New year, setting goals and being better

I know that this time of year usually contains two kinds of posts – the first listing all the ways we should work on being better in the year to come, and often featuring close attention to our bodies and their function; the second is a meta-article about setting new year’s resolutions and why they so often fail (sometimes with a ‘well, try this so that you get less bleak with yourself when you inevitably give up on 16 Jan).

Also, as witnessed by my last post about how I never learn, I’m not super good at the sweeping-statement kinda goals that I often set myself. And by ‘not good’, I mean, I’m VERY good at setting said goals, and even doing them for quite a while, but inevitably, I fail and then I get stuck in a nasty loop of ‘well, I missed yesterday, I may as well miss today and tomorrow too’. So no more sweeping goals (she said, somewhat sweepingly). After the year that was, and the year that is to come, I am also very intentionally being kind to myself. By doing a crappy job at doing things I want to do – I mean, a crappy job of things still means they’re being done, so it’s a step forward, right?

Of course right! (If you did a Fiddler on the Roof-y Yente in your head, you were spot on).

This time last year

This time last year, I reflected on a whole decade of growth and change that involved me achieving 4 degrees (sucker for punishment, I know), meeting my favourite human and eventually marrying him, doing a whole lot of dancing and quite a bit of running, tackling leviathan projects and clients, and moving halfway around the world. Not a calm and quiet decade of my life – and one that has seen me emerge with quite a solid idea of the kind of person I want to be when I’m big. (I am less clear on how to get there, but isn’t that kind of the norm in one’s late 20s?)

This time last year, I was a little sad, having just said cheerio to my parents after their Christmas visit. Little did we all know… I’d now know to give them extra tight hugs, and even go all the way to the airport with them to spend the little bit of extra time in their company. I’d also go back to when we said goodbye to Cape Town, and hug my parents-in-law and siblings and cats extra too – coz I don’t know when we’ll be able to see them again.

Over the past year, I have shown myself that I’m damn resilient and resourceful and able to bootstrap a lot. I know I have so much to be thankful for, not least being able to live and work in a lovely flat without endangering myself each day, and that both of our jobs continue and we get to spend so much time together. As a majestic extravert who used to be very externally focused, the major tough thing is that I’ve pretty much only interacted with one person in person for the last 9 months. I miss hugging friends and people-watching in pubs or on public transport. So here’s to this lockdown, for the time it’ll give to the healthcare professionals to give the vaccines to the most at-risk. Maybe next January’s goal-setting blog will have ‘go to three different European countries’ as a goal. Fingers crossed.

Setting goals

So my not-goals for the year are not measurable, specific, or like, any of the crap that makes a goal good. I’ve written strategy chapters for textbooks about setting goals, so I can promise that these are not SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound). They’re kind of the opposite. That way, as the year unfolds, I don’t get mad at myself when I need to change or adapt them in line with pandemic (im)possibility and good mental health.

  • Read. Lots. (On GoodReads I’m aiming to hit 50. We’ll see.)
  • Write. Lots. (Aiming for like 600 words per day, but not specifying where – so journaling is as valid as my novel project. I’m also not actually tracking words, so 600 is a gut-feel amount.)
  • Cook. With experimentation. But also less. (Alex is slowly but surely building up his kitchen confidence, and I’d love to help him with that, but the more I help, the less he trusts himself – an exceedingly intelligent person – to follow a list of instructions.)
  • Dance. With abandon and hopefully also with a bit of technique. (I am really missing the studio and the practice and dedication involved in dragging myself through the same figures over and over, focusing on flow, or musicality, or footwork, or performance. We need some new choreo, so will invest a bit of time and money in that, hopefully.)
  • Run. More, but not as like, a fitness-thing-for-weightloss-and-all-that-jazz. (I’d like to get fit enough to run a half marathon again, and it’ll help the dancing lots too. But mainly I wanna access them sweet endorphins again. Also, for ‘run’, read some fast, some slow, some very slow, some walking up steep hills in hiking boots rather than running shoes…)
  • Create. Make lots of different things, lots of different ways, and not be afraid of failing. (Shushing that inner critic is the key thing here – so I’ll write a crap poem, crochet a lopsided dragon, edit a cheesy video, take piss-poor photos, and learn from all of them).

What are your new year’s resolutions? Did you set SMART goals or malleable ones?

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