As I wound through the dark redwoods on Highway 17 with an eagerness to get home, I couldn’t help but feel a certain gratitude. Santa Cruz is one of those places that can make me feel strong emotions no matter how many times I come back. It’s home.
New Year’s resolutions are one of those things. Most years, as the end of December approaches, I start thinking more about a few goals I’d like to check off the list for the new year, but I don’t tend to sit down and really think about what I want to accomplish with a whole year.
I mean, it’s a bit inspiring and daunting at the same time, do you realize how much time a year entails? It’s 12 months, 365 days, 8,765 hours, 525,949 minutes, and about 7,363,289 breaths. Phew! That’s a lot of time, and a lot of ways you could spend it.
Some years I completely forget all together, and realize by February that I didn’t make any. More often than not, I make resolutions of sorts on my birthday in May rather than on December 31st.
I guess my birthday feels more like a milestone and marker of time to me.
This last December I decided I wanted to do the whole resolutions thing properly. New Year’s resolutions tend to get a bad name, they’re cheesy, don’t last, are painfully generic, you name it.
For my resolutions, instead of focusing on the micromanagement of my year, I’d much rather focus on the macro side of certain goals.
There are a lot of reasons why I chose to take on resolutions this year. On my mind the most is the fact that I’m heading home for the first time in 2 years since I moved abroad.
I’ve grown in ways I don’t even know yet from the past years, and I’m ready to keep that growth moving even when I get back to the States.
Also, I’m a huge “list person”, so really this is my forte, but that’s another topic altogether.
I was hoping to write this post at the start of January, but as I was constantly on the road for 3 weeks, I never had the chance. I already wrote a list of goals I’d like to accomplish back in December, but now is my chance to really expand on that list and share it with you here. Better late than never, right?
The following are the major aspects I’d like to see myself attempt this year, some specific, some broad, some that will be tough for me, but really, what is there to lose? Here’s to a great 2015, and another full year of breaking out of my comfort zone.
1. Actively seek out things that scare me
Although I try my best to face my fears, I’ve always had a lot of them. From a young age I dealt with a form of GAD, or general anxiety disorder, and it is something I’ve struggled with a lot in the past.
If you can believe it, I’m also happy to have had that level of anxiety in my life, because it has turned me into a more adventurous person in the long-run.
The intense anxieties I had as a teenager were a big reason why I decided to move across the world at 22, why I do things like jump out of planes in New Zealand, and complete my open water scuba certification in Cambodia when I’m terrified of certain aspects of the ocean.
This year I want to keep that mindset, and expand it even further. Keep doing things that are adventurous, I’m looking at you bungy and paraglide, but also have a more direct focus on the things I have tried my best to avoid in my life because they make me very, very uncomfortable.
Roller coasters (here we come, California amusement parks), the unpredictability of the ocean (learning how to surf and stand up paddle board), and social judgment (performing on the street and at open mics with my guitar). These 3 things especially, I have always avoided like the plague, and I think it’s about time I tackle them.
This year I plan to find a comfort in all three.
2. Be genuinely social with strangers
Being more on the introverted side of the social scale, I’ve always enjoyed doing my own thing or keeping to myself, especially when I’m surrounded by strangers that I don’t have a reason to talk to. That probably comes off as a bit antisocial, but it’s why I love traveling solo so much.
I’m not saying I want to try and change my natural tendencies, I’m an introvert for a reason and I quite like being one to an extent, but I want to challenge myself more when it comes to strangers.
Whether that be hanging out in a hostel common room and being the one to talk to everyone, meeting friends of friends, or just having a conversation with a customer at work, I want to be proactive in getting to know people past the bare minimum.
I want to be the first to introduce myself in a group, I want to find that genuine interest in getting to know a stranger, and not just make small talk for the sake of avoiding an awkward silence, and then turn back to my book, or my iPod, or whatever form of introverted activity I prefer.
I think it has become more out of habit and comfort than anything, so it’s a goal I’ll have to stay conscious of and actively pursue.
3. Deepen my yoga practice to headstand status
I did well with keeping up my yoga practice in Australia, usually volunteering at studios or doing free weeks here or there, but since I’ve moved to Wellington, I’ve only been to a yoga studio twice.
Part of it is due to working full time and the other part is trying to save like a mad man for my upcoming travels, but I miss my practice and the balanced mindset that tends to come with it.
This year, not only do I want to practice yoga regularly, but I also want to take it further and actually become a champ at inverted poses which I have always struggled at.
4. Go to 3 music festivals
Festivals are another activity that have taken a back seat since I moved to Wellington, they’re expensive over here in New Zealand, and they’re not as common to find as they are back home. Well, I’m bringing the festival life back into focus, and I can’t wait to hit hopefully more than a few during the year.
I already have tickets for a music festival in Wellington called Homegrown before I take off for North America, and tickets for this upcoming Coachella when I get back to California.
Other festivals I’ve always wanted to go to are Sasquatch, Outside Lands, South By Southwest, and assuming we get tickets, my boyfriend and I are already planning on an epic Burning Man experience this year.
In general, I want this year to be full of concerts and live gigs as much a possible, simply for the sole reason that live music makes me a weird kind of happy.
5. Thoroughly explore my own country/state for the first time
This resolution was originally to see 3 new countries this year, but I thought about it a bit more, and I realized I don’t necessarily want to fill that resolution this year.
I’m reaching the halfway point in my 20s, and going home for the first time in a long time. I actually want to take the time to explore my own backyard finally.
Although I have many spots I love up and down the California coastline, I’ve realized as I start to look at my road trip up the coast, there are many and more things I have never been to or seen, especially north of San Francisco.
I’ll be trying out living in a new state as well when I get home, and I want to spend a decent chunk of time exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
I’m hoping this year will be the year for a cross-country road trip across the States, and a year where I’ll finally get to properly explore the deep South.
This year is a year to find my solid ground again, reassess where I’m headed, and appreciate the beauty of the US that I’ve forgotten since being abroad.
6. Start paying off my student loans
Okay, maybe not the most exciting of resolutions, but a necessary and responsible one. I’ve been deferring my loans since I moved abroad, mainly because it costs a lot of money in international transfer fees to have any money left in my American bank account to pay them off.
I’ve been watching my interest steadily rise over the last 2 years, and I’m ready to tackle a chunk of those loans once I start working again, and possibly start thinking about the cost of grad school.
7. Take the time for the homemade aspects of life
Something I’ve always valued and that I’ve been getting better at off and on over the years. I’ve always been into making homemade things: cookies, crafty room decor, handwritten thank you notes, and such…but I go through phases of being into those individual things one at a time.
I want to focus on taking the time to write a letter to a friend abroad, to get back into baking, to make as many things in my life myself, that’s the goal. I also want to have the thought behind them to be for other people that I appreciate in my life.
My boyfriend and I are already talking about starting our own vegetable garden when we get a place together in Portland. That’s a good start, right?
8. Read 30 books
Since I’ve left university and I actually have time for personal reading, I’ve devoured books with a passion, so this shouldn’t be too hard of a goal to complete. However, I’ve never kept track of how many books I’ve read in a year before, so I’m interested to see how many I get through, and to keep improving it every year.
9. Slowing down & quality over quantity
I’m one of those people that is alway go, go, go. I do a lot of things with my free time: guitar, ukulele, writing, reading, traveling, cooking, friends & relationships. I feel the need to fit all these things in every week, and to be honest, it’s exhausting.
I’ve always had a lot of passions and a lot of activities in my life, I played 3 sports in high school and was in every honors class I could get into, and I made sure to always have a wide variety of friends and groups. It’s just who I am, I like to be doing a lot of things, and accomplish a lot with my days.
Even when I’m on vacation, I find it hard to just do nothing for a day. I rarely feel bored with my free time. It’s good to an extent, but it tends to be a stressful way to live as well.
I need to focus on slowing down this year, and take my time on doing things the way I really want to do them, and not just to check it off the list.
The hardest for me will be to find a balance between everything, but at least I’m eager to try.
That’s the gist of it, my goals for 2015, let’s see how we go.
Did you make any goals for yourself this year? What are your thoughts on resolutions?