Having a list of goals on January 1st is not the only way to make the most of the 12 months ahead, and sometimes I think year-long goals deserve (or need) a bit more thought than it takes to throw them out on the first day of the new year. Over the past few weeks, I spent time reflecting on what I really wanted my focus to be for the new year and I have come up with several resolutions to help me make the most of 2018.
This year I am committed to living less hesitantly, focusing more time on people and things I value, and consciously pursuing joy. Here are a few resolutions that I feel most strongly about:
1. Read at least one leisure book each month.
Reading is something that has always been important to me. Because I am in school, I am always reading and researching, but I have somewhat neglected reading for pleasure.
Growing up it was part of my bedtime routine to read at least 15 minutes every night. Eventually, technology took over and those moments curled up with a great book turned into a much longer and less beneficial period of time with my face illuminated by my phone.
When I was home for break, I realized how many good books I have on my shelf—half of which I have yet to read. Each time I walk into a bookstore I leave with 3-5 books that I am PUMPED about, but usually, one or two is read before my excitement fades or something else conquers my time.
In the past couple of weeks, this resolution has served me SO well. So far, I’ve read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (a gift from my brother) and am halfway through Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (a gift from my dear friend, Katie). Both books have given me wonderful energy and perspective for the start of the new year. I have to admit; I also sleep better as a result of adding reading back into my nightly routine.
2. Enter and complete an athletic race.
Being active is a huge part of my life and happiness, but I miss having a goal to strive towards. Last year I completed my first half marathon and cycled in bike races with my team at DePauw, but the past few months I’ve missed having the motivation looming competition sets for my runs and cycles.
Luckily my friend, Kaitlynn, also wants to complete a race this year. We are going to enter a running race together before the semester ends. I can’t wait! I am all for a healthy competitive spirit.
3. Set concrete monthly goals for my studio practice.
Last semester I spent a lot of time exploring and trying new ways of making art, but I somewhat neglected my love for painting. I wanted to make sure that I started this semester off with a strong studio ethic and painting focus. My goal this month began as a project to complete one new painting each day. With that motivation in mind, I've been able to paint more than I expected and have found a lot of joy in my creative work. I have experimented and developed new skills through the process and am looking forward to a semester of growth.
At the end of each month, I plan on setting a new goal to tackle and excite me in the studio for the month ahead.
4. Have a bedtime.
Who says a bedtime is for children? I tend to neglect my need for sleep and underestimate its importance in my life. I like to wake up early and get a workout in before school, but in order to be on time I need to be up and moving by 7:30 at the latest.
Acknowledging this need, I have given myself a bedtime of 11 PM on weekdays so that I can get the 7-9 hours of sleep my body needs. I always feel better when I am well rested and as a result I am more productive, motivated, and happier overall.
5. Improve my understanding of geography.
I am tired of being ashamed when someone mentions a country and I realize I have no idea where it is in the world or what countries it borders. It’s most embarrassing when I don’t even know what continent it’s on.
By the end of 2018, I will know where all 195 countries of the world are located. I’ve downloaded a geography app on my iPad to help make this resolution happen and I am committed!
6. Be more conscious of my budget and finances.
I am a thoughtful spender, but I have not always been the most budget-oriented. I am certainly not one to aimlessly blow through a money, but being less conscious of my budget has made me nearly fearful of spending to the point that I am making unreasonable sacrifices. I live a fairly economical lifestyle in Ireland, so I have room to spend more on experiences that make me happy.
I am tired of being afraid of spending money on things that improve my life and wellbeing, so I have created a monthly and yearly budget to work towards. I keep track of my rent, gas, grocery, fitness, personal and social spending habits and plan on reevaluating my allocations at the end of each month to ensure the most efficient use of my funds.
In addition to my spending habits, I also want to work on my investment portfolio. I read Savvy Investing by Gary Lemon this summer and have the tools to make smart investment decisions, but I have failed to use them fully. I just haven’t given myself the time to sit down, make a proper plan, and put it to work. So, within the next couple of weeks, I am dedicating a couple hours each Sunday to get my investments in order.
This year I am going to make money work for me.
7. Show gratitude regularly.
I have such a wonderful life full of great people. I want to be more conscious about showing gratitude towards them because I believe they should be acknowledged for showing love. In order to make sure this happens, I plan on writing at least one handwritten note each week.
The first week of January made these notes very easy to write—I had plenty of thank yous to give post-holiday season. Even though the holidays are now over, I still have plenty to thank others for. These notes have helped me reflect on the small and big moments of generosity I experience each week.
Though resolutions are a good place to start, you can make goals at any time of year! It’s January 21st, 3 weeks into 2018. You still have 344 days to make and accomplish whatever goals suit you!
What are your resolutions for the coming year? Don’t let fear of failure hold you back from pursuing anything. Capability begins with a good mindset of positive energy and motivation. Let’s make the most of 2018!