I’m not really big on New Year’s Resolutions. They seem to suggest to me that only at the beginning we can change and grow, but I believe working on yourself is a continuous process throughout life — a difficult one at that. It’s not one declaration you make at the start of a new calendar year, and ‘TA DAH!’ you are automatically a ‘better’ you.
That being said, despite my views I happened to find myself in a ‘New Year, New You’ type situation right before my Christmas holidays in December. I had just finished work, and it had been an exceptionally long day. I needed a beer. I wasn’t quite ready to face my 40 minute commute home on the metro, shoved into some tall man’s armpit like a sardine, only to continue work for my other job at home, and maybe get to some of my own research (if I could keep my eyes open long enough). During the course of said beer (delicious I might add), I started to think about my approaching holidays. I found myself saying, “I CANNOT WAIT to get out of here!!”
But…that vehement thought made me pause. I asked myself, “Sarah you live in PARIS. What is wrong with you? Why do you feel this way??”
And that was it.
I realized that somewhere along the way this past year, I had stopped living. I had begun to simply exist. The mundane routines had taken over.
So, I drank down the rest of my happy hour libation and came to a decision. Existing was so 2014, and I was SO over it. 2015 was going to be different. I was going to LIVE! (Yes, go ahead and laugh at the cheese)
Coincidentally, 2015 also happens to be my 30th on this planet. Naturally, like most individuals approaching the end of their 20s, I find myself often reflecting on the last 10 years with smiles and tears (fretting about what I haven’t figured out yet), while looking towards the future 10 with both excitement and a bit of trepidation (hoping and praying I’ve learned something along the way that will be useful). If you are anything like me, you’re constantly reading articles in hopes of finding wisdom or tricks to unlocking the secrets of the next decade (personally I’ve found this one from the Huffington Post quite wonderful).
Maybe some of you can relate. Maybe not.
Of course no list of rules or tips can unlock the keys to happiness and fulfillment. No one can do that for you other than you. You are the master of your destiny, as they say, and I needed to take mine back. So, I decided to get a head start on living year 30 (which officially arrives in May). I didn’t want to continue to feel this horrible weight of existing. I made a list, a list of 30 things I want to do more/less of or try to do in my year 30 (Hint: I focused on things — big and small — that truly make me happy). I want to build a better, more complete me. I want to move through the days feeling like I’ve soaked all I can from each sunrise and sunset. I want to face this new decade with confidence and an anxious excitement. I want year 30 to be the BEST yet.
So I’ll share my top 15 with you. Some are a bit silly, while others a bit more serious. Maybe they’ll be things that make you happy too, or remind you of that long forgotten activity that use to bring you so much joy. It’s never too late to bring it back.
1. Go to the movies at least once a week.
This might seem silly, but film makes me ridiculously happy, especially the experience at the cinema. I even pay monthly for a pass that lets me go as often as I want. Yet, from September 2014 to December 2014, I went to the movies twice. FAIL. This year, I’ve been keeping a list of films I want to see and checking them off (Yes. Lists keep me accountable and are strangely satisfying each time I cross something off).
2. Finish both theses.
So this one is most likely specific to just me because I don’t know anyone else on this earth that would put themselves through writing two MA theses at the same time. I’m crazy. I’ve lost it. Most days I hate it, BUT the satisfaction of turning those papers in after years (yes YEARS) of research is going to be the sweetest, sweetest victory. I will most likely drink copious amounts of wine and dance around my favorite wine bar, Chez Babo, like a smiling idiot. I WON’T CARE. I will be the Master squared.
I love to paint. It is my passion. The smell of the oil, the feel of my palette knife moving across the canvas creating textures and colors of my own vision — there is nothing quite like it. I bought a canvas at the beginning of last year. That canvas is still blank, sitting on top of my wardrobe, a reminder of what’s missing in my life. I don’t plan on leaving it that way for long, making time for the things we love is too important. Go. Pick up that brush. Take that dance class. Join that rock climbing club. Whatever your passion is — DO IT. The empty parts of your soul will start to fill up again. I guarantee it.
4. Drink more water/less caffeine
Right so, after reading my billionth article on the benefits of drinking more water (my skin, hair, figure, health, less fatigue, etc., etc.), I figured there must be some kind of validity to this argument, and I’m almost 30. We make responsible decisions about our health now. Right? Whatever. Anyway, the more water part has been good so far. I actually do feel better…However, I make no comment for the less caffeine. (Those of you who know me well will understand this)
5. Read more for fun, and actually finish the book
It’s difficult sometimes with all the reading I do everyday for research at work and then research at home to find time to pick up a book where I can just enjoy the story. Losing myself in the events and characters of another place and time is a type of therapy for me, and an important one for my sanity. Don’t deny yourself those things you know are your simple pleasures in life. It’s a beautiful recharge.
FYI, I made a list for books too. I’m telling you, lists are KEY (even if your list just says ‘get out of bed,’ ‘shower.’ — these are accomplishments people!!).
6. Lay off the self-guilt — it’s your own worst enemy
We are usually our own biggest critics. As I have learned well in the past 6 months, the way you see yourself is most likely nowhere near another person’s perception of you. You are talented! You are strong! You are accomplished! Dr. Seuss says it oh so well with “Oh the places you’ll go!” Start believing it.
7. Take at least one day a week and switch off
Everyone needs to recharge and regain their sanity — whether that means a movie, a book, sleep, yoga, whatever — make sure you give yourself time to just be with you. Getting to know yourself and like yourself will be one of your greatest advantages in life. You will realize that it’s ok to be selfish sometimes, and NO you don’t have to feel guilty for taking ONE day to do nothing. (See above point 6)
8. Say thank you more
You can never tell the people in your life too much how grateful you are for their presence, their grace, and at times even their help. Not one of us is completely self-sufficient. Human beings need other human beings at one point or another in our lives for one reason or another. Don’t let your pride push people away. I would have never made it through this past year without the dear family and friends in my life, and I want to make sure they know how thankful I am for their selflessness, encouragement, and never-ending support.
9. Go to a museum exhibition once a month
I realized in my almost year and a half living in Paris, I had only been to ONE museum since arriving. WHAAAAA??? THIS MUST BE FIXED IMMEDIATELY. Art nerd FAIL.
10. Start a new blog
Yup. You guessed it. What you’re reading right here is part of my 30 in year 30. I love writing, and I had taken a couple of years off from blogging. Looking back, I’m not really sure why, but I realized I missed it dearly. So, here we are again. 🙂
11. Pay off my credit card
Like most of my peers either already in their 30s or fast approaching, we are suddenly all too aware that we really need to get our financial s*** together because let’s face it, we all still really want to reach that place in life where we can do this:
Also, having the ability to retire while I still have my teeth has its appeal.
12. Finish learning French
I have struggled more than I’d like to admit during my time in France to learn their language. It’s coming along, but I’ve never been very good at patience. I also find it incredibly frustrating that I continue to have confused discussions with people for 10 minutes involving me repeating the same phrase over and over, only to have them say “Ooooooh!” and repeat exactly what I said, how I said it. -_- However, I am bound and determined to be fluent by the time I leave here, and I WILL do it. Languages are such an enriching way to experience different cultures and their nuances. Pick one. Learn it. You won’t be disappointed.
13. Exercise more
Whether that physical activity is running, stretching, yoga, kickboxing — I’ve realized just how much we need the charge and relaxation exercise gives us. I’ve kept it simple and taken the pressure off jumping into a boot camp style routine that I will hate. This is part of my relaxation, and any physical activity is better than none at all. I find that yoga is especially brilliant after a long, stressful day (with or without wine. 😉 )
14. Do something each month that scares you
It doesn’t matter how big or small that ‘something’ is. What is important is your willingness to continue to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. I never want to be complacent — this is when existing rather than living sets in.
As important as being thankful for those around you is in life, forgiveness is equally paramount. Holding on to negativity from your past will serve you no purpose in your future. I try really hard to be well-versed in the art of forgiveness, but it is difficult at times and requires infinite amounts of patience (again I struggle with this ‘virtue’). There are also instances where only deep reflection can reveal areas where my heart has not completely forgiven others that have hurt me. If I don’t constantly revisit my inner-self (I don’t care how corny that sounds–it’s true), I wind up harboring animosity that will serve no productive purpose for moving forward, but instead hinder progress. Don’t be afraid to dig deep. The way to let go of our past is to face it head on and then release it.
16. And…if the opportunity presents itself to love — don’t compare it to the past — love openly and take a risk
This one is perhaps the most difficult, but I really want to grow this year. I wouldn’t be the first human being to carry baggage and scars with me into new relationships. We all have it. We all do it. My last relationship though, I realized that I compared too much, feared too much, and maybe…just maybe wished too much. Had I been completely an all-in, risk-taker from the start, vocalizing these sentiments, maybe I would have realized it wasn’t right sooner rather than later. Instead, I stayed on my tip toes, afraid of screwing it up, wishing and hoping that maybe I got it right this time. I won’t do that anymore. If it isn’t right, well, I’d rather know by being completely direct and open from day one, rather than wasting precious months on someone who doesn’t value my time the way I value theirs. Life is too short to live it any other way. Spend your minutes and hours with those who truly appreciate you.
So that’s just over half of my 30 in year 30 list. Needless to say I’m going to be busy this year. Of course that’s not to say that I’ll be perfect at adhering to this list everyday (and I confess, I spent all of yesterday in bed sleeping. It was glorious, and it made me happy–again see point 6). But…I hope that if you’re in a place where you’re just existing rather than living, this list has made you pause a moment and think. I hope that you revisit your daily routine.
Are you doing everything you love?
Is something missing?
We’re here such a short time on this planet. Make the most of it.
(yes. I said it. :p)