As Christmas was winding down, I sat down and started thinking about goals. I normally don’t do a lot of goals, but this year it felt like an important thing to think about. Last year felt really challenging, especially towards the end of the year, and I realized that I wasn’t really prioritizing things in my life all that well. Work was coming first – especially the elements of work that I probably like the least – and things like my own health, relationships, and enjoyment were very, very far down the list. As a result, I spent a lot of time tired, stressed, and unhappy, and I’d really like to work on improving that this year.
After thinking about things, I wound up with what looks like a very long list of very specific goals. It’s possible, if not likely, that I won’t meet them all, but that’s okay – this year, I’m just aiming big, hoping for the best, and trying to think through some of the areas that need changes and what those changes might actually look like. Really, I think what I want is some acknowledgement and a reminder that I need to spend more time and effort on the things that help me feel good and productive in different ways, or everything starts to fall apart (which is no fun for anyone, least of all me).
For physical health, I mostly need more exercise and better eating habits. Happily, I now own a bike trainer so I can bike inside the apartment when the weather’s lousy or I want something quick and easy. This should help me follow my doctor’s recommendation that I do high-intensity cardio for a half hour at least four days per week. I’m also aiming to cut back on soda and sweets and focus even more on real, wholesome foods.
- Cycle or run – five times per week for a half hour at a time
- Strength – weights three times per week for a half hour at a time
- Yoga – two times per week for a half hour at a time
- Veggies – five per day
- Fruit – two per day
- Water – eight glasses per day
- Sleep – at least seven hours per night
For my mental health and general happiness, I also have some work to do. I’m hoping the exercise and improved eating will be helpful, but I have a few goals on top of that, especially around getting enough good sleep and doing things that help me to relax in the evening before bed.
- Meditation – 15 minutes every morning and evening
- Reading – read 20 new books this year (for pleasure!)
- Music – play the guitar once per week
The goals here are fairly modest and, in a lot of cases, are things that I’m already doing to a degree. There are, however, a few that partly linked to my goals to feel happier. One of my big concerns is money to the point where I have a hard time spending it. While this is good for my savings account, is somewhat limiting in terms of spending money on important things, donating, and even just enjoying life a bit sometimes, so I’m including some financials goals that actually involve spending instead of saving.
- Raise my pension contributions by eight percent
- Save at least 30 percent of my monthly income
- Establish a savings account for summer expenses (to cover when I don’t work) and save $1200 per month
- Establish a savings account to save for big purchases (pressure canner, grain mill, water purifier) and save $25 per month
- Have four no-spend days per week
- Shop at the farmers’ market twice per month
- Donate twice per month
This year’s work goals are largely focused on getting me in a position to get a new job. In fact, a lot of this is about not taking on anything that isn’t necessary and focusing down on the things that are, especially in terms of my own work and writing.
- Complete two conference presentations (June and October)
- Revise and resubmit one on-hold journal article
- Submit two new articles for publication with journals
- Conduct research for two additional publications
- Read at least 10 new academic books
This year, I’ve let a lot of things slide. One of those things is spending enough time with people I care about. I do like a lot of time alone, but I’d like to spend some more time on building and maintaining my relationships with people that I care about. I also haven’t spent much time doing things that I enjoy, and I think that I’ve really suffered for it, so I’d like to take some more time for things like cooking, preserving, knitting, sewing, and gardening. I’m hoping that spending more time on relationships and on things that I enjoy will help me feel happier in general.
- Have one date night per month with J.
- Have one movie night per week at home with J.
- Spend time with friends twice per month
- Write a meaningful letter or email to a friend once per month
- Have a friend over for dinner once per month
- Try two new recipes per month
- Bake bread twice per month
- Can or preserve five things
- Make a container garden
- Knit two wearable things (scarves count!)
- Sew two wearable things (scarves still count!)
- Declutter and donate at least one thing per day
Although they’re very personal, it pleases me that a lot of these goals are also linked to sustainability and self-sufficiency. Everything from knitting and preserving to having strong social networks and buying locally reflects the kind of life I want to live and the kind of world that I want to live in, and I’m hoping that focusing more on all of these things will not only help me feel better, but live better as well. As I mentioned before, I may not meet all of these goals, but I’m dreaming big this year and I really hope to move much closer to what I hope is a calmer, healthier, happier life.
Happy new year, all!