Last year around this time, I had high hopes for 2015. Rather than making vague resolutions, I set specific goals.
I was going to learn French.
I was going to publish an e-book.
I was going to pay off all my debt.
I was going to reach my ideal weight.
I was going to finish my 7th marathon.
I was going to visit three new countries and three new states.
While I did finish the New York City Marathon and I did travel to five new countries this year, I fell horribly short on every other goal.
So what happened?
I started off on the right track, for sure. I got Rosetta Stone at a great discount to try to learn French. I joined a gym a few blocks from my where I live and quickly dropped 10 pounds by mid-February. I took myself on a mini-writing retreat, taking the Amtrak from California to Chicago and spending almost three full days working on my e-book.
But at some point, nearly all of those goals fell by the wayside and the year overall turned into a huge struggle. I hurt my back and spent March, April and May in physical therapy. My skin started breaking out for the first time since I was a teenager. I did two incredibly physically challenging hiking trips in the Balkans and Ethiopia (more on the latter coming soon). I drifted further and further from friends in Chicago and my efforts at dating went absolutely nowhere. On top of it all, I found myself working more than I ever have before, leaving me little time for anything else.
As many of you know, I have worked as the director of alumni engagement for a law school for the last three years. This has been my second career after practicing law and I have generally really enjoyed it. I even wrote a post last February about how working nine-to-five doesn’t have to suck. That said, sometimes circumstances arise that make a previously great situation go south. And that’s what happened this year.
Long story short, the person who reported to me unexpectedly left in April and due to a variety of reasons, I was not able to replace her. Which left me basically working two jobs for much of the year. While I am admittedly a bit of a workaholic, it really took its toll on me. I felt like I was eating, breathing and sleeping work. If I wasn’t at the office, I was at home working remotely. And if I wasn’t working, I was thinking about how I needed to be working. My boss was as supportive as possible, but with an externally-facing position, many of the demands were coming from elsewhere. It was almost impossible to say no.
By the fall, I was coming home and crying at least once a week, I was so stressed out. My eating habits deteriorated and I found it tough to find the time to stick to my marathon training schedule. When I did have any free time, I felt like a zombie – I was exhausted and had no desire to socialize or do much of anything besides veg out in front of the TV. No learning French. No working on my e-book. No blogging on a regular basis.
I basically became exactly the person I swore I would never become again after I returned from my career break.
My trip to London and the Balkans in July was a wakeup call for me. Despite the long plane ride to London, my back didn’t hurt at all after I arrived. Indeed, it didn’t hurt the rest of my trip – even after hiking in the Balkans for eight days. Not only that, by the time flew from London to Kosovo, my skin was almost completely clear as well. Yet within a few days of arriving back in Chicago after my vacation, my back pain started up and I started breaking out again.
It was all too much to be just a coincidence. It was clear to me that my stress was showing itself in both my physical pain and my skin breakouts. I desperately needed to figure out how to make a change.
Fast forward a few months and that change is coming. The end of 2015 has been stressful, but for a completely different reason. I landed a new job in November that is pretty much my dream job (more on that in another post), and one that will be taking me from Chicago to Washington, D.C. So over the past two months, I pulled off a couple major events for my (now previous) job; traveled to Ethiopia over Thanksgiving; prepared my condo in Chicago to rent out and found a tenant for it; secured an apartment in D.C.; wrapped up a gazillion things at my previous job; packed up all my belongings and downsized as much as possible; figured out the logistics of moving to D.C.; and took a trip to Minnesota to spend Christmas with my family (not to mention Christmas shopping!).
I will be ringing in 2016 in a new apartment, in a new city, with a new job starting just a few days later. It can’t come fast enough.