today, i turn 24 years old. if i'm being totally honest, i haven't been looking forward to this birthday as much as years past. for some reason, it sounds and feels old to me. i'll probably be wishing my 24th birthday back when i turn 40, though ;)

in honor of this day, i thought i'd come up with 24 goals for this next year of life. seems fitting, right? so, in no particular order, here they are:

1. to train for and participate in a half marathon
2. to train for and participate in another sprint/mini triathlon
3. to see my (almost here!) nephew every six weeks (not sure how realistic this is, but hey, a girl can dream)
4. this is boring, but to learn accounting and bookkeeping for all of my businesses
5. to read a new book every month
6. to get involved at church, in some capacity
7. to find a way to "give back", maybe sponsor a child or give to a charity i believe in
8. to fulfill some of my dreams for Elisabeth Ashlie growth/expansion
9. open up an "i'm not going to touch this" savings account and actually put money in it
10. get a professional massage once every two months or so (this is a serious goal. there's nothing i enjoy more in life than getting a massage.)
11. put together the winningest March Madness bracket possible. really though, i just want to beat my brother-in-law this year.
12. travel to and explore a new city, maybe Nashville or San Francisco.
13. replace my laptop with a macbook air. my shoulder can't bear the weight of it anymore (okay, that's a little dramatic)
14. attend a blog conference
15. eat less junk and more good stuff
16. learn all of the functions of my DSLR
17. drink more water every day
18. explore new neighborhoods in Chicago
19. try a new restaurant once a month
20. wean myself off of my chapstick addiction. wait, who am i kidding? that will never happen.
21. learn a new skill
22. buy only the essentials for a month (i.e. groceries)
23. buy lunch for a total stranger
24. take more naps.

and a few things i've learned over the years:

- no matter how many items you tag on instagram, someone will always want to know about the one thing you missed ;)
- cats are the best creatures. ever.
- you can't hold people to expectations that they don't know are on them.
- also, don't hold yourself to expectations that you can't fulfill - relax!
- it's always better to put yourself out there and be denied than to never even try.
- don't worry about what other people think about you too much. everyone has an opinion, but that doesn't mean you have to listen to it/them all the time.
- learn to laugh at the not so good things. life is a lot easier when you just take things in stride and don't freak out.
- deal with your issues! whether they be with yourself, other people, or whatever, it's so much better to just deal with them instead of trying to ignore them or sweep them under the rug.
- don't be afraid to be yourself. the world would be a much less interesting place if everyone was the same.
- learn what makes you happy and what you're good at and do it.
- don't underestimate the power of prayer.
- try new things!
- meet new people -- you never know who could turn into a good friend or connection.
- don't let the tiny snippets of people's lives that you see on social media/blogs let you envy them or compare your life to theirs. it ain't worth it.
- learn to communicate well, especially in your close, personal relationships. you could spare yourself a lot of time wasted over hurt feelings if you know how to express your emotions and communicate.
- try not to let your life go by waiting for the "one thing" to happen (i.e. marriage, kids, getting the right job, grad school, etc.).
- as hard as it may be at times, find the best in the season of life that you're in. even if it's not what you expected, you're in it for a reason!
- take everything as a learning experience.
- surround yourself with people that will encourage you and be honest with you.
- be kind, especially when you don't want to be.