Just one favor from you: hold me accountable.
I’m going to become a millionaire in 2018.
That’s my big goal for the upcoming year.
I don’t know how yet, but I have some exciting ideas. But the how is not the important thing just yet.
The important thing is that I’ve decided.
Declaring this goal publicly is equally important. Being publicly held accountable for ACHIEVING the goal you set is supposed to be really helpful. Public accountability makes things happen.
So I need your help, just one tiny favor from you:
HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE.
That way if I wimp out & DON’T do this, I’ll know that other people were counting on me to hustle & make my goals happen. I’ll feel embarrassed that I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. I’ll be disappointed. I hate disappointing myself, but when it’s only you you’re answering to, it’s easy to say, “Well, I guess it just wasn’t the right time yet.” When really, you could have done it if you had a reason to.
If you knew you HAD to. If you burnt all your boats & went for it.
By saying this to you, I’m making it so I HAVE to do this.
Not that I don’t have very compelling personal reasons “why” even without anyone knowing about this. I do know my “why”. My “why” is because being a millionaire would allow me to live my best life, provide for my family beyond their wildest dreams, help elevate & empower & promote other artists/writers/musicians/awesome people, & to do my part to take care of the world. They deserve me living my best life. I deserve me living my best life. I feel like achieving that level of success so I can do those things is my duty. Because I can’t lift up other people as much as I’d like to if I’m in the pit too.
IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE ALIVE, YOU MIGHT AS WELL TRY TO BE ALL YOU CAN.
I know I deserve to live my best life, because I’ve always, ever since I was a kid, known I was destined to. I’ve definitely had my dark times & doubts, but they never were able to kill that underlying thread, the message deeply entwined in who I am that one day, I AM going to make it big.
When things have been dark, that knowledge that I’m meant for something greater — the greatest happiness, the greatest success, recognition, wealth, & intentional & good-feeling fame — is what’s allowed me to rise back into the light. I have always been heading towards these things.
I hold myself accountable to a very high level. But even I sometimes wimp out & play small & think, “maybe I don’t deserve this”. Or I stop when I don’t know how to move forward & let myself get distracted by other things. Or I’m afraid of succeeding. Afraid I won’t like it once I get there. & then I don’t make it happen. I don’t try push enough. Then at the end of the year, I look back with some disappointment that I didn’t do what I TOLD MYSELF I was going to do.
& because I’m getting very tired of falling back on playing small, on not LETTING myself have the money & the success & the HAPPINESS that feel far away even though I know they’re totally within my reach, I’m trying something new this year.
That’s why I need your help.
I just read the amazing “ What Happens When You Take Full Responsibility For Your Life” article here on Medium from one of my favorite writers, Benjamin P. Hardy. The article is about taking radical responsibility for your life & actually COMMITTING to making your dreams happen. Unconditionally & unquestionably RESOLVING to achieve your goals. I highly recommend you read it if you want to make 2018 your best year EVER.
In his article, he challenged the reader to make a big decision & then make sure everyone else knows about your decision so they can hold you accountable. The reason it encourages success is because people like being seen as consistent with what others believe they are. You like seeing YOURSELF as being consistent with what you believe you are. This is one way you “burn your boats”.
Your mind will almost literally move mountains to keep up with what it believes its standards are.
This is why people who don’t believe they deserve something will go to great lengths to sabotage any sort of success. They can’t believe they deserve it, so they don’t let themselves have it. Even if having it would be way easier than resisting it.
This is also why people who believe in their own success will overcome even the most crushing of setbacks & achieve outstanding things. People can do miraculous things when they really believe they can do something.
People also don’t like letting other people down, because disappointing others & not living up to their expectations doesn’t feel good. Especially if they expect something great from you & if they genuinely want something for you which is in your actual best interest.
So, if I’m not a millionaire by the end of 2018, I’m going to feel disappointed because I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. I’m not going to feel like I was consistent with what was expected of me. With what I TOLD YOU I was going to do.
But I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. I believe this IS possible for me. Even if I can’t see exactly how yet. But I do have a lot of options, a lot of ways it could pan out.
Sure, it’s an ambitious goal. It’s by far my most ambitious yearly goal yet.
But I’m no stranger to making big goals. At the beginning of this year, I made some pretty big plans about traveling by myself for the first time, & they weren’t even very specific goals. ALSO, a lot of the goals I set at the beginning of the year were NOT things I actually expected I would accomplish this year. I made them with good intentions, but I also put them on there like, “Well, I hope this happens this year (but deep down inside it’s probably not going to)”.
& I still made them happen. Because somewhere along the line, I started genuinely believing they WERE possible.
That’s how 2017 ended up being the most freaking amazing year of my life. I went on an epic road trip around Florida by myself (my first trip away from home), traveled from Tampa to Houston to see Queen (one of my all-time favorite bands) in concert, saw a lot of my other favorite bands in concert, ran my first 5K, published numerous books, acted in a play, started investing in the stock market even though I knew nothing about it when I started, grew my online business, started a podcast, bought my absolute DREAM guitar (Fender Telecaster Thinline 72′ Series), & started my own weekly show on YouTube. I also really figured out what I wanted & who I wanted to be.
An amazing freaking year. & yet at the beginning of the year I assumed the year would be cool but also kind of lame, & that I wouldn’t really move forward much. That it would be just like every other year before it.
But I was wrong. I got out there & made shit happen.
& I learned who I want to become in 2018. What I want. Another piece of the map showing me the way to my best life. The best life that I am actively creating for myself.
It’s time I took radical responsibility for my life. It’s time I stopped playing small & pretending I can’t have or don’t deserve the things that make me light up.
So I’m sending my declaration out there loud & clear. I’m ready. Let’s make this happen.
By the end of 2018, I will be a millionaire. & it’s going to feel really good, in all aspects.
So, will you help me?
Will you hold me accountable?
& I’ll hold you accountable too. Let me know in the comments what you’re going to create for yourself in 2018.
We’ll watch those boats burn together. Then, with no more excuses stopping us from becoming our best selves, we’ll watch 2018 become the most amazing year of our lives yet.
Thank you so much for reading this! If you could click on the APPLAUSE button on the left, that would be fantastic! Hope you have a really great day.
You still have time, but you have to go NOW.
But it’s your choice what you make of the last month of the year.
The year is almost over.
But you still have time.
What are you going to do about it?
Wow, 2016 was a year filled with so many changes. There were a reasonable number of not-so-good things that happened, & a number of really good things that happened for me (you can read my poetic essay about the year here). I’ll choose to focus on the awesome things.
Before I get started telling you what I plan on doing in 2017, here’s a quick overview of what I achieved in 2016:
★ Started an online store (!!!!!!!), where I curate a collection of awesome, funky, adorable, & colorful things. I’ve sold more stuff than I thought I would so far (mostly on the eBay listings for my products), which is very exciting!
★ Re-released my debut album, Fields of Destiny, via CD Baby, therefore making it available for purchase on Amazon, iTunes, & a whole host of other online music retailers. PEOPLE CAN ACTUALLY BUY IT NOW.
★ Got my first-ever acting role, as Audrey in Ken Ludwig’s play Leading Ladies, & a second acting role in the play Shakespeare in Hollywood as Puck.
★ My first article to be published by a website other than my own was published by Thought Catalog!
★ Got pet guinea pigs, which is something I’ve wanted since I was nine or ten years old.
★ Bought a Smart Car! Ever since I was sixteen I always wanted one, because they’re both very safe & very gas efficient. This is something I manifested for myself, after test driving a lot of shitty, cheap cars. I decided I wasn’t going to settle for one of the aforementioned cars I test drove, figured out a way to make the Smart Car happen, & voila! I have a Smart Car, & I love it. It’s even more awesome than I thought it would be.
★ Got my driver’s license! After a long seven months of learning how to drive, I finally got my licence. This was one of the most influential things that happened to me, because now I have the ability to go wherever I want & make things happen for myself. I’m no longer limited in this aspect.
★ Touched a crocodile (at a local Earth Day event). It was cool being able to touch such a powerful animal, & the scales on his back were unlike anything I’ve ever touched.
★ Got a Nutribullet-esque blender for making healthy smoothies. It’s not THE Nutribullet, but my dad got it for me & I love it. I made a really great smoothie with it the other day involving blood oranges, English cucumber, & a salad with pea shoots. This was something on last year’s list.
★ I actually wrote down five things that happened to me each day, EVERY SINGLE DAY, for the past year! In years prior I’ve always been bummed out about not having a written record of the year. I’ve never been disciplined enough to actually do this, but now, thanks to the Document Your Life journal that I wrote & published, I actually achieved this, & I’m proud of myself!
★ Felt like I’m getting a much better idea of who I am + what I want out to life.
Goals for 2017
As for all of the awesome things I’m going to do in 2017, I have a few new ideas for planning these goals. The first school of thought which I think sounds intriguing is picking one big goal to accomplish each month. I forgot where I heard this, but I like the idea. If I do this, I’ll stay on track for all the big goals I have for the year. No matter what else happens, I will accomplish 12 big things this year, & the idea of that is really exciting. Provided I accomplish the big goal for each month, I can then achieve as many small goals each month too, without having to worry about not achieving the big things.
The second idea is inspired by two ideas. The first – multiple things James Altucher has written where he discusses picking themes for your life instead of goals. The second – what Gretchen Rubin discusses in The Happiness Project, about how Ben Franklin picked thirteen virtues to rate & measure his performance in. I thought, “Why not combine the ideas & pick some themes that I want to work on cultivating this year, in addition to the big goals?” Both lists of alternate goal are still things I’m working on.
In the mean time, here are some things I plan to accomplish in the upcoming year:
★ Direct a film. By film, I mean a real film starring actors other than myself, & a variety of locations, & a script. I have several ideas & haven’t picked one yet, but this is one of the things I’m most excited about doing.
★ Run in a 5k. As it is now, I’m in reasonable shape but can’t run for more than a few minutes in a row. I bought myself some running shoes & a stop watch so that when I’m able to start training, it will be easy.
★ Continue growing my online store. I have a TON of plans for things I want to start selling, & products I’m working on designing. SHOP Ashlee Craft will soon be home to t-shirts, a whole bunch of stickers, & hopefully some new exclusive pins, all designed by me. I also think it would be awesome to design magnets, window clings, & journals.
★ Get a paid acting gig. Acting is lots of fun, & I’m glad that I took the leap & started pursuing it in this previous year.
★ Republish out-of-print books that I love under my publishing company. There are loads of great things – books, music, films, images, etc – which are great, but people don’t know about them anymore. They should, & I want to be the one to help these works of art be brought into the light again.
★ Read a lot more. For most of 2016, I sadly didn’t read very much at all. Towards the end of the year I bought a lot of great books (Choose Yourself & What To Do When It’s Your Turn are two that stand out) & actually started reading them. Then I realized how much I missed reading. This year, I’m actually going to track every book I read, & I’m going to read as many as possible.
★ Record more cover songs. I LOVED recording my cover of David Bowie’s Changes. I have a whole list of other songs I would love to cover, so I’m going to work on this a lot more soon. Before the end of the year, I will also release another album of original compositions.
★ Start investing in companies. I’ve already picked out a few good prospects I will buy stock in soon.
★ Write more books. This is always a goal of mine, because there are always so many books to write. Currently in my book release plans are the novel I’ve been working on for two years, a children’s storybook about owls, a children’s series about a mouse, another motivational book, a book of personal essays, more issues of Assemblage, & more zines. A lot of the books I’ve already published are also going to be republished under Freedom Meadow Media.
★ Release an app.
★ Travel. I would love to travel to three different places. Somewhere in my state, a different state, & a different country.
★ Minimalism. This means excluding things – physical things, mental things, wasted time, unhappiness – to make more room for the things that really do feel good. I’m not trying to have as few things as possible, but as many things that make me happy with as few unnecessary things as possible. I really like this quote from this article I was reading earlier, titled Like Henry David Thoreau, but with Wi-Fi. “Everything in my life become my favorite thing.” I want to live my life like that.
★ Figure out what I really want. For now. Become more myself. Reinvent myself a hundred times this year, if that’s what it takes. Get to the place that I think I’m going. Be happier, for real. Know what it feels like to finally have peace of mind. Explore & live in the world that is mine.
What are your goals for 2017? Let me know on the social media channel of your choice!
The moon last night looked like a Cheshire cat in the sky, smiling with golden good natured mischief & mystery. I listened to Alice Cooper’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy” & Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl” loud in the car. My two favorite songs at the moment. I looked out at the streetlamps & the velvety cloak of darkness.
Just like last year, the transition of one year to the next occurs in the center of a sea of changes. Both this year & last year at this time, the sense of a major shift is pervasive. The kind of feeling where everything is changing; all the old ideas & beliefs & paradigms & personas & dynamics & status quos. Worlds open up – stars are born & die in front of you & then born again – everything circles around in the middle of a wind storm.
The seas are rough but able to be navigated. The rain falls hard but they water the flowers. The old things you used to be are slowly fading & shriveling & retreating back into the brush they came from.
Fears were created & fears were put to rest, & ultimately I still ended up with less of them, & more of them simultaneously. Uncertainty. The great fear still remains in the backdrop (happiness) but fears emerged to the front lines (breakdown). But the fears are all quieted in the warmth of humid nights, when it’s all wrapped up in a blanket.
Confidence was built. It was built in each hour I spent in front of those who would judge me & decide the turns my path would take, but I was still the one choosing to be there. Choosing to be judged, so that I may progress. It also showed its face when I actually started asking for what I wanted. I asked him & he said yes. I told them & they were supportive & encouraging. I announced it to them & they wanted to help me & didn’t care that I was turning away at the same time. I decided & they were there. I showed up, & spoke up, for the first time in years.
Showing up. That’s another thing. I watched as those around me were reluctant to take chances. To make choices. To put themselves out there somewhere they might fail. In most failures though, the failure itself is the only worst-case-scenario. If someone says no the world doesn’t stop spinning. & if you don’t try, there’s no way you can ever win. Showing up, in all ways, not just putting yourself out there but also showing up for your own decisions, owning them. Making choices & then making them happen.
I found a home & then it was gone. I reveled in my relief when I walked through your doors. Immediately you took me in. I found your embrace full of love & genuine connection & fun & it gave me something to do & I loved it. Knowing you made all the other things fade away. I thought that I would shrivel when you left me. I didn’t think I could do anything without you. You were like a drug. It was all about me depending on something other than myself & putting all my happiness in it & betting my whole existence on whether you liked me back. I need to stop doing that. When will I realize that happiness will never come from dependency on such anchors? It needs to be mine.
I found my people but then they left me. Slowly they walked out on me & the door closed. They never opened it again. I thought they were the ones that were supposed to make me feel the way I always wanted to feel. I thought the loneliness would go away. Sooner or later, one of us must know that I really did try to get close to you. I tried, & reached out further & more honestly than I ever had, & with deeper vulnerability. But despite finally putting myself out there & trying to make a connection, they turned their backs & went separate ways. I loved you but you didn’t love me back. & I will be okay with that. Somewhere out there I will find my friends.
Also, there were beautiful things. That moment sitting in the golden light of afternoon in the restaurant smiling & feeling like I belonged somewhere for once. New love & new forms of happiness. The home, the memories, friendship – they all still meant something, frozen in time, even if they were no longer the same glowing realms they had been before.
It was a year when I really opened up my hands & reached out & created. I feel like 2016 was like a big educational seminar, teaching me how the world worked & how to ask the questions I needed to ask. A year which required me to make decisions about who I was & who I was going to be. I feel like I learned more this year that probably any other year in recent history.
2016: a year of making magic & of deepening belief in magic, & one where despite some of the painful & darkened challenges that I encountered, I still made it. I survived. It feels like it was a year of growing hope, a stepping stone year, vitally important to be completed & triumphed over before being able to move on to the next open doors.
Open, a concept I tie to authenticity. I want to make 2017 a year of authenticity, & honesty, & freedom. & I want all of those concepts to tie into happiness, to tie into a grander & more wonderful & much more happy + free version of myself.
& so, I open my arms up & my heart up & I make the new year feel comfortable & welcome. I open my heart to let in all the new light through mosaic windows, & open my hands to new creations that must be made. The hope has been built up into a big glowing ball of light, & the music is on, & I am dancing, & I turn now to face the Newness, radical potential, happiness, magic, freedom. I stand tall & proud, looking out at the star-filled sky & the Cheshire cat moon & later, cheerful rays of sunbeams painted across my floor, & I say,
I am in the process of writing & perfecting my New Year’s goals. Every year, the idea of this – the process – excites me, because although I make changes to who I am & what I want constantly throughout the year, New Year’s (or at least the beginning of the year) seems like a good blank slate in which to make new decisions about where I’m heading.
I must note that in my New Year’s goal list that I make every year, the list is a running list. It is never “complete”, & it isn’t supposed to be. I add to it constantly. The list doesn’t JUST contain goals which I intend on completing in that given year – a good portion of them are things I want to do this year, but there’s also lots of long-term goals I put on there to remind myself to work towards the goals so in a future year they can be achieved.
I then break this master list down & choose specific things to work towards each week, which I write down in a notebook & highlight with a highlighter as I accomplish the tasks. Once a goal is completed, I put the date of completion after it on my master list & place it in a separate list at the bottom of my goal list document. At the end of the year, I remove the list of accomplished goals from the document & place it in a new document. I then rewrite the goal list for the new year, so that each list reflects that year alone. There’s no point in leaving the things on my 2015 list, for example, that I didn’t accomplish, so I just move them on to the next year!
The thing is, I like the basic concept of my list, but I decided that this year I wanted to make the goal list more personalized & specific. Sometimes in years prior, I haven’t changed or edited the list very much aside from adding new things to it, so I found quite a few things on the list that I was no longer interested in accomplishing.
Additionally, it wasn’t organized as well as I hoped it could be, so I decided to assign the goals to specific categories : GENERAL, ADVENTURES, BOOKS & WRITING, CREATIVITY & ART, EDUCATION, FASHION, FINANCES, FITNESS & HEALTH, HABITS, HAPPINESS, HOBBIES & RELAXATION, HOME, MUSIC, PETS & FAMILY, & RELATIONSHIPS. This way, it will be easy to find the goals for each week’s goal lists, & easy to keep my ideas organized.
Personally, 2015 ended up being a surprisingly amazing year for me – I could never have guessed how interesting & great it would end up at the start of the year (for more details, read about my New Year’s Day reflections) – & I plan on making 2016 even better. To accomplish this, I need to have a solid plan, which I feel like I have now thanks to my reorganized goal list.
A few goals of mine for 2016 …
★ Organize my entire garage utilizing plastic storage bins. This means cleaning out ALL the clutter, downsizing it, & making sure I only keep things I actually need. I’m tired of having a garage filled with cardboard boxes full of things I haven’t used or thought about in years, & for the most part, if it’s not inside my house, I probably don’t need it. Goal : have a very clean, organized garage that makes it super easy to find holiday decorations & has room for impromptu disco parties.
★ Dye all my hair/part of my hair copper, rose gold, or red-orange. I really love my natural hair color, but in the past year I’ve really taken an interest to experimenting with my hair. I read this article & it provided additional inspiration to take the leap. I might do dip-dyed hair like I did with red hair over the summer, or I might dye all my hair if the effect is more subtle.
★ Learn & become somewhat decent at fencing / kickboxing / archery.
★ Improve at skateboarding. I want to learn how to do some basic jumps, & improve at my skateboarding in general. Time for some more practice, & YouTube!
★ Become at least somewhat fluent in Spanish.
★ Read more. Read through books I own. I own so many books that I have never read. Most of them are collected from the free or $0.25 book bins at the library or thrift stores) that I have never read. This means that I have a lot of hidden gems that I don’t even KNOW that I have, & this year, I want to find them!
★ See & interact with sloths & owls in real life. Sloths are one of my top favorite animals, & owls ARE my favorite. I want to be able to experience these animals in real life, as opposed to just seeing pictures or videos online.
★ Buy a Nutribullet so I can make healthy smoothies & up my intake of fruits & veggies.
★ Do more acts of love for myself. Buy myself fresh flowers at least once a month. Make my bed every day. Make time to read & listen to music more. Take more time for myself. Distance myself from negativity. Drink more tea. Honor & respect & do my best to love my body & myself unconditionally. Start living my life the way I want to, & becoming the person I feel like being. Nourish myself with healthy, wholesome foods, but also eat things less healthy & wholesome when I feel inclined to. Open the windows. Do yoga. Let myself be happy. Realize that I don’t need someone else to make my life complete, or to make my happiness complete or “legitimate”.
What are some of your goals for this year? 2016 is the year for you to finally do all those things you’ve been afraid to. 2016 is the year to start loving yourself, or increase the level of happiness in your life as much as you can, so that your life feels so good & illuminated. I hope you plan it or let it happen or both, so that this year is your most radiant year ever.
As 2015 comes to a close, & a brand new unwritten year begins, I am thinking back on everything which occurred in the past year & to be honest, I am so amazed & impressed by all that has happened, & all that I have become. I have evolved. It was the type of year that started out somewhat rocky, but ended with a more beautiful & gentle sense of closure than I ever expected to find. The kind of year that makes me feel like maybe I need therapy or a long vacation or mere time to deal with all the phases & changes I went through, but simultaneously the kind of year that makes me feel like I have been deeply, vividly healed. It was the kind of year filled such with influential growth & complete reinvention & beautiful epiphanies & gentle, nurturing, startling, surprising change & rebirth, that I can only hope that 2016 will offer similar (or better, even more beautiful & ebullient) opportunities for happiness & becoming myself that this year has.
A brief overview of some highlights from 2015 //
★ Completed my A Thousand Cranes series by publishing the 10th book in the series, & therefore the 1000th poem in the series
★ Launched this blog (!!!)
★ Completed many goals that I deemed made me successful, in my eyes
★ I learned an indescribable amount about myself : who I wanted to be, where I wanted to go in life, what I really wanted & really didn’t want, what my goals really were, & that I shouldn’t sacrifice my dreams in order to do all the things I was “supposed” to do. It was a year of stripping away the bullshit until what I was left with was a polished gem glittering with the authentic truth : the reveal was that all along, I’d had what I needed.
★ I finally started feeling comfortable being open with people & letting them see who I really was : ceasing to participate in boring small talk as a form of friendship or present a watered-down version of my personality just to conform to what others expect me to be or what I perceive will make me more similar (therefore “likable”) to them. A refusal to build a wall around myself, hiding in a way so that I am never vulnerable but also never loved or known. Finally becoming myself, & having the courage to do so.
★ Learning to love myself more. Learning to accept & see the greatness (& truth) in all the things that I previously found to be faults in myself. Finally being able to see myself as being good enough : always worthy of love & respect – knowing my thoughts & opinions matter, & that my choices are perfectly okay. Being able to see when I deserve better, & being brave enough to go after Better.
★ Happiness. Learning that happiness isn’t a weird elusive thing meant for someone other than me. Finally being able to say that in the past year, I have almost entirely overcome the depression & anxiety that used to be a constant shroud (although the process of overcoming has been going on for much, much longer); achieving a sort of healing happiness; finally feeling like things really will be okay, & that I am capable of feeling good about myself & my life, long term & so deeply & authentically.
2016, I am looking forward to all the magic you have to offer me; all the good things & bright spunky ebullience awaiting me. Here’s to us all, making this the best year of our lives so far.