I’ve seen this caption every year in Instagram: Best of (insert year). I didn’t join the bandwagon and posted my entry in social media, but I had a short glimpse of it and it was mostly food and travel posts as usual.

It may not be the best year for me, but there’s still something “BEST” to describe about it, whether achievements or failures because life is colorful that way. The best lessons come even from the ugliest of experiences, and that makes life even more meaningful to celebrate each day.

Here are the highlights of my 2018:

1. Blogging

I upgraded my blog from a free domain to personalized one, https://diamondintheroughblog.com. Moving to my own domain improved my branding and more added features became convenient for my blogging. At the first half of the year, I became selective of the events I attended but still collaborated with more brands that widened my circle.

Not only did I meet new friends in blogging, I learned a lot from people of different walks of life and industries. Engaging in the blog posts of other fellow bloggers, I enjoyed gaining new insights from their own personal experiences as well.

I could say I ventured into a higher level of engagement this year with my blog posts: more followers, more organic reaches, more likes, shares and comments — so thanks readers for your support!

2. New Camera

I shared in 2017 that I was devastated by the loss of my Nikon D3300. Early last year, I purchased a new mirrorless camera, Fujifilm XA3. I love that it is very handy and easy to use both for personal and blogging purposes.

3. Travels

Last year, I had the opportunity to travel to different provinces in the country for leisure and work but the best trip of them all is BATANES — my ultimate dream destination.

Also, I will never forget the first-time adventures for me: the sand dunes experience in Ilocos, and also my first surfing in Baler.

4. Passion Workshops

Aside from attending events, I participated in a couple of workshops to hone my skills related to blogging. I attended some seminars hosted by Get Craft such as: Building your Creative Brand and the Challenges you will Face, Conquering your Creative Block, and Who’s Better at Content: Foodies or Food Experts? By the way, these seminars are all free! I guess I was just lucky to be regularly invited after my first registration with them.

5. Investments

Hooray! I’m about to finish the term of an insurance plan by February. In addition to that, my other insurance policy is still on going. Three more years to go, and I’m still planning to invest more because these premiums wouldn’t suffice for my retirement. But of course, one at a time.

The property that my sister and I bought was also turned over to us last November but still more steps and processes have to be made before we move in. I will share this blessing to you guys once it is 100% finished.

6. Losses

Last year was a difficult one for me. Pastor Primo Tabanda, my beloved Pastor since I was 14 years old passed away last November. It was very sad since I already considered him as my second father. Church every Sunday and all occasions would never be the same without him. I had a few regrets since we weren’t as close as before and it dawned on me that our life is really short, the Lord can take it away from us at any moment. It made me reflect about Pastor Tabanda’s teachings and I will be forever grateful he became my Pastor. He taught us a lot about spiritual maturity and that can never be replaced with any material thing.

I also had two failed job applications last year. It was a bit frustrating, yes — but I realized that delays and denials can just be instruments to redirect you to another path.

I’ve also pondered about my decreased work incentives due to a single mistake which caused to me to make a big adjustment in handling my finances. After all, we gain, we lose. Money is just an instrument but of course, it also had a big impact on me.

Having said that, here are my goals for this year:

1. Start a Minimalist Lifestyle.

Traveling is my passion but this year, I hope to minimize my travels to save up for bigger investments. After all, I’ve already traveled to different places to even look for more. This year, I only have one international trip and an out-of-town wedding of a friend to look forward to and I could settle for that except if it is work-related.

I also want to aim on reducing unnecessary spending on not so important stuff (clothes, shoes, eating out) so I can focus on more long-term purchases.

2. Less Time on Social Media

This one has been an overused line but I would like to be serious on this. Less time on social media means doing more productive stuff. Of course, for updating blog posts and sharing them on my FB and Instagram, I would still go online from time to time but not the extent of staying logged- in on Facebook to get updated of the gossips, what’s hot and what’s not.

3. Regularly create more quality content.

I’ve always committed myself to writing quality blog posts, though lengthy. This year, I will continue on that commitment, but this time, on a more frequent basis. Hope I can find a regular cycle of posting regardless of having creativity block.

I guess I have to stop there for now. I will keep my goals for God this year to myself in the meantime, because the commitment is between Him and me and I don’t want to be a stumbling block to other people. πŸ˜€

I’m thankful to our Lord God for blessing me with good health, career opportunities, harmonious family and Church family.

To all my readers, thank you for your avid support. To God be the glory forever.