Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Thus far in my life, I've had some really great years, a few crappy years, and several personally confusing years as well. But 2019 has been my best year yet! So for this blog, I reflect on what made the year so fun and satisfying. Perhaps some of these reflections will help chart your course for a magnificent 2020?!
TOP (l-r): Jennifer & Steve on vacation; Writer at Work; Finish line of St. Pete 5K
BOTTOM (l-r): Peavine Press; Steve's Pilates pike; Beyond Introversion eff July, 2019
Consistency: health has been a constant challenge in my life. After big improvements in 2018 (dropping 40lbs, retiring to less stress), 2019 was a year of consistently employing techniques to help me remain healthy. I'm a typical yo-yo dieter who has gained or lost 50lbs in less than two years many times. Finally, mindfulness has enabled me to hold steady, not just on weight, but more importantly on key metrics like Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, and Liver Enzyme tests. I may still have a "complicated" health picture, but I avoided the rollercoaster in 2019.
Moderation: my addictive behavior exacerbated my yo-yo dieting and exercise routines in the past. This year I found that variety, more so than extremes, is indeed the spice of life! I still workout 5-6 times per week, but I've expanded to Pilates Reformer, Yoga, Stationary Bike, Treadmill, Elliptical, and Road Running. My pace is just slightly more than comfortable but moderation is helping with my consistency.
Sharing: it's not quite the toddler challenge of sharing my toys, but especially as an introvert I find myself all too often in my head. It can be a comforting place to be...sometimes, but it can be a trap that shields me from interaction. In 2019 I intentionally pushed myself to share my thoughts, my concerns, and my talents. Most of my sharing has been with my wife Jennifer, which has helped foster a stronger bond and better family and life decisions. I'm definitely not a small talker, but I am still working to interact better with others.
Quality > Quantity: as a consummate taskmaster, I love to "check the box" and move on, often to the detriment of a task's long lasting success. I've focused on improving in this area, especially with my kids where we are uniting on some big projects (Gwen's independence, Noah's college search, my trek to Kilimanjaro with Maddie). Whether with my kids or others, it helps minimize the chitchat and develop more depth to conversations and relationships.
Stretching: my writing (blog and book) has been a major focus in 2019. During this year I transitioned from writing to publishing to marketing - each step become less isolated and more community-based. It's pulled me out of my comfort zone to at least dip my toe into previously forbidden areas. It's not always easy but I'm finding the water pretty warm and inviting.
Time: we all get the same number of hours in a day, but choose to spend it differently. But for introverts, it's so critical to ensure we carve out time to recuperate. In 2019 I've definitely stretched myself out of my comfort zone, but I've done a pretty good job providing myself time and space to recuperate. This has helped manage stress and enable me to stretch a bit more.
Perspective: us introverts are very perceptive. We seem to acutely observe and respect societal norms, and vanquish ourselves for not conforming to such norms, often set by the extroverts of the world. One of my key efforts this year has been to understand what I can and cannot control and to let those which I can't control fly away in the wind. Whether this has to do with other opinions or schedules, if I focus only on my own actions, I can use my energy where it can make the most difference for me.
Independence: especially regarding my new publishing world, I've sought and been bombarded by so many suggestions, traditional rules, and steadfast approaches. Upon reflection, I have tended to take the path less taken in my life, whether regarding work assignments or biking 170 miles on a hybrid, so I'm using that thread to gain confidence in my own direction. I'm trying to shrug off the fear of missing out (FOMO) on someone else's path and chart my own. I do respect the history and strive to learn, but my greatest learning has been independence - to weigh options against my own objectives, styles, and morals to make the best decision for me.
Vulnerability: huge! As a shy, socially-anxious, introvert, doing my own thing and sharing my "self" has been intimidating. But this year, largely through my blog and the work on my book to be released in March, I'm sharing deep thoughts which definitely "puts me out there." Some may be put off but I give no apologies. I found such reflection and sharing very therapeutic and hope those who are working on their own life can only connect with my stories if I offer the honest depth that means something to them.
Patience: Traditionally, I've not been very good at patience. In 2019, I've recognized I'm on a journey. I've discovered that if I slow down and breath, I invite intuition in the decision-making process and that always leads to better decision making and a more fulfilling path.
This entire year has been quite a fulfilling journey, but one I'm starting to realize never ends. And I think I'm ok with that.
Using these themes and 2019 as a springboard, I have six very tangible and exciting goals for 2020:
Market my first book, In Search of Courage: An Introvert's Struggle with Addictive Behavior, not as an item to sell but as a service for those looking for a bit of inspiration. I've never been comfortable with selling a product. I just want to offer my journey to those that connect with it and may find some inspiration for their own path. (Here, I'm leaning on my 2019 theme of Independence and Vulnerability)
Climbing Kilimanjaro with my daughter Maddie. Such an amazing opportunity to share a once-in-a-lifetime moment. It also has special meaning in connecting with my dad who was an active hiker and passed in 2013. One of the critical mantras on the mountain is "pole pole" or "slow, slow". (Consistency, Moderation, Patience)
College search with my son Noah. This is his future so it must be his path. I'm just trying to help him gather information and consider his thought process. It's an exciting time, but also a very personal time for Noah. (Quality>Quantity, Perspective)
Next writing project with Gwen, about adults with Down syndrome and their pursuit of independence. (Stretching, Patience)
Continuing to grow together with my wife Jennifer. I am so fortunate to have her as my partner, my guide, and my cheerleader. Thankfully, the tremendous amount of time we've had together since my retirement in mid-2018 has only continued to cement our bond. (Sharing, Vulnerability)
In 2020 I need to continue to remain connected to my introverted self, while stretching myself in scary and fantastic directions, not alone, but together with my family!