As we usher in a new year, shake off the inevitable hangovers, grimace at our waistlines and look ahead at the year to come, many of us also look back on the previous year. We assess our achievements, successes, adventures and the missed opportunities. 2014 was my second full year living in Barcelona. I had some definite highs and some real ‘kick you in the crotch’ lows, all of which I have learned from. I am older, hopefully wiser (or at least more experienced) and am looking forward to grabbing 2015 with both hands and squeezing the very best out of it!
I am not one to have regrets; I don’t believe in them – you always learn from your experiences. And even if it seemed like a good idea at the time, but in the end it clearly wasn’t, I would never say I regret it – just that I learned from it. Every experience I have had, everything I’ve seen, done, and wished I hadn’t, has made me into the person I am today. We are all products of our own experience.
But of course none of us are perfect, and try as we might, there are always things we look back on and wonder how they would have turned out if we’d done that a little differently, or said that, or had been there, or not been there, and maybe things wouldn’t have happened the way they did. Or maybe they still would have.
One thing I know for sure is that you will never properly see where you’re going if you are always looking behind you. Don’t dwell on the past. Hold on tightly to your happy memories, and try to let go of the sad ones. You may never forget, but you can choose to focus on the happier things.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that we should take what we’ve learned (for better or worse) in the past year, and use it to make our future years even better!
As for New Year’s Resolutions, don’t get me started. Why should January push us to make false promises that we inevitably break a few days later, and then spend the rest of the month berating ourselves. Instead of making resolutions, I sat down a couple of weeks ago and wrote down a few things that I thought would make me a happier person. Tired of whining about the same old crap every day, what was I going to do to change what makes me unhappy, and what would I like to do instead?
Of course I still want to achieve the old faithfuls – eat more healthily, do more exercise, blah blah blah, but this year I want to focus on what will really make me happier. My original list was longer than this but to make it more achievable I cut it down into a Top 3.
1. Travel more
2014 was the year of short hauls and European discoveries for me. 7 countries – Spain, Italy, England, France, Austria, Slovakia & Hungary. Not bad, but it wasn’t enough for me. Next year I want to see more, do more, go further. Cuba has been tempting me for years, and I really do want to go before it changes too much – and with the recent announcements about relaxing the regulations between the US & Cuba I need to make it soon. I’m now contemplating whether to go for a holiday or whether to pack up and go to Latin America for 6 months, a year, who knows how long. These feet of mine have been itching for a while, and I’m ready for my next adventure.
2. Connect with my friends more
I am perennially useless at keeping in touch with my friends. The ones from the UK who I’ve known for years, the ones in Barcelona who live on my street, but who I never seem to have the time to see. Or send a message to. Or pop over and visit! I could say that they never message me either but even when they do I think ‘I don’t have time to reply now, I’ll do it later’. But what if there is no later? Just fecking do it! I am trying to change my mind-set, so that if I have a spare 5 minutes, why not send a quick message. A simple ‘hello, how are you?’ text lets you catch up with your friends, and gives you & them that warm fuzzy feeling inside. Everyone likes getting messages, it’s how we show that we care, and that we are thinking about that person. OK so perhaps an email, or a good old fashioned telephone call to friends I haven’t seen in a while would be better, but a text is definitely better than nothing!
3. Be more creative
Writing, drawing, cooking, taking photographs; anything that I can look at and say ‘I did that’. ‘I made that’. And be proud of how it turns out! (Maybe not drawing then…) I enjoy writing for the blog, it helps me order my thoughts, make sense of my ideas – writing things down makes them more tangible, more real. And the enjoyment I get from writing has really shown me what I am capable of when I don’t watch TV for 5 hours a night. I would still like to do more, and realistically photography seems like a good option, as I can use the photos for the blog, twitter, Instagram, and continue to build on the work I have done so far. Although I am also trying to cook more – I get to be creative, eat, and save money for my Latin American holiday; talk about killing birds with stones!
And if I could have a 4th goal it would be to have more time to do all this in! I have so many good intentions but lately life seems to have been getting in the way. Focus, dedication and determination must be the way to go, or so they tell me. But then I remember that I want to do these things because I enjoy them. My fondest memories from 2014 involved travel, and seeing my friends – so the first two choices were obvious. The third I hope will help me grow and develop my skills so I can use them for future endeavours. Traveling, writing, and spending time with my friends & family makes me feel good. So why wouldn’t I make a little extra effort to make me happy?
What are your goals for 2015? I’d love to hear your plans, hopes and dreams – and how you will achieve them. I chose simple ones, as my needs are simple – but of course the sky is the limit and we can all make changes in our lives to make a difference. No matter how small or dramatic they are! Anything is Possible.
All words & photographs by Claire Sturzaker ©Tales of Barcelona unless otherwise specified