Intention for a New Year

My favorite time to reflect is with a view // March 2016, El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico

2016 was… well, not as good as 2015. But there was good in it.

I will always be biased towards 2015 because it was the year I studied abroad in Budapest, my home away from home. However, I think it is better to appreciate 2015 for all that it gave me, rather than compare it to 2016.

In 2016 I found myself in new places as well: Puerto Rico, New York City, Los Angeles, and even Arkansas and Wisconsin. Though in my ideal world I would have traveled even more, I cherish each new location I visit.

As I see everyone say “good riddance” to 2016, I can’t help but dwell on my own downturns this past year. However, each down also had a corresponding up. I moved apartments in Chicago three times; despite the exhausting process and moving fees, I made friends with new roommates and experienced Chicago from a slightly different perspective with each move. I landed a coveted internship… and then learned it was not for me; but without that experience, I would not have learned what I am looking for in the future. In 2016 I turned 21; while being 21 has been fun, it has also caused me to neglect my health. I have fallen into ruts and neglected to cultivate my hobbies into passions (namely, not writing enough); but I have also simplified my life. I’ve faced rejection and learned to pick myself back up.

However, 2016 also brought many ups that didn’t come with a down. I made some incredible new friends, strengthened bonds with old friends, and learned so much about myself and the kind of life I want to live.

Last year around this time I wrote a post with my resolutions for 2016. As I read them over now, I’m surprised I actually followed through on most of them. I further embraced minimalism, I read more than usual, I learned more Chinese, I nurtured relationships, and I learned to live more in the present (I took a lesson from Dan Harris: each time I find myself worrying, I ask myself, “is this useful?” Try it for yourself – it’s a very powerful tool.)

But, I also failed at some resolutions. I did not prioritize my well-being. Something I say is one of my top priorities somehow became less of one. I gave meditation an honest effort, but it didn’t stick. I even read a whole book about it and still can’t get myself to meditate for five minutes a day. I didn’t learn how to code or use Google Analytics in my free time; rather I opted for more passive activities.

Did I make too many goals? Perhaps. Or perhaps “goals” or “resolutions” are the wrong words entirely. Rather than forgetting last year’s resolutions to make new ones for this year, isn’t it better to create an intention? And to carry each intention year to year, so instead of forgetting the old, we build on top of each one. To move in a direction with intention, rather than with an end destination in mind. Removing the pressure of quantifiable goals allows us to be happy with the way we simply live and move through life. Goodbye, SMART goals.

This year, I intend to challenge habits. Why do I habitually stay up too late? Why do I forget to floss? I intend to question myself. What can I do to enact positive change?

Truth be told, 2017 scares me a little. I’m graduating from college, I don’t have a full-time job lined up yet, and I have no idea where I will be living a year from now. I’m scared of paying off student loans and not having saved enough money to travel after I graduate. But as the saying goes, do things that scare you. Because you’re not growing if you’re comfortable. So here’s to the growth that lies ahead, and to 2017.

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