Nothing like starting the year off strong.... and by strong I mean late. But as they say, better late than never, right?! So here we go with 2567989 words I've written about the upcoming year.....

Before I dive right back into content, I wanted to talk about the year ahead. Being the type of person that has always been a big resolution maker, goal setter (aka #goaldigger), and list maker (hello 13.75 lists sitting next to me on my desk), I can't let the opportunity of a new year go by without pausing for reflection. In years past my reflection has consisted of only looking forward, letting my mind run wild with daydreams that result in insurmountable goals and resolutions. The pressures of said resolutions have been more detrimental to reaching my goals than they have ever been helpful. So before the new year even hit, I already had my first resolution in place: don't make resolutions. Now this doesn't mean that I've thrown all caution to the wind and I'm floating around free as a dandelion seed floating on the breeze. Rather, I am taking a new approach to planning and goal setting.

For starters, instead of only looking ahead, this year, I first took time to look back. I looked at what I had achieved, the highlights of the year, the lowlights of the year, and where I thought improvements could be made. It was one of the most refreshing, insightful, and motivating things I've ever done. 

Next, I picked words for 2015. I had heard this idea mentioned a time or two, but, being totally honest, I found the idea rather silly. Like picking a word would really help me live a better life? Puh-lease. However, I noticed myself repeating several words when I was doing my reflecting and planning, and so I thought I'd give this whole word thing a try, but with a twist- in addition to selecting a word, I'm also banning several others. I've chosen to make my word "passion". I've always admired the way with which many foreigners lived their lives so passionately, but it wasn't until I read "Lessons from Madame Chic" that it somehow clicked in my head that I could live passionately too, no matter what country I'm in. For me, being passionate is about being selective and intentional with the things I choose to do, how I choose to spend my time, and who I choose to spend it with. Passion is using your best, doing your best, spending your time with the best, having the best in the here and now, not saving it for some later date (that may never come). But it also means being passionate about every aspect of life, the good, the bad, the mundane (I'm looking at you laundry), the necessary. It means taking your daily tasks and infusing them with joy, it means finding the lesson in a situation that went wrong, it means using your best china instead of saving it for a fancy dinner, it means turning a negative into a positive, it means eating a piece of chocolate every day, it means letting go and not worrying about little things (Misspelled word? Oh well...), it means enjoying every second of every day that we are blessed to get to live. It means loving life, not just living it.

I also mentioned how I decided to ban words, as I believe words can fuel the fire of a downward spiral that our minds can sometimes take us on. I've chosen to ban the words 'busy' and 'stress'. Busy is a silly excuse that we've all become accustomed to robotically making ("How are you?" "I'm busy. How are you?" "I'm busy, too."), but unless you're running a Fortune 500 company or a country, you're probable not that busy. Maybe you're "busy" watching 15 hours of tv every week, or maybe you're "busy" scrolling your iPad for 3 hours every night, but let's be honest, you're not actually busy. If you think you're too busy to read that new book or pick up a new hobby, track your time for several days to see how much time you're "busy" doing things that are mindless (hello Facebook), then eliminate those things and you will suddenly have time for so many new things (knitting, calligraphy, learning French, the possibilities are endless!). So I'm eliminating 'busy' from my vocabulary to help me find time for the things that truly matter, that I'm 'passionate' about, so that I can stop making excuses, so that my workday is actually productive, and so I can finally give a more exciting answer when people ask me how I'm doing. I'm also banning the word 'stress'. I spent a lot of 2014 stressing out and being anxious, two things that a passionate life has no room for. I truly believe that many things are mental issues that we fuel by the words we repeat to ourselves. Just like I believe that frequently repeating the word 'busy' makes us eventually feel like we're "busy", continuously telling yourself that you are stressed out only convinces your mind further that you are actually stressed out. And I certainly don't want my life mantra to read "Stressed & Busy"....

These words, along with my reflections on the past year, have helped me let go of silly resolutions. Of course, it is a given that we all want to be in the best shape, travel more, make more money, etc, but writing down a definitive amount (I'm going to make $20,000 this month, I'm traveling to Italy, Hawaii, and Japan by July, etc), puts pressure on you to succeed and makes you feel like a failure when you don't meet your unrealistic goals. So things like traveling and making more money aren't even going on my list, they're just things that are a given, things that all my more passionate goals will help me to achieve. Now, instead of resolutions, I have manageable, passionate ideas with specific, detailed steps to achieving them, and, in my personal life, I've made my "goals" more fun and passionate, like "Always have fresh flowers", "Always have a bottle of bubbly in the fridge", "Go birding in the local parks", and "Get regular facials".

And now that I've droned on for basically 10 centuries and a day, I'd love to hear your thoughts on goals/resolutions/plans/words/pizza/tropical vacations/whatever. I'm always intrigued by the ways in which others plan for the new year- Do you make resolutions? Do you have a word (and what is it)?, etc. Spill the beans in the comments!

And a small housekeeping note, Mr. RC and I are hard at work revamping, rebranding, and redesigning the site and some of the content, so things may be a bit on the quiet side around here for the next couple weeks. We'd also love any feedback you can provide on things you like and don't like about our site, as well as things you'd love to see more of and things you'd love to see less of.

Cheers to a passionate and exciting year! I've got a good feeling that 2015 is going to be a good one.....

{All images via my Instagram}