What Happened to 2018

If you’re not into gleaning insight from others’ personal experiences, this set of words probably isn’t for you.   🙂

I haven’t written anything containing chronological information about my life since I temporarily quit the internet in May.    Seven months.   Whoa.

A month before that, I published a disjointed collection of words containing an update of sorts.   I didn’t know I was in the midst of losing 6% of my year to strep throat. 1Which I contracted from a lovely group of humans with whom I was work exchanging.

The only other 2018 public snapshot of my life was published on day 2 of the year.   I shared my annual intentions.

Three public missives.

That’s it for this year!

photo: andre guerra

In 2017, I wrote ten times as many.   Why?   I have two guesses.   One now, one farther down the page.

While I was not-writing public missives this year, I was writing many other things:

Travel Hacks:

Life Hacks:

Health Hacks:

Blogger Hacks:

I also did a lot of public speaking this year.
And guested on lots of podcasts.
And was interviewed several times.
And provided too many mentorships.
And put tons of energy into a team project that never got off the ground.
And of course worked lots on a podcast I launched with and co-host with Berna Anat.

And that’s just my work life.

This feels like an accurate visual metaphor for my work life. Busy. Packed. Overflowing. Yet bright and cheerful. (Caveat: my work life does not speak German.)   photo: robert anasch

My personal life has been a bit of a hurricane.

I suppose that’s guess #2 about why I’ve written radically fewer public missives this year.

Said storm is comprised of trying to massively shift my behavior”¦ while also attempting a fundamental lifestyle change 2attempting to scale back my full-time travel to only 50-70% of the year while beginning to build roots somewhere.

I started 2018 with three behavior intentions:

  • Quit trying to do so much.
  • Quit avoiding the hard work of clarity and awareness.
  • Quit wasting my grit.

And then I:

  • Did too much.
    (Apparently you need a plan with details when trying to stop lifelong behaviors.)
  • Got sort of forced into doing the hard work of clarity and awareness.
    (That sucked.   I cried.   Lots.   I didn’t figure out how to stop filling my time and brain unthinkingly.   Instead hard work toward clarity and awareness opportunities came crashing into my life at high speed and dominated my time and thoughts at unsustainable levels until I became emotionally numb.   I learned so much.   I’m glad to be on the other side of that.)
  • Didn’t totally waste my grit.
    (I was more intentional with my time.   But kept going on many fronts longer than ideal, yet not as long as I would have in the past.   Improving!)

I also had two measurable resolutions.   And I meant to write regularly about how they were going.

  1. I meant to set aside a day each week to work on recording family tree information.  My grandparents are still living, and I have an interest in the stories of my ancestors.   I worked on genealogy once a week for two weeks, then probably an average of once a month through June, after which I gave up entirely.

    I took a video in June of my grandmother talking about who these people are. That’s as far as I got this year!

  1. I planned to do a series of 30 day challenges.  Because I have such a habit of taking on an impossible number of things, the idea was to approach some goals with a quit-point built in.   I figured I’d do ten challenges throughout the year.   I identified 20 daily practices as possibilities to be taste-tested in this way. By the end of January, the first 30-Day challenge was at a 50% success rate.   I never officially started another challenge the whole year.   I worked passively on (ahem”¦ I thought wishfully about) the 19 others.   I even took a baby step toward a few of them every now and then.

So, shifting my behavior didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.

Apparently I thought I could tackle changing lifelong behaviors, doing a few personal projects, and my entire oversized work life”¦ while also fundamentally changing my lifestyle.

It’s kind of adorable, hilarious, and slightly horrifying that I had been doing so much in 2017 that I thought the latter four things fit well within my behavior goal of “not doing too much.” 3Many friends challenged me ruthlessly, refusing to cast their vote in the “Yup, sounds sane!” box.   Their attempts to keep me honest are much appreciated.

The lifestyle change is the final contributor to the disappearance of public missives.   Changing my foundation has required more energy and attention than I’d anticipated.

I thought, since it involved fewer physical transitions from place to place, that there would be less to mentally process and therefore more time.

Not so.

How does being in one place take as much or more energy than being in multiple places?

Moving, moving, moving is my normal.   A precariousness of location has been part of my life for the last eight years.   To stay – to grow roots – is a new thing.   A transformation.

Did you know caterpillars liquefy – liquefy! – during their transformation to butterflies? – photo suzanne william

I heard a talk on transformation this year contrasting it with change.   A metaphor from that talk stuck with me.   To me it explains so well why a lifestyle switch is so energy intensive:

“Whereas ”˜change’ is the equivalent of rearranging the living room furniture, ”˜transformation’ is deciding you don’t even want your living room to have furniture anymore.”

Maybe that won’t touch you the way it did me.

So here’s another thought about the energy required for transformation.

I’m convinced so many people don’t have the lives they say they want because: they don’t have or make the time it takes to actually make a change, and they don’t value the behaviors required to make change.

I argue deep change — transformation – requires a lot of thinking and the courage to take action.   By the time a human has gone to work, come home, slept, and done myriad activities to support work (maintaining a car, wardrobe, planning to eat away from home, etc.), they have used the bulk of their waking hours.   Even if there are more hours remaining, spending them simply “thinking” is not in our cultural purview.   Doing something “productive” — chores, projects, working out, parenting, etc .?   Fine.   Watching Netflix for hours?   Fine.   Going out with friends or family? Fine.   Staring at a wall by yourself while the wheels turn?   Weird.

I am definitely guilty again this year of filling my life so full that I unintentionally eliminated much of the time required for a successful lifestyle transformation.

So.   2018.

I planned to quit some things.
I planned to start some things.
I did a lot of things.
Basically none of those things were the things I planned to do.

I have written few public missives this year.
I wrote a lot of other stuff instead.
I spent lots of time traveling.
I spent lots of time attempting behavior change.
I spent the rest of my time attempting to transform my lifestyle.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” ~ John Lennon

Now 2019 is knocking at the door.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the last three months thinking about the year to come.

It’s going to be another year of quitting for me.

Unlike 2018, there is nothing I plan to start.

My 2019 goal is simple and singular.   Quit everything.

Trying to scale back has not worked.   I feel like an addict foolishly trying to commit to only ”˜using’ on Tuesdays and Fridays.   I’m going cold turkey in 2019.   I keep calling it “quitting my life.”   Or “stop living in survival mode.”   What I mean is that I’m going to scale all the way back to zero.   No projects, no commitments, no new activities.   I suppose I plan to be as present as possible with what is already happening, instead of constantly adding to it.

Of course, clearly one cannot actually do “nothing.”   Not only would that be deeply unfulfilling, but food and shelter are basic needs I’m unwilling to forego.   I’ve come up with some very tight parameters to keep time-consuming activities that aren’t my top five priorities at an absolute minimum.

I’m not sure if I’ll be reporting back here or not.   I do plan to check in with Half the Clothes followers quarterly.   If you’re not already on the email list and want to stay in the loop,    here’s where you add your name.

Until then, may your 2019 be filled with lots of thoughtfully chosen moments.

Post Script: Hilarious that I didn’t think to write a paragraph about my 2018 travel as a contributing factor to the lack of missives this year.   As the foundation of my life for the last 8 years, I guess it didn’t occur to me.   I traveled less in 2018, but still lots.   I went 22 places this year, which is a lot less than the 50ish places I went in 2017.


1 Which I contracted from a lovely group of humans with whom I was work exchanging.
2 attempting to scale back my full-time travel to only 50-70% of the year while beginning to build roots somewhere
3 Many friends challenged me ruthlessly, refusing to cast their vote in the “Yup, sounds sane!” box.   Their attempts to keep me honest are much appreciated.

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