Happy New Year!

I woke up this morning in a new apartment in a new city, ready for a new year. After a disappointing 2015, I am ready for a fresh start in 2016 and it really will be a new start in about every way imaginable.

I am in the middle of reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before, which is all about forming habits. One section that really resonated talked about a major life change being a good time to try to implement a new habit. So I figure moving to a new city and starting a new job provide a good opportunity to try to form some new good habits and kick some bad ones:

  • Stop drinking diet soda. I gave up Diet Coke for nearly a year a while back, but as the stress of my previous job built, I slowly got back into the habit. By this fall, I was easily drinking 2-3 bottles a day – I was so sleep-deprived, I kept telling myself I “needed” the caffeine boost (I have never been a coffee drinker). Not good!! I decided to go cold turkey upon arriving in D.C. this past Tuesday: I haven’t had a Diet Coke since I got here and I plan to keep it that way.
  • Cook more and eat less processed food. With my old job taking up so much of my time, I rarely felt like cooking when I got home and ended up eating a lot of frozen pizzas and take-out. I plan to change that effective immediately as well. I spent time yesterday going through my cookbooks, picking out recipes and making a grocery shopping list to get started. I am making it a goal to try at least one new recipe a week to keep things interesting and to generally avoid buying any pre-packaged, processed food.
  • Walk to work. I already walked quite a bit in Chicago, but D.C. is even more walkable. My new apartment is just a 25 minute walk from my new office, which is less than half the time it used to take me to get to my old job in Chicago on the el. So I plan to walk to and from work every day, weather permitting. There’s really no reason not to, and it’s built in exercise and reflection time, plus cheaper than and not as hectic as public transportation.


Other goals for 2016:


Pay off my credit card debt

I was making a good dent in this until I decided to move to D.C. Because I’ll have a month in between paychecks and will effectively have one month of paying both rent and my mortgage (with no rental income to cover it), I have been putting all my moving expenses (and a lot of other expenses) on my credit card. Once that first paycheck from my new job comes in, I’ll start working on moving that balance in the other direction.

Reinvigorate my blog

It’s no secret that my blog really suffered last year as work took over my life. While I started the year with some of my highest traffic ever, by December I was down to my lowest monthly readership since May 2014. With a new year, I want to recommit to the blog, posting at least weekly not only about my travels, but also about my move to D.C. and exploring a new city. I also want to do a redesign – to a template that is mobile friendly while also being simple enough that I can handle the upkeep myself. On a related note, I want to be more consistent sharing on my Facebook page and Instagram and more strategic using Twitter.

Lose weight

While I started off last year dropping 10 pounds to get down from my all-time high, I still want to drop another 10-15 to get back to my ideal weight. While it’s not cool to admit it, I am just not as confident in how I look (especially when it comes to men and dating) when I am this heavy. This is especially true because extra weight goes to my face – I honestly don’t even like getting my picture taken right now. But I look back at pictures from when I was in Central Asia in 2012 or back in Chicago in 2008 and 2009 and I think, “damn, I looked good then!” I want to get that feeling back. On a more practical level, I also know that running will be easier (and even more enjoyable) with fewer pounds on my frame.

Run the Great Wall Marathon

This has long been on my bucket list – and on my 14 Things to Do Before 40 list! I turn 40 next summer, so I better get going, right? This will be ridiculously challenging, but it will also force me to train in a completely different way than I normally train for a marathon, adding it a lot more strength training, stairs and hills. It will also mark a marathon on my third continent, inching me closer to my goal of running a marathon on every continent. Not to mention it’s a great reason to visit China, which will be my 50th country!

The Great Wall Marathon. Photo courtesy of Matt Kowalczyk via Flickr

Be more social

My social life seriously suffered the last couple years in Chicago, so I am looking for a fresh start in D.C. I have a few friends from college and elsewhere here to get me started and other friends have offered to introduce me to their friends in the city. I have also signed up for a half marathon training group that starts next week as a way to both meet people and train for the Great Wall Marathon. I am pledging right now to say “yes” to any social opportunity that presents itself – in the past I said “no” way too often, using work as an excuse or, to be totally honest, not feeling confident in my looks to want to meet new people (i.e., single men). No more.

Maintain inbox zero

My email inboxes got seriously out of control last year. I struggled to keep my work inbox under 100 (it was usually up closer to 1,000) and my personal inbox was close to 1,000 at one point as well. With a new job, I can start over with my work inbox and I am making it a goal to be at zero in my inbox at the end of each week. The same is true for my personal email inbox, but that will require a little more work as it is currently close to 300!

Visit three new countries

This was a goal last year as well and while I would love to visit more new countries, there are also several places I’d like to return to. I also want to make sure I allow myself enough time in each country I visit to really experience it – I don’t want to rush through a bunch of countries just for the sake of increasing my tally.

Visit three new states

One of the things that excites me the most about living in D.C. is my new proximity to a bunch of states I have yet to explore! Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina are all states I have never been to that are now within easy reach.

Explore a lot of D.C.

For Christmas, I got a few guidebooks for my new home: Walking Around D.C., Day Trips from Washington D.C. and 100 Things to Do in D.C. Before You Die. I’m going to use these for inspiration to explore as much as possible, with a goal of doing at least one walk, one day trip and one thing on the 100 Things to Do list each month.

Whatever your goals are for 2016, I wish you the best in achieving them!

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