2016 Year in Review

Taking a cue from Chris Guillebeau, author of The Happiness of Pursuit (you can read my review here), I sat down this last week to go over everything from my 2016 year. This exercise wasn’t necessarily about reliving every single outside event beyond my control, but rather what I felt I had accomplished in the span of twelve months and how I could improve for 2017. This isn’t about making resolutions so much as it is observing your habits and working toward achievable goals.

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A recent sketch working on expressions.

I found it difficult to think back on the beginning of this year. I just remember everything being so dark, and it took me a long while before I actually found some positives I could write down. I’d improved student test scores, changed my students’ lives, and explored New York City. Those were great things, but overall the reflection didn’t start flowing better until I hit the end of May, which as life would have it, was when I quit my job. More good things started coming to mind: the summer of the road trip, sharing my poetry at a reading, spending more time with family and friends, picking up more creative habits, submitting to literary magazines.

When I was tasked with thinking about the things I was most proud of accomplishing this year, the very first one I wrote down was, “Quitting my job as a teacher.” We have given “quitting” such a strong, negative connotation that I kept telling myself I shouldn’t list it as something to be proud of. I still struggle with that frame of thought, but I know it was the best thing for me to do at the time. Last academic year I had about 3-4 different serious health scares. After quitting my job, I have had none. I am not constantly crying about my frustrations. I am not constantly living or working in an anxiety-inducing fear that I’m doing something wrong or that I’m not doing enough. I am actually happy again. I can actually breathe. I don’t have to be a teacher to love my students, and the funny thing is, those fantastic kids already knew that. So yes, that deserves the top spot of the year, because the best decisions are always the life-changing ones.

The next step was to write down a few things I could have done better. I’ll be straight-up honest here people, if I’m not on a professional schedule, it’s always going to be my time management. If it’s just my time I waste, I’ve never felt it was that big of a deal – until I’m lying awake in my bed thinking of all the crap I didn’t do and should do tomorrow. If I’m at work with other people depending on my ability to get shit done, it’ll get done, and likely earlier than expected. Disappointing people is probably one of my greatest fears, so yeah. Don’t ask me to explain the logic behind my crazy. I would also like to improve on my budgetary skills to the point where I don’t feel shopper’s remorse every time I need to purchase something, but I’d also like more self-control in that area as well. My friend said she thought I had great self-control, and I’m sitting here eating a cookie thinking she must be mistaking me for someone else (I’ve been trying to eat better…). Being more assertive in social situations and having a positive attitude more often wrap up that short list.

Favorite memories come next, and this was easy. All of them had to do with travel. While I have had to change next year’s travel plans due to employment complications, it was nice to still be able to move around, even if it was just between a few states. New York City was amazing of course, and I would love to return. I went on a number of small road trips, and they all led me to wonderful people if not places.

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Flying over the Rockies.

The final task for this review was to identify actions that would lead to or continue my successes in the new year. This is where all my planning was able to be put on paper. All those projects I had started putting into motion in October would finally be ready to come to fruition. I will save the majority of that section for a future blog post, but the final one is important. The final point brings everything full circle. Instead of “find” employment, as if it is going to magically appear as I trudge through online job postings, I wrote “get” employment. Actively acquire. And as I get ready to enter this new year, I’m realizing more that my mindset needs to change, that I need to change. I need to grow and put in the work because good intentions will never be enough.

As we brush off the dust of 2016, I hope we also brush off the negativity and make room for the hope and the drive to make 2017 better. Happy New Year.

 

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