Things I'm Changing in 2017

How do you feel about new year’s resolutions? I have a few thoughts on the subject. For one, I don’t think you need the blank canvas of a new calendar year in front of you to make a change or set a new goal. That said, the holidays seem to be a natural time for reflection and looking ahead, and the mark of a new year can feel like a solid turning point within the continuum of time.

I’ve also found that new year’s resolutions, in the traditional sense, often seem to come from a deep, dark sector of self-improvement that feels more like punishment and restriction than empowerment and health. Last year, I thought I had beat the system by setting some long-term goals and painting a picture of what I wanted my life to look like 12 months down the road. Even that practice, however, seemed to stifle the self-exploration, experimentation, and most of all, patience that’s necessary when it comes to seeking happiness … because isn’t that the point of new year’s resolutions in the first place? To find more happiness by the end of the year than we had at the start?

This year, I’m being even nicer to myself. I listed some things to focus on (I’m not calling them goals) and thought about the pieces of my life that are most important to me. You won’t find most of those in this blog post — I’m learning to hold some aspirations closer to my chest — but I did want to share a few things I’m excited to change in the coming year.

Here’s to always feeling like a badass, exuding your own flavor of confidence, and not letting other people’s bullshit bring you down in 2017. Cheers!

1. Bringing More Aggression to My Workouts

I had a realization around Christmastime. I noticed it’s been years since I’ve done anything physically competitive or aggressive. There was a time when I was really into running long-distance races, and I even trained for and competed in a triathlon, but those hobbies sort of faded after suffering some running-related injuries and a deciding that the cost of triathlete training (financially speaking) no longer seemed worth it.

That was a few years ago, and since then, I’ve focused most of my exercise and physical health on regular yoga and the occasional light jog up and down the Monon. It’s been nice and needless to say, pretty gentle, but watching my brother’s high school basketball game last month (seriously), I realized I was craving something a little more competitive and aggressive.

Lately, I feel like my life in general has felt a little bit dulled. I’ve been lacking the tenacity, drive, and self-confidence I usually carry around with me on any given day. Everyone has ups and downs, of course, but this is a down that’s lasted a little longer than normal. By pumping some more adrenaline into my physical routine, I know from experience that I’ll be able to transfer some of that power and energy into other aspects of my life.

While yoga will always be my first love (and I’ll never stop doing it), I’m pretty convinced that boxing is my new thing. I just joined Title Boxing Club and after only one class, I was completely sold. It’s hard not to feel like a badass when you’re hitting a 100-pound bag at full speed. While some might think boxing is the antithesis to yoga, I’m finding some commonalities between the two and am excited to make room for both in my life in 2017.

2. Wearing Whatever I Want

I’ve always enjoyed clothes, jewelry, shoes, handbags … you know, stuff you wear. I’ve wavered over the years on how seriously I take it. When I was younger, I read Vogue religiously, every single page of it, and ripped out runway looks I thought would be cool to try and emulate with my own wardrobe. Now, I mostly just try to have fun with what I wear. I’m always thinking about how I can embody a sense of personal style that feels like me, but isn’t afraid to be edgy, playful, sexy, modern, masculine, or feminine — depending on my mood.

Every year I have this thought: that I’m going to wear whatever I want, wherever I want, and not give a shit what other people think about it. Then, winter gets in the way, and I succumb to something dull yet socially acceptable (like the grey sweater, jeans, and black boots I’m currently wearing) that’s, you know, a fine outfit to wear, but doesn’t make me feel confident or powerful. And for me, that’s what clothes and style are all about — bringing out my best self and feeling like a rock star while doing it.

I have to admit, sometimes it feels hard to do that in Indiana. You don’t see many people walking around in high heels or the latest Kendall Jenner-inspired look in Broad Ripple. And when you do, it draws a lot of unnecessary attention, most of it negative (I’ve been cat-called right outside my front door by men in pickup trucks way too many times). That’s one of my favorite things about cities like Los Angeles and New York. It seems like you can wear whatever the hell you want and truly, no one cares.

But none of that should matter, right? I should be able to live wherever I want and wear whatever I want, and not feel conscious about it. At the end of the day, I realize that this isn’t Indiana’s problem or anyone else’s, it’s mine. If I feel stifled or inhibited by the fashion that is or isn’t around me, that’s my own bullshit that I need to come to terms with, and is what I want to change in 2017. What I wear is my choice and my choice only, just like it is for everyone else. Not giving a shit what other people think about my clothing choices, means not giving a shit about their clothing choices, either. Regardless of anyone else, I’m determined to do my own thing more often this year.

3. Traveling Less, Vacationing More

Both 2015 and 2016 were major years of travel for me. The possibility of being able to travel all the time and work from wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, was a major reason why I decided to start freelancing in the first place. I feel incredibly privileged and grateful that I’ve been able to spend so much time exploring and working in other cities (and countries! New Zealand and Aruba this year … holy cow) the past couple years — New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Nashville, Las Vegas, and Key West to name a few — but in 2017, I’m excited to shift my focus. My motto this year is travel less, vacation more.

Although my frequent trips might have seemed like a constant vacation on Instagram (and of course, some of it definitely was) the truth is, balancing work with travel was not, is not, and will not ever be easy. It’s possible, for sure, but I think it’s safe to say it’s no longer my preferred method of travel. This year, instead of jumping at any and every opportunity for a trip without thinking twice, my goal is to make travel much more intentional.

I’m sure I’ll spend quite a bit of time visiting my parents in Washington, D.C., and hopefully get to spend some time with my brother in Los Angeles, but other than that, I really just want to go on a long, relaxing vacation. Instead of the dozen or so work trips that turn into long weekends (like last year), my plan is to focus on solid blocks of time to unplug and unwind, preferably at the beach.

4. Leaving the Dirty Dishes In The Sink

One of the struggles of self-employment (for me, at least) is getting myself out of the house in the morning if there’s laundry to fold on the bed, mail and random junk strewn all over the kitchen table, and/or dirty dishes cluttered in the sink. I really don’t like the term “neat freak” because I don’t think it’s freaky or unnatural to enjoy an orderly, clean home. But, there you have it — I enjoy a neat living space and have trouble focusing on other work when my home environment feels like it’s in a state of chaos.

I’ve grown to accept that this is who I am, but self-acceptance of something so controlling too often toes the line with self-oppression. Keeping the house in my preferred state is all well and good, until it interferes with the bigger stuff, mostly writing. Learning to leave the dirty dishes in the sink might seem like the opposite of a goal or a resolution (and for some people, I’m sure it is), but for me, it represents seizing the day and taking control of my time so that I can use it to get the important stuff done first. Plus, it’s slowly helping me feel not-so-overwhelmed by something that in the whole scheme of things, is really no big deal at all.

What do you want to change this year? Is there something you’re working toward or trying to do differently? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter, I always love hearing what’s up in your world.

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Thanks, everyone, for reading. I appreciate you and hope your 2017 is off to a very sparkly start.