Last night I sat down at my desk, my journal in hand. I looked down at the list of goals I wrote down for myself around this time last year.
How many things was I able to cross off from my list?
Yup. To be quite honest, my first instinct was to feel like a complete failure.
Strange enough though, I still smiled as I closed my journal and got up from my desk.
Well, perhaps it’s because while I wasn’t able to accomplish any specific goals I set for myself, I still learned a few very valuable lessons. I still experienced growth.
And, if you’re in the same boat, for whatever reason, remember that the best thing you can do to prepare yourself for success is… well to prepare yourself.
As in, make a plan.
There are exactly 21 days left in 2017. That is 3 weeks. You can still get things done, so don’t get too lazy. Don’t use the “I’ll start on the 1st” excuse. Change starts now.
This is the best time to get rid of all the clutter, anything that you no longer need, use or want.
Your closet, garage, basement, kitchen cabinets, makeup stash.
Throw away any makeup or skincare products that have expired or you haven’t used in a long time, any clothes that you haven’t worn in a year, etc. This will feel amazing come January, you will feel like you really are getting that fresh start.
CLEAN UP YOUR DIGITAL SPACE
When was the last time you backed up your laptop? Do it before it’s too late. Delete those thousands of emails, old documents, pictures, and videos. Move your photos, videos, and documents or other digital bits you want to save, onto an external drive and delete the rest.
PRINT OUT THOSE PHOTOS
My sister and I love going through my photo albums and looking at pictures of our childhood and teenage years. This involves wine, a lot of laughs and also… a ton of cringing. It’s just something that we don’t really get to do too often anymore. Back in the day, that’s what we’d do for fun. Whenever my grandma brought out the big photo album after our Sunday dinner, we always got excited. I loved hearing stories from my grandparents’ childhood and them telling me about their younger years, their struggles, their happy times. I loved hearing it all. I would never have believed that my grandma rode a motorcycle unless I had those pictures to prove it (I mean, can you imagine McGonagall riding a motorcycle? I swear her and my grandma were the same person).
I have so many pictures that I haven’t printed out yet, I have a bunch of empty albums waiting to be filled and I always tell myself that I’ll do it when I have more time. The time between Christmas and New Year is the best time to get it done. Putting those photos in an album can also be a fun thing to do with someone you love. Also, an album like that can be an amazing gift for someone close.
DONATE + GIVE BACK
Most of us are very lucky. Even if you think you don’t have a lot, there are people who would trade places with you in a heartbeat. We’re approaching this magical time of year and while it’s fun to give and buy gifts for our loved ones, giving to someone in need, or someone who can’t return the favor is even more rewarding. Not to mention that it can potentially change someone’s day, or even life. Don’t ever underestimate your power.
If you want to help someone in need, you don’t have to look further than your community. Participate in holiday food drives, donate books or clothes, support the small local businesses that are so often family-owned. If you have a lot of free time, try volunteering. Buying a coffee through a drive-thru? Pay for the order of the person who’s right behind you. This magic, that we feel this time of year isn’t something that just “happens”. WE, are the ones who make it happen.
CREATE NEW GOALS
Don’t call them resolutions. Call them goals. Write them down and make a plan. Majority of us fail miserably at our New Year resolutions (*raises hand*) and that’s because we expect too much from ourselves. We want to lose weight, get a six-pack, get a promotion, find the love of our lives, get a house, a new car- all in a year.
Set small, but realistic goals for yourself, like getting up an hour early every day, or going for a 15-minute walk before work, reading before bed instead of watching TV at least twice a week. Changing life-long habits is hard, so you have to start small when working on developing new ones.
TIE UP LOOSE ENDS
Whether it’s an overdue bill, an application you have to make for something or a relationship that fell apart where you didn’t get closure- you need to take care of it now. We often put those things off, the things that we dread, the things that we don’t feel like doing.
You’re not doing yourself any favors- because every night as you go to sleep, that little problem sits there somewhere in the back of your head, and it bothers you. You keep pushing it away and pushing it away, but it somehow finds its way in. Coincidently, this usually happens at 11 pm, as you’re trying to fall asleep…
Tie up those loose ends. This is the only way you can truly get a fresh start, come January.
Are there some things you know you have to take care of?
Why wait until last-minute?
My mom always tells me that there are no problems that can’t be solved. It didn’t matter if I called her crying about a college application being prematurely submitted, my car breaking down in the middle of a highway, my blog crashing, a business deal going wrong- she always told me the same thing: there are no problems that can’t be solved, there is a solution for everything.
If, you know for a fact, that you cannot take care of some of those loose ends in time, make a plan. Sit down with a piece of paper, and ask yourself: how can I get closer to taking care of this?
LEARNING FROM FAILURE
Most of you know, just how much of a shitty year I’ve had. First, last December, two days before Christmas, I lost my beloved Grandma, Alinka.
My role model, someone who always guided me; my best friend and one of the closest people I had in my life.
I’ve never experienced loss before and I never realized just how much it hurts, and how deeply it carves you. I remember losing my voice from screaming in pain, I remember crying at night, begging God, the Universe, anyone and anything to let me know that she knew how much she meant to me.
I couldn’t understand how life can just go on, while my heart was still bleeding.
It took months for the reality to sink in, and when I finally got the courage to grow, learn, and “live” once again, I got into a car accident.
A lot of the goals that I’ve set for myself seemed impossible to achieve post my injury. Not only did I feel weak, I also felt lost.
I had so many days, nights when I couldn’t sleep, times when I’d question, overanalyze everything and cry out loud: WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME? HOW DID I DESERVE THIS?
All of a sudden, I had all these things I had to deal with: visiting 10 different doctors, getting different procedures done on my back, dealing with the insurance, fixing my car, not being able to work. Every time my knees buckled and I fell to the floor, I reminded myself that my pain is nothing compared to the pain my Gran felt when battling cancer.
I’d feel guilty for feeling weak and undeserving of “taking it easy” or letting my body just rest.
And then, there was the injury itself, which stopped me from doing pretty much everything I loved to do: working out, working on this blog, taking photos, cleaning, cooking; even taking my dog for a walk is a struggle.
Well, one of the lessons I’ve learned is that things happen. Accidents happen. For no reason- it’s why they’re called “accidents” after all. Some other things I’ve learned?
-forgiving yourself, and others, is more important than you realize;
-all those little things we often complain and get angry about, are not that important;
-your life can change in a matter of seconds;
-the more time you spend looking for things to be grateful for, the more you realize just how amazing your life is;
-people who truly love you, show up for you in those difficult times, in ways you can’t even imagine.
So, while I wasn’t able to cross anything off my list of my “2017 Goals” list, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve learned a lot. Despite the fact that I felt like a complete failure, most of the time.
My body still refuses to “work” with me. I still feel devastated by the loss of my Gran, I still wake up in the middle of the night, crying. If there is anything that 2017 has taught me, it’s that gratitude is one of the most important things in life. We all have some kind of struggles. Relationships, family, career, health, mental wellbeing. All of us go through things that we don’t always share with others. Some things and goals we set for ourselves, seem impossible. Until you actually do and achieve them. Then you can look back and say: yes, I did that. Yes, I survived that, I got through it. Yes, I accomplished that.
No matter how small, do not forget to give yourself credit for the things you’ve accomplished.
So what if it takes a bit longer than planned? So what, if you fail miserably, time and time again? Every single time you fail, you learn something new about yourself. Every single time you fail, you still get closer to getting where you want to be, because you get to carry those lessons with you.