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Sunday, August 30, 2015

the year ahead

I'm a teacher. And as a teacher, I always use the word year in relation to the word school. So I don't do New Year's resolutions. By January 1st, I am well into my year.

I always try to think about what I want for any given year in late August, right before the daily grind begins. I find that being intentional about what I want before my school year starts helps me prioritize my work and personal time so I don't waste it away and find myself in June asking: where did the last year of my life go?

Since moving to Taiwan, each year my goals have been wildly different.
My first year here was all about learning to leave work at work. I know some teachers who wear their weekend workload like a badge of honor, but that is just so not who I am or what I want from my one and only life.

My second year was all about finding a groove that worked for our international family of two. I'm talking divvying up household chores and dealing with Bad Taiwan Days and creating a functional budget. You know, all the small details of life?

Year three was all about running and becoming a healthier version of myself.

This year? It's going to be about a lot of things.
It's still going to be about running (I am signing up for my first 10K tomorrow--yikes!). It's still going to be about not living to work. It's still going to be about cooking and keeping a pleasant home. But it's also going to be about some new things.

Like figuring out a new groove, because we will both be teaching full time!!! Like figuring out what to do with two incomes when we will soon be 100% debt free. Like figuring out what we want/value/need long term. Like embracing our little Hsinchu County and Taiwan and making it a point to discover more and more of it. Like choosing to surround ourselves with folks who are positive and make us feel energized and excited about Taiwan, life, work and our future.

Like deciding that having a good day/week/year is our choice, and not a result of circumstance.
Because last year, I failed pretty epically at this. 

There will also be some globetrots, which I will tell you all about later.
But funny enough, that is not even on the Top 10 List of Things I Am Excited About This Year.

Instead, I am excited about all the small things that are happening in our life. Like the after school workout club we are starting. Like being able to have lunch with my husband whenever I want to. Like teaching high school for the first time ever and embracing new challenges at work. Like all of the cool things waiting to be found in the hills of Hsinchu County on our scoot adventures. Like spending time with friends. Like popping into my husband's 4th grade classroom! Like growing my blog and connecting with other international teachers. And I am ridiculously excited about all of the beef noodle soup I will eat this year with my husband and with good friends! 

I am just so excited about where I am-- where we are. Not literally, of course, because we have been in Hsinchu for 3+ years now (and it is a very lovely place). But I mean figuratively. This is a place of victory, of new opportunities, of marking major milestones, of accomplishing huge personal and financial goals, of relief, and of excitement. It's a very nice place, this place we are in now, and we plan on savoring it for a good, long while.

So, weirdly enough for me, I am not excited about far off places or adventures or what's coming around the corner.

Instead, I am excited to live all the tiny moments of this year and not look at it or them as something to get through in order to move onto something else. That's kinda how I lived last year, and I decided that it is a pretty silly way to live this one and only life of mine.

I know this year won't be perfect, but I don't need it to be.

I just want us to enjoy the hundreds of small things every day rather than be bogged down by a few big things. This is actually the loftiest goal I have set for myself, but this is one of those things that is worth the effort.
Am I the only one who does this? 
Do you set goals like this for yourself?? What are they?

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  1. This is such a beautiful reflection! I've been teaching English here in Spain for 3 years but since I am trying to pay off debt, I can't do as much traveling as I'd like to. I used to get jealous when I saw other expats traveling while I stayed home, but then I realized that right now being debt free is my #1 goal, which puts everything else in perspective. Good luck with your new school year!

    1. Thank you! This year, we are all about eliminating our debt. I have been carrying around a monthly student loan payment since I was 22. It eats up 1/4 of my monthly and yearly salary. I cannot wait to pay off my balance next month, 3 years early!! I imagine just knowing that I owe no one a cent will make all of the financial sacrifices of the last few years totally worth it!

  2. I feel like we are probably at similar stages, which makes it all the more interesting to read your perspective. I mean, I live in boring England not Taiwan, but a lot of what you write about not setting any giant goals for the first time in ages, now the basics are all set, and just enjoying life for what it is really resonates. It's something I find really hard too, but know I need to work on. I feel lucky that it's something I am able to work on, as well. I wish you lots of luck for the year ahead!

    1. I love England! I have been there multiple times and would always go back!! I have a hard time doing it as well, but it is something that is worth trying, right??

  3. How wonderful to be in such a good "place!" Your post is so inspiring (along with those amazing photos) - you've made me want to re-assess a few things. Thanks for the pep talk!

    1. Thanks :) I think it is so important to remember that there are seasons of life-- highs and lows. Trust me, I did not handle my last low season very well. I know it's so easy to be positive when you are in a high. But I do think cultivating habits now can sustain your spirit through the lows.

  4. You have a great attitude. It's so important to enjoy the small things, because I think that the big things are made up of many little things.

    I think you are especially blessed to have your husband nearby and to be happy about it. It makes me sad to recall the person who told me, "I could never stand working with him!" They obviously married the wrong person; Dan and I spend 24 hours a day together and can't imagine being apart.

    1. Thanks! I love being with my husband! It makes my day to know that I can go visit with him whenever I want. Plus, I love watching him with his kiddos! It is the most awesome thing in the world!