Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

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One of the books I received this year for Christmas, is called the Book of Beautiful Questions by Warren Berger.  It is a fascinating read, and although I haven’t finished it yet, it is already making me question my assumptions.  For example, I am someone that traditionally has relied on my gut to make quick decisions (sometimes life changing decisions).  Berger relates that there is a growing body of research that states that trusting our gut is not the best decision due to our inherent biases, decision-making pitfalls, and our sometimes irrational risk aversion.  Berger’s recommendation is to use self-questioning as a way to make more balanced decisions.

In this spirit, I would like to change my usual end of year reflection from just looking at my 3-5 biggest lessons learned and instead start a new tradition of asking myself a series of questions--both reflective and fun.

What significant life changes happened this year?
I quit my career as an educator, moved to College Station, Texas and started graduate school

What was I most proud of this past year?
I was so proud of how my students performed this year--both my Academic Decathlon team pulling the highest numbers at State Competition we’ve ever had and my sophomore Humanities students performance on their AP World History exam this past May.  The test had changed and I radically altered the way that I assessed their writing, but they rose to the challenge and did beautifully. I am also proud of how disciplined I was at doing my homework and projects this first semester of graduate school. I worked hard to fight against procrastination and as a result I did really well in my classes.

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
I was regularly stressed about a variety of things before the start of my graduate program (my age, making friends, being able to keep up with the workload, etc.).  One thing I realized is that I spend a lot of time worrying about things that have not happened and in almost every case the stress was utterly unnecessary. I need to trust myself more because with proper preparation I can usually achieve the outcomes that I want.

What was the price of gas?
$1.81

What were my favorite song/podcast/book/movies of the year?
Movies - Mary Poppins Returns & Black Panther
Book - When by Daniel Pink & The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
Podcast - Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell & Freakonomics with Stephen Dubner
Song - Love Song Away by Kevin Ross

What was your favorite new experience of the year?
Watching the sunrise in Muscat, Oman

What new food did you enjoy this year?
Garlic soup in Mexico City...it was just delicious and deeply satisfying

What new questions do I want to ask or reflect on, in the new year?  
How many times have I said “I Don’t Understand” with eagerness?
Whose permission do I seek? Who will punish me if I don’t get their approval before I proceed?


2018 was both a joyous and challenging year for me.  I am confident that I will face new challenges in 2019, but I also know that great things are in store and I am excited to see what the new year will bring. With that in mind, I decided to set my goals to tackle all parts of who I am.

2019 Goals

Emotional Goal
365 Day - Instagram Challenge.   My self-imposed Instagram challenge is to take (and post) one picture a day that represents something that I find beautiful or for which I am grateful.  

Intellectual Goal
15 Blog Posts.  One of the goals I had for myself in 2018 was to write more blog posts, but I know from previous experience that if I don’t break my goals down into small, incremental steps than they won’t get achieved and as a result, I only had 4 posts--which is really pathetic. I have already outlined the due dates for these posts and the general theme or topic (leaving room for change as unexpected things happen).

Spiritual Goal
To strengthen my testimony on faith. To do this, I will spend time each day studying my scriptures, attend the temple at least once a month and seek out opportunities to provide service to others.

Physical Goal
Exercise 3 days a week.  I joined Planet Fitness yesterday (I can already check off one workout for this week), and I am going to treat my gym schedule like I do my class schedule.  I didn’t miss any classes last semester, and I have planned my gym schedule to fit nicely with my class schedule (even providing time for outside group work) to help keep this goal.

What did you learn in 2018? What goals are you setting for 2019?