I received a holiday card from one of my grad school classmates and so when I saw her online yesterday, I chatted her a quick thank you. We hadn’t talked in some time so she asked me what was new. I started by saying that the last half of last year was pretty eventful. In that period, I got laid off, found a new job and moved to a new city. I told her that in that vein, I felt like I hadn’t gotten really all that much done, because a lot of my time was spent in attention-intensive activity (looking for a job, moving, getting settled) rather than living in an organized way. Her feedback was, whoa, yes a lot had happened for me and that hindsight is 20/20, I guess meaning that it’s easy to look back and think more could have been done when in the moment you were just acting to survive.
This post is an honest look back on my last year. Things that I did well. Things that I didn’t. Accomplishments, failures and everything in between.
My “theme” for this year was simplicity. Facing a move after my rent was increased by 30% (welcome to the SF Bay area!), I knew that I was bogged down by a lot of stuff. So I aimed to throw out the unneeded and trim down anything in my life that didn’t need to be there.
My first goal was to see if I could exist as a cord-cutter. I found that I was spending a lot of time not even watching television but rather zoning out with the television on. Living alone, the expense was… well, expensive. So when I moved for the first time this year, I got rid of my cable (using Netflix instead) and I have to be honest: I have never been happier. I took my in-home entertainment cost down from something like $40-60 to $8 and I realized it wasn’t something that I really needed in my life.
In addition to living a simpler life, I aspired to live a more engaged life. Getting rid of cable was one part. I wanted to also read more as I feel like being exposed to new ideas would be good for me. I set out as my year’s goal to read 20 books. At this point in time, I have finished 27 books and am on the last 40 pages of the 28th book. I feel really proud and I am happy to have reignited my love for reading. I would publish all 28 books that I read this year but I kept records in a ledger that I have at my apartment. So I will share that in a bit, either as an addendum to this post or as a separate post.
After I was laid off and had to move to the city of my new job, I decided that I needed to once and for all have a garage sale and see if any of the stuff I was holding onto was actually sellable. I had a garage sale before moving out of my apartment and made about $90, which I think is pretty good. Apart from the money, it was finally doing that thing that I told myself I would always do. Anything that I couldn’t sell I gave to Goodwill. I also just shipped off a large package of clothing to ThredUp, again with the goal of just seeing if I could make any money in the process of getting rid of it.
I don’t know if this fits in with the concept of simplify, but I also lost some friendships in this calendar year, one of which was the girlfriend of the abuser (the excoworker who was “anonymously” posting vile messages in the comments section of this blog) as well as some others. I talk to friends about friendships a lot and we all agree that they change and that they disintegrate if they are no longer based on substance, integrity, truth. And at the core of it, as my friend said many years ago when I was mulling over a then-failing college friendship, “Friends should make you happy.” That’s it. That’s the golden ticket. I don’t think deciding to separate from people is any statement of the other person being bad. I think it’s just the honest confirmation, perhaps to just yourself, that being around that person doesn’t make you happy. It doesn’t make you a better person. It in fact detracts from your sense of satisfaction and is therefore something to minimize. I think, in a nutshell, it’s the idea, “You’re great, but I just need something different.”
Professionally, this year was a mixed bag. I was laid off in July from a job that I realized that I was only staying in 1) for the solid paycheck and 2) for the easy lifestyle. Oh and also the coworkers, because I really did enjoy getting to know a lot of those people. Looking back with the clarify of hindsight, I realized that the leader of my team never liked me and that I should have expedited my efforts to leave on my terms. I am now in a better place where my contributions are appreciated and where my manager thinks highly of the work that I do. (The person who referred me in to the job says that my manager thanks her every time she sees her for referring me in to the role– which I didn’t know and yes, that’s kind of another humblebrag but it made me feel that I’m a much worthier employee than the leader of my team at my prior job ever made me feel.)
I think the one thing I didn’t do a lot of last year was date or really grow my personal network. It hit me harder this year– probably because a lot of my cohorts are getting married (though admittedly a handful are also now getting divorced) and/or having kids. This is something, now that I’m more settled, that I know that I have to focus on next year.
So that is my honest and true assessment of this year. I did a lot. There was a lot of change. But now as I enter 2015, I am going to shift my focus and set out a new set of life goals– which I will address in a future post. But for now, I hope everyone had a great year and if not, there’s a whole new one just around the bend chockfull of opportunity to do what hasn’t yet been done.