Years ago when I first learned about goal setting, one of the first written goals I set for myself was to never have two years that were exactly the same. I suspect that goal was inspired by my realization that my teaching job seemed to produce years that were nearly a carbon copy (you do remember carbon copies, don’t you?) of one another.

That goal popped into my mind again a couple of weeks ago when I sat down to shred the papers and receipts from 2002. As I discovered, it was a year quite unlike 2010, which has also been a remarkable year, but in very different ways.

As I looked through the travel documents, I wondered if I had spent any time at home that year. There were trips to Seattle, Toronto, Boston and many spots in between. My passport also had a bit of a workout on two trips to London and another to Italy with my sister and daughter.

This was a year of some unique experiences and firsts. A few days ago, I wrote about the explosion at my daughter’s apartment building that happened that year. Most of the big highlights of 2002 were less dramatic.

Memories of that year were lurking in the checks I was shredding. I noticed it was one I’d written for the down payment on my Saturn, the first brand new card I’d ever purchased. I smiled remembering the day that I surprised myself by buying that car without so much as a test drive.

Then there was that birthday party I threw for myself in Las Vegas. That little celebration, almost planned as a joke, led to several surprising adventures, not the least of which was changing my notions about this city.

As I was reviewing 2002 via my paperwork, I thought of the advice I once heard (and frequently quote) about the simple, but foolproof, test you can use to see if your life is in alignment with your priorities.

That advice? Look at your calendar and checkbook. You can quickly see if you are spending your time and money in ways that support the things that matter to you.

Sadly, for many people there’s a big discrepancy between what they know they want to do and have and what they actually are spending their time and money on.

I’ve recently finished Chris Guillebeau’s wonderful new book The Art of Non-Conformity. Chris set a big goal for himself to visit every country in the world before he turns 35. He’s well on his way, as his legion of followers can attest.

Chris writes eloquently about the importance of determining your own values and then creating a life that lives up to those values. Of course, he also encounters many people who tell him they’d just love to do what he’s doing, but, of course there are abundant reasons and excuses why that’s simply not possible.

Ah, excuses. Seems to me that you can have excuses or you can have your dreams, but you can’t have both.

Those faulty explanations that attempt to explain our disappointments do not create extraordinary years. You certainly can’t experience the rewards of the joyfully jobless life, either, if excuses are running the show.

I’m already thinking about several new adventures that I plan to use to weave 2011. It’s not just a change of address that’s going to make it a different year for me.

And I’m starting that plan with this bit of advice from Chris Guillebeau: “I propose welcoming in a life of abundance, filled to the brim with things you enjoy doing and that leave a legacy.”

Of course, I’m the only one who can determine what that means for me and that’s just fine. My calendar and checkbook are going to make sure that I stay on track so when it is time to shred 2011 I’ll remember it as a year that was filled to the brim.

7 Responses to “Shredding 2002”

  1. Barbara Saunders

    “Years ago when I first learned about goal setting, one of the first written goals I set for myself was to never have two years that were exactly the same.”

    I love this!

    I had to cut myself off from debating “normies” about job-and-career “hopping.” One can grow and deepen, even in the same skill sets without following the same routine or staying in the same milieu for years on end.

  2. Nadine Fawell

    No year the same as the last?
    Great goal. My life has been a bit like that, but it was inadvertent.

    I like the idea though. Of looking back, not just at the sad things, but at the DIFFERENT things.

    *skips off in tiara to look at old photo albums*

  3. Renee

    What a great post, and what a neat (and telling) way to reminisce about your life! Kind of like a financial photo album, where you can decide if you’ve spent your resources in a way that supports your dreams, or your fears, or just being mediocre.

  4. Terri Belford

    Barbara, thanks for this reminder. I love the idea of gauging how well aligned our lives are with our values by reviewing where time and money are spent. Recently, itemizing my Amex expenditures for my accountant, I found that I had spent a lot more time and money on “have-to’s” than “want-to’s” the first half of this year and it was a reminder to re-examine priorities. I hope when I do the same for the third and fourth quarter, I see that more money and time were invested in furthering goals. Thanks

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  1. Chris Guillebeau | Steven Pressfield Online

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