Welcome to Ryley Writes, a collection of thoughts, stories, and work from deep in the heart of Texas.

High-Five Friday: Hello Goodbye

What I'm working on:

I'm not ashamed to say it — I love me a new year.

Thoughtfully looking back and forward at the end of each year is one of my favorite things. It's easy to forget how much life was squeezed into the last 12 months unless I take the time to really go back over each one.

Last year, I made a month-by-month list of all the major events that had taken place in each, and something about seeing it all on paper gave me a totally different perspective. It gave me a birds-eye view of life for a moment. It made me thankful for each experience and, in an all-too rare moment (as is the case for most people, I believe), allowed me some grace for myself.

When you're in the nitty-gritty of your everyday life, it's hard to keep the big picture in mind. Once I finished last year's list and read it over, I was amazed at how much had happened in my life — from very good to very bad and everything in between. Suddenly, I was a little less critical, and a little more amazed.

"You're doing better than you think!" I often tell friends when they lament about the problem they can't solve or the relationship they can't fix or the job they can't get. Because when I look at their lives, I'm looking from the outside in. I can see a full story arc. I can see them as whole people. I can see the environment they're in. I can see how much they're juggling, and on and on.

It's really hard to step outside of yourself and do the same. Making the list helped me do that last year, and so this week, I've been working on compiling another one for 2016. I hope you try it.

The other thing I'm working on, in light of that, is dreaming and goal-setting for the future.

I'm not planning on a "new year, new me" situation. (I'm still going to be myself at this time next year, and I'm happy about that. You should be you, too. I think you're great.) But I have one life, and on top of that, I believe that it's a gift to steward from a good, loving God. So I want to live it as fully and well as possible.

I have a few resources I use for this kind of stuff, and I'll link to those below for anyone who's interested, but can I just say — I think this gets a little more fun every year, because every year I have 12 more months of experience and knowledge to base my goals on.

Did I perfectly hit every goal I set for myself this year? No way.

As anyone who knows me could testify, I mess up all the time. I'm not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, though. And I hope that you won't, either. I'm going to keep dreaming and setting big goals, because I did meet a lot of them, and I'm proud of that.

For example, last year, I made a goal to build my own body of work by redesigning my personal blog, writing for it once a week, and sharing that writing. Purely as a discipline, if nothing else.

One year later, I've done that, and it's become way more than a discipline or personal practice to boot.

A few of you people seem to actually like this thing, for starters, which is way more fun than just writing for myself; and I've found that it's actually become an important part of my work, period. It's something I'm proud of and have a lot of fun with creatively.

So this year, I'm taking it a step further by developing an editorial calendar for Ryley Writes — something I implemented constantly for clients while I was working my agency marketing job, but never thought to do for myself. I put enough content out this year that I can step back and figure out a little more direction for it. After a year, I know what I liked writing, what others liked reading, and what outside publications and employers valued most, and I can set more specific goals for the blog based on that. It's progress, and it's really gratifying, and just as importantly, it's really fun.

I'm proud of what this little corner of the internet has become, and I'm looking forward to what it will be at the end of next year.

Randoms for your weekend:

Based on all that, here are a few resources I love for vision-setting. Maybe you'll like some of them!

  • Don't laugh, but Lululemon has a great format for goal-setting for their employees. I used it last year, and I'm using it this year. The 10-5-1 year method makes everything so much simpler to break down.
  • If you're looking for career-specific goal stuff, my dad suggested I go through 48 Days to the Work You Love last year, and I would highly suggest it. Actually I would pretty much always suggest you listen to my dad, he is very smart. The end.
  • Being Boss is one of my favorite podcasts, and they have so much good goal-related stuff. Check them out (but beware of some colorful language!).

Conversational: Madi Vincent

Anchorage Away (See What I Did There)