New Year's chronicle: My 2016 in review + my goals for 2017

I don’t like the term “New Year’s resolution”. I makes me think of diets and gym memberships. All of the times I’ve made a resolution at the new year, I have either forgotten about it or broken it just a couple of months later. Like we all do…

For a lot of people, the New Year is about sipping champagne, shooting fireworks and partying hard with friends. For a non-partying, drunk-people-and-loud-noises-avoiding person like me though, I have my own New Year’s rituals. Rituals of introspection and goal setting. 

Every December 31st, I sit down with my journal to sum up the year: what has happened in my life during the past 12 months? What decisions have I made and what has been the outcome? What new discoveries and experiences have I made and how have they shaped me? What valuable lessons have I learned? What am I most proud of? 

What I love most about a summary like this is seeing how much actually happens in just a year of my life. Instead of the too-common feeling of “time just flying by”, I instead feel incredibly productive and present in my life journey. I also get proud of myself and thankful for all the good things in my life. 

Next in my journal, I start to dream about the coming year. Building on the previous year’s lessons, I choose what areas to focus on next. What new changes to bring into my life. What aspects of myself to work on. This always makes me exhilarated and optimistic. The best feelings to have when starting off a new year, don’t you agree? 😊

To kick off the new year, I thought I’d share my 2016/2017 New Year’s chronicle with you!

My 2016 - a year of big changes

My greatest change

small town Gävle

Quitting my employment and moving from Stockholm to a small town. In hindsight, we should have done this years ago. But I also realized that the experience I had at my last employment was just what I needed to build up the courage to make this leap of faith. I believe this change was meant to happen at exactly this moment, which is why it felt so crystal clear. No second guessing, no cold feet, no looking back. This was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. 

My greatest career achievement

Deciding to start blogging professionally, and launching this blog + email club. I’ve been blogging on and off since 2008, and dreamt about making it my career, but I’ve never given myself permission to commit and take it seriously. I’ve been insecure and impatient, and my efforts have been half-assed. Starting this blog was my way of committing.

So far, 7 months in, I can say that it has been incredibly rewarding. The only way of knowing whether or not you “have it in you” to succeed with something is to go ahead and do it. To truly commit. I didn’t see results until I allowed myself to really want it and really work for it.

My greatest personal achievement

Ending my battle with dieting and disordered eating. Since leaving the big city and starting to live a slower life, taking proper care of myself has become much easier. I no longer need to resort to emotional eating, bouts of starvation (uhm, I mean “intermittent fasting”…), and obsessive dieting and exercising to distract myself from the angst. Instead, I take long and pleasurable walks, do yoga when I feel like it, and have completely let go of my need to control my eating. I haven’t weighed myself in many months, and yet I clearly see and feel the positive results. Health and beauty should be natural and effortless, not obsessive. 

My hardest lesson

avocado and oak saplings

All truly great and truly meaningful things take time, and must be allowed to take time. I am an extremely impatient person. I want quick results to stay motivated. This is something I really need to work on with myself, and I will during this coming year.

My toughest struggle

My creative writing aspirations. I have always dreamt of becoming a storyteller and novelist. Great stories are my biggest addiction in life and I couldn’t imagine anything more fulfilling than being able to craft those kinds of experiences for others. To move people with my stories. But I also have a deeply conflicted relationship to fiction writing, and plenty of creative demons that prevent me from getting anywhere with my writing. I used to write freely and joyfully when I was younger, but since then something has happened. I've become blocked.

This autumn, I was excited about NaNoWriMo, and I even had a great story idea that I prepared during all of September and October, but when the 1st of November finally came around, I chickened out. I didn’t have the willpower, focus or motivation to commit to my idea. I felt like a failure. But despite of that, I continued to explore my ideas and play with the thought of starting a writing project. I’m terrified, but I refuse to let go of my dream.

My biggest discovery

The value of disconnecting and the joy of the analog life. I invested in the app Freedom and scheduled offline hours between 8am and 1pm each weekday to do deep work. I started having unplugged weekends and evenings. I took up Bullet Journaling and started writing more longhand. This has had a profound impact on my psyche as well as the quality of my work.

My biggest gratitude

painting

Our new apartment, in which I finally have space to breathe. As I wrote in one of my first Secret Club emails, the process of finding and acquiring this apartment was nothing short of a miracle. We desperately wanted to get out of the big city and had been looking for place in my fiancé’s hometown of Gävle for a few months. Nothing seemed to happen, but then suddenly it all happened very fast. I wrote in the letter about how I chose to completely trust that this apartment would be ours, despite the odds and despite my overwhelming anxiety. I practiced relentless optimism.

Whether you believe that “law of attraction” stuff or not, it works for me time and time again. Every time I’ve truly desired something and allowed myself to celebrate in advance for getting it, it has come my way just as this apartment came our way. In my journal on the day we found out we had gotten the apartment, there’s a page just filled the words “thank you”, over and over again. And this is how I still feel each day when I wake up here.  

My biggest joy

painting

My renewed creativity. During the holidays, I have done nothing but be creative. I’ve read inspiring books, I’ve cooked amazing food, I’ve tended to my house plants, I’ve painted, I’ve knitted, I’ve crafted handmade skincare products, I’ve sung and I’ve written.

Being creative makes me feel truly alive, and I intend to hold on to my creative habits from now on, regardless of what’s going on in the rest of my life.


My 2017 - a year of minimalism and creativity

I am so excited for this year. So excited with where I am in my life. So excited for the journey ahead. With moving to this town and transitioning my career, I feel like I have set the stage for myself to be able to live more authentic and do the work I’m meant to do. I feel an inner peace and clarity that will allow me to take my dreams to the next level.

So, what are my plans for 2017?

1. I’ll start freelance writing again

I used to write articles for magazines back in 2010, before becoming more and more involved in the start-up life and other types of consulting work. I miss it. In many ways, freelance writing is the perfect occupation for me. It thrives on my natural curiosity and tendency to jump between topics. It’s creative and mostly solitary work. It can be done from anywhere in the world, and at any time during the day. I’m excited about the opportunities I’ll find, the ideas I’ll pitch and the topics I’ll get to write about.

2. I’ll keep growing OhSoSensitive

I'll commit even deeper to producing my best work and fulfilling my vision for this blog and the email club. I have so much I want to write about, and I want to reach, inspire and empower even more people.

I also look forward to launching my first products soon.  😊

3. I’ll unblock and nurture my creativity

the artist's way

Over the next 12 weeks, I'll commit to following the Artist's Way program. I first fell in love with this amazing book while studying acting several years ago. Our acting teacher recommended it to us, and since then I've read the book several times and done the Morning Pages and Artist's Dates a few times, but I have never really taken it seriously and followed through. 

This time around will be different. This program is exactly what I need in my life right now and I'm so excited to dive deep into it. I'm sure it will help me unblock my creativity and feel more inspired in all the creative work I do. 

I'll especially commit to working on my creative writing. On New Year’s Day, while lying in bed a night, an idea for a novel came to me. The day after, I bought myself a big, beautiful notebook and just plunged in.

There will be no pressure, no over-thinking, and no fear in my creative work from now on. I will write with reckless abandon, paint my birds out of pure pleasure, sing from the heart, and knit cozy sweaters for myself. Creativity will be my therapy, my playground and my spiritual practice.   

4. I’ll cultivate my patience and endurance

I’ll practice resting in the process, putting in the work and letting it take the time it needs. There’s no rush. Nothing better on the horizon to hurry towards. There is just the present moment and what I make of it.

5. I’ll live a slower, more minimalistic and less materialistic life

knitting
handmade calendula salve

I’ll clean out the clutter. I'll make more stuff for myself, such as knitted sweaters, hats and socks, and handmade, organic salves and creams. I’ll buy less stuff, and when I do buy something it must be out of great need and of great quality. I’ll work on lowering my expenses, so I can work less and spend more time being creative. Or just spend more time being, period.

6. I’ll live a less distracted life, with more room for introspection and deep work

This means continuing to disconnect regularly and for longer stretches of time, to minimize distraction. But I also plan on making radical changes to way I use the internet and social media. I’ve already deleted all social media apps from my phone, and just this one thing has revolutionized my everyday life. I’m spending a lot of time thinking about how I want my social media habits to be, and I promise to write more about this when I’ve explored a bit and made my decisions. 

In fact, I’m planning on writing more in-depth about several of these goals during the coming weeks. I have a lot more to say about them. So expect more articles soon on the topics of freelancing as a highly sensitive introvert, creative writing, practicing patience, nurturing creativity, unplugging from distractions, cultivating deep work and living a more minimalistic, sustainable and deliberate life.

Also, if you have additional topic requests, write me a comment below! I’d love to know what you would like to read more about. 

Here’s to a slower, more mindful, more creative 2017!

 
louise stigell