept me from what I wanted to do. It’s only by acknowledging myself this past year that I’m able to forgive myself, throw in some compassion, and go into next year with a clear reality and plan.