We’re going to be taking some time off for the holidays, so for our final post of 2017 we thought it was only appropriate to report back on how we’ve done on the goals we set for ourselves last January. When we did a status check in July, it felt like we still had a long time to make headway…but now the moment of reckoning has come! (Okay, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic.)
This was my first time setting annual goals in a really long time, and I definitely found the process of setting them, checking in partway through the year, and now thinking about what I’ve done to be useful. I felt like this was a full and productive year, but looking back, I didn’t get done everything that I hoped! Here is how I did on the four things I set out to do:
Readjust in the direction of work-life balance. Score: yes, but more to do.
After an intense 2016 when I felt like I had to go all-in on work, this year I tried to reclaim a little more of myself for me, friends/family, and other priorities. I set out to do something on my personal goals every day, which I categorically definitely did not do. However, I did set more boundaries and felt more relaxed and whole this year. I found time for writing, forming a writing group, enjoying (rather than frantically keeping up with) blog projects, friends/family, baking, and just some down time.
Brad and I did some fun things, which apparently generally included holding birds.
Make some house progress. Score: sort of.
I wanted to do several things in 2017, including finishing the dining room, working on the bathroom, and starting a renovation. I did… one of those things.
However, I also did some things that weren’t on the list, including setting up a basement workshop, finally solving the gratest house conundrum of all time, and a variety of other small projects and improvements.
While I’m happy with the DIY improvements, I am most regretful that I didn’t get started on a renovation. This will be a lot of work, but I don’t want to keep dragging it out into future years. I just want to get it done.
Find (look for) my cause. Score: 🙁
This is my main disappointment in myself for the year, that I didn’t find a way to contribute more beyond my job and daily activities. I did contribute in extra ways at work, like tutoring/working with the youth there. However, other than that and participating in responsive ways like attending events or making calls when I get emails about them, I didn’t do much.
Finish my novel. Score: I’m going to call it a win even though it isn’t.
Did I finish my novel? No.
But wait, there’s more to it! I started the year with about 10,000 words and rough outline on the novel, and I estimated that the final draft would be about 90,000 words. (For context, what you typically think of a novel is about 70,000-80,000 words, but sci-fi, which mine is, tends to run a little longer because you have to explain the world more.)
As I write this, I am at about 83,000 words with a couple of weeks left in the year. I’ll hit the word goal or at least come close. However, my revised estimate of the final length will bring it to about 120,000 words. So I’ve made a ton of progress but I am still only about 2/3 of the way through.
I had to really drive myself to get this much done. I am a slow writer (of fiction) so this represents a lot of time, not to mention the time spent outlining and planning.
The breakthrough came about mid-year, where I realized, despite my best efforts, I was actually making very little progress (see the January through May trajectory on the chart above). I changed my tactic. Rather than look at how much time I had in a particular week and set a goal based on that, I set a goal for each week and then thought about how to arrange my time to get it done. A simple mindset change, but as you can tell it made a huge difference.
Even though I didn’t hit the goal each week there was a huge change. I wrote about 17,000 words in those first 5 months (about 800/week) vs. 54,000 words in the following months (about 2000/week).
I was also really helped by my writing group, which formed out of a Novel in Progress class that I signed up for late last year. While it is a huge time investment to read and write up commentary on other people’s writing, the motivation, accountability, and feedback of this small community has been invaluable.
A Bonus Win
Finally, something that I didn’t set as a goal but was a big achievement this year are some improvements in mental health. Some things I’ve been struggling with for a while really hit a peak, and caused me to finally take them seriously and seek some help in the latter part of the year. I’m not sure I’ve got it perfect, but I’ve never felt better!
Here’s what I set out to do in 2017:
So have I accomplished all this? The short answer is…no. I did make progress, but during the fall especially I turned a lot of my attention and energy to just making sure I was getting through some tough personal situations, some of which I’ve talked about on the blog and some I haven’t. It’s been a hard year in a lot of respects, and I’ve been trying to take better mental and physical care of myself because that isn’t something I’m always so good at. So rather than recapping progress on each of my goals, instead I think I’ll just share some things I’m proud of/thankful for, and then some areas I want to keep growing in the year ahead.
- This year I really tried to prioritize time with family and friends over the things I can otherwise let consume me (like work, running, and home improvement), and I think I did a pretty good job. Sam and I took two vacations (to LA/Joshua Tree where we also saw Sam’s brother, and to Colorado) plus a mini vacation to Maine with friends, we attended six weddings in 3.5 months (in North Carolina, Vermont, Bogota, San Francisco, NYC, and back to Vermont), we traveled to Pennsylvania to surprise Sam’s dad for his birthday and to Vermont to visit my family several times, we hosted Thanksgiving for family and also had family visit us in Boston numerous times, for the winter holidays we’ll be seeing three out of our four sets of parents (no easy feat when everyone is divorced, remarried, and living in different places), and we spent lots of quality time with friends here in Boston including our annual overnight team trail relay. Phew!
- I ran my third marathon, which was by far the hardest race I’ve ever run.
- Then in the spirit of taking care of myself, I finally stopped running a few weeks ago and started physical therapy again to try to address this persistent leg pain that I’ve had for 20 months now. I’ve been focused on weight training and stretching to really give my injury what it needs to heal, finally admitting to myself that my mental grit to run through the pain isn’t always a good thing — often it can be a liability that holds me back from taking care of myself.
- Also I started non-physical therapy, ie regular old counseling. My friend/co-worker’s suicide in September was the most explicit catalyst, but it’s something I’ve been needing to do for awhile. I’m glad I finally took that step, and think it’s important to talk about it openly in order to make the space for others to talk about it too.
- I did make a lot of progress on the house, including finishing the kitchen, and a lot of major projects in the backyard.
And even though I didn’t totally overhaul my basement, I *did* do a ton of work down there — I just haven’t posted about it yet. I promise I will in the new year!
- I did stop biting my nails, and I’m finishing up reading my tenth book of the year now.
Where I’ve been feeling the least amount of progress is in living my values. Yes I work at a non-profit with a mission I believe in deeply, so my life is structured around making a difference in that way. But it feels like the world is on fire (both figuratively and literally) and even though I’m more active than I’ve ever been it does not feel like enough. With tough things going on in my personal life and at work, it has been hard to find the energy and motivation to spend free time engaging with the scary and depressing things going on in the world…which makes me feel terribly guilty because the reason I get to disengage is because I’m an upper middle class straight cis white U.S. citizen living in a liberal state who has health insurance through her employer, isn’t getting sexually harassed by said employer, and hasn’t had her home destroyed by a natural disaster (yet). So I am not feeling great about what I’m doing to fight against the incredibly disturbing things going on all around us.
So that’s where things stand as we count down the days to 2018. It’s certainly been a quite a year. We’ll be taking a blogging break through New Year’s, so our next post will be on January 3rd. In the meantime, we’re hoping that this holiday season you find joy, comfort, and light in the darkness. (Can you tell we both celebrate Solstice?)