Reflections and Lessons from 2014

Reflections and Lessons from 2014

As we hurtle towards the New Year and 2015, it’s easy to get swept up in plans for the year ahead – all the things we’re going to do, all the habits we’re going to change and all the goals we’re going to accomplish. But what about the year that’s just been? The year might be (almost) over, but I don’t want to brush those lessons, achievements and experiences under the carpet in the excitement of planning the future. After all, this year (and all those lessons) will no doubt shape the coming year. Not only that, but in amongst the “could do better”s and “should try harder”s there’s a whole heap of other stuff – goals that I achieved and moments that I’m really proud of. I don’t want to forget about those in the excitement of what’s around the corner!

Rather than getting ahead of myself and blindly wrapping myself up in all my big dreams for 2015, I spent some time looking back at 2014. After all, this year was no doubt just as big a year as next year will be.

What Happened this Year?

Quite a lot, actually! The Less is More Festival happened again in February after many months of planning, and was really successful. My blog had its first anniversary; I was asked to write some guest blog posts; I was a finalist in the Waste Authority Infinity Awards; I spent time back in the UK, my family came to visit, I got married, started a new job and signed up to buy an apartment.

Phew!

It was by no means plain sailing. I spent a few months unemployed in the middle of the year, which led to a lot of soul-searching. I tried desperately hard to find a job in a field I’m truly passionate about, but alas, it was not to be. Life doesn’t always go the way you want it, does it?!

When we think about the year just gone, we always seem to start with the mistakes and plans that fell through, and proceed to beat ourselves up. I’m gonna turn this on its head and start with the things that went well; the things I’m proud of achieving this year.

My Highlights of the Year:

  • The Less is More Festival was awarded Community Event of the Year, and my second year as Festival Coordinator saw the event grow and attendees almost double to almost 1000! Not bad for an event with a total spend of $72! After achieving everything that I set out to with the 2014 event, I’m happy with my decision to step aside and let someone else take on the Festival and lead it down a new path.
  • My blog had its first anniversary and readership has steadily continued to grow. It’s so encouraging to know that I’m not the only one with a slight obsession with waste and a craving for a simpler way of living! Thanks guys : )
  • My wedding! Glen and I finally figured out a way to celebrate our marriage without generating too much waste, sticking with our values and not taking out a mortgage to pay for it : ) I’ll be writing about this in the New Year, so if you’re keen to know more, keep your eyes peeled!

What Fell by the Wayside?

Of course, it wasn’t all trophies and gold stars and roaring success. Here’s the not-so-good bits – the bits I hope to learn from and build on this coming year!

  • At the start of the year, Glen and I declared 2014 the Year of Exercise. It began well, with long walks and bicycle rides, and I got back into going to yoga regularly. And it felt good. However, the job, wedding and family visits meant exercise has completely fell by the wayside over the last few months. Definitely a priority for the coming months!
  • I still haven’t gotten myself a sewing machine, despite my many assurances to you all that it would happen :/
  • My plans to woo you all with awesome recipes on the blog this year fell apart when we moved to our new flat with an impossible gas oven. My last attempt at chocolate brownies required five hours of baking time. Five hours. And yes, they were still gooey in the middle after all that time.
  • The “no new* clothes” rule. No idea quite what happened there. What happened to my wardrobe minimalism pledge?! (*new meaning new for me)

What Lessons Did I Learn?

Quite a few! The main one being that we can’t do everything at once. Social media may make it seem like we can, but life is all about balance. Balancing health + exercise + working + chores + pursuing your passions + giving back + creating + learning new skills + relaxing + spending time with family and friends… that’s a lot to fit in! It turns out you can’t do all of it, all of the time. I definitely have a tendency to take on more and more until it’s too much, and then have to let go, and then start to build and build and build again… Compromise is something I’ve talked about on the blog a lot in the last year, and whilst things often feel like compromise, maybe there would be less compromise if there was more balance to begin. I’m not sure, but it’s something I’ll be working on in 2015!

What’s Next?!

My word for 2015 is… “b a l a n c e”. That’s the theme to guide how I’ll live my life in 2015. How I’d like to take care of my mind, body and spirit. Working on balancing my commitments with my desires, my needs with my wants, passion with practicality. What this means in real terms?! Doing all of the things some of the time. Choosing what’s important and building that around what’s necessary. With a good dose of what’s fun thrown in!

Now I’d love to hear from you! What were your best bits of 2014? Let’s focus on the good stuff – tell me what you achieved, what you’re proudest of, and what your favourite moments were in 2014! Were there any lessons you learned that you’ll be holding onto in the coming year? Any guiding themes or words to focus on? Please share them by leaving a comment below!

19 Responses to Reflections and Lessons from 2014

  1. Thank you for reminding me to reflect on 2014 before making plans and setting goals for 2015. I am very happy with and proud of all the things I learned during my stay in China. I am also proud that my Dutch plasticminimalism blog is still running, that we launched Plastic-Free Tuesday and that we soon will celebrate its first anniversary. The team has grown and so has our following. I am so happy to see that people all around the world are standing up against plastic consumption and pollution. I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings us!

    • You’ve had a great year! I love how Plastic Free Tuesday kind of exploded into my (and many others’) consciousness! You’ve done a great job and all us plastic refuseniks really appreciate the hard work you put in! Thanks : )

      I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings you either!

  2. I lost close to 15 pounds this year, by intentionally using green initiatives… i.e. I drastically reduced industrially made foods, I get my exercise by being car-free and taking stairs instead of going to the gym, and I keep the thermostat off during the day. The first two may be obvious, but let me explain that the thermostat being off helps because the summer heat gives me effortless appetite control and in the winter, I need to move more to stay warm.

    I also started a successful blog this year because I want to stay motivated to continue my weight loss (and maintenance) journey through simple living, while trying to inspire others to give up junk foods and get out of their cars! :)

    • Wow, that’s really impressive! I’m intrigued, was the weight loss a delightful side-effect of becoming greener, or was it a deliberate decision that being green aided?

      I definitely think being greener means being healthier – for me giving up plastic meant I stopped buying processed foods, and goodness I feel so much better for it!

      Blogging is certainly addictive, isn’t it?! I hope your blog continues to grow and inspire people too : )

  3. Your blog is inspiring you’ve had great year 2014 that is and really like your word for this year. Balance. I totally agree “that It turns out you can’t do all of it, all of the time” and making changes to a more sustainable way of living needs planning and commitment which gets back to you can’t do all of it, all of the time – not yet anyway. I like your 2015 word so much I’m going to share it with you ( hope you don’t mind!) because like you I need to keep things in perspective know that there will be compromises to be had but balance will make it fair and easier to live with. All the best for 2015. Look forward to reading your blog.

    • Hi Jo, thank you so much for your kind words! I guess you’re right, sustainable living does require a bit of planning and commitment…but it’s oh so worth it!

      Happy New Year to you too : )

  4. Great reflections Lindsay, and a reminder I needed about being positive over any progress made! You’re right. It does take planning and commitment…continual planning and ongoing commitment! Thanks for keeping us encouraged!

    • Thanks Sheila : ) Yes, there’s always progress being made and we need to remember it! Nice to hear I encourage you!

      • You always have, and do! I especially appreciate your honesty. You have high goals, but are honest and realistic enough to understand that you may not always meet them. But rather than trying to appear perfect, you admit that there is still room for improvement. And that makes me think–ah, then there is still hope for me, LOL!

        • Thanks : ) Sometimes it fees like there are a sea of “perfect” blogs out there, and I think…maybe I should wait two years until I’m further down the path and then start up again – but then there’s no guarantees I’ll get there still! So I’ll leave the perfect blogs and their infinite wisdom alone and keep going with my own imperfect journey!

          There is still hope for all of us!

          • I think perfection is not a reachable goal in this world so full of problems. For instance, we may find perfectly renewable sources, but harvested, packaged, etc using unequitable employment. (Hope those are correct terms–I only know these things in Italian!) Often, I fear, it’s a question of choosing the lesser evil. Many of your articles help walk me down that path! As for the perfect blogs? I’m already a mess, I don’t need to read ‘perfect blogs’ that make me feel even more so!!

  5. Hello Lindsay, I love the way you conclude your post with ” Doing all of the things some of the time. Choosing what’s important and building that around what’s necessary. With a good dose of what’s fun thrown in!” I think you have nailed down – in just a few words and very clearly – a recipe for loving a good life!

    Wishing you many blessings in the New Year!

    Carol

  6. Well done Lindsay, a massive year in anyone’s books!
    Transition Town Guildford had a big year. Notably we became more political and managed to save two trees from being cut down by the council. In the not so successful basket, we left preparations too late and Plastic Free July wasn’t what we’d hope. So the lesson was to start planning early!
    Here’s to a big sustainable 2015 :)

    • Thanks TTG! The tree-saving was great work : ) I’m more than happy to help you plan a more successful Plastic Free July for this year – just let me know a little bit closer to the time!

  7. Lindsay, we need to put our ovens together and see if we can’t end up with one proper functioning oven, mine burns everything even if I reduce the temperature and shorten the time. I know I probably just need to get an oven thermometer but that would involve shopping. :-)

    My new year will continue as last year ended. There is more work to complete on the house, a garden to plan and plant and a town to get to know better

    • Haha, yes we do! Ovens are such temperamental beasts, aren’t they?! Still it must be exciting having an oven after not having one for so long?

      Your 2015 sounds very exciting! Looking forward to hearing how your year unfolds : )

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