This time of year is conducive to reflection and introspection. As I’m sitting here now, mellow Christmas music is playing. Big fat snowflakes are gently falling outside my window. It’s practically meditative. In the quiet, peaceful atmosphere the holidays can provide1, it’s time to set the tone for the coming year. I want to find an overarching theme for 2019 and establish what I want my life to be like.
I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Simple declarative statements are pointless. Concrete goals and action plans are where it’s at. That means taking a hard look at what’s worked, and what hasn’t. It means honestly answering questions about why things turned out the way they did. Armed with that information, I can make choices about what habits, behaviors, and practices to keep, and which ones I need to change.
What Went Well in 2018?
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, hitting the point of burnout back in March was actually a positive breakthrough. I’ve said before that I knew my schedule was not sustainable, but it really made me stop and acknowledge how preposterous the workload I’d assumed was. That led to me reevaluating everything I did. I had to decide what the best use of my time was. Which actions yielded results, and what could be edited out?
The result was that I’m working smarter, not harder. I’m getting better results with less effort. There is time in my day, and in my week, for necessary self-care. Refining my productivity habits is still a work in progress as I figure out what works best and what can still be tweaked. But I have to say that my altered methodology went well during this last half of 2018.
What Did You Love About 2018?
While I want to say that my new love for 2018 is bullet journaling, that’s not a complete or totally honest answer. It lacks the proper perspective. That answer is like saying that you love your new hammer because it helped you to remodel your kitchen. Um, are you overlooking the part about having a new kitchen? Isn’t the remodeling project the real accomplishment? Tools are nice, but they’re still tools.
I love what bullet journaling has allowed me to do. Projects that had been on the back burner too long are now moving forward. I no longer feel like I’m in a grind because of a crushing weight of things that need to be done. The bullet journal allows me to capture information and forget about it. I can find it later, review it, prioritize it, and schedule it. I love feeling like I have some control over things again.
What Was Missing From 2018?
The one thing that I continue to find lacking is a sense of stability. I’m working on growing my business, which involves risk. Katie is graduating this spring, and we’re not sure what happens after that. We may stay here in Finland, in this city, in this apartment, or we may end up somewhere else entirely. I’m 55 years old, and I have no idea where in the world I’m going to be in six months. Somewhere else in Europe? In Asia? Back in the United States? Still right here where I’m sitting? There are too many variables.
You might think that these are 2019 problems, but they have affected my decisions this year. Even more than normal, when I want to buy something I think about having to move it. Will I need this in a year, or is it something I will have to either get rid of or haul around the world with me? The way I run my business has to be portable, something I can do anywhere with my laptop and an internet connection. Can I be a little less frugal with the grocery budget, dining out, taking trips, or should I be saving for the most expensive, if least likely, contingency?
My Theme for 2019
While I did not plan it, in looking over all of the above the mantra simplify, create, thrive popped into my head. I need to keep my possessions to a minimum, because I don’t want the hassle of selling it, donating it, or moving it. Running the business requires me to find the easier, more efficient, and less costly ways to do things. I need to create things, not only products to sell for the business but solutions to problems I couldn’t even anticipate until they popped up. At the bottom line I need to thrive, not just in the future as the payoff to all of this hard work, but now. Not just for purposes of self-care, either. I need to be able to enjoy the moment for what it is. To be present. To not continually look at where I’m going, but at where I am and acknowledge how far I’ve come.