Wednesday, December 31, 2014

An ending; a beginning.

Oh, 2014, you were a banner year in so many ways.

In 2013 I learned a lesson on acceptance, and vowed to approach 2014 with humility, focusing less on what I already know/am/have and more on how I can do/be better.  Somehow, by February, this sentiment evolved into hard determination.  I was ready to stop making excuses for myself, stop telling myself that I'm fine the way I am, that there's nothing I can do to change things, that I am willing to take opportunities but only if they come up and knock on my door.  I threw caution to the wind and started betting heavy on myself, putting myself out there fearlessly and trying to make things happen.

And things did happen. I am ending 2014 in a place very different, physically and mentally, from where I began.

My goals for 2014 were modest.  I wanted to finish my MBA, and I did.  I wanted to earn a certification in Toastmasters, and I did not, but I made good progress.  I kept this little blog going.  I wanted to PR in a distance, and I did, and also exceeded my wildest dreams for the year by training for and running the Long Beach Marathon.

Can 2015 get any better?  Honestly, I doubt it.  The coming year is going to be a different one for me, I think.  My primary goal is to be less goal-oriented.  Ha!  Hear me out, though.  My theme for the coming year, the word I choose to be my mantra and guide and point of reflection, is: MINDFUL.

Through all the wonderful things that I've experienced this year, I've still had a vague feeling of uneasiness.  It's hard to put a finger on it, exactly, but its a sense that maybe I'm missing out on some of the best parts of my own life.  Living it, but not feeling it to the fullest extent.  I suspect this might have something to do with how immersed I have become in technology.  Necessarily so, for the most part - my job revolves around software and computers, one of my primary hobbies is keeping up this blog, and I really do enjoy capturing moments and sharing my life via social media.  Still, it is easy to feel unbalanced, living this way.  Feeling like my closest human connections involve a keyboard, and that I'm living life through the lens of my iPhone.

I'm not setting hard and fast goals here, not saying I will put my phone down for x hours every day, or only check Facebook so many times a week.  Instead, I aim to be mindful of how technology permeates my life.  That might mean unplugging more often, or stopping before I check a friend's profile and consider if that's really the best way to get in touch with them.  This isn't a quantitative goal that can be measured, but it is the theme by which I choose to live this year.  Connect.  Consider.  Be more involved with my tangible life, instead of my life on the screen.

Good enough?  Not really.  Being me, I can't let it go without laying out a few things I intend to work on in 2015.  Those are:

1.  Participate in a speech competition through Toastmasters.  I did competitive speech in high school and was pretty good at it, but didn't have the discipline, maturity, or support to take it to another level.  I want to give competitive public speaking another shot this year, not necessarily with the goal to win, but just to see if I can discipline myself to practice and prepare well enough to bring my best performance to a competition.

2. Join a professional organization and/or start working on a professional certification.  Sub goal: kick ass at my job.  After so many years of floundering and exploring, I finally understand where my strengths are and what I want to do with my life.  My current job is a step in the right direction.  I just need, once again, discipline and mindfulness to grow and make the most of it.

3. Celebrate my 30th birthday in the best physical shape of my life.  I've come to really understand my body in the last year - I know what kinds of exercise give me the best results, and I know how to eat in a sustainable, satisfying and healthy way.  I have the tools, and I intend to put them to use in the next few months. Training for another half marathon PR, strength training 2-3x per week, and regular early morning P90X3 sessions combined with a simplified, paleo-esque diet should get me where I want to be when I usher in a new decade of my life.

Mindfulness is the thread connecting all these things. I intend to simplify this year, and be mindful of how I spend both my money and my energy.  I will devote more of myself to creating experiences rather than making/collecting stuff.  I will turn down the noise, literally and figuratively, and seek substantive connection with my loved ones instead of knowing them primarily through their status updates.  I will actively cherish and nurture my family, while mentally and physically preparing myself for the changes that lie ahead (another little Ojo maybe?  Not yet, but soon we hope).

I will be mindful of how I spend my time, cognizant that every minute gone is a minute of precious life that I will never get back.

Happy New Year to you and yours.  Go make memories.

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