Here we are in 2018, which means one thing: it’s time to set ourselves some new goals! We’re both goal-oriented individuals in our personal lives, and so we’ve carried this practice over to the blog in the form of sharing and then reporting back on some of the goals in our lives for the year ahead. (If you missed us reflecting on our 2017 goals, feel free to take a peak.)
These posts are great accountability for us, and they also give us a chance to talk to you all in a more structured way about some of the things that are going on in our lives and that are important to us beyond the main topic of this blog. (Recognizing, of course, that there can be nothing more important than home decor.)
So, what are we aiming to do this year, both in our homes and more broadly?
This is only my second year setting annual goals. Last year the process worked much better than I expected it to, helping me stay focused on a few things rather than trying to add stuff haphazardly to my life. My day-to-day interests are fickle and I am always interested in the new, shiny thing, even though long-term commitments and progress are what actually make me happy. So my overall goal for this year is to stay focused and double down on the things I know I want to accomplish.
Finish that Novel! And Revise…
My goal was to finish the novel in 2017. While that didn’t happen I did take credit for meeting the goal since my word count by the end of December just about reached my original estimate for the length of the story, 90,000 words. I now estimate that the story will take about 120,000 words to tell (at least in this first draft form, I’ll try to shorten in revisions). So my goals for 2018 are to:
- Finish the first draft in April
- Do major revisions by the summer
- Share with a few trusted readers
- Make more revisions based on reader feedback by December
That feels pretty ambitious, but I do think it is achievable. If I keep writing on pace over the next four months, finishing the first draft in April is doable:
And as for the revisions, who knows? I don’t know yet how substantial they will be, or how long it will take me to revise – i.e., will it be faster or slower than writing a first draft? But without goals and timelines I won’t have anything to drive me, so I’m putting a stake in the ground.
I have learned to be pretty good at saying ‘no’ to things and staying focused on my goals. I make significant time in my life for blogging, writing, and putting in extra hours at work by setting limits on social engagements, family time, and other projects I take on (like causes). Some of that is good, but these other things are important to me, too. It is selfish to go all in on the very me-centric parts. I think I need to re balance. So this year I want to:
- Spend more time with friends and family
- Spend more time with Brad that doesn’t just involve sitting quietly on the couch while I write (hi, Brad!)
- Do a better job staying informed on national/local issues
- Support important causes
… all within reason, of course. I’m talking more of a 10% shift in time, rather than a major change. I am hoping I can make more time for these things by being smarter about my time, but I know some of the time will need to come from other priorities. And that’s OK.
Keep a Journal
I have an awful memory. Really bad. Brad spends a significant amount of his time reminding me/trying to convince me that we actually did a particular thing together in our past. I regularly forget how old I am.
But I do want to remember things. I’ve tried keeping a journal in the past but just couldn’t keep it up. It ended up being a book where I wrote 10 page essays about myself about once every two years. This year, I picked up one of those “line a day” journals and I’m going to see if I can make that a daily habit.
[insert very bloggery picture of me looking thoughtful while journaling here…. just kidding]
Of all my goals I am least hopeful about achieving this one, but I’m going to give it a try!
have to create content for this blog want to do a few things around the house, mainly to continue where the goals left off last year. This year I want to:
- Finish the front closet and make the hallway nicer (i.e., rugs, actually hanging art, etc.)
- Do the big renovation that we need (re-siding the house, a few other things)
- DIY renovation of the kitchen… or at least start it
More to come on those as they hopefully happen!
This coming year, a lot of my focus is on balance and taking care of myself. By that I don’t mean a lot of pampering, I just mean improving some of the basic practices that make life feel a little less frenzied and a little more sustainable. I find that being specific in my goals always helps me be better about achieving them, because it’s easier to know when I’m on track and change course when I’m not.
Here’s some of what is on my list for 2018:
- Take care of my mental and physical health
- Rehab right leg — Physical Therapy, stretching
- Exercise 4+ days per week, with at least as much strength-training as cardio
- Weekly therapy
- Meditate once per week
- No more than 40 hours of work per week, no email on nights and weekends
- Make a difference in the world
- Remember that helping kids go to college is meaningful
- Pick my cause to engage in deeply
- Show up for other causes once per month
- Waste less time doing mindless things
- No facebook for 1 month +
- Play more games
- Read 10 books
- Improve the house
- Figure out longer term layout/room use plan
- Year #2 of outside projects
Taking care of my mental and physical health
In past years, it has been easy for me to think that because I run frequently and a lot, I am a healthy person. However, 21 months of a lingering leg injury and feeling pretty down mentally the past year suggest otherwise. I’m really trying to embrace the idea that being healthy doesn’t mean running 5 days a week and beating my marathon PR…it means valuing the “less intense” work like stretching, doing Physical Therapy, ensuring that if I want to run my whole body is strong enough to do so without getting hurt, introducing mindfulness practices, going to therapy, containing the role and reach of work in my life, and more than anything recognizing the connections between mental and physical health.
Making a difference in the world
As I reflected on in my 2017 goals report-out, this is one area I felt really bad about last year. This year, I think I need to approach it differently. First, I need to recognize and give myself credit for the fact that I spend a good chunk of my life trying to make the world a better place by virtue of the career path I’ve chosen. It’s not about patting myself on the back and being self-congratulatory, it’s just recognizing that I am contributing in ways that I care about each day when I go to work and I need to remember that when I’m castigating myself for never doing enough.
That said, I do feel like I need to pick a cause to focus on beyond my job. It is easy to get overwhelmed by how many pressing issues there are, and I’ve found that to be paralyzing. I need to remember that one person cannot do it all, but each of us bringing our energy to the areas we’re most passionate about can do amazing things. And lastly, that idea requires that other people do show up to lend a hand on issues that aren’t their passion project — like making calls, attending meetings/rallies, making financial contributions, etc. Last year I said I wanted to do something every day — that quickly proved to be untenable, and so I gave up and went into a shame spiral. This year I want to set a more reasonable goal of showing up for a cause that isn’t mine once per month. That’s not a lot — that’s 12 things per year. But that’s a lot more than no things per year because I was too busy sitting at home feeling bad.
Waste less time doing mindless things
For as busy as I feel, I actually have a lot of free time. I spend about 130 hours a week meeting the basic responsibilities of life (10pm to 8am tied up with sleeping and bedtime/morning routines, 8am – 7pm on weekdays tied up with commuting and working, 5 hours per week spent on physical health). That theoretically leaves 38 hours per week of free time.
I spend a good chunk of that time working on my house and writing this blog. I like that. I spend time with friends and family. I like that too. I spend some of that time meeting my basic household management responsibilities, like our finances. I don’t mind that and it’s necessary. I also spend a lot of time watching TV and messing around on the internet. Some of that is important downtime, but I don’t think I derive a proportional amount of satisfaction doing these mindless things compared to how much time I’m spending doing them…and I have the suspicion that if I cut down that time, I wouldn’t miss it and I’d feel much happier having time to do more things like read a book, spend quality time with others, call my senators, etc.
I’ve decided to take just a few concrete first steps. The first was to uninstall the facebook app on my phone. Facebook can be a nice way to stay connected to far-flung friends and family, but I spend a lot of mindless time scrolling through facebook doing things that at best add nothing to my life (like reading Buzzfeed articles) and at worst make me feel bad (like reading clickbait inflammatory news articles when I would be more informed by just going directly to a few good news sources for 15 minutes a day). So I’m just removing the temptation in an effort to reset what I do when I have an idle few minutes (why not just open my kindle app on my phone instead?).
I’d also like to do something like a weekly game night where we play one of the million board games we own instead of our default go-to of watching TV or a movie (which is so easy to turn to when you’re exhausted), as well as more often turning to a book to entertain me rather than my computer/phone. I’m not going to go off on some deep reflection about modern technology’s impact on our lives, I just want to take a few small steps to shrink its footprint in my life right now.
Improving the house
Yeesh this post is getting long, and I’m only just now getting to the home improvement part of things. I’ll keep this short, since it’s what will actually get most coverage on the blog this year. Basically we’ve gotten to the point where we need to figure out if this is the longer term house for us (and if so, what do we need to do like add a second bathroom, switch the usage of various rooms to make it work for kiddos, etc). Also once spring/summer return, I’ll resume our outdoor work, focusing on the Year 2 projects we identified in our 5-year outdoor improvement plan.
So that’s some of what we’re setting out to do in the year ahead. When we reflected on our 2017 goals, a number of readers commented to say they weren’t big goal-setters but might give it a try this year. We’d love to hear what you’re thinking about for 2018!