Well, as of last week…I am 29 years old.
Although 2020 hasn’t gone at all like I’d anticipated, it’s revealed an entirely new perspective on the fragility of life. Between the pandemic, civil unrest, massive wildfires, and a co-worker suddenly succumbing to a blood clot in his lung just two days after his cancer diagnosis, there is always a looming reminder that our time on this Earth will inevitably come to an end when we least expect it.
Ironically, this year has also been one of significant personal development and accomplishment.
I was able to finally make the out-of-state move I’d been planning for the past four years. I’ve finally found full-time work with animals that allows me to pay the bills on schedule. I’ve actively and intentionally improved my credit like a real, responsible grown-up.
And in 359 days, the planet will spin me right into my third decade.
Before that happens, I want to make this last year of my 20’s one to remember.
Run At Least One 5K Race Per Month
Since my father has always been an avid runner, I guess you could say that I inherited a love for the pastime. During high school and college, I definitely wanted to join a cross-country team, but it just didn’t happen. My family relocated often, and my mother insisted that if I wasn’t going to be the next Micheal Phelps or David Beckham, I could just not be in a sport, period.
Once my early 20’s rolled around, I got serious about my physical health. Weight training and running four to six miles per day helped me get into shape, but poor form, slipped discs, and overuse injuries quickly squashed my dreams of participating in a bodybuilding competition or training as a female MMA fighter.
This year, my focus is to train for and complete at least one 5K race per month. By June, I plan to double that number.
Truthfully, I don’t even care if I place in these events. I just love running.
I crave the high, the feeling of strength and power, the outlet that it provides for my radioactive train of thought. Each time I increase my speed or run an extra mile, I feel unstoppable.
The 5K experience is a win all on its own, but attending monthly events bolsters discipline and accountability.
Plus, who doesn’t love memorabilia?
Start An Educational Plan…and Actually Finish It.
While having a child-like curiosity can be a blessing, there is a level of distinct ambiguity that comes with the territory.
Remember those grade school assignments where you had to figure out what your dream career was?
Yeah. I had no idea.
My younger self wanted to be a gymnast, a veterinarian, and an astronaut.
I still would love to be all of those things. However, getting older means being honest with yourself and your limitations. A gymnast career is out of the question, I cry when I see animals in pain, and as far as heights and flying goes…it’s not happening, Gretchen. It’s just not.
So, I’m leaning toward cyber security.
No emotional involvement, very little physical labor, and like writing, I can use the skill as a realistic, long-term means of remote income.
Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely enjoy spending my days caring for man’s best friend. When it comes to taking care of finances though, the tech industry has much more to offer in the salary department.
Next year, I’ll be picking up my degree right where I left it…just with a different major.
Buy a Drum Kit
At one point, I sang in a choir, played bass, taught myself a little bit of guitar, and learned to read music. After about 15 years of not even having touched an instrument, I picked up drums around February of 2020. A friend of mine knew how to play, owned a kit, and was willing to teach me a couple days a week.
Ever since, I’ve been dying to get my hands on a drum set of my own. By the end of this year, I’d like to be able to play at least five songs in a range of genres.
At some point, I’d like to maybe put out an album of my own…just because.
Finally Publish That Book
For the past year or two, I’ve been writing short stories, chapter segments, and outlines for a couple of different books. Like many creatives, I have a hard time settling on just one thing.
From now until December 10th, 2021 I’ll be working toward self-publishing a horror series. The idea is similar to Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark or American Horror Story. If you’re a 90’s baby, you’re probably familiar with the creepy, spooky works of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps novels.
This is the style of writing that I envision for my stories. It’s what I enjoyed reading as a kid, and it appeals to the style of writing that I excel in the most.
And hey, it could totally bomb in the first year…the first few years.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, though. Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before J.K. Rowling ever made a cent off of her novels. A few years later, publishers found themselves in an all-out bidding war for rights to the story.
Keep this in mind if your Medium earnings dropped over the past few weeks.
It may take awhile for new readers to find your work, but they will. Just don’t give up.
Live With Intention
I don’t know what kind of challenges the next year will bring, but I am grateful to have been given another. Human beings are naturally creatures of habit. We make decisions based on what feels normal, comfortable.
We don’t like to venture outside of our routines and then wonder what we were doing as the past couple of years flew by. Just like anyone else, I’ve spent hours binge-watching the same shows on Netflix over and over because…well, it’s comfortable.
Intentional living is the exact opposite; it is often uncomfortable and requires more personal introspection. For many of us, that means confronting how we live from day to day.
Before I turn 30, I feel that it’s crucial to take a long hard look at those micro-decisions that sculpt the bulk of our lives. I plan to re-examine the food I eat, the water I drink, and the kind of information (Facebook, Instagram, excessive exposure to negative news stories) that I absorb on a regular basis.
If it won’t be beneficial to the life I want to be living in five years, it needs to be replaced with something more productive…more intentional.
Happy holidays to my fellow Medium readers and writers, I hope you accomplish your goals for the year. Don’t forget to plan ahead for the next!