GRETCHEN TRIES STUFF: A Year In Review + New Year Resolutions {2018}

The last few days of December can be a great time to decompress after the holidays and create an entire new list of unrealistic goals for the future. It's a pretty well established factoid now days that most people don't stick to New Year's Resolutions for longer than a few weeks.  I've never been one of those people (well for the exception of 2016, when I vowed to drink more water and found myself gradually going back to the amount I normally drank by mid Feb. I redeemed myself in 2017 when I made a discovery that ultimately changed my relationship with water—sparkling water rocks).  At the beginning of 2017, I set myself a few goals for the year:

  1. Launch my blog.

  2. Launch my YouTube Channel.

  3. Try more stuff.

  4. Start working on my book.

So how did I do? I launched my blog (unofficially, with my first Gretchen Tries Stuff post) two weeks into January. At the time, I had the goal of posting once a month. I failed to stick with it. I posted in February, squeaked in another at the very beginning of April. The reason I say this was the unofficial launch is because at that time, my blog was a lonely little add-on to my professional writing portfolio. It had no appealing design qualities and I kind of abandoned it for a few months. The idea of going back and blogging loomed over me, constantly nagging me to come back and do it right this time. I finally buckled down, gave the blog its own website and officially launched it at the of July (with a goal of posting new content every week. I only missed one week since then.) A couple months later I launched my YouTube channel. By the end of 2017, I've established a habit of living in accordance to my editorial calendar and my blog (+ my vlog) has become one of my favorite projects. Goals achieved! I did start work on my book again, but haven't gotten it to place where I'd like to be yet, so I'll say that goal is only half achieved.

I also, most certainly, tried more stuff in 2017.  This has become the bases of my Gretchen Tries Stuff blog series. I started off small with easy-to-try health and beauty habits and grew into longer, more ambitious projects.  Of the things I've tried this year, how many of them am I still keeping up with? Well, I've officially fallen out of the habit of oil pulling. I think it's because this is something you need to do when you first wake up, and I'm very coffee driven in the morning so trying to oil pull before coffee is a bigger challenge than it initially sounds. I do intend to try to work it back into my schedule, maybe three mornings a week. We'll see. This year I also tried wearing makeup for the first time in ages. This new habit is still going strong. My collection of cruelty-free beauty products has expanded, my skill level in applying makeup has improved tremendously, and I've got my "everyday look" down to a science.

One of the biggest things I tried in 2017 was zero waste living. I went completely trash-free for the month of September and I have tried to maintain much of my zero waste habits since. Keeping up with this is difficult. After months of trying different things for zero waste health and beauty routine, I've gone back to using an electric toothbrush and save my bamboo brush for traveling. I am sticking with my zero waste razor soap and shampoo, using reusable bags and containers and buying from bulk still. But I have let some grocery items that aren't in zero waste containers slide back onto my list. I may not be strictly zero waste anymore, but I am using less plastic and creating less trash than I was a year ago.

The longest project I took on in 2017 was my 100 Days Sober. I am drinking alcohol again, but my relationship with it feels different. Now days, I tend to still stick to drinking soda water most nights instead of an alcoholic beverage. When I do drink I limit myself to two drinks a night, 2-3 times a week. (For the exception of the holidays, where I let myself drink a bit more often than that.) I found this is about the maximum I can drink without compromising all the benefits I've felt from being sober. I may also take another sustained break from drinking in 2018 (probably most of the month of April).

2018 Goals / New Year's Resolutions

Although 2017 got off to a very rocky start for me (it was a tough year), I did manage to turn it around in the last four months and end it on a strong note. I'm optimistic that I can keep this positive moment into the new year and make 2018 a much better year than 2017 started off as. After much thought and consideration, here are my resolutions/goals for the upcoming year:

  • Run (+finish) the Eugene Marathon: Back when running marathons seemed like no big deal (some 5-6 years ago), I signed up for this race. Unfortunately it didn't go well. I was very confident after my previous marathon but my form was a bit destructive towards my knees, resulting in an injury that caused me to be limping and in pain by mile 9. I ended up taking the half turn off and only completing 13.1 miles. I'm going to avenge this race result this year. I haven't officially decided, but I tentatively plan on this being the last marathon I run and turning my attention back to racing halfs, 10ks, and 5ks afterwards.

  • Read 50 Book: The 50 Book Challenge is one I kind of stole from YouTuber Hannah Witton. She lists this as one of her goals for the past couple of years. It sounds easy enough, coming out to about 4.5 books per month, but with a busy work schedule and marathon training, it might be a bit too ambitious to accomplish this year. I plan on trying anyway. To keep things in the spirt of the 50 Book Challenge, I'm giving myself some guidelines. Children's book obviously don't count, even though I read a lot of them (I'm working on writing and illustrating my own, thus read loads of books in that genre). Graphic novels do count, provided they aren't crazy short. If it's a graphic novel that takes more than a couple of hours to read, I think that can go towards my over-all book count. To keep me honest, I'll put updates on how I'm doing with book challenge in my seasonal reading lists and publish of all the books I've read at the end of 2018.

  • Monetize My Blog/YouTube: While I'm obviously happy to be blogging just for the pleasure of writing, I would love to bring in a little extra money to support my writing habit so I can continue to create content for all of you. Be it the occasional sponsored post or shoppable links to products I personally endorse, it is my hope that my blog can start supporting itself financially. If you're interested in helping support my writing, I actually have a Patreon page where you can sign up to support me for as little as $1 a month in exchange for my gratitude and other fun surprises. This year I'm hoping on creating my own coffee roast either available for purchase through this blog or as a gift on my Patreon page!

  • Expand My Lifestyle Blog to Include Style Guides: Though I don't consider myself to be a fashion blogger, I do want to expand to include more fashion and style guides on my blog for two reasons. First of all, it will help round my blog out to be full lifestyle. Secondly, I think it will be a good way to force myself out of my comfort zone and deal with my feelings towards being in photographs (you can read more about my reasoning here.) Look forward to some more style guides coming in the next year.

  • Shop my book around: This goal is dear to my heart. I started writing and illustrating this book years ago and then started to feel overwhelmed with the processes of actually shopping it around and trying to get it published. This is the year I toughen up, get over the fact that I'll probably face rejection before I ever get published (as most writers do) and actually try. And before you go telling me that I could just self-publish my book, you should know that I already know that and my bigger goal is to not self-publish on Amazon but actually get publishing house to believe in me. I'll never feel as satisfied with it if I self-publish without at least trying to put myself out there first.

  • GTS—The One With The Budget: This will be my longest Gretchen Tries Stuff challenge. I've spent the past two months calculating my expenses and am challenging myself to stay on a very strict budget for the entire year of 2018. Through my No Shopping November challenge, I leaned that shopping might be one of my weaknesses. So, to help break bad shopping habits, I am setting myself on an ambitions challenge starting Jan 1st. My reward, beside personal pride, if I manage to stick to my crazy strict budget throughout the entire year? A shinny new work computer for doing all my video and photo editing on. Wish me luck!

Have any New Year's Resolutions for 2018? (Or perhaps advice on achieving any of my 2018 goals?) Let me know in the comments section below! With a little team work and support, we can all work together to make 2018 a fantastic year.