A lot of people say they don’t like resolutions, and make the point that you don’t have to wait for a random day of the year to start changing. I agree to some extent – anytime is the right time to make a change – BUT I also love that New Year’s is a time of year that reminds you to take some time out of your busy every day life to reflect. Who am I and what have I accomplished? Is that who I want to be and what I set out to do? If not, what can I do to change that?
Most of the blog posts I’ve seen that take some time to look back on 2011 share a similar tone: the year was awesome and the best ever. But honestly, for me, 2011 wasn’t a super exciting year for me. I broke the world record in 2010 by finishing all my marathons – and in 2011, I stopped running as many, because I had gotten kind of burnt out (61 marathons in 2.5 years will do that to you). I got a new job in 2010, and 2011 just found me sticking with it and enjoying my work. I broke up with my last serious boyfriend in 2010, and I didn’t really find anyone I was excited about dating for more than a few weeks in 2011.
But you know what? That’s all just fine with me. It wasn’t a bad year; it just wasn’t a momentous year, and any athlete knows that to be your best, you need periods of rest and rebuilding mixed in with the PR attempts. 2011 got me pumped and primed for a fabulous 2012, and I have some big things brewing!
Later this afternoon, I’m off to a New Year’s brunch with my girlfriends, where we’re opening our “book of resolutions” we made last year to see how we stack up. I kept an electronic sticky note of my nine resolutions (yes, I dream big) on my computer desktop, so opening the book isn’t going to be a surprise – but since I’m still working on my resolutions for this year, I thought I’d spend the morning looking back, the afternoon looking forward, and then I’ll write about my new goals tomorrow. So here we go!
Given how much I sit hunched over my laptop, I wanted to work on improving my posture – and I said I’d take a dance or yoga class at least once a month. I definitely took more than a dozen dance/yoga classes in 2011, but it wasn’t on a regular basis. However, I posted in early December about making this a bigger focus for the last month of the year, and I spent the last week taking a ton of dance classes (thank you, Broadway Dance, for offering a great Groupon deal that inspired me to come back to dance and remember why I loved ballet for 18 years… I’ll be back to it more!). My posture isn’t quite as exemplary as it used to be when I was dancing all the time, but I think it’s better than it was at the beginning of the year, so I’ll call this a win.
I also had a kind of nebulous goal to work on my fitness, which I quantified in different ways in different places. I still haven’t done a single unassisted pullup, but I don’t really care about that as a measure of fitness anymore. Let’s be real – I live on the 19th floor of a high rise; I don’t think being able to do a pullup is going to help me break into my apartment when I lock myself out (which I did twice this weekend because I am that awesome). I also set a goal of doing a 5 minute plank, but then I found so many better ways to work my core (hi, Insanity and its never ending burpee/pushup combos) that I haven’t done a timed plank in months. So much for those goals! But I spent the year trying a lot of different fitness routines (Insanity, Rachel Cosgrove’s Female Body Breakthrough) – and classes (Kangoo, Zumba, and just this week some dance classes at Broadway Dance) – and managed to close out the year not having gained a pound. Given how much I travel (according to Foursquare, this is the first week in 24 weeks that I haven’t been on a plane) and get stuck eating most of my meals in restaurants, that’s enough of a health/fitness accomplishment for me.
I wanted to read 100 books this year, and I did! Okay, so maybe I finished the last 30 pages of my 100th book this morning, but since I read the other 361 pages in 2011, that’s where I’m counting it. I got to read a lot of really awesome books, and thanks to GoodReads, I was able to track them all and share recommendations with friends. I’m definitely keeping this goal for next year – great success!
Goal #4 was another one that I rocked: to get some culture and visit at least four new countries this year. True to my overachieving nature, I killed on that one – visiting six new countries (Bahamas, Switzerland, France, St. Maarten, Japan, and Peru) and two new continents (Asia and South America). I really had a great time exploring the world, and I think travel has helped me grow so much as a person – definitely a big part of the whole how-I-spent-2011-gearing-up-to-be-great.
Up next: stop swearing. Oops. I didn’t try for this one at all (despite it staring me in the face on my list on a daily basis). On a positive note, while I didn’t become the kind of person who says cute phrases like “oopsie daisies” or “oh, fudge” when something goes wrong, I’m a lot less concerned about it than I was a year ago – so I think I have improved at least to a point where it’s not as noticeable to me.
However, my next goal, to floss daily, more than makes up for this one. I really got in the flossing habit, to the point where I felt a little bit uncomfortable the night when I used up my floss and had to go without. While on vacation this week, I hit the dentist for my regular checkup, and it went perfectly. He even complimented my flossing, noting that my gums were in great shape and he could tell! Hooray. Big win there, especially since it’s become so natural to me that I don’t even think about it anymore – and can use that brain space for something better.
I didn’t spend all year going to bed early and “making up the difference if I don’t get at least seven hours of sleep on a night, with no exceptions.” Too much life to live! But this last week when I’ve been on vacation and have been able to go to bed whenever and wake up whenever, my body has settled into a comfy routine of 8 hours of sleep, and I feel great – so I ended the year on an upswing. While I didn’t do that incredibly anal “make it up with no exceptions” thing (did I seriously write that?), I’ve gotten better at listening to my body and learning how much sleep it needs. I’ve also started putting myself first in that regard – doing things like calling it an early night when I’m tired even if my friends/coworkers are pressuring me to stay out. I may make a self-deprecating joke about being elderly when I decide to hit the hay at 9pm, but at least I’ve grown up enough to just go to bed and not care what people think. I’m proud of that.
On a similar note, I also didn’t spend all year checking in to see if I had “put myself out there at least once each week”, but this was another one where I care a lot less about the goal than I once did – and I see that as a sign of growth. I went to a lot of events and met a lot of new people, but am still single – and I’m fine with that. Sometimes I wish I had a partner-in-crime to do everything with, but my (male) best friend has been a great fill in for things like being my company holiday party date, and I’ve also grown a lot by doing things on my own. Traveling to Peru for a weeklong vacation by myself, and thoroughly enjoying myself the whole time? Yes, I am a strong and independent woman! I could never have done that a year ago, and I’m so glad that I did.
Finally, a goal to keep working on: cleaning out my room, redecorating my living room, and streamlining my possessions. I did a bit of this and of course could always do more, so let’s just make this ongoing instead of a point in time goal. I read a great post on materialism/minimalism this morning that has provided a lot of food for thought, and with two days left in my vacation, hopefully it will inspire me to keep paring down to those meaningful possessions. In a small NYC apartment, it’s quality over quantity!
Overall, some wins and some draws – but I don’t think I had any true losses in 2011. For such a long list, I’m pretty pleased with that, and feeling ready and excited to take on 2012. Happy New Year!