At the start of the year, I spent some time journaling and trying to figure out what I wanted to carry as themes for this year. I came up with a few overarching themes and some smaller goals to help me work on those themes throughout year. You can read more in detail about those here. This reflection includes how I did on my goals if you’re nosey, and some lessons I learned this year that I’m sure I’ll be carrying with me for years to come. This year has been hard but has taught me (and I’m sure all of us) a lot.
2020 Goals and Resolutions
Mindful and Intentional Spending
This one was not very measurable but to me this included: using beauty products up before buying new ones, generally buy fewer beauty products, conscious clothing purchases, supporting good brands, things like that.
I think I did really well with this. I spent very little money this year all around and really tried to support small, local, ethical, and sustainable brands and businesses. I made purchases from Girlfriend Collective and other ethical brands, I bought many reusable household items that reduced my waste and spending, and I shopped local as much as possible.
As far as using what I own, I was paying a lot more attention to this at the start of the year. Later on, I began buying a few little items more as a pick-me-up than anything (pink and purple glittery eyeshadow, anyone?). However, I’ve hit the point that I’m once again not happy with how many beauty products I have and am really trying to use things up and not save anything for special occasions.
Conscious Home and Beauty Products
Once I moved into an apartment, I realized how much the chemicals coming from our cleaning closet affected my migraines. Also, many of these chemicals typically end up in our water sources. Finally, I want to put my money toward brands that are doing good for us and the earth.
After this (seemingly obvious) realization, I switched to free and clear laundry products, natural (Method, Seventh Generation, etc) cleaning supplies, and kept the Clorox for when we really needed strong germ killing action. I stuck with this very well and often had to resist the urge to get the cheaper, conventional cleaning supplies. Once I started buying them, I realized how long they last and recognized that an extra $1-$2 over the course of several months for a greener and cleaner home was totally worth it for me.
I also switched to Tom’s toothpaste and Native deodorant which doesn’t use palm oil (some Tom’s deo do so watch out for this very unsustainable ingredient). I’m very content with all of my switches and will be staying with these products
Use Food as Fuel and Medicine
Toward the end of 2019, I began having trouble with my stomach and generally not feeling very well. This made me want to reassess my (already mostly healthy) diet and start reimaging what “healthy food” was to me. My general definition of using food as fuel and medicine is to listen to what my body needs, avoid restrictions or omissions, and avoid needing many supplements by giving my body the nutrients it needs. Also I wanted to try to buy organic where I could afford it, eat fewer sweets, and make Fab4 meals as much as possible (protein, fat, fiber, greens).
I think I’ve done really really well with listening to my body this year and have gotten into a great groove with the foods I like to eat and a great balance of “healthy” and “not so healthy”. I’m no stranger to a few bites of Ben & Jerry’s but leave it at a few bites to avoid feeling icky. By lowering my sweets and cutting out coffee, I’ve learned that caffeine and sugar make my migraines a lot worse and more frequent. This means that I’ve mostly stopped craving sweets and prefer more nutrient dense foods. By taking all of these with me as I learn them, my body feels better with more energy!
My typical breakfasts include: pan-fried veggies with an over-easy egg, cheese, chia seeds, avocado over lightly wilted kale or avocado toast with little breakfast sausages and some fruit. Generally for lunch, I’ll pan fry more veggies, serve it over mixed greens with feta, olive oil, lemon juice and olives with a sprinkle of chia seeds.
Dinners vary a lot but when I do find myself making a Trader Joe’s frozen meal, my goal is to add 1-2 fresh elements to it (like an egg to fried rice). This ensures I’m adding extra nutrients and also putting effort into my meals.
Keep Up With My Fitness Routine
My fitness routine typically includes 2-3 yoga classes, 1 cardio workout, and some sort of strength exercise weekly. This has been so wacky this year with all of the changes happening.
Up until COVID, I was following this schedule and feeling amazing. During the strict US lockdown in March-May, I was stretching twice a day, doing short yoga classes and discovered Torch’d which kept me feeling great. Over the summer, my roommate and I would do Torch’d together and I’d do yoga on top of that which was perfect! However, once school started and I moved apartments, things got weird. I stopped stretching, stopped Torch’d because my new room is too small for it, and began forcing myself to half-ass 3-4x weekly yoga to complete my studio’s summer and fall challenges. I was still taking hour-long walks most days which felt good but didn’t give me the same positive mental effects as a good hard workout.
Now, I’m at a point where I am so bored with yoga and usually only give it 40% effort and skip walks because of cold temps. I also haven’t done a strength/cardio workout in a long time. This has been disappointing because I have loved yoga and my whole fitness routine for over a year and felt really good physically and mentally. After the 1st of the year, I’m switching from my home yoga studio to the fitness studio (yoga and cardio/strength) I used to be a member at to switch up my virtual classes.
Learn a New Programming Language and Take an Online Course
I learned a new programming language through my schoolwork this year! Wooo, an accomplishment! No online course, but I am starting one in January to learn another new programming language.
Go With The Ebbs and Flows of Motivation
This year, with working and learning from home, there were days I wanted to get up early and power through all my schoolwork but there were also days I didn’t want to do much of anything. I really learned how to work with (not against) myself in this way. I learned which tasks were easier on hard days and which tasks to get done when I was having a good motivation day. With this, I finished all my work on time, every single week even if I looked back and thought wow, what a horrible mental health week. By learning what needed the brain power and what just needed to be done, I could give myself easy tasks that would make me feel accomplished when I wasn’t feeling up to much.
Be Spontaneous and Take Advantage of Every Opportunity
I think we have all felt a craving for social interaction and to do something out of the house that’s exciting and fun. Once it’s safe, I don’t think I’ll be saying no to very many opportunities to see friends, go out, try new things, and have fun. However, even in the 2 months before COVID in the US, I often left homework undone or gave it a little less than my best effort in favor of spending time with friends and this is a time I will cherish. Those few weeks of watching The Bachelor, eating ice cream and drinking wine without a care in the world are times I always wish I could have again. Someday we will, and when we do, it’ll be drinks on me.
Find Ways to Feel In Control
This one has been great for my mental health. I was at home for lockdowns and it was the longest I’d spent at home in years. It was frustrating that I didn’t have all of my clothes, books, normal foods, etc. I found small ways to feel in control of my surroundings like telling my family I needed some time blocked off each day to do my own activities without any disturbance. I cooked my own meals and created my own daily schedule. Even something like controlling what time I went to sleep felt good.
Turn Off My Phone
Not to be dramatic, but this has been life-changing. Most days, I turn off my phone for 1-2 hours during the time of day that I tend to procrastinate on my phone which is usually midmorning-midday for me. By doing this, I don’t stress about missing a notification, I can’t get distracted as easily, and 2 minute breaks never turn into 30 minute breaks. I’ve found myself to be much more productive, focused, and relaxed when my phone is off.
Get In Your Body
Something that has been getting me through quarantines has been spending ~1 hour almost every day getting in my body. By stretching, doing yoga, taking walks, and working out, I feel so good mentally and physically.
Lean In to Relationships and Open Up
This year, I felt myself regretting not opening up to people and letting them slip away. I’ve been making more of an effort to lean in to relationships and really savor them. Not every friendship or relationship will last forever but that’s no reason to keep walls up around everyone.
How did you do with your goals this year? What lessons did you learn?