Wednesday, January 4, 2012

the resolutions, being honest, and the desire to be furiously proud of myself this year.


I noticed that most bloggers have already done their first 2012 post. Everyone's talking about resolutions, and their plans and dreams for this new year, this blank slate.

I didn't have anything to say at first. In part because I'm not the best at coming up with interesting resolutions, but also because when I was really reviewing 2011 in my mind to start thinking about 2012, I realized that there's not a lot from the year that I'm furiously proud of. There aren't many memories from 2011 that make me want to dance, or that I want to brag about to other people.

The things that I am furiously proud of: Meeting and getting together with my boy, and everything that comes with our relationship. Establishing VCP. Graduating.

Beyond these things, much of 2011 felt very 'eh?' I avoided talking much about it here because I felt like I've said a lot of what I feel comfortable saying already, but occasionally things slipped out on twitter.

That freaked me out, honestly. 2011 hadn't been a total waste obviously, but why was there so little I was proud of? I started out with good intentions, and decent resolutions, but not a lot manifested out of that. And I realized: It's because I wasn't intentional with it. I just went into 2011 thinking, "Okay, this is what I'm changing rightthissecond for the whole year aaaaand... DONE." I wasn't intentional with continual growth after that. Maybe that's partly because growth and change was forced on me (what up, China and graduation?) but it's also because I just assumed I'd do all this change as soon as I woke up on January 1, would be the best person ever because of that, and didn't have to reconsider for another 12 months. And in a way, I think that's what we're all saying with New Year's Resolutions, and why so often we fail.

We can't just change over night, and we can't just assume one drunken goal-making decision will be all we need that year.

So I went back to a post a blogger I really admire had written a few weeks ago about her goal-setting exercises for the year. I consider Nicole successful and to be living a genuine life that she seems to truly enjoy, so I thought I'd give them a try. Her strategy is: (go to her post to read more in depth)

1. Make an 'Eff Yeah' list of things you're really proud of. 
(See above.)
2. Choose a word to represent your dreams for the coming year. Examine why you're choosing that word.
My word is Explore. As a new college grad, I want to take this year to literally explore my options - to find a job where I fit and a path that suits me. I want to explore myself, and find out who I think I'm becoming, if I like that woman, and what I can do to make her better. I want to explore the world too - I want to travel now, while I don't have any thing tying me down like kids or a mortgage or whatever. 
3. Create some 'Life Buckets' that represent the sum of what makes you who you are and how you spend your time. 
Nicole suggested 9, but I ended up including work and finances, which she doesn't include, so I have 11. (Maaaaaybe overkill. We'll see.) Mine are: Self-Improvement, Exercise, Romance, Friendship, Career, Finances, Photography, Travel, Internet Everything, Do Uncomfortable Things, and Creativity.
4. Write down 3 big goals for each bucket that you'd like to accomplish by the end of 2012.
I won't list all 33 here for you guys (that would be overkill). But some of my favorite ones are things like bungee jump or free fall (Do Uncomfortable Things), get hired to shoot a wedding (Photography), learn really cute calligraphy (Self-Improvement), move this blog to it's own domain (Internet Everything), and adopt a greyhound (Friendship). All of those goals are ones that either make me smile hugely or make my heart pound in a way that makes me know I'm on to something awesome. The important thing is that I don't have to start doing all of them rightthissecond.
5. On the first of every month, write down an action step for each of those three big goals for you to accomplish that month. 
So, my action steps this month? Print out some calligraphy inspiration, see if there are greyhound adopting shelters in DC or if I'll have to go out of the city, and start upping traffic to my blog so I can rationalize paying to host it somewhere. Am I going to finish all 33 action steps this month? No, probably not. I may get like 15 done. But then I can look at the other 18 and figure out - okay, why didn't I do this? Maybe it'll just be laziness, or maybe it's because I'm trying to force myself to do something I don't actually want to.
That last sentence is especially important to me. There are things in 2011, and from all of college, that I did because they were what I thought I should do or had to do. If I'm being honest, taking Chinese and going to China are on the list of things I did because I thought I had to, not because I really wanted to. The result? Going to China is not something I'm furiously proud of. I haven't spoken Mandarin once since getting back stateside. And I never ever want to return to China if I don't have to. There were some nice side-effects, like making some of the best friends I've ever had through Chinese class (like Jacob), and for those I'm grateful, but often I wonder how things would have worked out if I'd taken French.

6. Talk about them.
Obviously that's kind of what I'm doing here. But I'm also talking to my friend KJ about this stuff, as well as my boyfriend, and to my mom. None of them can really give me good advice on increasing blog traffic or proper greyhound care, but that's okay.* Because just talking about it makes it seem more real, and more like something I can do.
 A big thanks to Nicole for creating this system and sharing it with all of her readers.

And now, a question for you guys - do you do goal setting exercises like this? What works for you to stay intentional in your lives?

*If you can give me good advice on increasing blog traffic and/or proper greyhound care, hit me up in the comments or at valorielovely {at} gmail {dot} com.

P.S. I revamped the blog, so if you're just reading in your RSS feeder, come check out the new about page, the new header, and a few other new things!


  1. Love each of these ideas! I needed a little revamping of my resolutions this year, instead of making a list, i jumped on the "one word" bandwagon & chose BOLD to live out for 2012. i'm excited to see where it leads me.

  2. LOVE the blog header picture!! I can't really help you with blog traffic- I am pretty comfortable with my slow traffic, but I have a friend who really works on hers. She posts almost every day, tweets links to her post several times during the day, setup network blog so when she publishes a post, it automatically posts to her Facebook page for her friends and family to see, she also actively participates in link-ups on other blogs, comments regularly on a lot of blogs (prompting their owners to come back to hers) and has even attended two of the blogger conferences/workshops for actual networking. I am not that dedicated, I don't have that kind of time, but it works for her.


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