Monday, January 6, 2014

Let's Talk Goals: 2014 Edition

Photo from the inside of my Conscious Box (trial)

Well, guys, we are definitely well into 2014 now and I'm already behind in one thing I want to strive to do more of this year: blogging. I've been a bit swamped lately working through some plans for the next couple of months, filling out applications and tweaking my resume. (In case you missed what I'm applying for, you can check out my recap post here) I'm once again entirely too busy for my own good but it's not a bad thing. 2014 was never a year that was on my radar like 2007 (high school graduation), 2010 (semester in Sevilla) or 2011 (college graduation) were but it is going to be a big year for me!

I haven't always made New Year's resolutions but I like the reason why we make them: to improve and enrich our lives. I'm very much a self-starting and ambitious (now 25 year old!) woman so setting goals is something that is right up my alley. Some years I have made a list of a dozen resolutions and other years I've only made one that encompassed everything I wanted to improve on (and that was set in 2011 with 'use my time more wisely.') It's easy to think about all the things you want to improve or achieve for yourself in a given year but if you don't take small consistent steps to position yourself where you want to be, it's highly likely that you won't achieve the results you want. So, that's what I'm sticking to this year: taking small steps to achieve my goals and become a little more of the woman God wants me to be.


My fortune on 12-31-13 (New Year's Eve) at dinner
Life will be throwing me pleasant curves this year but it's also going to throw some challenges my way. The latter is nothing new though I will still need to prepare for all the good and the bad things that come my way. I don't put too much stock into fortune cookies but the messages I've seen in them before taking big steps in my life have been so accurate it's ironic. Before I went on my very first mission trip to Baja California, Mexico when I was 17, my family and I went out for lunch at a Chinese restaurant, The fortune I got said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step." Ironically, I was leaving for my trip the very next day and, as I was traveling across the country and then some, it was going to be a lot more than 1,000 miles! It's funny how life sends you messages like that to let you know that you're moving in the right direction. I'll be going in the opposite direction geographically this coming fall but it's not about the destination but rather the journey!

Now, without further ado, here are my main goals for 2014. (Details subject to change as the year goes on.)

1. Stay organized.
My room before. There is no after picture....yet.
While my room is currently a bit more organized than the photo above shows, it's still an absolute disaster. And it's not just my room but my handbag, planner, desk, email inboxes (yes, that's plural!), phone, closet, etc...it's a good thing I don't have a car because I imagine it would stay messy almost all of the time too! I do work and think best in an organized space but I usually do that at our dining room table or in the living room....away from this. Thankfully I have a steel trap of a mind and hardly miss a planned meeting, call or appointment much. I have been slacking here and there but I am choosing not the repeat the same mistakes of years past. And I have a smartphone with tons of apps to keep myself organized and on-track so there's no excuse! (After picture coming soon.)

2. DON'T MISS FLIGHTS!

Too bad I didn't get that stamp BEFORE my flight boarded (May 2013)

One of the most depressing things that happened to me last year was missing my flight to Germany (via Italy) to see a dear friend. I suffered the wrath of Ryanair that I had only heard about through other people and from reading other blogs online. Surely, it couldn't happen to me! Ah, I digress. It's a long story that I hashed out in another post (I believe) but it has taught me an important lesson, er lessons. I missed a total of 3 flights and 1 regional bus last year (not to mention countless city buses here in Jacksonville but let's not go there, haha). It's not that I've become incredibly irresponsible in the last year but rather that I've become more daring in my traveling. I often travel alone and with only a carry-on or two for a few days or a week (yes, it's possible!) so I don't *need* to arrive at the airport the supposed 2 hours before a flight departs. However, that's not bad advice to follow. I always plan for the worst but hope for the best so you'd think that mindset would kick in while I'm traveling, right? Well, unfortunately it doesn't sometimes and I'm embarrassed to admit it. BUT, this year I am striving to fix the problem (read: (time) planning deficiency) and crossing my fingers for absolutely ZERO missed (insert transportation mode here) anything!

3. See more of my own country.

I loving traveling in general but there a few major parts of the country that I have never seen. I know my main goal for this year is to save up money to live abroad but it is possible to travel to different parts of the US (and Florida or Ohio in my case) inexpensively. I have been able to see a couple of big cities through the blessing of long layover (that I chose to have) but I will have to go back and spend more time in those places. 

Traveling for me is what shopping is to most women: an experience. I am much more content to spend several days or weeks in one location instead of trying to fit in a trip to a major city in just one weekend. Many students I met while studying abroad would fly to huge cities like London, Paris and Rome for ONLY one weekend because they just wanted to go there, see the sights, buy the souvenirs and then move on to the next city! A lot of them have never gone back to visit Europe, let alone those cities they managed to visit for a minute. If that's your travel personality and it makes you happy, though, then go for it. I personally wouldn't be happy with just a weekend in Paris or London. I would rather spend a month or two or three (haha) and get to know everything about the city. I love seeing famous sites in person and taking fun pictures with them in the background, but that's only a small part of the experience for me. I want to meet local people, find the best restaurants that serve authentic food, get lost and discover unique things about each place on my own. I want to speak (or practice) the language, haggle with shopkeepers for the best bargains and photograph more with my own eye instead of the lens of my camera. I'm what you'd call a take-your-time traveler and I am perfectly fine with taking things slow. 

But, speaking of traveling more in my own country - I have some news! My brother and I will be flying to Southern California to visit our grandmother from February 28th - March 8th! She has generously offered to pay our airfare out there and we couldn't be more excited to go out and visit her! It's been 6.5 years since I've been there (I used to go pretty often before that) and my brother has not been there in over 10 years! This is a big deal for him because California is his birth state and he truly loves being out West. And, what's more is that we'll be flying into (and seeing ) Los Angeles (LAX) for the first time in our lives! (Not to mention the Pacific Ocean together too.) If we fly to California, we always flew into the airport that's in the same county where my grandma lives, so this is huge for us. Anyway, we are really excited to see her plus other family members and the adventures we'll have. If you're reading this MaMa, thank you again and we'll see you in about a month! :)

                                                     All of us together at my college graduation in 2011!

4. Walk the Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James)
 I knew several facts about Spain but it wasn't until my sophomore year in college that I was able to study the country in depth in my Spanish Civilization and Culture class at JU. We learned about all the different regions in Spain and had to do a project on one of them and present various parts of it throughout the semester back in 2008. I somehow ended up with the Andalusian region (Andalucía) but looking back on it, it wasn't all that surprising that I did. I have been fascinated with the region for some time now but there's also another part of  the country that I'm dying to explore: Northern Spain. In this class, my professor shared with us how she wants to do the Camino de Santiago with her husband at some point in her life. The way she described what it was like and what you see along the way, left me intrigued. From that moment on, I secretly wished that I could do it too one day. So, why not this year?! Walking the Camino does take a lot of planning and preparation as the original route takes almost a full month to walk! It's not for the faint of heart but it is something everyone can do if they have a desire to. I am hoping to complete the Camino at the end of this summer. The exact days I will walk it depend on several factors. However, my main purpose for doing it is to experience God's handy work in the country through nature and the local people. I want this to be a true pilgrimage for myself and I know that I will learn a lot if/when I do it. More details later as they unfold!

5. Build my translation portfolio

The career path I ultimately want to have is to be a Spanish-English translator. One day I'll throw Portuguese into the mix but I have a lot of room for improvement with that language before I can do that. Anyway, the best way to gain experience in the translation field is to practice, practice, practice! I'm playing around with the idea of creating blog entirely in Spanish but I haven't sketched out any of the details of what it might look like yet. I have several ideas of the directions it could go but haven't had the time to sit down and make any decisions. 
The important thing is for me to gain experience in translating more things from Spanish to English. Since I didn't start working on this goal sooner, I will strive to translate at least 200 words a day every day starting next month. Once I create the extra blog (which will probably be done in Wordpress), I will share it with you guys! For now, stay tuned for updates on it and please feel free to share any tips or ideas with me if you have experience translating articles and/or documents. :)

6. Invest my time, energy and money in other people

If you're reading this, chances are you have invested your time, energy, resources, words or money into my own life. You're reading this post so that's an investment right there! The point is, so many people have played both big and small parts in my successes so far that I want to give back. I don't know exactly how I will be able to do this but I want to make this a goal for this year. I want to be in a position where I can take someone out to lunch, buy them a cup of coffee (or tea!) or frozen yogurt, help them pay for something they don't have any money for or simply just to spend time with them and listen to what is going on in their life. Countless people have done these things for me, sometimes repeatedly, and I want to do something for them or someone else.
 One of the ways I want to do this is raise some money for my Camino journey so that I can use that money to pay for other travelers places to stay or meals or drinks. Or buy them another stick, jacket, umbrella, water bottle, etc. when theirs breaks or gets lost. People from all over the world walk the Camino for many different reasons. However, I think the traditional walking to strengthen your faith in God is not as popular as walking it to enjoy nature is. I believe that the journey is more meaningful with the former but that's just my opinion. The fact that I am fit, young and willing to go on this journey puts me in a position to hopefully do things for the people that I meet along the way. I don't know how this will all play out but once I get the plans firmed up to go (probably by April), I will create a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money. Keep in touch with me if you'd like to be a part of this or want to share any ideas you might have about how I can be a blessing while on the Camino. 

Thanks for reading if you made it this far. It's going to be a full and exciting year! Let's get started. :-)