Taking Stock – What’s Working?

I love lists and tools. I’ve used a number of different tools this past year to aid in creating and implementing my retirement lifestyle – a 52 new things challenge, seasonal bucket lists, vision boards, word-of-the-year, a jolts of joy listing (crafted versus my values), and out-of-my-comfort zone challenges.   As we near the end of the year and I look towards next year, it’s a good time to review to see what worked and what didn’t. And it’s a great way of taking stock of the whole year – like a year in review. (And hopefully that leaves me feeling good about the past year.)

52 New Things

This challenge was one I learned about from Joanne at My Life Lived Full. It felt do-able as it was just one new thing a week and new things were defined very broad.   Joanne encouraged you to consider travel, local stay-cation, recipes, experiences, personal development, learning/classes, foods, restaurants, or creative expression. Since she challenged you to also look to the scary and audacious, I started to note when things were also out-of-my-comfort zone. That challenge was made with Leslie’s (Once Upon a Time Happily Ever After) Out-of-my-Comfort Zone challenge. I really enjoyed creating this list and it was delightful to review it towards the end of the year to see what I had done.  

First off, my final 2018 list has 100+ items on it, well over the one per week goal! Of course there are 30 new restaurants we tried. It’s becoming a challenge to find a restaurant we have not been to for my monthly Mid-week Foodie Friend dinners. And also in the food camp were 7 totally new foods (the pig’s eye topped this list), 5 new recipes (including buying a new Dutch Oven), and trying a series of the Cooking Club deliveries (my favorite was Blue Apron).

There were lots of mini-adventures including a glass-blowing class with hubby, cooking classes with girlfriends, lots of foodie events, two mid-day movies, various museum events, and lots of live theater. A couple of favorites were a day spent wandering downtown Cincinnati looking at all the art murals and a food tour of downtown St. Petersburg. I explored a number of new things including Thai massage, Tarot cards, and on-line 21-day Mediation Experiences.

There were not too many out-of-comfort zone activities.   I did join a philanthropic organization, overcome fear to get a motorcycle license (big out of comfort zone!), do a full hair & make-up photo-shoot (new blog photo!), buy a car on my own, and finally get my book ready for publication.

I do like this tool. It fits with my love of lists and is a great way to keep track of all the fun things I’m doing. My question is what is my goal for 2019?


Seasonal Bucket Lists

A Seasonal Bucket List is another link-up from Leslie and it fit my planning approach, which was a hold over from my work life where we often did quarterly action plans. Shifting from an AMJ Action Plan to Spring Bucket List was easy-peasy. Way back in the spring I was very ambitious, with over 25 items. By fall, I had fallen off to only 10 things.   I even did a “30 things for 30 days” in Florida for a visit there!

The key for me on these bucket lists was learning to not feel bad if everything was not done. I need to use it as a way to recall the things I love to do each season – from the fall farm visit for a corn maze to the Christmas traditions I don’t want to miss (our local Zoo’s light display). And a reminder to schedule in those mini-adventures I love. Yes, I’ve got a list started for our Florida Snow-birding Adventure.


Word of the Year and Vision Board

I was successful in my chosen word-of-the-year this year. It was SOAR – savoring, optimistic, activating, and resilient. (Blog link) It covered two things I wanted to do and two I wanted to be. I do feel like the above tools helped me in both activating (I had to fill that new things list) and savoring (I was enjoying almost all of those new things).

I like having my vision board visible also. (Blog link) While mine this year was not specifically about SOAR, it was complimentary. My vision board is placed where I do my daily journaling and helps remind me of my retirement lifestyle vision. And it is especially useful on days when I’m feeling a bit down. I’m planning to do both again for 2019.


Jolts of Joy

The build this year on my Jolts of Joy list was re-crafting the list linking items to my values.   Not only is this new list linking the value-based simple pleasures I can add into my daily life, but I also added a column of “things to do when there is nothing to do”. Here’s what one row of my list looks like:

Value Area

Joy Ideas/ Simple Pleasures

To-Do Items When Nothing to Do

Be Active – Turn Intention into Action; Get Out & About


Measures: FitBit steps; FitBit activity tracker; New Things list; Mini-adventures list


Arts & Crafts shows; Local Festivals

Farmers Market

Beach bike

Break a sweat – Yoga; Zumba; SUP

Walk & Talks

Eating out; Wine with friends

Date night

Live theater

Wildlife spotting

Go bike riding

Walk Taylor

Call someone to walk

Go to Jungle Jim’s

Plan next trip

Book next mini-adventure

Explore YouTube – Yoga by Adriene

Explore YouTube – Sugar workout

Do an Artist Date

Find a book club

Yes, this list satisfies the planner in me who’s learned she needs planned spontaneity. Having this list (printed in my morning journal) helps me immensely on days when I’m feeling at loose ends.


So finishing out this year?   It started on a challenging note (cancer treatments) but there were many other retirement lifestyle milestones. We sold our large house and settled nicely into our downsized one, even if it’s been a challenge to get grass to grow. I finished my book and it will publish early in 2019. I’ve passed the 2-year mark on blogging and continue to enjoy this community – reading and writing and interacting. Hubby and I did an Iceland trip (unfortunately my search for the Northern Lights was unsuccessful – this was a long term bucket list item too), visited with my family, and did 3 trips to Florida plus planned of our first snowbird experience. I’ve continued many of the activities I’ve come to enjoy in retirement, and continue to look regularly for mini-adventures. I still struggle with feelings of Compare & Despair (they are doing it great and I’m not), a feeling I should have a bigger life purpose, and worrying about the “should”.

My new quote of the year is definitely:

The vision is not the path. The path is not the journey.

Create the vision. Plan the path. Live the journey.

My tools help me create a vision for my retirement lifestyle, lay out the path to achieve it, and then live every day as a joyous journey of life.


What tools do you use to help you live your journey?

11 thoughts on “Taking Stock – What’s Working?

  1. I love that quote and you’ve achieved so much. I was talking to hubby this morning about the year that’s gone and said that it’s been quite a cruisy year – emotionally speaking (no complaints there) – with much more good than bad. I’ve published my 4th novel, written another and managed to juggle the day job etc as well. We’ve travelled to France, done a long road trip, and tried heaps of new local restaurants and pubs. I don’t, however, feel as though I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I’m yet to decide on a word for 2019 but I think it will be something about that. Happy new year to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jo, I’m still not sure about pushing outside the comfort zone. I read something today that talked about “appreciating the mundane” and that actually resonated! But I will be keeping a list of the “new things”. We did a new restaurant this evening and I asked hubby if he thought I could count it on my new things for 2019…. he said a resounding NO! LOL. So a completely fresh list begins in 2 days!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to hear that you had a successful 2018. I am nowhere near as structured as you. Things like vision boards give me chills because they remind me too much of work. Ha ha. Btw, I knew a fellow at work who was religious about having a word of the year, but I never picked that up. My favorite of his was “effervescent”.

    As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in the past, I am a devout GTD (Getting Things Done) adherent and so that’s the framework I use. It covers one’s entire life, both personal and professional and includes everything from 20 year horizons to today’s “must-complete” tasks. I tried a LOT of different planning methodologies over the years and this is the one that I found to be both simple to adopt and powerful to use. I employ two apps to help me implement GTD. One is called Toodledo and it is the ultimate list-making app where I keep my master lists and the other is called Alarmed which is an extremely full-featured reminder app that has so many whistles and bells that it would keep even the most anal geek happy. I use Alarmed mostly for short-term tasks.

    One of the key features of GTD is Someday/Maybe lists. This is where you capture all of those things that jump into your head during the course of a week that you may or may not want to pursue. (Capturing these random thoughts is absolutely crucial.) The lists can be global or they can be broken down by category, I tend to use categories because I think it’s a little bit easier to manage.

    During the GTD periodic (ideally weekly) review, one tends and prunes these lists, getting rid of all of the things that sounded good at the time, but now in the light of day look ridiculous. One may also move some of the items onto one’s active project list. (A project in GTD is defined as something that requires more than one action and can be completed within a year.)

    I do need to be a bit more structured about goal-setting than I have been. I will have been retired for five years in June and I’m beginning to find now that my mostly spontaneous lifestyle of late has just about overcome the stress and work-related PTSD of the previous 30 years. I am getting the itch to plan things out a bit more. This is even truer because I am 63. I know I won’t live forever and I want to make good use of the years I have remaining. I just haven’t yet decided what a “good use” is yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bob, I did read up on the GTD approach and while I don’t follow it, I do like a number of its elements. I do have my “possibilities list” which is I guess a Someday/Maybe list. There was just some things on my list that were long-term really, really want….and Northern Lights was one. I do a weekly review as well, and keep track of to-do items. I guess the one thing I don’t do from GTD is “big project” stuff…. because I don’t really have many big projects to do. In the new year, I’m going to try a “bullet journal” approach – which has again some similar constructs to GTD. Personally I am a planner, a structure girl, a list maker and I love making collages and playing with words. So these tools (vision board, word of year, lists) totally fit me. But no apps…I wonder it I could get used to one? Hmmm. Might have to explore Toodledo or Alarmed.


  3. I really enjoy your updates and this year-end review has you sitting in a good place 🙂 I’m so glad the 52 New Things worked for you! Woohoo – 100 items on your list. Well done – you’ve really embraced the concept.

    I may have mentioned that a couple of years ago I added Books to my list. I had the impression that I wasn’t reading as much as I thought I was, so I started tracking it. The wonderful side effect is that I’m enjoying reading so much more because my reading is now more mindful … probably because I’m allowing myself to abandon a book that just isn’t hitting the mark with me. Before, I used to push myself through a book even if I didn’t like it, which meant I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about picking it up to read.

    I could relate to the comment you made at the end “I still struggle with feelings of Compare & Despair (they are doing it great and I’m not), a feeling I should have a bigger life purpose, and worrying about the “should”.” That pretty well describes me in a nutshell. While most of the time I think of it as a character defect, on good days I accept it as the fuel that drives my engine.

    Merry Christmas, Pat, and best wishes for the new year! I think you are starting to find your stride 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, Hmmm…I’ve never kept track of books I read. I tend to read in spurts and often nothing very mindful – I like romances and mysteries! Maybe I’ll add books as I think my goal will be 101 things this next year. But as I mentioned to Janet below… 101 new and/or fun things. That allows me to do fun things again & again! I’m going to use a bullet journal as well (or try) so book list could be a section in that. Thanks for the inspiration! Merry Christmas to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love your quote for the new year! You’ve accomplished so much this year – and I’ve loved watching your journey so far. As I am currently working through my 101 Things in 1095 days — and have added the seasonal challenge, I’ve done more planning and lists than I am used to – given my affinity for spontaneity and lack of planning. Happy Holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet, Thanks for your kind words. It was very empowering to look back on the year and get a sense of accomplishment. Day in and day out often feels like nothing gets done, but looking at the broad year was helpful. Hmm, maybe I’ll target 101 new or fun things for the year…since 52 new things felt easy. Adding in the “fun” aspect also means I can list things I normally do that add joy into the journey. Thanks for the inspiration. And Merry Christmas to you!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s