What Worked for Me in 2016

Happy New Year! I love that January is a time of reflection and plans. It’s both an ending and a beginning and is so full of possibilities it feels like any dream could come true. I really like this annual post from Modern Mrs. Darcy, so today I’m stealing a page out of her book and am sharing a few things that worked for me in 2016…

I love that January is a time of reflection. I'm sharing a few things that worked for me in 2016, like my favorite podcasts, apps, and other good things!

What Worked for Me in 2016

1. Coursera Classes

I believe in continuing education, and Coursera offers tons of university courses online for free or at low cost. They even offer scholarships! I’ve taken several classes over the last few years from art history to literature and creative writing. Because I want to be a better writer, I’ve been focusing on creative writing classes this year, and the feedback has been so helpful. This may make me the biggest dork ever, but I think everyone should try MOOC (massive open online course) learning.

2. Podcasts

Over the last year or so, podcasts have become part of my mornings. They are great to listen to when I’m doing my morning stretches or getting ready for the day, and they are excellent for car trips. These are a few of my current favorites:

3. My Morning Routine

I am not a morning person. I have no desire to become a morning person. Yet, mornings are an unavoidable part of my life. To help myself ease into the day, I’ve created a morning routine where I stay snuggled up in my bed for about an hour as I tackle a simple to-do list: Read a devotion, practice my French (which I am nowhere near fluent in, so it’s more like brain exercises), check email and social media to see of anything important happened while I slept (the answer is usually no), and write my morning pages. Eventually, I am awake enough to crawl out of bed and officially start my day.

4. Madison Reed At Home Hair Color

Dyeing my hair is a rather expensive vice, and since I’m a professional starving artist, I’m always looking for ways to cut costs. Madison Reed is an affordable at home hair color with professional results and safer ingredients than most dyes currently available. I’ve reviewed it here, here, and here, so you know I’m a fan.

5. Paper Planner

We may live in a digital world, but I’m still a paper girl. If I want to remember something, I need to write it down, so a paper planner is a must for me. I’ve used Moleskine, Erin Condren, and I just bought this planner for 2017. I, also, wrote a very important post about why you need a paper planner.

6. The Honest Company Face & Body Lotion

I don’t know why but a lot of body lotions break me out, so I tend to not use them. However, this year I discovered The Honest Company Face & Body Lotion, and it is amazing! Not only does it not break me out, it’s, also, moisturizing and free of harsh chemicals.

7. Investing in My Blog

Last year was the first time I ever purchased a theme for my blog. It was a nightmare to install, but it felt so good to start putting some extra TLC into this blog. I even participated in a cash giveaway with a group of awesome bloggers and purchased my first ad. I’m such a cheapskate when it comes to my blog, but I’m realizing that if I want this space to grow, I need to invest a little money along the way.

What worked for you in 2016?

P.S. Dara interviewed me for her Blogger Starshine series!

P.P.S. Don’t miss my most popular posts from 2016!

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  1. I love paper planners too. I decided to do something similar to morning pages to unleash some daily creativity. It includes entries either text or hand-drawn images/art in comic book format.

  2. This might be one of my favorite of posts of yours! What a cool idea. It has me thinking about what worked for me this past year now too…

    I’d never heard of Coursea before and will have to look into it. I’ve become a podcast listener too (TED Talk Radio Hour!) and will have to check out several of the ones you listed. Its funny what you say about paper planes. I work a place that uses google tools so I’ve become REALLY plugged in when in comes to my google calendar (also where I keep my to-do list), but I have found having a physical calendar posted is also just really helpful too. Helps me visualize the month in a way I don’t if it is digital.

  3. I’m still a paper girl too! I love technology don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I rather just write things down. Happy New Year!

  4. I’ve never heard of Coursera, but there are online classes available through Gale Online Learning on my local library website and I’ve thought about enrolling in one of those. I think it would be really helpful, so I’m glad to hear you have enjoyed your experiences with continuing education.

    ShootingStarsMag recently posted..My Word of 2017My Profile

  5. Thanks for sharing what worked for you in 2016! I love the idea of enrolling in Coursera classes and looking to podcasts for inspiration. I’ve researched blogging and social media courses, and Kyle takes a number of Coursera courses, but I hadn’t thought to put the two together for myself. I’d love to enroll in a literature or writing course. I miss being in the classroom, and it’ll be fun to be a student for a change. I’ll have to look into your podcast recommendations as well!

    <3 Liz

  6. Loved the Coursera idea, I am a believer that learning things the whole life long is important and great! Also, the podcasts sounded great and studying French is great! Then you will soon be fluent! I really like what worked for you in 2016 and hope you have an even better 2017!

  7. Ive recently been getting more into podcasts too! I havent tried it myself, but I have heard great things about the Honest products. I need to give them a try.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  8. I think that Coursera sounds like a great idea. I like online courses but have really only tried crafting ones. Will check this out.
    And I also love paper planners more than digital ones:)

  9. I love the idea of staying snuggled in bed for an hour before actually getting up! I just got a Moleskin planner in my Fab Fit Fun box, but I gave it to my mom since I had already ordered an Erin Condren (my second one) planner.


  10. I could not live without my paper planners! My husband got me the Erin Condren one this year with all kinds of little accessories and I’m already filling it up. Happy new year beautiful lady!

  11. I am using my new Plum Paper planner and I love it! This is my third one.

    Your blog looks great, btw. Definitely money well spent!

  12. What a lovely way to look back on your year! 🙂 I used to love staying in bed a little longer in the mornings – trying to find time for that now with the boys is impossible, but hopefully this year I’ll get more of a routine for nighttime for myself so I can unwind a little at the end of the day.

    Hope you are having a wonderful start to the year and the first week of 2017 is going well!
    Mica recently posted..5 Year Blogaversary and Giveaway!My Profile

  13. I wanted to improve my English and I’m in a better position now because now I’m working from different countries so I really needed. It’s also a long-term objective.
    And I would like to sleep more and to be more organized.

  14. Great highlights from the year! It’s clear from reading about your year that you have a mindset of constant growth and learning, it’s inspiring!

  15. Happy New Year Ashley!!!!! I’ve never heard do Coursera Classes, I’m going to check them out. I would love to take a creative writing class.

  16. I loved reading this! I couldn’t agree more in terms of investing in your blog if you want your space to grow. I’m the same–hate spending money that isn’t considered essential, BUT it’s important to stay ahead. Plus, wasn’t it nice to have that little boost in traffic from the holiday giveaway? I’m so glad you participated in it this year!!

    I’m going to have to check out Coursera–I’m all about continuing education, too!

    PS: I would never do without my paper planner. I’m very old school in that way… and that’s fine by me! XOXO

  17. I’m not a morning person either! It’s so difficult for me to find the strength to get up in the morning.
    And I also find it very helpful to use a paper planner for my day. It really helps organizing everything.
    Thank you so much for your lovely comments on my blog! 🙂

  18. At a time when many bloggers are publishing posts about resolutions for the new year, I like the idea that you took a retrospective and positive approach about what worked for you last year. Also — thanks for your detailed lists of interesting resources. I plan to look into some of your recommendations. Happy New Year!

  19. True story: I don’t have a planner yet. I had one last year, and I totally think it worked. Perhaps that explains why I’ve been so MIA lately… 🙂

    I still need to try Madison Reed I’m glad you reminded me. 🙂 I should probably invest more in my blog.