For the past three years, I’ve used the final day of the year to reflect and catalogue things.
In 2015, in 2016, in 2017, I counted workouts and books and hikes. Acts of kindness, blood donations. Those years helped me focus and hone in on routines and choices that make me a better partner, parent and person.
2018 was a mixed bag for everyone, it seems.
For some people I know, it was they year they found health, a new home, a new partner.
For some people I know, it was a year of worry, anxiety, bargaining.
For some, it was full of joy and friendship.
For some, it was lonely and empty.
Net net, we have had a fine year. In 2018, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time as a family. We all biked at the beach and swam in the deep end of the pool. We took our first family cruise, saw fireworks in the middle of the ocean. Our oldest spent a month away at summer camp and our youngest started playing ukulele. The kids got back to skiing. The adults turned 40 and were able to celebrate with family and friends. Our work kept us busy and (mostly) fulfilled. I got the chance to tell a story in front of a massive audience in a real theater and in the final days of the year, I climbed a literal mountain.
It is hard to think that the year was fine (at times) for us when we know many people who struggled and pushed uphill. 2018 was all of these things because no one year is all one thing.
Sure, no one year is all one thing, but it’s the new year and this is when I’d set up my 2019 plan. I love a plan. This year, though, I’m struggling with goals because many things in my life are working out fine. I have a great fitness routine (roughly 200 workouts this year). That fitness routine inspires me to try bold things (like snowshoe up ski mountains and jump on 30″ boxes). I am happy professionally and being happy makes space for challenging yourself to stretch and learn new things. I am reading more than I ever have (24 books–up from 16 last year). We volunteered for a political campaign and with a dog rescue organization at least once a month and found time to make 5 blood donations.
I was puttering around the house with my husband on the last day of the year, saying, what kinds of goals do I need in 2019? Goals are important to me, so my husband had gently reminded me that “the calendar is a social construct.” You don’t need a new year to start something new. The new year is a nudge to lift up your head, get your mind out of the daily grind and reassess.
What do I want out of this year? What should this year be all about? The exercise and volunteering–those are things I would do whether I was counting or not. But the bigger goals, that’s where I need to focus energy. I have come up short on a few goals in the last few years and in this year, I want to commit to them.
So in this year on this arbitrary day, I am laying out a few loose goals for the year:
- Turn my NaNoWriMo words into something real (I’ve written >11K words on a project I’m figuring out)
- Buy the podcast equipment (I have things picked out but need to do more research)
- Pilot one of 2-3 podcast ideas
- Re-do the girls’ bedrooms (they want to freshen up their rooms)
- Finish off our office (we NEED a dedicated space at home)
- Find a meaningful way to volunteer regularly (our volunteering this year has been inspirational–want to keep that going)
- Get outside as often as possible (my recent snowshoe hikes have been incredible)
- Spend time with my family as often as I can (reading, making art, being outdoors)
Each of these goals will have its own little action plan and timetable. In the meantime, I’ll be building on all of the good habits I’ve put in place in these last few years.
Having measurable, SMART goals is not the same thing as self improvement or self care, and in this year, I need to take care of myself. I want to spend the year being a little easier on myself. I’m the one that sets the pace. I’m the one that raises the bar. And I’m the one that has to relent when things don’t work out, that has to reassess when things aren’t practical. I’m fighting myself and I’d like to make life a little easier for me and for the people I love around me.
I hardly know what the year will look like so there could be new achievements I never dreamed about. I never set out to jump on a big box or climb a rope or speak in front of a huge crowd. So I remain open to the possibility that some goals will find me. I feel conflicted about leaving 2018 behind because it was so many things. But if 2018 is any indication, 2019 will be many things, too.
So let’s get to it….