My 2016 Un-Bucket List

Photo by @effietranket


I’ve never felt more motivated and ready to start a new year than I am for 2017. In fact I’ve been getting a jumpstart on a few of my goals – which I attribute to being 30 and a grown up. But before I rush into the New Year, I was inspired by Nicole of Writes Like a Girl to create an Un-Bucket List, or Anti-Bucket List as she called it, to reflect on for 2016.

Here are a few of the things I did in 2016 that I feel most proud of.

This year, I…

Turned 30

I was a big ball of emotions leading up to my birthday, filled with the pressure to make the most of the last days and hours of my 20’s and get all of my mess-ups and stumbles out of my system before the more mature and refined age of 30. And contrary to what others say, I did feel different waking up on my 30th birthday, and I liked it.

Failed at work, hard.

When I struggled in geometry in high school, I didn’t feel motivated to push harder and take more AP math classes, I felt stupid and inept. TED Talks and autobiographies have taught me that failing fast and hard and learning from those failures is the key to any success story. Unlike Olympians and start-up founders and my brother Joey, I don’t naturally lean into failure and enjoy pushing myself to my limits, so it’s something I’ve had to consciously work on. I had a big opportunity to do just that this year when I failed at work, hard. While I sought the advice of many people I respect, I learned in the end that following my own instincts was the solution, even when that contradicted what everyone else was telling me to do.

Had a period of low confidence, and came out the other side.

It’s no surprise this coincided with my challenges at work. I have gone through these stages before, like high school (who doesn’t?) and my first few years out of college, and I remember those lows distinctly. This time, I was able to keep my inner critic in check because while I know I have flaws, I also know that I have plenty of traits and accomplishments to be proud of.

Volunteered in a new capacity.

In the past I’ve volunteered with organizations that people around me felt passionate about. My brother volunteered at the hospital so I volunteered at the hospital, my friend volunteered on a political campaign so I volunteered on a political campaign. This year, I finally found my groove with organizations that I feel strongly about – the Girls Empowerment Network and the Anti-Discrimination League. This year I was able to help facilitate conversations around diversity and girls’ confidence at the We Are Girls Summit and the No Place for Hate Youth Summit here in Austin. My professional life and my volunteerism are aligned in a way that I’m feeling really good about, and I’m hoping to create even more synergies through my social life and social media as well in 2017.


I’ve done big sessions of placing my belongings into keep, toss, donate piles before, but 2016 felt like one long purge that never really ended. As a result I wasn’t able to walk in to my walk-in closet for a lot of the year as it was my sorting and storing area, but this serves as a giant motivation to buy less and get rid of even more in 2017.

And a few more:

  • Became a dog mom.
  • Made over my kitchen.
  • Sold my first house, a final remnant of an old relationship.
  • Traveled to somewhere old (Sydney), and somewhere new (Iceland).
  • Worked out really consistently for 3 months straight (then didn’t work out for the rest of the year. Something to work on in 2017).
  • Went to the movies by myself, and absolutely loved it.
  • Started entertaining at home more and going out to eat less.
  • Started working on new avenues of income.

I have a feeling a lot of my lessons learned in 2016 will end up coloring what I want to achieve in 2017, so this was the perfect exercise as I reflect and plan for what’s coming up next.


Cristina V. Cleveland

Cristina V. Cleveland is a senior beauty editor based in Austin, TX. She has been exploring personal style and decor on Fuji Files since 2009. Her work as a writer and editor has appeared in publications like Refinery29, Birchbox, TradHome Magazine, To&From Magazine, Coco+Kelley, CamilleStyles and ads in Glamour, InStyle and Lucky.

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Rather than pushing up-to-the-minute trends and products, Fuji Files is about discovering a lasting, personal aesthetic and the journey to feeling your personal best. 

Fuji Files was started by Cristina Cleveland, the Managing Editor of NaturallyCurly, the largest hair and beauty content platform. Her work as a writer and editor has appeared in publications like Refinery29, Teen Vogue, CamilleStyles, Blavity, Birchbox, TradHome Magazine, Coco+Kelley, and ads in Glamour, InStyle and Lucky.