ashley-knedler-75600Shortcomings and Triumphs

In 2017, I overcame a lot of challenges. I moved out, I traveled to Europe, and I made incredible strides in my writing ability—but these were not accomplished without having faced a few challenges. I made a lot of mistakes in 2017 as I’ve made in the past before that, but that’s not to say I haven’t done many things right. Those mistakes have taught me to look forward and continue pushing on. Having learned from my faults, I’ve made adjustments to my previous goals and set a new 12 for this upcoming year.

Last year, I made a few bad investments and I hurt my knee in April running 10 miles on the treadmill, automatically disqualifying me from two of my goals: run a half marathon and a regular marathon. I exacerbated the injury playing basketball and was sidelined for a long time. I was seeing results, but then reinjured the knee in October playing tug-of-war at a work event. I’m receiving physical therapy for my injury, which is good, but I need to be careful and nurse my knee until I’m able to start running again.

Focused on Health and Happiness

While I had to abandon a few goals last year, it wasn’t without it’s better moments. I explored Italy, Croatia, France, and Montenegro, then visited my brother in Kansas, all while making great strides at work—I’ve written over 700 pages of content on the web for clients across the United States, even helping a business owner in New York rank on page one of Google for their services. I also became vegan at the beginning of last year. I was able to buy myself a laptop and started making moves towards starting my own business as a Freelance Writer.

The theme for 2018 is Healthy is Happy. I love this mantra because it reminds me, above all else, even when times are tough, I can continue to remain positive if I continue improving my health.

12 Goals for 2018

This year, I have another 12 goals to accomplish. I’ve made them a lot more practical and measurable. I can easily track at least 10 of my goals for 2018—the other two, going 100% vegan and being kind, are general character improvements that can continue helping me be a better person.

  1. Be Kind

There’s not enough kindness in the world. I’ve lived with a lot of anger in my life, and I don’t want people to experience what I experienced. I want everyone to feel welcomed and feel like they belong somewhere. Kindness can go a long way, especially with those that feel like the entire world is going against them. Kindness is the first of my goals because it’s incredibly important to treat people not how others would treat you but with genuine kindness from the heart.

  1. Earn $500 per month as a part-time freelance writer

I’ve been working on my side-hustle for a while, but I’ve been afraid of rejection, preventing me from branching into better-paying fields in fear that my content isn’t good enough. However, this year, I’m taking control of my business. There’s nothing holding me back but myself, my own volition. If there is a will, there is a way—if I can make $10, I can make

$100, and so forth and so on. I just need to keep this mentality. I already get paid to be a writer, for heaven’s sake, so it’s only right that I venture into areas that I enjoy writing about—my goal is to live the dream one day.

  1. Blog 10x per month

Blogging has really taken a backseat to other complications in my life. As much as I wanted to blog, I didn’t set aside the time to plan for future blogs the way I plan for client campaigns or other things in my life. This year, I’m taking blogging to the next level and scheduling my life like school—committing my time and energy to times where I’m focused on contributing brain power towards blogging; this means brainstorming, researching, asking questions, writing, editing, proofreading, and getting my ideas published on to my website.

What’s great is that I’m an SEO specialist, which means I can apply what I know about search engine optimization to my blog post—why haven’t I been dedicating myself to this before?

  1. Read 24 Books

I love learning and I love using my imagination. Reading fiction and nonfiction fuels my soul. I continue growing when I read nonfiction material and I’m able to escape to another world when reading fiction. I’m currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for the first time, and it’s wonderful. Reading is awesome because it stimulates the mind and helps the brain associate words with photos, developing scenes and characters that interact with one another. Reading is truly transcendent.

  1. Go 100% Vegan

I’ve been on and off of veganism for the past year, maintaining a vegan diet when I have the option, but not strict when it comes to denying foods with dairy or honey when faced with difficult choices. Now that I’m taking greater control of my diet, I’d like to commit myself completely to veganism.

I’m reading a book called Being Vegan: Living with Conscious, Conviction, and Compassion, and it explores frequently asked questions for transitioning vegans, including how to deal with family and antagonists. At the basis of veganism is compassion. Since everyone has to eat every day, ensuring that I remain compassionate at every meal translates to other aspects of my life, including the way I treat others and approach challenges in life—I want my life to resonate veganism.

  1. Run a Half Marathon in June

Now that my leg’s feeling much better, I’m confident I can return to running if I steadily work on improving my muscles and eating right. I can recover and get back to form if I stay positive and continue looking forward. One thing I learned from running was fighting through adversities to get to the next checkpoint, taking it step-by-step.

  1. Lifting Goals
    • Bench 50-pound dumbbells
    • Squat four plates
    • Deadlift four plates
    • Curl 35-pound dumbbells.

These projections are rough estimates from what I learned last year before my injury. Ever since I hurt my knee, I haven’t been able to go to the gym. I was able to stay fit by practicing yoga every day for 120 days straight light calisthenics, but now I settled into my new place, the knee has healed well, and I feel confident going to the gym again. I’ve been waking up at 5 in the morning for the past month, so hopefully, that was able to jumpstart my habits and get me into the groove of waking up and working out right away. These goals are measurable, tangible goals that I can see myself accomplish if I stick to a diet plan and focus on making gradual improvements every week.

  1. Save $2,400 for the Rainy Season

Last year, it rained—and when it rains, it pours. I spend a significant amount of my savings from having to address an emergency. It’s all good though because that’s what that’s for—I was able to weather the storm. It’s a new fiscal year, so that means looking towards the future, making budgeting projections and estimating for upcoming challenges, which includes setting aside money for tougher times. $2,400 would mean I would have to save $200 per month—very attainable.

  1. Invest $1,200

Last year, I started investing in stocks. I’ve learned a great deal now, and I can see where I can steadily gain capital if I continue contributing at a steady pace. I have to remember to be smart about my investments, making sure I’m doing my research and continuing to grow.

  1. Pay down $2,400 of my student loans

Student loans suck. Thankfully I don’t have a huge payment, but I still have to pay a significant amount, holding me back from using all my capital to invest in my future. 10 years from now, that $12,000 I owe could have grown to $100,000, so the faster I’m able to pay down my debts, the faster I’ll be able to invest all my capital towards timely investments—my part-time freelancing gig should help.

  1. Meet +100 new people

I’m an introvert. I want to branch out and just make more friends. Whether it’s people I meet over the internet or in person, I just want to make connections with people and not feel so alone in my endeavors. I know there are like-minded yoga-loving, basketball-playing, traveling vegans out there—I just know it.

  1. Travel to 6 different locations

Last but not least, is to travel to six different locations. Why six? Last year I traveled quite a bit, but I also spent a lot of money. I want to travel again, and I want traveling to be an important part of my life, but I also want to focus on improving my income this year, which is why I scaled down my goals by half. Last year, I chose 12 different places, and this year I’m choosing six. The first few places I’ll go to are Denver, Portland, and maybe Japan—if that’s in the budget.

Here’s to the best 2018.

Photo by Ashley Knedler on Unsplash