My 2011 review: Reflections on how it went

After sharing the general rundown of what’s happened over the past year, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on the rundown. These are the lessons I’ve learned or continue to learn from 2011.

On traveling, this was the biggest change overall for me this year. I’d traveled in the past, but only in America and always with my family. This year, I traveled on my own in foreign countries. I realized that I enjoy it, but that I still miss doing it with others. It’s awesome, but I’m social.

On writing, I did a lot better when I wrote during the day. This past year, I’ve been the most sporadic since I started writing consistently. Now that it’s at the end of the year, I’ve tried to seriously reevaluate my motivation for writing each day to see if it’s something I want to continue in 2012.

On work, I broke away from the mindset that a career has to be a “career.” Instead of thinking of jobs as a linear path through a career, I realized that it’s okay to just do different things. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was scared because I thought what I did would define me. Teaching English in Korea, I’ve discovered that what I do doesn’t have to be who I am. I teach English, but that’s definitely not my identity here. I’d like to continue that pattern.

On experimenting, the hardest part is finding good experiments. When I do, I love it and feel like I’m learning and living more than ever. I need to find other channels for discovering new ideas. The longer I stay in one place or listen to the same people, the less I get inspired to try new things.

On health, I didn’t originally plan to focus on my health at all in Korea. But after a few months here, I decided to experiment with it. I wanted to gain some weight. I’ve been skinny my whole life, so I wanted to play with bulking up a bit. Plus, I figured it would be kind of cool to return to America looking a lot different. That plan backfired, though, when it made my face break out with acne. Since then, I’ve been trying to repair the damage and stabilize.

Socially, I met a lot of wonderful people this year in Korea. My friendships back in America, though, pretty much died. I’m still not sure what to think about that. Was it worth the trade? Could I have done more to keep the friendships going back home, or was it okay to let them go for a time?

Spiritually, the middle of the year seemed to be an all-time high for me. I depended on God and enjoyed a lot of excitement in my relationship with him. A couple things in particular influenced me a lot in this area.

  1. Books: I read Crazy Love and Radical right before I left for Korea. Then I read Knowing the Heart of God and Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret in Korea.
  2. Church: I switched churches when I came to Korea. Before that, I’d gone to the same church my whole life. Changing churches helped me change perspectives.
  3. Accountability: This is one of the biggest things that’s made a difference for me over the past year. The accountability helped me become more honest and break some cycles I’d fallen into.

On top of all that, I started leading a Growth Group. The Growth Group, though, just seemed like a continuation of what was already happening – it didn’t really influence me as much as those other three I listed.

Overall, it’s been an incredible year. The challenge now is taking what I’ve experienced and learned and applying it in 2012. I have some plans, but we’ll just have to see how it all plays out.