At the beginning of 2014, I decided to think in terms of more and less. I didn't want to focus on "shoulds" and "should nots." I'd been craving a change... itching for a new mindset and a different perspective. Blogging was still enjoyable, but there were aspects that felt like a chore. Rather than create a list of things to accomplish, I came up with five things I wanted more of and five things I wanted less of in 2014.
I Wanted Less
Looking back, I think that was one of the best things I could have done for myself and for this blog. In many ways, I felt like I hit my stride this past year. I wrote that I wanted less obligation, less pressure, less guilt, less hype... Feelings that had started to define how I felt about blogging, and I wanted to eliminate them completely. And honestly, I think that I did.
I picked books because I wanted to read them, not because people were talking about them. If I didn't want to keep reading a book, I got better at just setting it down. I didn't feel guilty about not posting, not commenting, or not finishing a book. That's not to say I didn't have a few moments of feeling obligated or guilty, but those moments certainly didn't define my year.
There's only one thing I wanted to have less of that somehow ended up in the more column by the time the year was over: shopping. In February, I wrote: "Just because I can buy something, doesn't mean I should. Just because I want to buy it, doesn't mean I need to." But I didn't practice what I preached. If I wanted a book and could buy it, I did. I've got a few things planned now to hold me accountable and break this bad habit.
I Found More
So, what about what I wanted more of in 2014? Well, I think there's a reason why I loved and looked forward to blogging more than ever before. I was more passionate about what I was writing. If I had an idea that I liked, I pursued it. If I got tired of working on a post, I discarded it. I felt more creative, so my posts began to have more variety. And because I was on a roll, I was having fun planning, writing and scheduling posts.
I already noted this in my End of the Year Survey, but seven of the ten most popular posts on my blog (since I started three years ago) are from 2014. I think there's a reason. I put more heart into what I was working on. I started figuring out my voice and listening to my brain. I've been having fun, and I like to think that it shows. But even if it hasn't, even if no one else has noticed a difference, I know it's been there. And I'm thankful for it.
In a weird way, it's like I went back to blogging for myself. I realized I needed to take everyone else out of the equation. I began this blog because I wanted to write, loved to read, and knew that I plenty to say about books. That was it. No building an audience, developing contacts, receiving review books, or any other nonsense. Plain and simple: I needed a creative outlet. 2014 was the year I remembered why I started blogging and that I can tune out all the noise. So, I hit mute on a lot of things and haven't looked back since.
It's Time to Be
Now, it's time to welcome a new year. Surprisingly, I'm not making big plans or grand declarations for this blog. I think I've finally given this space the proper place in my life and in my thoughts. I have, if you will, re-prioritized. I love what I've created. I'm thankful for what I've learned along the way. And now I just want to enjoy it.
Just like last year, I have some small, specific goals for reading and blogging. Those are fun things for me! Usually, I'd also have some vision or plan for what I'd like to accomplish on my blog. But not this year.
Instead, I want to focus more on growing as a person than on growing my blog. On building my character and not just talking about characters. There are three things I want to BE in 2015:
Be kind. • Be wise. • Be thoughtful.
Online and offline, this is my hope for the year. I want to have more consideration for others, to show good judgment and to be more aware of the things that I say and the decisions that I make. It can be something as small and silly as what I tweet... or as big and important as how I treat others.
I learned how to hit mute on the noise around me, so now it's time to hit pause on my actions. In everything that I do, I get to choose my attitude and how I respond. I'd like to look back in 2016 and be able to say that I chose kindness, wisdom and thoughtfulness. There are so many other qualities I want to be true of me, but these are three I most want to cultivate this year. It's time to be the best version of myself.