The 2014 “Full Life Project”

In my last post, I outlined my goals for the year related to shopping and my wardrobe.  Although those goals are ambitious, they weren’t difficult for me to write.  I am aware of the changes I want to make in those areas and I have a concrete plan for how to make them happen.

Today’s post focuses on my goals for the rest of my life and it wasn’t nearly as easy for me to write.  While I am aware of my discontent with various aspects of my life and I have some sense for what I’d like to see change, the route I need to take is unclear.  It feels as if I’m walking through a deep fog with little sense of the path in front of me.

2014 Life Goals

What life goals do you have for 2014?

One Oil Barrel at a Time…

I’m reminded of a story from the book, “Eat that Frog(sounds disgusting, but it’s about productivity, not strange eating habits!).  The author had driven across the Sahara Desert (500 miles across!) many years earlier along a desolate road with little variation in terrain.   The only distinguishing features were the oil barrels that had been placed along the track every five kilometers as road markers. In order to stay on course, the author just focused on reaching one oil barrel at a time until he arrived at his destination.

So I’ll do the same with my 2014 “Full Life Project.”  I will set a few targets now based upon what I know.  As the year progresses, I may opt to set new goals and broaden the scope of my endeavor if necessary.  As a self-professed control freak, I like to have things all planned out before I embark on any new project.  However, I’m aware that we don’t always have the answers and we can’t know the play-by-play of every life adventure before it begins.

Beginning with Two Simple Words

In my last post of 2013, I shared a link to a wonderful article titled “One Powerful Word:  A Simple Approach to New Year’s Resolutions.”   The author suggests that instead of creating a laundry list of goals, we should perhaps choose one single word as a focus for the coming year.  I decided to take this challenge on for 2014, but overachiever that I am, I found it difficult to select just one word!  So I chose two words as my theme for this year, Simplicity and Joy.

I firmly believe that even if I set no goals for myself for 2014 and only hold these two words in my consciousness for the 365 days of this year, I would experience profound transformation as a result.  In fact, ever since I selected my words for 2014, they’ve been permeating my consciousness and guiding my actions and decisions.  I have already noticed some internal shifts in just one short month. 

As an aside, I’d like to share another perspective on goal-setting that was offered by a reader in response to my last post.  There’s a new school of thought that suggests that having no goals and instead using systems may lead to more success and happiness.  Even as a long-time proponent of goal-setting, I can see the merit in this approach and will likely adopt a hybrid of goals and systems moving forward.

Why Simplicity and Joy?

Why did I choose simplicity and joy as my words for 2014?  I could write an entire post on this topic alone, but I will briefly encapsulate my reasoning here.  As you may know from my previous posts, I have long been a “more is more” type of person.  While the primary focus of this blog has been on my wardrobe and shopping habits, my tendency to aim for more has seeped into almost every area of my life.  But the resulting overabundance of stuff, clutter, information, and commitments has not made me happy.

I’ve been paring down the clutter in my environment for a number of years now (see my “Simplicity in Action” story) with my closet being one of the last vestiges of physical chaos in my home.  However, I’ve also come to realize that a vast amount of clutter exists within my mind.  I would like to simplify the information that I consume and the ways in which I spend my time.

That’s where joy comes in.  I want to more fully embrace the beauty in life and enjoy far more of my day-to-day experiences.  I want to bask in the happiness of simple pleasures and live my life purposefully and joyously every day.  While it’s nice to include things like travel, excursions, cultural pleasures, and fancy meals in my life, I don’t want to rely on such experiences as my primary source of joy.  I firmly believe that joy is possible for us in the “little things” in life, so part of my intention for this year is to find that joy.

Beyond the Two Words

I may not need to create any goals for 2014 beyond simplicity and joy, but I would like to add some additional “breadcrumbs” to my life path.   Although the pathway is not fully illuminated in front of me, I do have some idea of how I’d like to see my life evolve this year.  Here are some of my goals for 2014(mostly not stated in the SMART format as of yet, but I’ll get there…):

1.  Vastly improve my health

It’s often been said that if we don’t have our health, nothing else really matters. My health woes of last year convinced me of the veracity of that statement.  While I’m definitely feeling better than I did last summer, I still spend far too many days feeling sub-par physically.  I firmly intend to do everything within my power to enhance my health this year.  I have a few plans in place to carry forth, including some dietary changes, improved sleep, and new treatment modalities, but I will definitely make adjustments as needed along the way.  Once I feel better physically, I’ll be more able to pursue the other goals and intentions on this list!

2.   Find two new hobbies

For many years, shopping has been my primary hobby.  In order to really play down the role of shopping in my life, I need to find some new hobbies that I can enjoy.  A wonderful reader recently sent me a list of hobbies to help get my creative juices flowing.  I am also open to additional suggestions from you for new interests to pursue.  I plan to select 5 hobbies to try over the course of this year, with the hope that at least two of them will excite me enough to continue over the long-term.

3.   Make three new friends, improve existing relationships

I’ve previously mentioned the lack of friendships in my life in recent years.  While I’m not exactly sure how to make it happen, I’d like to start remedying this over the course of 2014.  Perhaps I will meet new people through my new hobbies or maybe just being open to new relationships will help manifest them in my life.  In any event, I hope to connect with at least three new like-minded, positive, and growth-oriented women this year.  I also plan to reconnect with some friends with whom I’ve lost touch and improve my relationships with key family members.

4.   Take on a new volunteer role

I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in the past, but haven’t been involved in such pursuits the past few years due to burnout and health issues.  I would like to find a new way to give back this year (beyond this blog, which I’m so pleased has been helpful to many people!) that will also allow me to get out of the house and meet new people.

5.   Find new and enjoyable ways to earn money

As you know, I closed the doors on my wardrobe consulting business last fall.  Since that time, I’ve mostly focused on improving my health and writing this blog.  I would love to find a new way to earn an income that’s a good match for both my skills and my passions.   I’m currently writing an e-book that I plan to launch in March and I’d like to take on additional writing projects this year.  I’m also open to other entrepreneurial pursuits or a part-time job (or even a full-time job for the right opportunity).  I’ve been fairly rigid in my work criteria in the past, but I’d like to expand my horizons and keep my options open this year.  Who knows what might arise?

6.   Continue to learn and grow!

I have always been dedicated to growth and learning and I’d like to enhance that commitment this year.  I want to read more books (instead of so many magazine articles!) and attend a few classes.  Another wonderful reader wrote me about two online resources for free classes (Coursera and edX), so I plan to take advantage of these opportunities for learning from the comfort of my home.  However, I’d also like to venture out and take a class or two in my community and attend local Meetups on topics of interest.

Full Speed Ahead!

That’s all I have for now, but I think it’s a great start!  As I delve into the plans I’ve outlined above and continue to hold the intention for simplicity and joy this year, I will share what unfolds for me.  I will definitely write more posts on my quest to build a full life for myself and as always, I’m open to your suggestions for new topics to explore.

I’d also love to read about your life goals for 2014.  What changes would you like to make in your life this year?  How do you plan to trade your full closet for a full life?  I invite you to share your goals, dreams, and plans with me and your fellow readers.

25 thoughts on “The 2014 “Full Life Project”

  1. Happy New Year!
    How about exercise as a hobby? That might help facilitate better health AND make new friends at the same time. You could join a running club, or attend a Beachbody fit club in your area, or any number of things.
    Good luck!

    • Thanks for your comment and suggestion, Wendy. I do a lot of exercise already, but it’s mostly solitary or just with my husband. I might enjoy getting involved in group exercise, so I will definitely check that out.

  2. Exercise as a hobby is what I always say too. And caring for my house is my hobby; not deep cleaning as much, but Sunday mornings when I poke around and pick flowers and make things nice. Writing is both hobby and profession because it is my passion. And reading. My people related hobbies include volunteer work. But I’ve cut back on how much of myself I give away because I feel the need to take better care of myself for a while.

    Wonderful post Debbie. Simplicity was my word last year and I cleared out as many things as possible in my life that did not bring me joy and I will continue on.

    Author Julia Cameron suggests taking ourself on a “weekly artist date” and I have begun to do this. It can be as simple as taking ourself out for a walk alone along the beach, in the park, or woods, once a week. Taking ourself on a picnic. Or a weekly outing to different place we enjoy. I also like to spend an hour in the book store once a week and make a list of the books I want to check out from the library or Kindle library.

    I will make a point to look for the positive in every situation going forward in my life. Keep reminding myself that crisis and opportunity are two sides of the same coin. And when things I don’t like are happening I will look for the opportunity it might be offering. Such as it might offer me some necessary forced grow and change.

    I have writing and publishing projects in process and to publish another memoir I recently finished writing. But it might take longer than one year, so my goal is to see it to publication. I will also write more book reviews for my author-friends. And to continue to keep my wardrobe small; no more than 40 items per season, with many things that will span multiple seasons.

    • You and I have similar hobbies and interests, Terra. I like the idea of the “weekly artist date” (need to dust off my copy of “The Artist’s Way”). It sounds both relaxing and creative. I like your philosophy of trying to see the positive in all life situations. I try to do the same… How exciting about your second memoir! I wish you the best of luck with your publication goal, as well as you other writing goals and your wardrobe goal for 2014. Thanks for sharing them with me and your fellow readers.

  3. I very much relate at the moment to the wanting a more fulfilling life. I’m living away from my home for an extended time (about a year) and without a car to boot! Talk about feeling isolated. I do my best to busy myself, but also fell back on shopping (now online since the transportation issue) and roaming the internet kinda aimlessly.
    My one hobby I picked up, several of these trips, back was running. It is the one thing that keeps me from going completely stir crazy out here. As a matter of fact, I have been stuck inside for 3 days now since it’s been too cold (even down here in FL) for a comfortable run and I’m itching to get out there.
    Still, I need something more. Running fuels my soul but does not fill my needs for being social. My BF works long hours so I am home alone a LOT. I also am hoping to find a productive and enjoyable pursuit for the remainder of my time here. (and yes, I could probably improve the friendships I do have, but 3,000 miles away it’s not the same as contact in person).
    I’ll be watching to see how the year unfolds for you, and me 🙂

    • I appreciate you sharing your situation, Mo. It must be very difficult to move so often and to be without a car. My husband used to work very long hours, too, and I remember not enjoying spending so much time alone. I can see how you would be tempted to do a lot of online shopping in that situation (I did both online shopping and lots of trips to the mall). I’m glad you found one hobby you enjoy in running. I hope you will be able to find some other more social activities to do this year. Please comment again and let us know how you’re doing. I will hold good thoughts for you!

  4. Earlier this month I signed up for a Hayhouse webinar. One of the speakers talked about choosing 4-5 core desire feelings (how you most like to feel) I chose: 1. Creative/artistic 2. Inspired/excited 3. Spiritually connected and 4. accepting/compassionate. She then said to make a few goals that would best make you feel that way. My goals were to paint much more, to travel, read, go to concerts, museums, and to listen to people like Cheryl Richardson that inspire me and help me feel spiritually connected with my group of friends that have similar goals. I also wanted to start exercising on a more regular basis, cook more often, and keep up with household chores a little better.
    This is what I did instead. I made a list of 35 “chores” I wanted to accomplish such as things to clean and organize, putting away holiday items, car repairs, and doctors appointments. I completed 28 out of the 35 in addition to cooking every dinner this month except one, working, and regular household duties. A friend had surgery and couldn’t drive so I brought her to appointments and to run errands several times. I brought another friend’s mother to a doctor’s appointment. In the middle of the month I had a flu like illness and at the end of the month I had a health scare that thankfully turned out to be nothing. Number of times I painted-0. Number of times I exercised-0. Number of books read-1 ( a really bad one that I made myself finish). I did do a few social things like lunch, brunch, and a football party. I ended the month feeling tired and somewhat burnt out. While I do like to help people, I tend to spend a lot of time doing for or listening to others and the rest of my time doing tasks or avoiding doing tasks by internet shopping. I don’t place nearly enough priority in doing the things that would be fulfilling to me. It’s pretty clear to me where my focus needs to change in February.
    It looks like you have a very solid start of what you would like to do. I wish you the very best of luck and hope that it’s a lot of fun trying and discovering new things!

    • I really like your core desired feelings, Tonya, as well as your goals to increase the prevalence of those feelings in your life. I’m sorry you got off track with those goals last month, but at least you are aware of what happened and that you need to place a higher priority on doing things that are fulfilling for you. Every day is a new day to recommit and create a new reality and that is what I wish for you for February and for the rest of the year. You’ve already made such tremendous progress and I know you will continue to grow and change as time goes on. I wish you the very best in experiencing more creative, inspired, spiritually connected, and accepting this year!

  5. Very informative and heartfelt post. I realize that you have SMART goals, but I wonder if you might think of your personal relationship goal — instead of X number of friends — as “connecting more meaningfully and deeply with people around me” (or words along that vein). I have found that as I have gotten (a lot) older, it’s harder to make and keep FRIENDS (vs. friendly acquaintances). Sadly, people die, or move, or get divorced and/or have (grand)children (which can lead to “friendship change”). In the last 4-5 years, I’ve lost some very close friends due to disease and tragic accidents– and it’s been a challenge to replace them. Fortunately, I still have several very dear friends, and I’m entertaining more — more brunches and dinners and the like. I decided I’d like to have another good friend but it’s not so easy as hanging out with the kid next door, like I did XX years ago! So I decided that I would be friendly and kind and interested in so many of the people I see every day. This may not be as rewarding as a good friend, but I get little burst of “friendliness” that sustain my belief in the goodness of mankind.

    • I can definitely relate to what you wrote about friendships, Dottie. I’ve also found it harder to make and keep friends as I’ve gotten older. I like the goal you mentioned of “connecting more meaningfully and deeply with the people around me.” I think I will take that on, as that is more doable than making a specified number of new friends. I still hope to be able to find 3 new friends this year, but being more friendly in my day-to-day life can only help with that. Like you, I want to sustain my belief in the goodness of mankind!

  6. Great list Debbie. I may steal some of your ideas! Here’s something I’d never heard about that may interest you and some of the other commenters. From http://www.nia.com:

    “What is Nia?
    Nia is a sensory-based movement practice that draws from martial arts, dance arts and healing arts. It empowers people of all shapes and sizes by connecting the body, mind, emotions and spirit. Classes are taken barefoot to soul-stirring music in more than 45 countries. Trainings teach people how to get in their body, learn about The Body’s Way and cultivate body-centered awareness. Every experience can be adapted to individual needs and abilities. Step into your own joyful journey with Nia, and positively shape the way you feel, look, think and live.”

    I am one who really hates to exercise. I have an elliptical and have been forcing myself to get on it a few times per week. I think Nia might be fun. Even though I’m totally without rhythm and I’m a klutz, lol. Read the testimonials on their website – they are inspiring. I’ve found a class here in my area, it’s $60 for 6 weekly classes.

    As for volunteer work I am very interested in doing Meals on Wheels this year. I know there are so many elderly folks who depend on it.

    • I’m glad you liked my list, Kim. You are more than welcome to steal some of my ideas 🙂 Thanks for sharing the information about Nia. It sounds very interesting. Let me know if you try it and what you think. I may also opt to give it a try. Meals on Wheels is a very worthy charity. I’m sure you would not only help others, but you’d also find this volunteer work very fulfilling. Best wishes to you with your exercise and volunteer work goals!

  7. Lovely post Debbie! As I stated in your goals post, I have a lot of life goals but they’re sometimes too negatively focused or are focused on hopes for the future. I need to make more commitment to the NOW! I wish you a lot of luck and I’m sure this will be our best year yet!! 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words, Meli. I agree that we need to commit more to the now, as that is where the power and joy in life resides. Even the small actions we take each day can be very meaningful and can add up to something big over the long term. I wish you the best of luck, too, and I really do hope it will be our best year yet!

  8. It seems that we go for “more” in life until it finally sinks in that “more” does not equal joy! When we finally come to our senses, we realize that joy comes from a place within. Accepting and loving ourselves and the world around us is the pathway to happiness.

    • What you wrote is so true, Happy Forgiver! It took me a long time to realize that more was not only not joyous, it was also burdensome. I’m happy to be turning things around and working to accept and love myself and the world around me. I agree that this is the pathway to joy and happiness!

  9. I really like your idea of choosing a theme or attitude with which to approach the new year. I think I would choose ‘Authenticity’ if I were to do the same thing. It can be really useful whenever a difficult situation comes up, then we can ask ourselves “What would joy do?” or “What would simplicity look like?” rather than getting caught up in the details. I find it can be an interesting way of looking at relationships, too – sometimes I choose a word to approach a relationship with a certain person with, and try to bear that in mind in all my interactions with them.

    Have you considered learning a language as a hobby? It can be a great way to meet people both in the learning process and then once you’ve mastered the basics, in travelling to a country where that language is spoken.

    When I’ve travelled alone in the past, I’ve also set a goal for myself to talk to 5 new people every day. That is of course a very high number (it worked mainly because I was staying in hostels), but even if you aim to talk to one new person a week or one person each time you go out, it can very motivating to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people.

    • I love your idea of asking questions related to my themes, Emma! I know that joy would do things much differently than I usually do and that simplicity would like quite different from how my life and environment generally look. I also like your idea of choosing words to guide relationships. I will keep that in mind regarding certain family members…

      I have thought of learning a language and my husband mentioned doing that the other day, so it’s definitely on the table. The reward of traveling to a country where the language is spoken would sweeten the pot for sure! Talking to new people every day would be challenging for me, as I tend to be shy, but I think I could do it. We have to push ourselves in order to grow, right?

  10. Hi Debbie,
    I’ve been looking forward to this post. I really like your goals and wish you luck in accomplishing them! I’ll join in having simplicity and joy asmy keywords for February – I really think you ar onto something now!

    • I’m so glad you’re going to join me in having simplicity and joy as keywords this month, FrugalFashionista! I’d love to learn about the shifts you experience as a result. I’m already feeling “lighter” and am stressing out about stuff far less. I look forward to more positive shifts!

  11. Hi Debbie, I think you have pretty much identified your most important life goals for the year ahead and I wish you best of luck with your journey.
    A couple of things went through my head when I read your post: you mention joy and I recently read a chapter in Brene Browns book “Daring greatly” where she explains that joy is often found in ordinary moments. Another reader above commented something similar. I think joy is often not in the circumstance, joy comes when you are being mindful and grateful. I definitely recommend the book it gave me tremendous food for thought.
    Regarding volunteering and connecting more meaningfully with people, one might just follow from the other. I work with animals and met a number of other likeminded people through this process. I’ve not made a new best friend yet but it doesn’t matter. They do say that people who volunteer feel more socially connected and purposeful, which is really not that surprising. If there is nothing in your area that speaks to you, have you ever thought about joining or even organizing a self help group for shopaholics? Just a thought of course and maybe too much commitment, but this blog has shown so clearly how many people are having issues around this and are looking for a community to share their struggles with. You have plenty to say on the matter and I love the way you are analysing yourself in order to grow and learn. Last but not least, you are a really good writer and your blog is by far the best out there on the matter. I’m very much looking forward to your ebook! Maybe the new and fun ways to make money will follow from the recovering shopaholic journey.

    • Thank you for all of your kind words and suggestions, K! I love Brene Brown and read her earlier book, “The Gifts of Imperfection.” I plan to read “Daring Greatly” soon. I definitely agree that joy is often found in ordinary moments. After my health crisis of last summer, I am doing much better at taking pleasure in the simple things of life and not worrying as much about big outcomes or “success” in the traditional sense. I need to continually remind myself of this, though, as this society is so wrapped up in the idea of achievement and being go, go, go all the time.

      I have thought of joining a group for shopaholics, but I think I’ll probably have to start one myself, as such groups don’t really seem to exist, at least not where I live. There’s Debtor’s Anonymous, which is supposed to be good, but the focus of that group is a bit different. I do want to do more to help other shopaholics, so my thinking cap is on about how to do that. For now, I will continue to work on having my blog be as good as it can be and on finishing my e-book. I hope to write more books and take on other projects (including potential groups) down the line. I’m open to the possibilities!

  12. Hi Debbie
    Love your post! I love how specific you are in your goals, a lot of people can learn from that 🙂 Good luck on all of the above!
    (btw: I am joining in on #3 and #5).

    • Thanks so much, Morten! I’m glad you’re joining me on goals #3 and #5. Best of luck to you and please let me know how it goes for you. I’ll be doing updates on my goal progress down the line and perhaps you can chime in then and share how you’re doing.

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