36 Goals in 2016 | Here's How I Did

I am not sure where I learned it, but I always set goals for myself between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and the actual New Year for the following calendar year. Once Rosh Hashanah comes, that is when I check in with my progress over the past year. If I see I haven't made much progress on a goal, I figure out if a.) that is still something that even matters anymore or b.) I just need to make a plan to devote time to it in the remaining months of the year. Rosh Hashanah is usually in September and that nearly always gives me enough time to check off a neglected goal!

The first time I set a bunch of goals like this between Rosh Hashanah and the New Year I was in high school. I still have those lists. This process has really stuck for me and I'm on year 15! I find that this yearly process lets me be more thoughtful with how I spend my time and really allows me the chance to make the most of life.

I am sharing my goals for 2016 below and how I did!

Me and my voice teacher, Claire. She has a doctorate in Voice!

Me and my voice teacher, Claire. She has a doctorate in Voice!

1. Take Singing Lessons {COMPLETE}

In July & August I had 6 weeks of singing lessons. My voice teacher came to my house and worked with me for an evening a week. I learned a lot more than just how to sing better! For example, on one week I was extremely run down, stressed and depleted. I could NOT sing that evening. I couldn't connect with my breath. It was so frustrating. But, I might have learned more from that lesson than the lessons where I was actually singing. It showed me that I have a (bad) habit of running myself ragged and being oblivious to it. I learned in a new way what that actually feels like. My voice teacher was able to teach me some techniques for what to do if this happens to me and I *have* to speak, for example—if I'm traveling. These voice lessons positively impacted my public speaking and boosted my confidence for singing. I'm thinking of doing another round of lessons in 2017. 


This was after my first class (hence the happiness) and before a young child made me want to die immediately.

This was after my first class (hence the happiness) and before a young child made me want to die immediately.

2. Take an adult ballet class at the Cincinnati Ballet {COMPLETE}

Reasons this might have appeared as a goal: I've been doing barre workouts since early 2015 and I love the way they make me feel. I also took ballet as a kid. I'm a long-time yoga practitioner and yoga teacher. My husband danced for 20 years and is, without a doubt, more graceful and a better dancer than I, therefore I would like to 'show him.'

I wanted to take ballet this year for reasons buried deep in my subconscious. See, I am not a graceful being. Was it denial? Who knows.

My first class was the Beginner class and I did great. I knew the vocabulary, I kept up with the pace with no problem, I had a new leotard and tights—SUCCESS. My second class I moved to the Intermediate level. Well, I knew the vocabulary but could not keep up with the pace. And by 'keep up' I mean handle it. I took the class with a girlfriend of mine who is a legit dancer and she said I had a look of sheer terror on my face and my chin was becoming part of my neck. I couldn't take the heat, so I got out of the kitchen. I left the room about halfway through class, and as soon as I get through the doors, a little girl says "you're not that good."

Listen B*#ch, I know. I know I'm not good. That's why I'm in the hallway. 

So, I had to sit in the hallway, viewing window behind me, as a full-grown adult in a leotard and tights and stew in my own failure. Haha, at least I can laugh about it now.

So, I can mark this as complete, but likely never to be revisited again!

This is the float tank I was in!

This is the float tank I was in!

3. Try Floating in a Float Tank {COMPLETE}

When I was in the midst of the Art of Dying Institute's Integrative Thanatology program early in 2016, I stumbled upon some research about the benefits of float tanks. These things can be very helpful to people who struggle with insomnia, stress, anxiety, pain.....you name it. 

We have a float tank company called Think Tank in Newport, Kentucky. You book your appointment, rinse off in the shower, get naked (if you want) and get into the tank. The water is warm, and after you get settled you stop feeling the water completely. The water is full of epsom salts so you float really easily and comfortably. This is great for your spine! You close the hatch so it's totally, completely dark and nearly 100% silent. Then you just float for an hour or 90 minutes. 

I'll be doing this again in 2017. I found it rejuvenating, relaxing and energizing.

sweat bbg app

4. Fitness: Improve Body Composition {COMPLETE}

I did 25 weeks of BBG (it's a paid app called 'Sweat', includes your workouts for the week and a complete meal plan with shopping lists!). I loved it. The program is effective and works. At the beginning of 2016, I had an imbalance of strength: my lower half (legs) were way stronger than my upper half (arms, chest, back). I attribute this to years of running, roller derby and yoga where I favored standing postures. Anyway, after 25 weeks, my upper body strength increased a ton, I did not bulk up which was something I was concerned about, and at my peak, I was working out 6 days a week. The workouts are only 28 minutes and I did them at home, at the park, and in hotel rooms when I was traveling. You also don't need a gym or equipment. I used some free weights I had, my yoga mat, my foam roller and that's about it!

I loved this workout regime, but I think it was too intense for me. I have recently gone through a period of really extreme and long-term stress and so I need to be gentler with my body. But, whatever I do in 2017, I know that I will go into it with much better overall fitness. And, smaller: I lost a size in my blazers, went down a whole pant size and have a more defined waist.

5. House Projects {NOT COMPLETE}

This has been HARD to do considering I had 26 trips this year! I had 11 things I wanted to do around the house: like paint the 3rd floor ceiling, move the washer and dryer to the second floor, install more outlets in the basement and put in a new dining room chandelier. There are 3 weeks left in the year. None are checked off. Hahahahahaha, guess I'll move this list to 2017!

6. Learn Italian & Speak it with Victor {COMPLETE}

7. Refresh my Spanish {COMPLETE}

8. Refresh my Hebrew {COMPLETE}

Let me say, Duolingo is amazing! It's a free app and this was extremely effective at building a basic vocabulary in Italian for me. I did 10 to 15 minutes a day, usually first thing in the morning. Maybe the most useful part of my Italian this year is that I can better navigate menus, which, let's be honest, I live to eat so this is a success for sure. I took several years of Spanish in high school, and over the years I've continued to read in Spanish. For example, I like the newspaper El Pais which is out of Spain and covers global affairs. I learned Hebrew in college and have lost a lot of vocabulary in the past 10 years. Being in Guatemala a few weeks ago and having the chance to speak with native Spanish and Hebrew speakers was really, really useful. It's amazing how vocabulary you haven't used in years just floods back! I am not fluent in any of these languages but I can get around in all of them. I intend to continue with Italian in 2017 and I think enroll in a Mandarin online course offered through a Chinese University. I love learning languages!

9. Visit 18 Roadside America Locations {COMPLETE}

I visited more than 18 locations thanks to how much I travel, but yep, this goal is definitely complete! I only counted the places I actually stopped at and got a photo with. And only counted places I visited in 2016.

Here's where I went:

  • Vanna Whitewall in Peoria, IL
  • Statue of Richard Pryor in Peoria, IL
  • Bronze Footprints Where Lincoln Walked in Washington, IL
  • Pollinatarium: Bees + Bats in Urbana, IL
  • Sit With Roger Ebert in Champaign, IL
  • Statue of Selena in Corpus Christi, TX
  • Replica of Jesus' Tomb in Covington, KY
  • Cocaine Bear in Lexington, KY
  • Skull Entrance to Bar in Atlanta, GA
  • The Varsity in Atlanta, GA
  • Donner Party Monument in Truckee, CA
  • World's Largest Toilet in Columbus, IN
  • 1910 US Population Center in Bloomington, IN
  • Cursed Pyramid Ruins in Needmore, IN
  • Big Brain with Smart Lighting in Bloomington, IN
  • Largest Rubik's Cube in Knoxville, TN
  • The Sunsphere in Knoxville, TN
  • The Lost Lake in Sweetwater, TN

A photo from our 3rd girls trip. If you don't have friends who will take trips with you, find some!

A photo from our 3rd girls trip. If you don't have friends who will take trips with you, find some!

10. Take Two Girl's Trips {COMPLETE}

I took 3 this year! It's so important to spend time with your best friends. We rented a cabin in Indiana through AirBnB one weekend. On another we went to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois to visit friends, and on the third we pitched a tent for a night at our local campground in Ohio. 

This is Victor and I in some ruins in Antigua, Guatemala at a very fancy evening!

This is Victor and I in some ruins in Antigua, Guatemala at a very fancy evening!

11. Travel to Another Country {COMPLETE}

We visited Antigua, Guatemala in November for work. Antigua is a wonderful city, I would love to go back! I'm still soaking in the joys of this trip!

Screen Shot 2016-12-07 at 4.00.37 PM.png

12. Doth: Solidify and Grow It {COMPLETE}

Doth is my company. We all worked really hard this year on Doth. From how we onboard clients, what our communication feels like during different project types, how we off board, what is included in our services and what is not. We spent a whole day on Doth's brand, with those updates to surface in 2017. We are currently implementing a complete reorganization of our internal file structure. We upped and reconfigured our security and all of our backups. And we have clear goals for 2017!

My goal here was to make a marked improvement and we definitely did. 

This is what the carving looks like.

This is what the carving looks like.

Here's the impression on paper.

Here's the impression on paper.

13. Design a Poster Unrelated to Client Work {COMPLETE}

When I'm not designing for clients, I'm working on the interiors of my house and I don't have time for self-created design work much after that! Early in December, I designed a poster for Ona. It is hand carved out of a sheet of rubber. The imagery comes from references in the lyrics of the songs on their album 'American Fiction.' Give them a listen! I chose to do it in this style because it's one I have not worked with for years. This was a pure "I'm doing this because I want to" project and I'm so glad I did.

14. Blog Regularly {COMPLETE}

I posted regularly throughout the year for sure, but I would have liked to write more posts. This will definitely be on 2017's list, but I think I need to be more specific. For example, "Blog 18 times in 2017" rather than just "blog". 

15. Write a Book or Co-Author One {COMPLETE}

This is in progress! :) It's amazing what can happen when you put a goal out on paper, no matter how  unrealistic or unlikely it may seem. At the beginning of 2016 I had absolutely zilch, nada, nothing towards a lead or anything with this goal.

This is not done but it's in progress and this was my long-shot goal so I'm marking it as complete!

art of dying

16. Complete Integrative Thanatology School {COMPLETE}

I wrapped this up in March of 2016. It was a wonderful experience, I learned a lot about death and dying, but more importantly life and living. I can't believe it was earlier THIS year!

thanatology cole imperi

17. Sit for the ADEC Thanatology Exam {COMPLETE}

Yes! This is done! It was so much work and study. It took me a few years to actually make this happen. The exam is offered once a year, and you have to submit an application packet which is very thorough the September before. I was sure to include all of my hours of experience instead of just the minimum required. I took this exam really seriously and have a lot of respect for the subject matter. It was good to review all of my studies over the years and my experience as well. And as much as I hate to ask for letters of recommendation, it is always good practice to put yourself through. I won't find out if I passed or not until January.

Graduates! Civic Duty! 

Graduates! Civic Duty! 

18. Complete Kenton County Government Academy {COMPLETE}

Earlier this year I went through Kenton County, Kentucky's Government Academy program. It was 10 weeks long and each week you met for 3 hours on one evening. You learned all about the functions of our county government and met the people who are the actual decision makers. I learned a lot. It was also a great way to get through the winter! Two of my friends went through it with me, and Victor did too....thanks to them. :) I really enjoyed when we got to tour the water treatment plant! As a result I got our water tested at our house. Our house was built in the 1860s so I was concerned that by the time the water left the plant and made its way through all the old pipes and got to our house that the water would be in bad shape. Nope! After all the tests, our water is the same as bottled water. 

19. Kentucky Native Plants Certification {NOT COMPLETE}

A friend and I started this certification program, but it didn't work out for either of us. I might try again in the future but it's not a goal for 2017.

20. Certified Specialist of Wine {NOT COMPLETE}

I love wine, I love reading about wine, I love drinking it, I love wine tastings, I love learning about wine flaws, regions....all of it. Earlier in the year, I was pursuing development of a business which would cross wine with deathcare but the market in the US isn't ready for that quite yet. So, this goal got crossed off (although I will dutifully continue drinking wine).

21. Complete Hospice Training {COMPLETE}

This is done! I'm officially a hospice volunteer!

22. Obtain Arboretum Status for Linden Grove Cemetery {IN PROGRESS}

I am working with the Chairman of our board to get this application submitted this month! We already call ourselves an arboretum (because we are, we have a  magnificent collection and our grounds are well-maintained). This is a formal application which would make us a Level I arboretum. You can go all the way up to Level IV. 

This is what a month of what I wore looks like. When you tap each day, it shows you the rest of what you wore. 

This is what a month of what I wore looks like. When you tap each day, it shows you the rest of what you wore. 

23. Build and Whittle My Wardrobe {COMPLETE}

I wanted to reduce the number of items I owned by 25% this year. And I wanted to add a few pieces that I loved and would have a long time. I started using an app called StyleBook early this year. This required a lot of up front work, but I'm really glad I spent the time doing that. I had to photograph all of my clothing (that's a great way to weed stuff out, if it wasn't worth my time to take a picture of it, then I donated it). Then I added in the size, the material it was made of, where I bought it and what I paid. Most days, I log what I wear. The app calculates cost per wear so I can see what items were a good buy and what items were not, very clearly. 

I also wanted to shrink the color palette in my wardrobe. I learned from a stylist colleague that when you have more colors in your wardrobe, it becomes necessary to have a LARGER wardrobe. So, I selected my basic color palette (black, blue and white) and my accent colors (bright red-orange, metallics) and called it a day. It makes choices about shopping way easier. 

I still want to reduce the size of my wardrobe by about 10%, and I want to continue to remove and replace items to bring them in closer to my color palette.

If you are serious about your wardrobe, or are serious about being more mindful about your clothing choices, I highly recommend the StyleBook app

Another benefit: I photographed and logged all my jewelry and accessories into the app. If something should ever happen, I now have documentation of all that I own!

24. Donate Wedding Dresses {COMPLETE}

What can you do with a wedding dress after your wedding day? I started exploring options earlier this year and found the most people just leave them under a bed or in a closet until they die and someone donates the dress. That's Reality! Otherwise, people do a 'trash the dress' photo session. Most save their dresses for future use, but from what I hear, people rarely wear Mom's old wedding dress.

It's funny, we wear these dresses for one day and spend a lifetime hanging on to them, almost always in a box and hidden from view. I do not want to be bogged down by my two wedding dresses. And the reality is my future children will not want to wear them. After seeing my patterns with my day-to-day wardrobe, I realized not only what the cost per wear of my wedding dress was but also how much I'd be spending to store it in my home over a life time.....they take up a lot of space!

Going through the Integrative Thanatology program this year, I learned about 'Angel Gowns.' There are sewists throughout the United States who take in wedding gowns and cut them down and turn them into gowns for babies and children who have died. I read about a woman who had a stillborn, and how they received an Angel Gown for their daughter. This was a gift that truly meant something to them, they had something beautiful to bury their daughter in. And, no parent has plans for what to bury a child in. 

I looked for an organization in my area to donate my two wedding dresses to but didn't find one. I'm working on establishing one via my hospice work here in Cincinnati/Covington. If you are a sewist or have a wedding dress you'd like to donate to this cause, please let me know!

I'll keep you posted on this!

25. Make a Leather Tote {COMPLETE}

Done! This is pretty self explanatory. I used the materials I already had in my studio and put a simple tote together. 

suminagashi cole imperi
suminagashi cole imperi

26. Learn A New Type of Paper Marbling {COMPLETE}

I learned paper marbling in high school and loved it. I remember we got to use real supplies like gall ink. This year I learned Suminagashi which is a type of paper marbling native to Japan. The above are pieces from some marbling I did this year: the left is on construction paper and the right is on scratch paper.

I marbled a bunch of items, from paper to leather!

27. Make Pottery, Paint Pottery, Make Ring Dishes {COMPLETE}

With this goal, the root was that I really wanted to learn about ceramics. I have a cousin who is a master potter and he gave me some great resources. I may want to branch out and take a class in 2017. Anyway, I ended up finding my interest in this fizzled, I think because it's not something I could do in my own studio unless I bought a kiln, which I'm definitely not doing. 

I did make a few ring dishes. I found a few ceramic artists who are making stuff I love. I think I'll be purchasing my ceramics from artists I love in the future. 

This is one of those goals that resulted in me learning about something, but finding it's not for me. That's good in my book!

28. Learn About Stone Carving {COMPLETE}

Done! For my birthday, Victor bought me *the* stone carving book and carving tools. I studied Typeface Design at the Cooper Union in Manhattan in 2012 and one of my typefaces was made from a rubbing I took of a headstone. I'm on the Board of our local cemetery here in Covington, and we have beautiful headstones there with magnificent carvings. For me, stone carving is an extension of my work with typeface design and my work with thanatology. It's one of the few places those two interests overlap.

I set the type this year for the new entry gates to Linden Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, and learned about the basic carving techniques involved with stone carving. My next step: actually carve into some stone! That will happen in 2017.

29. Relax {COMPLETE}

I'm not good at this!!!! This blog post is proof!!!! Anyway, I had some specific things in mind with this goal to 'relax'. Things like 'read books just to read them', 'sit and drink coffee with Victor and don't be working on other things', and 'enjoy happy hour as much as possible.' I'm still not always great at relaxing but I definitely did much better this year. I let a lot of stuff go. 

This is definitely an ongoing goal for me, but this year, I definitely made progress. 

30. Pick Up Trash {COMPLETE}

Since Victor and I moved to the little Village we live in, we have regularly gone out and picked up trash on our street and surrounding streets. We live in an entertainment district, and there's street parking only. People dump stuff in the street all the time. So, we spend an hour here and there with a 5 gallon bucket and grabbers and just pick up garbage. Doesn't sound glamorous but it makes a big difference and we do enjoy it. We did a pretty good job this year, but we did not pick up trash as often as we did in 2015. That's definitely due to our travel schedule.

We'll continue with this in 2017 for sure. 

31. Read Books {COMPLETE}

I read a ton of books this year! From guilty pleasure books to thanatology textbooks. In years past, I used to make this goal something like 'read X number of books this year' and found it often became a chore. The goal is just to read, and by not sticking a number on it, I find I read much more. 

In 2017, I think I'd like to become more well-read in the area of The Classics. This year I read so much technical stuff I would like to read the tried and true texts. Any recommendations? I definitely want to re-read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Pearl, All Quiet on the Western Front, The Metamorphosis, Catcher in the Rye and Catch 22. What are classics you love?

32. Spend Time with People I Love & Meet New People {COMPLETE}

Check and check! I have new friends, went to dinner with new people, and spent time *doing things* with people. The older I get, I see how easy it is to just stick to seeing the same people you always do. I made sure to embrace any opportunity to spend time with someone new, and I'm so glad I did. 

33. 12 Portraits {COMPLETE}

This probably will seem like an odd goal. I mentioned earlier in this post that I am coming out of a long, extended period of time in which I was dealing with extreme stress. It took a major toll on me. I wanted to have 12 pictures of myself—yes, of myself— throughout the year so I could see how I improved. This was something that was just for me to see, something to see to remind myself that I made it through and I'm going to be OK. I think when you see anyone over a period of time, you can see how they change. This year I worked hard at taking caring of myself to recover as quickly as I could. I originally envisioned taking a 'self portrait' of sorts once a month, but what I ended up doing was picking 12 pictures through the year that were taken without any attachment to this goal. I'm glad I did it that way. 

34. Evaluate AGI Goal {COMPLETE}

The AGI is a really big deal. It is, in my view, the most important international design association you can get accepted into. It's by invitation only. I wanted to evaluate my body of work this year and look at it from the perspective of 'is this AGI worthy?' I think I have potential, just like anyone, but it will really take a lot of work. 

To be more specific about this goal, I reorganized my studio area from top to bottom this year. I weeded out my artwork from over the years and filed away the pieces I wanted to keep. I spent a lot of time in my studio (often in spurts) working on new stuff. I photographed some pieces and shared them online, I sent copies of my work out to a few of my design colleagues and asked for a critique of my work. 

In 2017, I need to spend REGULAR, CONSISTENT time in my studio and not spurts like I managed this year. I also need to work towards identifying my voice in my artwork. As you can probably tell, I have a lot of interests and I learn new techniques regularly. 

Anyway, this is evaluated, and I know my immediate next steps. I am nearly 100% sure I'll never qualify for AGI, but it's something worth working towards if only because it will make me a better designer and artist, and that's truly what matters most. 

35. Make an Introduction Video for HelloCole.com {NOT COMPLETE}

This is a goal I couldn't even bring myself to start. So do I even need it? 

36. Post a Class on Skillshare {IN PROGRESS}

I started this. We'll see if I finish it this month. I have some time off in December. 

There's my year of goals. 

  • Goals Complete: 31/36
  • Goals In Progress: 2/36
  • Goals Not Complete: 3/36
Cole Imperi, CTComment