Simply put, 2011 was a challenging year.
Spring was marked by the 3.11 Earthquake and nuclear crisis in Fukushima.
Summer saw two of the anchors of my Japan life leave, with Mike heading back to Michigan and Kato-san moving to Hong Kong.
Fall and Winter brought life consuming MBA info sessions, applications, and essays.
Facebook launched their “Timeline”, which essentially visualizes your life. Looking back through my timeline, 2010 was full of happiness and some really great times. 2011 was a much lonely year, especially the past 4 or 5 months. I recently heard the quote “Happiness is only real when shared” and I think that really gets at the heart of it. I pretty much dropped off the map in the second half of the year. Trying to recall highlights, I end up asking myself what exactly did I even do? Have I even been alive?
Something clearly has to change.
To that end, I’ve come up with some goals for 2012.
Professionally, I want to finish what I’ve started. Over the next few months, and the next couple of weeks in particular, I need to knuckle down, take care of business, and get my life pointed in the right direction. In many ways, I feel like my potential is limitless and there’s nothing that I can’t do. It’s just a matter of making the effort and taking the necessary steps to turn that potential into reality. So that’s step one. I also desperately need to learn how to network. To not be cynical and to be genuinely interested in getting to know new people, to make the effort to stay in touch with them. To make not just small talk, but interesting conversation. If I can do those two things, the sky is the limit.
But more importantly, I need to change the way I live life. Recently, I’ve gotten this idea stuck in my head, this concept: to live a beautiful life. It’s hard to put into words what exactly that means to me, but I’ve put together a few ideas that should get me started.
-Get Healthy-I’ve been absolutely neglecting my body for far too long. I’ve lost almost all of my muscle mass and gotten soft in the middle. I haven’t been sleeping enough or eating healthy and it shows. My body is literally a wreck. Some days my entire upper body hurts and my eyesight is deteriorating fast. I don’t sleep enough and I’m too stressed. I’ve had minor anxiety attacks periodically for the past 18 months. In 2012, I want to start exercising again and get back in shape. I want to get my priorities in order and stop sacrificing so much of myself for a job that barely rewards me for it.
-Cook Properly-Not just more healthy food, but food with thought and effort put into it. I think I’ve shown on this blog that I can create beautiful meals when I put the effort into it. 2012 needs to be a year that doesn’t forgive PB&J sandwiches or pasta with canned tomato sauce as acceptable alternatives to a real meal. I want to cook food that is so good I feel compelled to share it on this blog.
-Take More Pictures-Photos never stop amazing me with their ability to capture memories and emotions. One look at the pictures Mike and I took over the past 3 years remind me of all the good times the Michigan kids have had. My pictures of Tange put a tear in my eye. I want to be more diligent about capturing the places I go, the things I see, the people who surround me. I would love to try the 365 Day Project, but I honestly don’t think that’s realistic. Maybe the 52 Week Project? You know what, I’m gonna do it. One picture every week for the next year, uploaded to Flickr.
-Travel-Now that it seems like my time in Asia will be limited, I suddenly like I’ve done a poor job of getting around to the various countries over here. I’d like to at least see China and Thailand before heading back. Maybe Singapore and Indonesia too if I can work it. Hell, there are plenty of places in Japan I still haven’t seen. There is so much of the world left to explore and no reason to put off doing it.
-Reconnect With People-I’ve done a shitty job socially recently and I have so much making up to do to so many people. I haven’t seen nearly enough of the Michigan kids lately. Once I’m back state-side, there are a ton of people I’ve practically fallen out of touch with since moving to Japan. I need to spend time with family. I need to make myself happy again and share that with the people who matter to me.
I think if I can do those five things, I could have something I would be willing to call a “beautiful life” in 2012. It’s certainly no small order, but there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to take a real shot at them all.
The first step, once I’m finished getting my professional life in order, is to make the most of my time left in Japan. If all goes according to plan, I have less than 6 months left. That's not a lot. There’s still so much I haven't seen and done, and I don’t want to waste that time.
There’s no time like the present. Let’s make 2012 a beautiful year.