Balance,  Living Abroad

Letters to a New Year (Claudia 2020)

Dear 2020,

Helsinki with sun and snow.The past year has been wonderful but difficult. I learned a lot about myself, how I interact with people and my job, and where I want to be moving forward with my life. Of course, I would still say that every day is an adventure and do not expect this new year to be any different. Like every year, I expect 2020 to have its ups and downs but I hope (like most years) that the positive will outweigh the negative and that looking back I will have few regrets of things left undone.

In 2019 I took a lot of steps towards something that turned out to be a good choice for me as I packed up my life as I knew it in Spain and moved to Helsinki. It was hard for me to readjust (and I am still adjusting) to myself in a totally new environment, with a new job and new friends. And, when things were more difficult, there were definitely moments when I questioned if I had made the right choice. Finnish beaches in the spring time.Now as I sit reflecting last year, I feel content with the choices that I made and happy with how things ended up.

At the same time, after living in a bit of a whirlwind for the last 12 months, I do have some life/expectation changes I would like to make to my day-to-day living. More like New Years guidelines for myself than resolutions, these three things are some steps I want to take to help myself find balance as I move forward in my life journey.


Settling down a bit


In 2019 I not only moved from Spain to Finland, I also lived in four different places in Helsinki. Moving is never easy and while it is easier to move around the city than from country to country, I am looking forward to settling down into my new (rented) place in 2020. And part of settling in for me is curling up on my couch or watching a movie on my mini projector and reading a book instead of going out.

I am also hoping that 2020 will be a year for hosting friends (both international and those living in Helsinki). For me this is how I make a place my own as I love cooking and sharing food with those people who are important to me. As 2019 was a year of bouncing around, I want to make more of an effort in 2020 to make my home mine and share it in ways that make me smile.


Putting myself out there

Family dinner in Phoenix, Arizona.While I do want to settle down a bit, I also want to put myself out there more in 2020. Last year was a bit crazy and there were moments when I didn’t want to think about meeting new people much less take actions to do so. I totally respect myself when I don’t have the emotional energy to go out; however, the social side of me missed getting to know different kinds of people and trying new things. So, in 2020 I want to make more of an effort to find my balance between staying in my comfort zone and getting out of it a bit more.

In practice, this means I will update my couchsurfing profile and look to host some people (although probably not too often and only on weekends—see our post on why defining your limits are important to being a good host here). I will also look to join activities such as those offered by and make more of an effort to say “yes” when friend propose trips/outings.


Enjoying the process

Tapas in Almería, Spain to end the year.At the end of the day I don’t really believe in overnight changes but I do believe in the process of becoming the future me I want to be. And, possibly more importantly, I truly believe that I should enjoy the process. That is why this year I want to work to find the balance between settling into my new home and spending time doing things that are a little bit outside my comfort zone.

Ideally, this means that I will find something every day to value and/or make me smile. For me, this doesn’t have to be big things, but recognizing the appreciation that I have for the world around me is an important step for daily happiness. And while appreciation has been something I have been working on for a couple of years now, I am slowly finding the best way to incorporate it into my life.

Letters to a New YearBy making an effort to see evaluate the good (in addition to the bad that always seems to be in our minds) I have begun to challenge myself to take the ups and downs of daily life positively as I evaluate them in a way that allows me to see the growth I have made. While it isn’t always easy, there are always good things in life to appreciate and sometimes just remembering that is a good step.


What are you hoping to add to your life coming forward? Do you work with resolutions or do you have another way of using this time of reflection to your benefit?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *