Friends of mine in my online fiction critique group were talking the other day about goals and milestones for 2015. Actually, we were talking about goals, until one member made the distinction between things you are in charge of (like writing more) and things that you are not the sole arbiter of (like getting published), which is the distinction between self-set goals and other-influenced milestones. (Pretty great distinction, right? That's why I'm friends with these people.)
Another member made a further distinction: her ethos remained the same--become a better writer, be a good person, etc.--but the concrete steps that she could take would change over the years or be broken down into discrete tasks for that overarching goal. (If you're like me, and I hope you're not, you might make the further distinction between abstract goals and concrete tasks.)
So I've been thinking about my New Year's Resolutions, which I don't really do seriously, but enjoy the same way I enjoy throwing salt over my shoulder: I don't really believe, it's fun, and just in case...
In 2014, I didn't have resolutions so much as a spreadsheet to keep track of various goals and ideas. I will post-mortem that spreadsheet in 2015 and see what I did and didn't do. Teaser: I did not learn to draw.
But for now, I want to start sketching out those three lists for 2015: abstract goals that I set for myself; concrete tasks that I set for myself to reach those goals; and some milestones that depend on other people that I would like to work towards or see. Actually, today I'll probably just talk about
Goal: Be happy.
Feels somewhat silly to write, but honestly, I am someone who has a history of muddling through somehow.
Take, for instance, that time I lived in England for six months. They were not happy six months; and I eventually got into a survivable routine of work and coming home to dinner and watching TV with my girlfriend of the time. Nothing terrible, but I wasn't thriving. Now, I could've tried to make some drastic changes in order to break out. But instead, I largely took the safe route of routine. Which resulted in me being pretty even-keeled in a content to blah state for six months. Which brings us to goal two:
Goal: Be more open and adventurous.
Pretty self-explanatory. I sure can spend an evening quite comfortably watching TV or a movie. Ah, comfort.
But maybe if I push myself out of my comfort zone a little, I'll discover some thing I wouldn't otherwise have known about. Leading to increased happiness.
Goal: Give back.
I've been so really touched by all the mentorship and helping hands as I've changed careers; and the world is really a terrible place sometime, especially for women and minorities and, urgh, I just want to punch something some days.
So, I'd like to give back, both to pay back (or forward?) for the mentorship I had; and to help people who otherwise get slighted by the system. (And of course, as studies have shown, volunteering and gratitude are important to long-term happiness and health.)
Goal: Take care of yourself.
Especially while I was at MakerSquare, my self-care regime took a nose-dive: I hardly exercised, never meditated, and only once wrote morning pages. I can let some of that slide, but not all.
I think self care also leads into the next topic:
Goal: Be a better friend.
Maybe I haven't been a bad friend, exactly--though I did recently write a response to an email that was 11 months old. And here's the thing: I like being around people. I like being a friend. Being a friend makes me happy. (Which is why I associate it with self care.)
But sometimes it's easier to say no, to stay home with Netflix rather than go to a bar. And hey, that's a valid option sometimes. Maybe most of the time. But at the end of the day, there are going to be some times when being with friends makes me happier than watching Netflix.
Goal: Say no.
This is mostly directed at myself, since I have a tendency to be interested in everything and everyone and more more! It's a problem because then I don't have the time or energy to do everything as well as it deserves to be done.
Another way to put this would be Focus. Instead of doing a dozen projects--here's an app, here's two short stories, here's three screenplays, and four languages I want to learn!--just focus on what you can reasonably do. And do those well.
Goal: Embrace the pain.
Oh, that sounds way too serious for what I mean. Would it sound better if I used the developer term "pain point"? That is, when you're developing something, you'll find that some issues are particularly difficult. During my final projects, I definitely had some pain points as I tried to work through some issues. Amazingly--but more like unsurprisingly--my favorite moments in all of those were when I made some breakthrough on my pain points.
In other words: when you focus on a project, don't get put off if you run into difficulties.