What a beautiful year of change for me. I feel a bit strange looking back, the beginning worlds away and yet also just yesterday. Unreal how I welcomed this year utterly clueless and now I’m here — leaping onto a fresh year with more clarity and purpose. I’m not anymore so lost and confused, wondering how the next months would turn out to be. So I thank 2015 for the growth and look onto 2016 with a bigger heart, a deeper purpose and even fiercer passion to live and create and love.
I’ve been spending the past few free nighttimes doing lots of self-evaluation and meditation. It isn’t smart to wait until the end of the year until we decide to make changes in our lives, but since we’re here now, why not? Here are some year-end/new-beginning/any-time growth-essentials you need to do every so often, according to your own timetable. As for me, I constantly do this throughout my year but create fresh, whopping changes towards the end of the year for about 6 years now. These are your magic tools for growth.
1. Evaluate yourself.
Nobody else is going to understand, love, nurture, push, and motivate you the same way you yourself can. It’s your privilege to create a life of genuine joy and fulfillment. And you only get there by taking time to look at your life closely. Besides the good, acknowledge your imperfections, weaknesses and vulnerabilities on a positive light, thinking about how you can slowly grow into a human being you can be more proud of.
I’m my biggest critic and I find that when you’re particular to self-growth, self-love and self-responsibility follows. With yourself, there’s no need to be ashamed, no reason to hide or to pretend — I write straight away all my faults and all that I need to improve on. It’s beyond words humbling and it acts as a reminder for me to never feel settled or to think that the person I am now is the best I can be. The gift is constant growth and it might just be the best asset in the world after love.
2. Take things slow.
Relax, meditate and get lots of delicious sleep! You’ve been unstoppable the entire year, now’s your time to breathe and let go for a bit. Find that stillness can be just as fulfilling as the hustle and the bustle of your typical days. You deserve all that silent goodness.
I’m having a hard time slowing down no matter how badly I want to the past weeks. It’s because I’ve set for myself a defined working schedule I promise to keep up with while I can. But I promise to hide all work on December 31st though — 24 hours of nothingness for me and I can’t wait any longer!
3. Celebrate your littlest achievements.
We’re so set on more goals and bigger dreams sometimes, we forget to celebrate the ones we’ve already achieved and overcome. Think hard about the year you’ve lived, looking for those little spurts of growth and upswings you’re proud of. It can be anything really — it may be giving up a bad habit or being able to reach your goal of saving some money up consistently — and then celebrate each one by rewarding yourself with something good and well-deserved. To me more hours of rest is enough but snagging that dress you’ve been eyeing on for months doesn’t sound too bad too!
In my case, I’m proud of myself for remaining kind and peaceable even when it gets hard, the balance that I’ve achieved along the months, losing about 26 pounds towards the latter part of the year (and hardly thinking about it!), and forever the courage to keep pursuing dreams I feel are beyond me. I have to admit I don’t dwell on my achievements as much as I should, always pushing past them to work on even more. I promise to slow down and do better at acknowledging my littlest accomplishments once 2016 arrives.
4. Set defined, realistic goals of good purpose.
Don’t ever get overwhelmed by the idea of goals. They’re not meant to pressure you, they act as blazing pointers, guiding you to the right path if you allow them. They don’t have to be grand either — they just have to lead you somewhere brighter, to a place of higher purpose. You won’t get there right away, it’s going to be real hard and sometimes you would want to give up, and maybe someday you’ll even decide to head somewhere else but hey, you won’t be miserable if you don’t reach your endpoint because that’s not what counts here anyway. The destination might be beautiful, but the adventures along the way have always been the fun part, I’m sure all of us will agree. Simply put, goals are designed to keep you going.
I have a ton of goals of all kinds on my list, some of which I’d have to admit are very dreamy (but in my heart are still very very feasible!) but I’ll share five in the meantime: to get rid of most of my belongings (the plan is to fit my life into one suitcase by 2017), work on publishing 8 posts on The Gypsy Soul every month, eat more mindfully and lessen on the rice and chocolates, downsize my Internet hours from about 10 hours (when I’m working the entire day) to a max of 4 hours a day, and last, to dedicate at least 5 hours a week for a much-deserved quiet whitespace for meditation. Maybe soon I can share the rest.
5. Let go.
Declutter your life and keep things as simple and real as could be. It shouldn’t be that hard — it’s a favor you can and must do for yourself if you want to live happier. So let go, slowly, carefully — of people who don’t do you any good, of all your unnecessary belongings, even goals or pressures you put upon yourself that may not be good for you. Find that life becomes so much lighter when you let go.
As I’ve previously mentioned I need to let go of unhealthy food, Internet hours and lots of belongings. Some more would include a lot of inner negativities and self-doubt, other time-wasting habits (like swearing in my head still at rare times or touching my face/zits when I’m not supposed to) or the pressure I place upon myself to please everybody. A big change this year was to let go of photography in the meantime while I pursue wilder dreams, and while it wasn’t the easiest thing to do, I see now how important it is to zone in on only a few priorities at a time. Letting go should always be a good thing.
6. Do something you love.
I know a lot of people who are so struck with the “realities” of life and forget about the persons they really are, completely losing their grip on their real loves and all the passion they hold inside. Nobody said this is how it’s supposed to work, not even God. In the very beginning, our purpose is love and joy. Blame it on the world and our imperfections for making twisted societal norms. Brush them aside for a while if you can’t completely and for once, do something you feel strong love for. Maybe it’s to spend more time writing poetry, or why not scratch that trip to Korea off your bucket list? I don’t see how (pure) love can ever be wrong.
This is SO important to me since I’m set on pursuing this bighearted passion project that I’ve been working on for the past two months this year. Another wild one would be to go on a lone trip to wherever the wind takes me this year. We’ll see.
7. Be grateful.
Face it, your life is turbulent maelstrom of blessings both in disguise and so obvious, being grateful could easily be the easiest task on this list. Don’t do this just when you have time for it, be grateful every day, at every moment, every second if you can. There’s good in every single thing. Just look at how strong you’ve become because your lover cheated on you some years ago. You might not like your job but it feeds your bubbly, happy children. And you have barely any savings but you’re surrounded by loving people who swear by having your back when you need them.
You know me, I’m grateful for everything. But this year, I’m most grateful for the courage to let go of other dreams in the meantime, brighter ideas and passion projects that leave me restless the entire day, the beautiful heart of my best friend who cares for me in the most painfully honest ways, to know and be loved and taken care of by Jehovah, for life everyday and the zest to live it to the full. There are millions more where that comes from and I’d gladly tell all if I can.
8. And last, give yourself a theme for 2016.
Do this only if you make big changes every time a new year comes. (Hands down to you rad human beings who don’t wait until the new calendar year to pursue changes and resolutions!) Otherwise, choose a theme for whenever it works for you — yearly is the norm but monthly and weekly sounds amazing too. Themes are generally more broad than defined goals, setting the stage for how you intend to live your life for a certain period of time. This becomes your core motivation, helping you to become proactive in taking steps every day, no matter how small, towards achieving your goals. They work hand in hand.
My friend Maine introduced this concept to me when we met for a lunch date at the beginning of this year. I easily said “move”. 2014 was very limiting for me when I had to go back to a campus for six months. I felt like a lost too many months of time, energy and passion I could’ve given what really matters — not grades, pleasing my professors or taking photographs only because I was required to. So I said 2015 has to be about making things happen, transitioning to the life that I want, moving endlessly as I try everyday. I haven’t finalized one for 2016 just yet but it will revolve around taking risks and being more honest.
I pray that you have a beautiful 2016 ahead of you, genuine hearts! It’s not going to be perfect but it’s going to be exactly how it’s supposed to be. Revel in all of it, sink deep into the good and the bad, stay grateful and no matter what happens, keep going and enjoy the ride! This is life happening right before our eyes — let’s live it to the full.
Much love, C
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Journal entries of my life in stories this 2015:
Looking back and sharing quick stories from a 2014 I hardly got to share about on the online journal, and welcoming a new year with 30 goals to live by. I’m re-working on this post and updating the goals according to how I faired this year so don’t be surprised if you find a messy post. I’ll get to it soonest!
The uncertainty of 2015’s early months. Free as a bird and ready for whatever will come my way. I start to book more photography work and other opportunities open up my way.
The mess of life in between. Full days of random anything and everything with all sorts of people that I love, but honestly mostly confusion inside. The adventures keep me sane.
Transitioning to an unfamiliar but equally passionate life. Life is the fullest it’s been but I almost never touch my camera anymore as I think and write more and more about another wild passion.
My journal entry for the months of October, November and December. A life changed. Work-filled days, hardly wanting to sleep and never leaving the city.