2017: Fresh year, fresh set of goals

Getting more sleep wasn’t one of my New Year’s resolutions, so here I am, starting this blog post at 10 p.m., the night before I have to go back to work.

December 31, 2016, after my nieces, brother, sister-in-law, and brother’s mother-in-law left me alone on the couch where I spent the last few nights of the year, I opened my journal and thought through 2016. I made a list of what I remembered in terms of significant moments, achievements, or events. I did my best to focus on the positives, what I did well, rather than where I embarrassed myself or didn’t do as much as I could.

A key lesson I learned in 2016 was to be kinder to myself.

I set the bar really high because I need to be challenged, but when I can’t jump high enough to reach it, my first instinct is to berate myself for not doing better. Guess what: berating doesn’t breed success, just bruises and less confidence.

I was encouraged by steps I made in my writing in 2016. In February, I did Figment’s daily writing challenge and, afterward, starting poking at a couple stories those prompts had started. I got back into journaling and saw distinct ways it improved my life and demeanor. I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time since 2008 — and successfully reached 50,000 words over thirty days.

Outside of writing, I traveled. To Boston. To Portland, Maine. To Turkey Run State Park in Indiana, where I hiked with friends and finally went camping. I was a surrogate aunt to my friends’ foster kids. I bought a mountain bike and bike rack and used them. I went rock climbing for the first time since high school. I finally started doing CrossFit. I successfully read the entire Bible over the course of the year. And, just this past week, I welcomed my new niece into the world.

Yeah, 2016 had bad things. And many of its bad things are continuing into 2017. But when it came to what I could control, in my personal life, it wasn’t all bad.

So what’s on my plate for 2017?

Just a few things:

  1. Go to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for this writing conference and stay a whole week to see the Tetons, etc.
  2. Successfully complete Creative Nonfiction’s Science Writing course.
  3. Diligently work on unnamed book-length work of fiction so I can spend November 2017 reading and self-critiquing.
  4. Read 30 books (minimum), including: Jane Eyre, The Book Thief, Blind Descent, Ashley’s War, Proust and the Squid, Moby Dick, The Other Slavery, Blood in the Water, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, The Underground Railroad, The Huntress: The Adventures, Escapades and Triumphs of Alicia Patterson, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I’m aiming for variety: classics, bestsellers (fiction and nonfiction), offbeat books on seemingly random topics.
  5. Get personal training certified with ACSM.
  6. Do some freelance writing and editing.
  7. Get a pull up by March, five by May, ten by August.
  8. Do topical Bible studies on justice, light and darkness, living water, and the heart.
  9. Do in-depth Bible studies of Joshua, Ruth, Nehemiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Hosea, Nahum, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 & 2 Timothy, Hebrews, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John.
  10. Play more classical compositions on piano. Progress in the more difficult keys.
  11. Go real camping (in a tent not surrounded by RVs and campers).

Why do I set so many goals for a year if I easily slip into berating myself for my failures?

Because without goals, I go about life aimlessly.

I’m someone needs to regularly stop and consider her life. If I don’t — especially in this period of my adult life — I spend every day going through the motions and then when I do look back, I see a lot of wasted time. I don’t want to live haphazardly or accidentally. I want to live on purpose. Making goals and regularly checking in to see how I’m doing is key to keeping myself on track.

I’ve now written these goals in three different places and I’ve charted out what I’m aiming to tackle over the month of January. Which I’m already two days into. Which means now is probably the perfect time to sign off and try to get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow’s going to be a busy day.

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