Sorting Out Some Goals for 2021

What do I want in the New Year?

I’m a little late getting started. Here it is January 12th, 2021, a date when many people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions, and I haven’t even articulated mine. January 19th is now called Quitter’s Day because most people have given up. 80% of people will have put resolutions aside by the second week of February (if you can believe what you read – I have no idea how they make that measurement).

If I’m being honest, I’ve been super distracted by political events unfolding and have not had the focus to look long-range into 2021. Still, it’s time to take a pause from news and consider what I want to create in my life this year.

In reflecting back on 2020, I made some headway. I did some things I set out to do. I fell short on some things. Given the year, I was physically and emotionally exhausted by October/November and was only going for the easy win, the low hanging fruit, by that point. Anything too lofty had definitely gone by the wayside. This is a fresh opportunity to kick off new goals and set my sights higher.

I’ve used a variety of approaches in setting out on a new year. I attempt to get past the usual, get to the heart of where I want to go in life. It is good to clarify whether I am I creating intentions, resolutions, goals, or aspirations. Tools I have used:

  • The Be-Do-Have inspiration board (3 columns: 1) what do I want to be, 2) what do I want to do, 3) what do I want to have).
  • Vision board based on the Feng Shui bagua map (9 boxes, 3 across and 3 down, each with a representation of what I want to create in that part of my life).
  • The mood board (gives more of an inspirational vibe of what I want life to feel like – without specifics). I create the picture of what I want and let the Universe take care of the how.
  • Treasure map – opposite of the mood board – goal is in the center, and the map illustrates steps I’ll take in the process.
  • Last year I didn’t create goals, I wrote myself a permission slip. I gave myself permission to do a lot of things I’ve never done – a totally different approach I found inspiring and freeing. (blog Archives, February 2020, Writing the Permission Slip)

I find something visual and creative more fun than making a list, but I’ve made plenty of lists of goals and month-by-month action plans in past years. I don’t consider the vision board merely “wishful thinking”. It’s a creative process that can bring forward ideas about things I don’t even consciously know I want. The creative process taps into the subconscious as I intuitively choose images and words; this helps my imagination create the vision.

This year I will use the vision as the jumping off point, and be more methodical and left-brain in laying out the steps. My process doesn’t have to be either “this or that”. It can be both “this and that”, incorporating both left and right brain elements. I want to give myself something to measure for success. I want to apply some left-brain thinking to determine how my strengths, talents, abilities and skills (to think, choose, imagine and create) will get me there. Mainly I’m going to look at putting structure, support, and teachers in place with broader, monthly goals. With those elements in place, the day-to-day will take care of itself without a bunch of checklists.

Some things I’m considering in my process:

  • There is no point to living a life I don’t enjoy. Am I going to find joy in the steps it takes to achieve the goal?
  • Is this goal going to add to my life or take away from it?
  • Is it coming from a healthy motivation?
  • If losing 10 pounds is the answer, what is the question? If the desire is health and fitness, make the goal health and fitness.
  • Is the result worth the lifestyle changes it will require?
  • Do I have the structure in my life to do it – time in my schedule, space, support, skills, information? Can I start today with what’s available?
  • Am I willing to keep going with consistent action, even on days when I’m not in the mood? Is there a “why” behind the goal that keeps me going even if motivation lags? And when is it OK to take a pause rather than force myself to keep going?
  • Am I willing to take vague wants and wishes and break them down to specific goals for which I create a week-by-week action plan?
  • What will a milestone look like? How am I going to measure success?
  • How do action goals (what do I want to do) interconnect with outcome goals (what do I want to be, what do I want to have)? Am I measuring steps or results?

This is not going to be the year to push, push, push – it is going to be another year to be kind and gentle and self-supporting rather than self-critical. Truly, I should tell myself this every year. I no longer want to ruin my health by pushing relentlessly to accomplish more and more. I want to acknowledge myself when I succeed, not punish failure. (Labeling success and failure is something I’ve analyzed quite a bit in the past so I won’t address it here.)

So, here are my 3 specific intentions. They feel very doable.

  1. Walk 3-7 days per week, and build up my strength and take occasional longer hikes.
  2. Write, and be visible with what I write, by sharing or posting 1 time per week.
  3. Finish 6 quilts or sewing projects that are currently incomplete.

This boils down to better fitness and health through exercise I enjoy. Plus developing creative pursuits, including stretching myself to complete projects and show my work.

Is my list of goals complete?

One way of answering that is to work backward, and ask:

  • What gives me a sense of accomplishment?
  • What gives me enjoyment?
  • What gives me a sense of gratitude?
  • What gives me a sense of fulfillment?
  • What gives my life balance?
  • What makes me like myself better?
  • What contributes to my peace of mind?
  • What strengthens my connection to family, friends, and community?
  • What helps me lay my head on my pillow at night and get a good night’s sleep?

Looking to the past in this way, reflecting on what helps me achieve these things, gives me direction for the future.

The question can contain the answer when I ask, “What am I doing (today, or this week/month/year)”:

  • To be of service to my community?
  • To challenge myself mentally or physically, emotionally or spiritually?
  • To plan responsibly for my future?
  • To demonstrate love for family and friends?
  • To pursue my passions and interests, and deepen my skills and abilities?
  • To love the space I live in?
  • To love the body I live in?
  • To feel energized and alive with the life I’m living?
  • To go for a stretch outside my comfort zone?

In looking at my goals, I see I’ve missed one that needs to be on the list. No doubt I left it off because it’s not something I enjoy doing – I just want the results. That is, complete my estate planning project and review financials with an advisor. This needs to be on the list for life balance/peace of mind/planning responsibly for my future/demonstrating love for my family. I know myself well enough to know I can’t spend every minute on fun adventures without a thought for the future; worry would constantly be running in the background.

And one more – be more generous to my friends and to organizations doing work I support. This one ticks multiple boxes too.

Five goals are plenty for someone as easily distracted as me. These aren’t super lofty change-the-world or reinvent-my-entire-life goals. Two quotes have given me perspective on constantly working on myself.

“The problem with self-improvement is knowing when to quit.”–David Lee Roth

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”–Guillaume Apollinaire

My final 2021 list:

  1. Walk 3-7 days per week, and build up my strength and take occasional longer hikes.
  2. Write, and be visible with what I write, by sharing or posting 1 time per week.
  3. Finish 6 quilts or sewing projects. Do not start 6 new projects; finish 6 projects that are currently incomplete. It is OK to hire out parts I don’t enjoy or don’t have the tools for. Build new skills in this process. Finish one project every 2 months.
  4. Complete my estate planning project and review financials with an advisor.
  5. Be more generous with friends and organizations I support.

© 2021 Carol Merwin

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *