Reflecting on My 18 Things in 2018 List

2018 was an exceptional year filled with lots of decision-making and adulthood things, but one thing that reminded me to live more playfully was my 18 Things in 2018 list.

The idea of making such a list came to me last year from Gretchen Rubin and the Happier podcast. This would replace New Year’s resolutions in the most fun way possible, I was convinced.

And it sure did! While I had some serious writing goals I wanted to work toward, I wasn’t going to fill all 18 items with hard work. That’s the beauty of this long list – the amount of goals makes you get creative and think about the things you really want to do, try or have – not just the obvious or the things you think you should do.

And having this list on hand serves as a reminder to mix things up and do something fun. It reminds you of what’s important to you, so when you lose the New Year’s steam and settle back in to everyday life, you have a list of fun ideas to get you excited again. I referred to my list several times throughout the year and used it as a guide for planning everything from date nights to weekend trips.

I didn’t complete all 18 items, and most of them I just dipped my toes in enough to say I completed it. But the beauty of having just dipped my toes in is that now I have a better idea of how to go forward with an item in 2019 or if I even want to.

Here’s an update of how my 18 Things in 2018 worked out for me. (The original post was published on my other blog, Naturally Ever After.)

18 Things in 2018 – Pass vs. Fail

1. Attempt making sushi at home.

Pass! We didn’t actually roll out sushi the way the pros do, but we got sushi ingredients and a cool pan and made our own little sushi bites. I wish I could find the video we used so I could share it here, but it was pretty simple and fun. I’m glad we did it because it’s been something I’ve been talking about for years, but now I can finally say done that, and let’s let the pros do it from now on. 🙂

2. Try out calligraphy.

Pass! My dear friend Lindsey mailed me some calligraphy pens early in the year and I printed worksheets off the internet to get started. I didn’t dive in too far with this but I got the basics down. In 2019, I’m looking forward to using my new hand-lettering workbooks I got for Christmas and getting better with fancy writing.

3. Revise and complete a story (or essay) (or book?).

Pass! And I learned a valuable lesson this year. Back in January 2018, I thought I could complete a lot more with 12 months. But what I really needed was to establish a consistent writing schedule or nothing would ever get completed. The ideas would just keep circling around in my head waiting to be written.

I started a bunch of essays this year and am proud that I fully completed one (and got it published!). In doing so, I established a writing routine that I’m confident will help me complete a lot more in 2019. Committing to my afternoon happy hour of writing is one of my biggest accomplishments this year.

4. Surprise Kyle.

Pass! I started the year off strong with planning surprises for him every month, but by the time my birthday rolled around in June it was all about me again 😉 Sorry honey! You got some good treats for a while there, though.

5. Visit all of the babies.

Pass, and in the nick of time! Our road trip to Illinois over the holidays crossed all three babies off my list and a handful of other surprise newborns.

6. Complete a reading challenge.

Fail! I read a lot, but fell two books shy of my 30 books goal and didn’t hit all the categories on the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge. Time for a different approach in 2019!

7. Start a memoir.

Pass-ish… This goal changed a bit. The memoir is now going to be an essay collection, and I’ve made some progress on starting the essays, but I don’t know what it’s going to look like yet overall.

Tip: It makes you feel better at the end of the year when you use the word “start” rather than “finish” for those lofty goals!

8. Uphaul my wardrobe.

Pass-ish! Uphaul is a big word, but I made progress with downsizing, getting rid of old clothes and investing in nice new clothes. This goal got me to try StitchFix for the first time and it got me my first pair of Lululemon tights. It got me to think about what’s important to me in clothing (being comfortable and wearing boring, neutral colors!).

One thing I picked up from Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up that helped me throughout the year is the idea of looking in your closet and loving what you see. Kyle loves to say, “If it’s not a hell yes then it’s a hell no.” I remind myself of these two things when I’m getting rid of clothes or picking out clothes – it works!

Resource: I recently discovered Jessica Rose Williams, an English lifestyle blogger who focuses on minimalism. Check out her capsule wardrobe ideas, so perfect!

9. Fly my parents out here.

Fail, I’m sad to say. I mean, they flew out here themselves and Dad even drove my beautiful Mustang all the way out here. But I didn’t buy their tickets. Maybe they’ll count me and Kyle’s road trip to Illinois for Christmas as an alternative? Please? 🙂

10. Complete the Spellbinding Sentences book.

Fail. I started this writing craft book in January and didn’t even make it to March. I’m trying again in 2019 with a more focused book on nonfiction, hoping the relevance to what I’m working on will keep me hooked through the year!

11. Master the art of budgeting.

Ha. Laughing at myself might be a little harsh – I mean, Kyle and I did pay off my student loans this year and we’re chomping away at his quicker than I can believe. But “mastery” and “budget” in the same sentence still seems laughable for me.

I changed this goal halfway through the year to focus on mastering our grocery budget. Now, this seemed doable. I made big progress toward the end of 2018 and have a better handle on this going into the new year.

12. Determine my favorite coffee.

Pass! This was a pleasant goal to work on throughout the year. It got me and Kyle to try all kinds of coffee shops because, well, the 18 things! I’ve always loved coffee, but this year, I think coffee started to love me back.

The coffee quest led to a coffee tasting 101 class here in Phoenix, discovering the local wonders in Flagstaff, AZ, and seeking out a gem in Durango, CO. It led to a magical conversation with a coffee shop owner in Ames, IA. And it led to a major upgrade in my own coffee-making skills.

So, what’s my favorite coffee? Sedona’s Oak Creek Espresso on so many factors – their Guatemalan roast is the most perfect coffee I’ve ever tasted, they have a variety of dairy-free milk options including macadamia nut (but you don’t need milk cause their coffee is insanely good), and they serve paleo pastries and desserts. All of Michelle’s favorite things in one place.

But I must give shoutouts to my Phoenix favorites – Press Coffee’s Guatemala roast (and anything else by Press) with Cartel Coffee Lab’s incredible variety of beans being a close second.

13. Go a month without sweets.

Success! Yes, you read that right. I knocked it out in January and enjoyed the 11 remaining months of the year full of sugar.

14. Make the Des Moines photo book.

Fail. Sad fail. What keeps me from finishing this Shutterfly book that I keep telling myself I must have to remember our Des Moines life?

Well, making photo books on the computer is not something I enjoy doing. So, why do I force myself? I may just resort to paying someone to finish this project for me!

15. Pay off my student loans.

SUCCESS!!!!!! Thanks to Kyle who has mastered budgeting.

16. Volunteer.

Somewhere in the middle of pass and fail…I did all the prep work in 2018 to volunteer as a Girls on the Run coach this spring in 2019.

17. Plan a girls trip.

Pass! I’ve got two, maybe three in the books for 2019!

18. Visit Tom and Kaitlyn.

Double success! We visited these good friends of ours twice in 2018, both times being epic.


I had thrown a couple extras on there just in case I changed my mind on some of these, and good thing! BecauseI get to count them both as successed.

  • Run a race: I ran two 5ks!
  • Do a paint and wine night: Paint and mimosas with Momma for Mother’s Day was a blast!

What’s Next?

There you have it, my update on my 18 in 2018 list. I fully completed 12 items, half-assed a couple others and pulled off my two alternates, so I’d count it as a winning year!

Check back next week for my 19 Things in 2019 list! In this post, I’ll give you more thoughts and ideas on best practices for making your own list and why it’s so much more fun than trying to stick to the same resolution you set out for every year.

Happy New Year, readers!

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