By: Lisa Danno, Senior Innovation Experience Designer & Unsettled: Barcelona, Porto & Sailing alum
2018 started with my business shutting down, led to me living Unsettled in Europe, and ended with a new love in a new job and a new city 2,000 miles from my hometown. After coming off a year that involved so many ups and downs and reckonings and moments of vulnerability and endless change, by the end of it, I wondered what in the world 2019 could hold. While tumultuous and a year unlike any before it, 2018 proved to be a wonderful year filled with so many changes, new challenges, and new faces in my life. I wanted to harness that energy and not settle for a blah 2019, so I made a New Year’s resolution I was finally excited to keep: try 1 new thing a week for a year! To challenge myself, I set some parameters: it could not be things that were just new versions of the same thing. They could not merely be a new recipe, new restaurant, new comedy venue, that sort of thing. The hidden goals here were threefold: be intentional about this, but be spontaneous, and be open, you never know what can happen.
And so…I did some crazy shit! I learned A TON, met some wonderful new people, tested my limits and vulnerability, and had a lot of fun!
Learning to Say “Yes”…
From 7am sober raves and first Meetup group hikes to my first aqua fit class (where I brought down the average age by about 40 years), I learned the value of giving no fucks about signing up for something alone. No one knows you when you arrive. Find the peace to be yourself in that place. You never know how much fun you can have, who you might meet, or how many retirees you can fit in one hot tub.
From amazing experiences like cave tubing, snorkeling with seals, and swimming with bioluminescence in the pitch-black night time Sea of Cortez, I learned to say “yes” to adventure whenever it comes my way, especially while we’re young and agile.
From my first time getting lost on a group hike and subsequently hiking 3 miles in the wrong direction, I learned to speak up and promote women’s voices whenever the opportunity comes about. If we hadn’t finally listened to the 1 woman who know how to get back, instead of the 3 men who thought they knew where they were going, we’d still be out in the Washington desert somewhere.
From having to wear my Cubs T-shirt and yoga pants for 3 days when hiking in Glacier National Park while waiting for my lost luggage to arrive, I learned how far you can stretch one outfit, and that patience and flexibility are perhaps the two most important virtues an adventurer can have.
From a last-minute decision to take up a crazy day of travel across three European countries to catch the Women’s World Cup Semifinal, I learned that we need to give women’s sports more equal treatment, so that the little girl sitting in front of me can have greater opportunities when she grows up. I also was reminded how fabulous spontaneity can be.
I learned how to drive a boat and how to sail one.
I learned what fresh shrimp really tastes like, straight off the shrimp boat!
From getting back in a relationship after being dumped the first time, I learned to trust my gut and my heart and let go of needing to know how things will work out. I’d never yet taken someone back in my love life after we’d broken up, until I dug into my new year’s resolution and tried one more time, and it was worth it!
…Learning to Say “No” & Let Go…
After days of hemming and hawing, I learned to respect all that I’ve accomplished, to value my skill set, and how much my time means to me, I learned to firmly tell my boss “no.” I turned down work that would only create havoc in my life, something I’d not yet done in my career. And you know what? I got what I wanted out of it: freedom from a draining project with an oppressive atmosphere that didn’t align to my values, and I became braver and clearer about myself because of it.
From attending a sex positive porn festival, I learned many more things people are into, how important it is that we give everyone a platform for inclusion, and how crazy high the production value is for five-minute amateur porn films!
From being the first to say, “I love you,” knowing it may not yet be returned, I learned to let go, be vulnerable, and express my feelings, and you know what? It felt so good that pushing myself to be vulnerable whenever possible is now an intentional practice for me. Why do you think I volunteered to pen this blog post about random shit I tried this year?
I learned the power of a vision board. Put up your visual goals. Talk about them. Take some steps. And get closer to them being more than just visions.
By the holiday season, after months of wrestling with things in my brain, my gut, and my heart, I learned to admit that my values and my company’s values do not align. Did I leave? Not yet. Am I looking for a new job? Eh. Always open, but not actively focused on it. But I was able to learn that this job is a mere stepping stone. I will not be here forever, but I am determined to get all I can out of this experience to prepare me for a future role that I can be extra proud to say aligns with my values, and perhaps is the position I was always meant to find…or to create.
… And Finally Keeping a New Year’s Resolution.
And the last new thing I did in 2019 was… finally keep a new year’s resolution! Never done that before. And as I looked back, knowing I’d experienced and learned dozens of new things, I realized that not only did I achieve my goal of keeping my 2018 “try new things” mentality going, but now I had basically made it a habit. If you are at all like me, I cringe at habits. I associate them with boring routines and ruts I’m afraid to get stuck in. Or I find them too difficult to form or keep that I hardly bother seeing them through. But in this case, I left 2019 behind with a strange new habit formed, one that I want to embed as often as I can. And while for the rest of my years, I may not be quite as intentional about trying 1 new thing a week, I will know I have the power to take risks, be vulnerable, be open, and just try, and that’s a cool habit worth forming. Doing this every week for 2019 has already allowed me to say “yes” to attending Jeffersonian style dinners, try rock climbing, and attend my first professional golf open in January 2020!
For a list of the 52 random things I did in 2019 see below. And if you’re ever thinking about a similar resolution or even just trying one new thing this month, just do it. It’ll be worth it. I promise. You’ll learn a bunch and walk away with a great new collection of stories.