NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic.
Earlier this week, I posted an update on how I’m doing with my shopping and wardrobe goals for 2014. In today’s post, I’ll share my progress thus far with what I’ve termed the 2014 “Full Life Project.”
Many of you have praised me for my honesty, so I’m going to level with you. I wrote the other update first because I had more glowing progress to report. Although transforming my relationship to shopping and my wardrobe is definitely not easy, it’s far more straightforward than improving my life at large. The steps involved may require dedication and willpower to undertake, but at least I’m mostly aware of what I need to do in order to shop less, buy smarter, and streamline my closet.
Sometimes the Pathway Isn’t Clear…
The path to improve my life is much less clear and I’m often unsure of how to create a more fulfilling and balanced life for myself. While I definitely want to trade my full closet for a full life, as my blog’s tagline specifies, the prescription for doing do often appears foggy and uncertain. When I created my “Full Life Project” in January, I did my best to outline a plan of action that felt “doable” and like it would make a difference. I realized that some modifications and course-correction might be needed along the way, but I had to start somewhere.
Below, I recap the various goals I set for my life at large and provide a brief update on my progress with each thus far. At this point, I plan to stick with my initial goals for the year, but I’m also open to suggestions for changes I might make to increase my chances of creating a fuller life by year-end. I always value the feedback I receive from readers and have modified many of my goals and actions as a result of the wisdom you’ve shared with me. I appreciate that all of you read my words and I feel your support, even if you never leave a comment or email me. So thank you for accompanying me on my recovering shopaholic – and life – journey!
Striving for Simplicity and Joy in 2014
In my January post, before I delved into my specific life goals for 2014, I shared the theme I had selected as my focus for the year. Since I was unable to narrow my theme down to one single word, I selected two: simplicity and joy. Not only did I want to shift my “more is more” ways and simplify my life, I also wanted to experience a lot more joy on a day-to-day basis. I felt these two words work well together, as I particularly want to more fully enjoy the simple pleasures in life.
I have to admit that I’ve focused more on the “simple” part of the equation than on “joy” thus far. I’ve been reading a lot of material from minimalism and simplicity bloggers and authors and have been working to pare down my activities and possessions to only those that add value to my life. As I mentioned in this post, my husband and I took on “the Minimalism Game” after attending a lecture and book signing from The Minimalists. We’re at the tail end of that game and have managed to purge hundreds of additional possessions from our already pared-down home. As we strip away the items that aren’t contributing to our lives, we are experiencing an enhanced sense of freedom. The saying, “whatever we own, owns us right back” is definitely true!
Addressing Information Overload
In addition to simplifying the physical contents of my home, I’ve also been working to eliminate unnecessary activities and information. I’ve unsubscribed from a number of blogs and mailing lists that weren’t adding value to my life. I still have a long way to go, however, as I continue to have more information to read than I have time available for reading. I still read far more magazine and blog articles than I do books, and I have a number of books on hand (either in physical or digital form) that I’d like to read but don’t seem to get around to.
Being the “information junkie” that I am, I have a hard time letting go of both books and articles, as I fear I may miss out (that dreaded FOMO again…) on critical and life-changing information. I’ve often written about my overloaded closet and my struggle to pare it down to a manageable level, but the truth is that I struggle far more in letting go of books. This is something I’d like to conquer before the end of the year, as the guilty feeling I experience when perusing my bookshelves saps a lot of joy from my life, and that’s no good!
And Then There’s Joy…
Speaking of joy, I need to place a lot more focus on that half of my 2014 theme moving forward. I still don’t feel as joyous as I’d like, but I have made some progress. I’ve dropped a lot of the unrealistic expectations I used to put on myself for how much I should accomplish each day. Instead, I set one to three goals for each day and allow myself to feel satisfied with my accomplishments once I have fulfilled those objectives.
I’m now far more likely to take breaks and accept opportunities for fun activities than in the recent past. Although my love of walks is no secret here, I now more readily pause my to-do list to enjoy time outdoors. I also accept invitations to do things more readily than before taking on the “simplicity and joy” theme. While such invitations still don’t occur very often, I do feel a shift in terms of my priorities. I need to continue to embrace the opportunity for joyous activities as much as possible. I believe that doing so will not only have me feeling happier, but also healthier as well.
Goal #1: Vastly Improve My Health
That’s the perfect lead-in to discussing my specific life goals for the year… This first goal has been my primary area of focus thus far. I know I’ve alluded to my health challenges from time to time on the blog but haven’t really spelled out what they are. My reason for that is not just a desire for privacy, although that does factor into the equation. I mostly haven’t shared my health issues because there are so many of them! Although I consider myself fortunate in that none of my ailments are life-threatening, they do rob a great deal of my quality of life, especially as they mount in number and severity.
Some of my health challenges are strange and difficult to explain. Neither I nor any doctors or health experts have been able to diagnose some of them and draw connections between them. I continue to search for answers but have been somewhat hindered due to sub-standard health insurance and the high cost of health-care in the United States. Yet I do not give up and I will not do so as long as there are avenues to explore and new options to try.
Acceptance and Forgiveness
I realize that I may have to accept less than ideal health as a more permanent state of affairs rather than a temporary challenge. I am fully aware of the tremendous wisdom contained within The Serenity Prayer, yet I am still grappling to understand that which I can and cannot change. I’m also working to forgive myself for the tremendous damage I did to my body as a result of more than two decades of anorexia and bulimia (I write a bit about that struggle in this article from 2010). I know I can’t turn back the clock and do things differently, but I also know that many of the health challenges I’m experiencing today have their roots in my starvation, poor eating habits, over-exercise, and purging behaviors.
Thus far, my other “Full Life Project” goals have taken a back seat to my number one goal for the year. The saying that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything is so true. I am lucky in that I have my share of good days to offset the bad ones. I’m aware that many people out there only have bad days and some have little or no hope for the future.
I believe there’s still hope for me to turn at least some of my conditions around, so that’s been a large part of my focus over the past few months. I’m a big fan of alternative treatment modalities and addressing the root cause of health conditions, so that’s mostly been the path I’ve been walking. I hope to have good news to report on my health in my August “Full Life Project” update.
Goal #2 – Find Two New Hobbies
I have to admit that I have yet to even try any potential new hobbies this year. There are some excellent options in this list sent to me by a reader, so I still plan to try at least a few of them (if not the five that I originally stated) before the end of the year. I know I can’t wait until my health is perfect (or even much better) in order to work toward my other life goals. I just have to start where I am today and do the best I can. Perhaps embracing new hobbies will bring additional joy into my life that may potentially offset my health-related frustrations. It’s worth a try, anyway.
Goal #3 – Make Three New Friends, Improve Existing Relationships
Sadly, I have not made any additional friends this year. In order to do so, I have to get “out there” more often and connect with new people. However, I do feel that I’ve improved some of my existing relationships and reconnected with a few friends in recent months. My relationship with my mother, for one, is better than it used to me, in large part because I was willing to take a risk and communicate more openly and honestly with her.
I’ve also taken a risk and shared this blog with more people, including my shopaholic friend whom I’ve written about in the past. Surprisingly, being more open has not led to rejection as I’d feared. Instead, my honesty and openness has led me to feel closer to others, just as it does with the wonderful women who read this blog.
Goal #4 – Take on a New Volunteer Role
This goal is on hold at the moment, as my health is not in a place where I can commit to regular volunteer hours. I know, however, that I contribute a lot to others by means of this blog and I feel that is more than sufficient at the moment. I hope to pursue some in-person volunteer work later this year, though, both as a way to help others and as a means of meeting new people.
Goal #5 – Find New and Enjoyable Ways to Earn Money
In my initial “Full Life Project” post, I mentioned that I was writing an e-book. The release of that book was delayed a bit due to my health challenges, but I’m happy to report that it will be available in May (and I will definitely announce it on the blog). I’ve also started a second e-book that I plan to release in July. I am also exploring the idea of releasing an e-course later in the year.
For the time-being, I’m going to stick with writing as my main career-related pursuit, because I enjoy it and it’s something I can do on my own schedule, when I’m feeling well. I also believe writing is something I do well, so my hope is that I can begin to earn some income through my writing this year. Don’t worry, though… I will continue to produce lots of valuable free content here on the blog!
Goal #6 – Continue to Learn and Grow!
As I shared in my “What is a Full Life?” post, growth is one of my core values. I firmly believe that when we stop growing, we start dying, so I endeavor to continue learning new things all the time. I also have a deep thirst for knowledge (remember that “information junkie” distinction?) that I’m always striving to fulfill. I am happy to report that I have continued to grow and learn during the initial months of 2014. I have especially been reading a lot about health-related topics, listening to helpful podcasts, and watching some excellent documentaries about diet and health.
I am learning new tools and practices that I feel will help me be healthier and stronger over time. I am even toying with the idea of writing about health-related issues, as well as additional personal development topics. I had three other blogs prior to “Recovering Shopaholic,” including one titled “The Healing Project” (many of the articles from my previous blogs are available on this blog’s archives page here). I may either revive an earlier blog or periodically write about those issues here.
I have yet to take any courses through Coursera or edX, but that option is still on the table and I hope to pursue it before the end of the year. I may also take some in-person classes through continuing adult education in my area. I have attended a few Meetups, primarily to see independent films, something I also love to do. I plan to investigate other types of Meetups soon.
The Bottom Line
Now that I’ve shared my updates, I realize I’m doing better with my “Full Life Project” than I thought. Sure I’d like to be farther along in terms of meeting new friends and developing new hobbies, but I’m not doing half-bad, all things considered. I’m glad I took the time to review my goals and report on my progress, as it’s helped me acknowledge what I have done and recommit to doing still more in the coming months. As with my shopping and wardrobe goals, I will review my life goals each month when I prepare my accountability updates. I don’t want to wait another three or four months to revisit my goals for the year. It’s far better to look at them on a monthly basis and keep them “top of mind.”
How About Your Life Goals?
Now it’s your turn to chime in! If any of you feel comfortable sharing your life goals for 2014 and how you’ve progressed thus far, I’d love to hear how you’re doing. I always find it inspiring to read about other people’s goals and what they’ve set out to do in their lives. Even if you’re struggling with your 2014 goals, I hope you’ll still choose to share. I always value the support I receive from readers and I love how you all support each other as well. Together we’re stronger than we are alone!