I don’t know about you, but I find annual resolution-setting to be a challenge in itself. I love the idea of a strong resolution to focus on each year and tend to think of them as a goal to work towards, rather than simply resolving to do-or-not-do something. But it is important to me that these annual goals are part of my ongoing desire to improve myself year-on-year, decade-on-decade.
A couple of months ago, I began toying with the idea of a series of goals with a “vision 20/20” theme. It began with an idea to have a list of 20 activities to undertake and 20 goals to reach. That morphed into 20 lists of 20 things: 20 adventures; 20 running goals; 20 recipes to try, letters to write, hills to climb; 20 days of silence, of no social media, of volunteering… and more. Much more. Too much more!!
So, I took a step back to think about why I was setting these goals. I stopped to think about what my ultimate goal was; what I wanted to accomplish by the end of the year. And it was complex simple: I wanted to improve myself. But how? There are so many forms of self-improvement, and I needed to be more specific about what I wanted to “fix” about myself.
After a lot of consideration, I decided that 2020 would be the year for building my strength and confidence – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, carrying on from my 2019 goal to be more mindful and aware. That led me to a “simple” goal:
To be a stronger, more confident me.
Of course, you can’t just flip a switch a “be” stronger or more confident. You have to have a plan and you have to accomplish a long series of smaller, more measurable objectives. After all, a good goal requires work!
I have decided that the best way to tackle this big goal is to set hard objectives for different areas of my life:
My physical health and fitness levels: This includes running more than 700 miles and taking at least 4,000,000 steps over the course of the year. I also have objectives for times for different run distances and other fitness benchmarks – as well as a weight goal.
My personal and professional lives: This includes re-building my website, learning (simple) Gaelic, and landing a long-term academic post. I also have a few travel ambitions for places I want to visit and some publication goals for my professional life.
My mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being: This includes a set number of days or weekends to be spent in some form of tech-free contemplation, writing letters of forgiveness or apology (even if not sent, for whatever reason), and reading 20+ books. I will also work to continue my journaling practice, with the aim of journaling every day this year. (I’m already on a 4-month streak of not missing a day, so this might be easier than I thought!)
In addition to these measurable ambitions, I have some “soft” objectives that are harder to declare as “objective, met”. This includes vague aims like “be kinder” and “relax more”. Many of these softer aims will be a side effect of the measurable objectives. But the idea of writing them down as their own objective is so that I always remember to work on those traits.
And speaking of traits! One of the things I will be doing this year is an audit of my character strengths. I will be using a research-based book called “Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification” as my guide. The book outlines 24 identified character strengths that exist in all of us and discusses the different ways they manifest themselves. I aim to determine which of these traits I need to work on, but also to determine what strengths I might have that I am not even aware of.
I’m not sure how that character audit will go, but I am planning to do some reflective blogging about it along the way because I find that it helps me to be more aware of my own self when I am “forced” to write about it.
I am quite excited about this New Year’s goal. I feel that I have already grown stronger and more confident over the past decade as I’ve grown more and more accustomed to living a relatively solitary life, and have learned how to live with the grief of widowhood. And now that my PhD is done and dusted, I am finally in a place where I can concentrate on my whole being again, without the stress of my studies.
I know that this year will be a challenge in its own right as I go through the stress of searching for a permanent (or long-term) academic post, and as I face the drama of visa woes (again). But I feel that I have a solid enough foundation now that I can face these trials and tribulations. And I am confident that any challenges I do face will only help to make my resolution more worthwhile when I reach my goal in just 366 days.
At this point, I could say “Apologies in advance for a year of posts about my resolution”. But I am not going to apologise for how I chose to manage my personal blog because I need to have the confidence to be who I am without apology.
I will, however, say thank you to all of my wonderful readers (whether you’re a regular reader or a one-off visitor). Your support over the years has meant the world to me.
I hope that 2020 brings you all of the laughter, love, and friendship you can manage!