If you couldn’t tell from my previous posts, I’m a sucker for introspection this time of year. Every winter, I seem to be contemplating the past year and hatching plans about how the next one will be ever more amazing and fabulous. I actually started this post quite a while ago, taking some tips from Chris Guillebeau’s annual review process, and I’m finally ready to post it..
What Went Well in 2014
I Traveled a Lot
I spent a lot of time traveling this year, which I summarized in the previous post. Traveling is definitely one of the many things I love about my job, as long as I’m not traveling too much. I love going all over New England to meet people and learn about the landscape. And it helps me get my travel fix,so that I really appreciate being home the rest of the time.
I Became a Writer
I already write a lot for work. Then a little over a year ago, I began blogging and also started journaling much more regularly. Writing as hobby wasn’t something that had been on my radar, but it completely took off in 2014. I blogged regularly, although I’m still not sure that anybody really reads this (thanks if you are!!).
The I wrote several articles for Greatist.com, and really enjoyed translating my science writing skills to something other than what I focus on for work. And it was great to see people read what I wrote, and even share it. Who knew that my article on organizing your refrigerator would get more than 20,000 shares? That’s awesome!
I also started up a new website, Get Out Keweenaw, to be an outdoor calendar and a kind of an Outside magazine for the Keweenaw region. I put the website up this fall to just see if the idea had traction, and it seems to have at least a little bit.
I Became a Business Owner
Okay, this on is a bit of a stretch, but I did use a small birthday windfall to register a business. Building on another one of Chris G’s ideas—The $100 Startup— I created a $125 startup. Plus the writing side-gig courtesy of Greatist, and the Get Out Keweenaw site. We’ll call this Step 1.
What’s Step 2? I have no idea. This is just fun stuff on the side from my already fun day job.
Step 3: Profit! 🙂
I Gave Stuff Up
During late winter, I gave up alcohol. It was an interesting experiment, and easier than I thought it would be. I wrote my first article for Greatist about it. The article was a good experiment in itself, in that I was being so open about my life on the Internet. I also gave up breakfast cereals and granola/nutrition bars around the same time, and with very few exceptions, I have not eaten these “foods” since. In the fall, I went on an elimination diet to see if I had some food sensitivities. This meant going 4+ weeks without corn, wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, legumes, or alcohol and cutting way back on sugar, and again, it was much easier than I would have expected.
I Met (Most of) My Goals
Last February, I made a list of 7 things that I wanted to do to over the subsequent year, and I more-or-less accomplished all of them but one. Likewise, I made a short list of goals for within three years and am on track for those as well.
What Did Not Go Well
I’m so positive that it’s really hard to write this section because the things that didn’t go well were pretty minor. For example, I didn’t go to Minnesota to harvest wild rice or sail, which were both things that I had my eye on this year, but I did so many cool things I couldn’t have predicted that it doesn’t matter— I still feel like I came out ahead. And I can say lots of small specific things about work or other things, but they are small things. But…
…I write about the outdoors an awful lot, but don’t always spend as much time outside as I would like or feel like I should. My rationale is that the writing spurs me to get out more than I would otherwise and helps me be more observant and appreciative of my time outside. I believe that is true, but sometimes I feel a little hypocritical about my alleged outdoorsy-ness.
…I have a hard time staying active and healthy in the late fall, and this year was no exception. Late fall kicked my ass with its combination of short/cold/windy/snowy/dreary days and holiday-induced sugar binges. sigh. It’ll take me a few months to climb my way out of this hole, but I’m working on it—slowly.
…The biggie is that I don’t know where all this writing is going. I love writing, but I spend a lot of time thinking (and worrying) about what I should write, who might read it, what they’d think, and whether it’s the best use of my time/talents. I am always wondering: Is there something else I could be doing that would make me as happy but have more value to others? I keep asking myself that question, and feeling stressed because I don’t know, and probably can’t know, the answer.
Lessons and a Preview for 2015
1: Keep on Writing
“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that it motivates you to look closely at life as it lurches by and tramps around.” Anne Lamont, Bird by Bird
Last year I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where to focus some of my extra time and energy. All sources on the internet seemed to say: follow your passion. Huh? I didn’t know my passion. I didn’t have some innate knowledge that I wanted to spend my life climbing mountains or collecting stamps or teaching zumba or… anything.
Fortunately, there’s a good argument that it’s not so much about about stumbling on a passion as cultivating it. That resonates much better with me and is more in line with how I’ve seen things work in my own life. So now I’m off the hook of finding some supposed passion (whew!) and can go back to what I want to do: write, learn new things, try new things, have fun.
2: Be Uncomfortable
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt
One of the most compelling books I’ve ever read is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, which examines the idea of vulnerability (she also has one of the most popular TED talks ever). Vulnerability is not weakness, but courage. In the year or so since I’ve read the book, I see evidence of this point all the time. It seems like all the best and most amazing parts of life do in fact come out of the things that are uncomfortable or scary or downright terrifying.
So now I’m trying to do more things that make me uncomfortable—namely, to be more open and try new things. I’ve also discovered that I enjoy making other people slightly uncomfortable. You’ve been warned.
So—where’s all this going? In 2015 I going to spend more time turning Get Out Keweenaw into a raging success. I’m also planning to volunteer a bit more one some local projects, like this one. This means that I’ll be spending more time in other places, and possibly—probably?—less time here. But I’ll continue to write here as well, providing updates on those projects (hopefully without being to meta) , capturing my travels, and writing about the intersection of nature and life.