Hello 2018, Goodbye 2017 by Sarah Park

I say this almost every year, but I can't believe how fast time has gone by this year! Surely, there were many days filled with the same old routine: wake up > go to work > get home > cook dinner > Netflix > sleep, they were less than memorable. I've also had some amazing opportunities to travel and learn something new. I'm going to reflect on what I'm most grateful for in 2017 and share my intentions for 2018.

2017 Highlights

There were many ups and downs in 2017 and I've plucked out some of my best memories and experiences I am most grateful for. It was a year of self-exploration and deep learning of who I am, who I want to become, and the legacy I want to leave behind.

1. Getting married and being accepted into a new family with open arms.

I feel incredibly lucky to have found a husband who complements me in every way. Our differences attracted us to each other and keeps us going strong. We share the same core values of love and respect for each other and our families, but our personalities are polar opposites. I feel less afraid of the unknown ahead of us when we are together (like taxes, investing, and personal finances) because he's so good at being practical and analytical. Then I make sure we're maintaining good relationships with our friends and making time for new experiences so we can learn to enjoy things once in a while.

2. Seeing my family and friends grow another year older.

Every night I pray to thank God for making sure my family and friends are alive and well above anything else. I was very fortunate this year to see all of the people I love grow older and celebrate another year with me. It's easy for me to withdraw from people when I'm busy with work and personal projects, so I have to remember to give myself a break and schedule time to catch up with old friends. I've been pretty good about making time for my family in the South Bay, I try to visit them at least twice a month!

3. Making more time to travel.

I like to plan at least one international trip a year and 2017 has been generous with travel opportunities. I went on a short trip to Ireland for work, but made sure I had one full day to go see the Cliffs of Moher and stop by the Jameson distillery for a cocktail making tour. Shortly after that, Cheuk and I flew to Iceland for our engagement photos around Reykjavik and by the basalt columns at Reynisfjara. I concluded the year with a last minute trip to Nicaragua to get some BTS footage of a friend working on a culinary + VR project with Jicaro Island Ecolodge and Coffee Abroad.

2018 Intentions

I've been thinking a lot about what I need to change about my current lifestyle and habits to make the improvements I want, which involves a very action oriented outlook. I decided that 2018 would be about purpose and taking action. It's easy for me to get lost in my own thoughts and just talk about the things I want to do. Then I start to feel anxious about time running out and depressed about the lack of accomplishments. It's a vicious cycle that has consumed most of my life in 2017 and I know it's time for a change.

1. Make plans with a purpose.

Over the years, I realized that doing things "just because" isn't a good enough reason to keep me going and build a new habit. I need to set a bigger vision and purpose to why I have to make those small steps. Here is a fitting podcast I recently listened from Oprah's Super Soul Conversations with happiness expert Gretchen Rubin

I've been so accustomed to using my emotions and impulses as a motivator, I've lost track of setting hard goals. Going to the gym was only when I felt like it, eating healthy was only when I was in the mood -- which were all really rare impulses for me. The podcast episode highlights the importance of following the small, daily goals to help you move towards your goals for a happier and fuller life.

2. Take action.

Once my purpose is defined, laying out a plan of action comes next. How am I going to live each day to make sure I'm moving in the right direction? Even when I'm not in the mood, I still need a path to follow. I'm using some simple trackers to help me build healthier habits like eating well and exercising at least three times a week. I use a habit tracker called Momentum to easily visualize my daily habits and checking off that green box is also oddly satisfying. The free version will only allow up to three habits, but that has been enough for me as I don't want to make a laundry list of new habits and end up overwhelming myself. I also log my food and exercise into this journal app called My Fitness Pal which helps me stay accountable by tracking my eating habits. It reduces my mindless eating habits because I have to think twice about having to add it onto my daily diet.

3. Compare less and reflect more.

I'm so guilty of comparing myself to those around me and a huge culprit of negative self-reflections. I tend to over-analyze situations in the past and negatively project my anxiety onto my self-esteem and future. It's hard to push these thoughts aside, especially when they feel so real. Self-reflecting without bias is something I'll be practicing more often to better understand my current desires, mood, and gratitude. Focusing on myself gives me less time to sulk while comparing myself to others and obsessing over the things I don't have.