Looking Back at 2015 and Setting Intentions for the Year Ahead

2015 has been a year of change. I became an aunt, got a promotion, went through a breakup, made new friends, and explored new hobbies (mono-printing, anyone?).

As the year comes to a close, I want to reflect on some of these changes and set goals for the year to come (the first being to live intentionally — thus, this blog).

Thinking about what I’ve accomplished isn’t something that comes naturally to me. Generally, feelings of success and pride quickly give way to anxiety and inadequacy — there’s always more to do, more to see.

Many of my peers, women especially, can relate to feeling less-than. Like no matter what we do or how much we accomplish it will never be enough — and the truth is, it won’t. Life is constantly evolving and there will always be some new challenge to meet. If we measure our worth through material accomplishments, we’ll always feel inadequate.

In my experience, and as cheesy as it sounds, feeling “enough” has only come from within—through self-care, meditation, and service to others.

That said, spending time reflecting on achievements has proven to increase feelings of pride and self-confidence.

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” — Anna Quindlen

Recounting some successes over the past year isn’t about giving myself a pat on the back, it’s about recognizing how I’ve changed and being grateful for the support and opportunities I receive on a daily basis.

So, without further ado (or qualifications), here are some things I’m proud of accomplishing in 2015.

1. Learned new skills.

I’ve never regretted my Liberal Arts degree. It’s prepared me to think critically and creatively about business challenges while giving me the flexibility to apply what I’ve learned to a number of career opportunites. But at the start of the year, I was feeling stunted by my lack of hard business skills, especially since I’d like to start my own business one day. That’s why enrolled in a Business Fundamentals and Tactics course at General Assembly.

Throughout the class, I built a business model, wrote a business plan, and developed a financial model for my final project/fake business — The Coffee Bar — a café that serves coffees from around the world. Think of your favorite craft beer joint — only with coffee.

Taking this class not only improved my confidence in the business world but gave me the opportunity to network with a variety of talented students — from product managers to software developers and small business owners.

2. Started teaching.

An unforeseen benefit of the course was a reminder of how much I love being in the classroom. Something about learning new concepts and discussing ideas makes me feel hopeful and excited—reminding me that life is never stagnant and we always have the opportunity to evolve. 
 After BFT ended, I was looking for ways to stay involved, and my instructor suggested that I look into teaching a class myself. Soon, I landed a position as an Expert in Residence for GA’s 10-week Digital Marketing course.

DGM dream team! Jon, Deb, and Mallory.

Joining the instructional team for DGM not only encouraged me to take a deep dive into a variety of digital marketing topics, but also helped me discover my passion for teaching. Helping students learn the tools they need to grow their businesses or change their careers has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my own work experience.

3. Explored new places.

In 2015, I made it a point to take day trips outside of the city. Who knows how long I’ll be in New York (hopefully a while!), so I want to make sure I soak up as much of the city and surrounding area as possible.

Hiking upstate with friends

I went hiking at Bear Mountain and Breakneck ridge, camping upstate, took beach trips to the Rockaways, explored Dia:Beacon and Storm King, and even made it up to the Cloisters! (I know Harlem isn’t out of the city—but damn, it’s a long ride on the A train).

Exploring the Old City in Montreal

I was also lucky enough to take longer trips to Myrtle Beach, Vermont, Montreal, and even Hawaii!

Rainbow over Diamond Head crater in Honolulu, HI.

Traveling is very important to me— it’s helped to expand my worldview, teach me about other cultures, and generally makes me feel “alive.” But it’s important to appreciate the culture we can experience in our own “backyard.” Especially in New York.

4. Tried new hobbies.

I’ve never been the type of person to sit still. So this year, I wrangled all that nervous energy into trying some new things.

After some practice, I managed to string together a few chords and make it sound intelligible!

Learning some power chords.

I also tried my hand at mono-printing (aka dipping stuff into ink and making it look pretty by stamping it on another piece of paper).

Some prints.

To be honest, having hobbies used to stress me out. I felt like I HAD to do things in order to seem worthy or interesting (especially in a place like New York where everyone has a million not-so-secret talents). Now, I’m working on taking myself less seriously and doing things because I like them, not to seem cool or interesting.

5. Made a personal website.

Building an online portfolio has been on my bucket list for a while, and this year, I finally did it (Thanks Squarespace!). Goekp.com is a simple site, just to show my professional network who I am and what I’m working toward career-wise.

My Squarespace site; a work of genius.

I think it’s important to not only show potential employers your professional goals and accomplishments but also to remind yourself. Putting my website together forced me to think critically about my career and my own “personal brand.”

Phew! Now that that’s over, on to the fun part…

Goals for 2016

  1. Live intentionally.

Every day we have the chance to evaluate what we do and why we do it. From what we eat for breakfast to who we spend time with on the weekends—we make a million little choices that ultimately shape who we are.

We make most of these decisions passively because the solution seems to be right in front of us—pass the cornflakes, sure I’ll watch another episode of Parks and Rec. But life isn’t infinite and things don’t just magically come into place—the little choices we make matter.

So this year, I’m vowing to spend more time reflecting (can you tell?) to understand why I do what I do, and make changes where necessary. Most of my goals below reflect this ultimate resolution, but I’m consciously choosing to spell them out anyway ;).

2. Be careful about what I consume (intellectually and nutritionally).

Like most of us, I spend more time than I’d like to admit mindless scrolling through my Facebook News Feed, clicking on everything from economic trends in China to who Miley Cyrus may or may not be dating.

This year, I want to be more critical about what type of content I consume, and when I’m interested in learning about a topic, commit to it, without distraction.

When you commit to a subject fully, you becoming emotionally connected, increasing your ability to recall facts and internalize the information. Mediation helps because it trains your mind to be in the moment.

The same goes for food. I try to eat well, but more often than not I’m making myself a PB&J for dinner. So this year, I’m going to focus on cooking more using organic ingredients to sustain my mind and body.

2. Run 365 miles.

Running has always been my preferred method of working out. It clears my mind, improves focus, and allows me to set mini-goals, increasing confidence and drive (one more mile!).

This year, I was inspired by Mark Zuckerburg’s resolution to run 365 miles (just a mile per day). So my goal is to run at least 7 miles per week. If I miss a day, I know I have to make it up.

Ultimately, I’ll be training to run the Brooklyn Half in March, so hopefully, I’ll surpass this goal. I even joined a running club to help me train!

3. Read at least 5 books off the New York Times Greatest Books of All Time list.

Admittedly, my reading has declined since moving to New York and joining the workforce. I’m always “too busy” to just sit down and read. And when I do have time, I often experience decision paralysis (so many books, so little time…). According to Pew research, I’m not alone. Fewer Americans than ever before are reading books for pleasure.

I firmly believe that reading plays a crucial role in shaping our ideas as individuals and a nation. And while reading’s role in our society has given way to other forms of entertainment (Podcasts are my favorite), I want to do my part to ensure we are not facing the death of reading.

4. Visit at least two new American cities.

Can you believe I’ve never been to Nashville? Or Austin? Or Chicago? Me neither! This year I’m hoping to change that by making it out to a few new places whether with friends or alone.

5. Be nicer to myself.

I’m really hard on myself. All the time. And to be honest, it’s exhausting. Maybe it’s age (a true sage at 25), but I want to stop feeling inadequate. I’ve had too many blessings in life not to enjoy it.

So in addition to being a part of a gratitude list with friends (I highly recommend it) I am going to work on treating myself like I would treat a friend—that is with kindness, patience, and understanding.

6. Keep learning.

I’ve already signed up to take a front-end web development class in February, and I am super excited! I’ll often have ideas for apps or websites I want to build, but I’m not able to actually do it because I don’t have the technical skills. This class will give me a fuller understanding of how the web works and give me the skills to actually build things, instead of just daydream about them.

So that’s it! That’s my list. I hope this has inspired you to think about your own accomplishments over the past year, and give yourself some props. You’ve earned ‘em.