The Year of 21

IMG_5669 A year ago, for my 21st birthday I made a list of 21 things for the "Year of 21." Sort of like new years resolutions, but instead of starting on January 1st, I wanted them to last from birthday to birthday. As I made my 21 goals, i tried to really think about who I wanted to be in my one shot as a 21-year-old... what I wanted to improve on as a friend, how i wanted to grow spiritually, character flaws that needed changing, physical improvement, and lofty dreams all in one. Once I had settled on 21 distinct goals I wrote them out and posted them two different places that I would be sure to see every day. I taped one list in the front of my planner and made another list on a canvas for my bedroom wall. The canvas list was one of my best/worst ideas. Though they were a great daily reminder to wake up to, I didn't take into account that everyone who came in my room would stop and read through them. And since I had made an effort to be authentic in making them, some of the 21 things are pretty embarrassing. At this point though, enough people have seen them and laughed about them with me that I'm confident in sharing them here. Other people knowing about my 21 things for the year of 21 also added a level of accountability that I hadn't expected.

Now I by no means accomplished the whole list or stuck to it daily. I had good weeks and bad weeks, great days and terrible days. I ultimately learned that no matter how hard I try to be a "better person" I'll always fall short. Even when I was crossing things off my list left and right, and during those good weeks I was talking about, self satisfaction and the approval of other people never made me fully happy. I found that only when I daily remind myself of the truth of the gospel and because of that truth seek to love God and love people am I truly happy.

My 21 goals helped me realize a lot about myself throughout this year. Some of the simplest goals proved the hardest to achieve and some of the loftiest actually happened! I still have SO MUCH room to grow in so many areas, but it's really cool to see how even just my mindset about certain things has changed in a year. Hope this list inspires you in some way... suggestions for the year of 22 welcome!

1. WRITE AND MAIL ONE LETTER A WEEK: started off strong on this one and kind of faded out as the year went on. I definitely used this first goal to help justify my stationery addiction and weekly trips to Shindig Paperie. Easier than mailing letters though, I try to stay in the habit of writing people notes. I realized that I frequently think great things about people but forget to tell them or encourage them. Good intentions are not good actions. Handwritten notes are an easy way to make someone's day!

2. HAVE FIVE MORNING QUIET TIMES PER WEEK: so wish that I could say I had five quiet times every week, but this was a fail. Some weeks I did great with this while some weeks I had none. What was cool is that I could tell a huge difference and emptiness whenever I went without my quiet time. Consistency above all else is huge, even if it's really short or simple, doing something is better than nothing.

3. READ ONE BOOK A MONTH FOR FUN: actually did this one! I had forgotten how much i enjoyed reading, some of my fav books from this past year are Tina Fey's Bossypants, The Art of Fielding, Where'd You Go Bernadette, and Jennie Allen's Anything. 

4. ATTEND A BIG MUSIC FESTIVAL: does Beyonce and Jay Z's On The Run Tour count?

5. BLOG TWICE A WEEK: ...yeah, fell short on this one. Going back to good intentions, I constantly have blog ideas but rarely make time to post them. Year of 22??

6. EAT FAST FOOD ONCE A WEEK OR LESS: really started working hard on this one about half way through the year and was shocked at what a big difference it made to my bank account and body! Def still give in to the occasional Arby's run (not most peoples' fast food of choice, i know, i know) but really don't miss it too much.

7. ARRIVE ON TIME OR EARLY: this one will be making a repeat appearance on 22's list, still failing at being on time. I was 20 minutes late to my 22nd birthday brunch if that tells you anything. Big apology to everyone I've ever made wait.

8. MEMORIZE ONE VERSE A WEEK: didn't accomplish one verse a week, but started up on TMS (topical memory system) again, and it's really cool how applicable scripture is to daily life. Favorite verse of the moment, 1 John 4: 19.

9. GO TO FOUR CITIES I'VE NEVER BEEN TO: Vegas, Washington D.C., New York (okay I'd been there before), and Nashville

10. HAVE SOMEONE OVER ONCE A WEEK: this is another one I actually did! I love having an apartment and my own space for this reason. As a senior, my friends are scattered and everyone is busy. It is so worth it though to take the time to intentionally hang out with the people you care about!

11. KEEP MY CAR CLEAN: gave up on this battle a while ago. Hoping for a new car all together these days, "Old Faithful" is on her last leg.

12. GO OUT OF THE COUNTRY: This was one of the most lofty goals on the list, because when I made it, I had zero travel plans scheduled. BUT, got to go to Cancun, Mexico for my boss/bff's bachelorette party in June and we had the time of our lives. Next year, Europe?

13. DIMINISH PROCRASTINATION: struggle of a lifetime.

14. RESPOND PROMPTLY TO TEXTS: yeah, not my strong suit either. I have a huge issue with reading texts and responding in my head but not actually typing back a response. I tried turning on my "read" receipts for awhile, but I still didn't respond so then I just looked worse, because people could tell I'd read their message and wasn't responding. SOS, help needed.

15. FALL IN LOVE WITH A BOY: ............

16. FALL MORE IN LOVE WITH JESUS: Some weeks I was way closer to seeking Christ than others, but in the year of 21 I think i've learned more about Jesus' love than ever before. A lot of it has to do with understanding how small I am and how big God is (which I don't think I'll ever fully fathom).

17. WORK OUT TWICE A WEEK FOR 30 MIN+ I thought this sounded so simple when I first wrote it, and yet it was so hard for me to motivate myself to actually work out! I compromised for walking to class instead of driving....

18. LOVE SELFLESSLY: I don't know how to measure this one, but I realized that I'm great at loving people who love me back but not-so-great at loving people when I get nothing in return.

19. GET CLEAR SKIN: one of the aforementioned embarrassing goals. getting there thanks to my girl Stacia Whisenhunt and Rodan + Fields... would definitely recommend to anyone!!!

20. MAKE PEOPLE FEEL IMPORTANT: also don't know how to assess this goal. I think Romans 12:15 is a great way to approach it though, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Everyone desires to be heard and be acknowledged. I know that I remember when people get excited about what I'm excited about. I want to be that person for other people.

21. LOSE AND KEEP OFF 10 LBS. came pretty close to this one, the fast food goal helped tremendously. Maybe if I'd stuck to the working out goal I would've reached it fully...

Here's to making the most of everyday! xoxox,

alex