Well, it is a new year. 2014 had some really low notes, but also some really good ones. I finally got out of retail. I was unemployed for two long, horrible months, but managed to find a new, wonderful job that I love just when the money and the help ran out.

I finished a novel and wrote most of two others. I read a crap ton of books (as you will see later this week) and was finally able to make a real effort at paying off some student loans. I started doing regular volunteer work, which I love, and now have something akin to a social life that doesn’t revolve around the internet. There may have been some pretty crappy bits in 2014, but I will say this for it: It got me out of my rut. I’d been stuck for a long time, and last year was full of big changes. Some I instigated, some I had no control over, but I feel a lot happier and optimistic now than I have in a long time. It gave me a chance for growth that I desperately needed.

If there’s one thing that I learned last year, it’s that sometimes you have to force change to happen. I got sick of ignoring my education, and decided I wanted to use it for something. So I rearranged my work schedule and took a volunteer position. That volunteer work is what got me through those periods when I couldn’t pay the bills, when I was afraid to leave the house. It made me get out. It made me talk to people. It made me smile, but because I had to in order to greet patrons, and because I flat out loved it. It’s hands down the most fulfilling work I’ve done in years.

I decided that I couldn’t do retail anymore, so I made a concentrated effort to find a new job. And I found one. And you know what? It wasn’t retail. It was work that I loved, and it paid more than I expected. Sure, it didn’t pan out. But for those six weeks that I was there, I learned that I COULD be happy. I COULD do other work. There was another place for me in this world if I could take it.

I took that lesson and turned it into my job search mantra. In six weeks I applied for over 100 different positions. I talked to people. I networked. I got out of my comfort zone. Yeah, there were some screw ups along the way. But now I’ve got a position I love with a ton of great people, and I’m making more than I would have said I was capable of earning a year ago. I have a future now, and that’s not something I would have said in 2013.

So, what were the changes? How did they work out?

1. Find something active that I can do indoors.

I think that I went wrong on this one in that I was too general. I still have not managed to find something active that I enjoy doing inside. I think that taking a class would be my best option, but I’m not quite in that situation yet. Still, I need to get my lazy bum moving.

2. Read more.

NAILED IT. I tripled last year’s reading list. I think that deserves cake. Or chocolate. Or chocolate cake. Who’s with me?

3. Go on a trip.

I sorta-kinda did this. I did get to go to Memphis for a whirlwind 72 hour trip earlier this year when Missouri’s grandma was sick, but we didn’t get to do much. We were so exhausted by the time we got there that we only had the energy for 1 small museum (but it was excellent! You should definitely check out the Brooks Museum if you’re down there). I would have preferred a week long European vacation, but I’ll take what I can get.

4. GET. NEW. JOB.

Winner! Technically I got three new jobs this year, but only the last one worked out. And I’m very pleased with it!

So where do I go from here? Well, these are the goals for this year:

1. Do something active for 15 minutes 4 times a week

It’s specific, but still leaves options. It might be a walk around the complex or a swim in the pool or doing yoga in my bedroom. But I need to get off my butt and do something. My back and my blue jeans with thank me.

2. Travel

I’ve got a total of 5 vacation days, and I’ve got plans for 2 long weekends. One for a convention here in Ohio, and the other will likely be Gettysburg in the fall. Still not  a European vacation,  but it will be a slightly more sedate change of scenery than the trip to Memphis.

3. Send out 2 query letters every month

It occurred to me just before nanowrimo that I have a total of 7 completed manuscripts, but none of them have been submitted for publication because I hate writing query letters. HATE IT. But considering the number of cover letters I wrote when unemployed, this shouldn’t be an issue. So I’m dedicating 2014 to getting published.

4. Pay off some debt

I want to get some of my student loans off my plate. I made a good effort last year, but I’ve still got a ways go go. I’m starting small–the first one I want to get rid of has $700 left of the original $2,500.

So that’s where I’ve been, and where I hope to bed. I hope that you will join me for the ride!