On December 31, 2016, I wrote down my goals for the coming year in my journal. It wasn’t an exhaustive list of every single thing I wanted to accomplish in life, but it was a thorough list and included many things that I wanted to get better at, things that I had been thinking about for months or even years.
“All the things I may want to accomplish in 2017,” I wrote. You see, in writing the phrase “may want to,” I freed myself from any future guilt if, in fact, I did absolutely nothing on my list, if I simply stood still, or even, goddess forbid, if I slid backwards and into a new rabbit hole over the course of the year. Hey, I didn’t say this is what I AM going to do. I said, this is what I MAY want to do. Nothing binding here.
Furthermore, let it be known that I am okay with being imperfect. I never actually thought I’d do everything on the list ( I met that expectation by the way). I am a satisficer after all. “Good enough” is my guiding principle.
As I reflect on my year, I did good enough on some goals, not very well on others, and achieved goals I hadn’t even stated. All in all, that’s progress.
My Year in Retrospect: The List of Goals for 2017
- Lose my gut.
- Write more.
- Eat better.
- Learn more about disenfranchised people.
- Develop more patience and kindness.
- Get a new job.
- Work less on weekends.
- Eat more family meals together.
- Grow my marriage stronger.
A hodge podge to be sure. A little about my body. (It’s never ending, being female and all). A little about my family. (No, I will never be Superwoman in terms of my parenting and partner skills, but I’d like to at least be Goodenoughwoman in those categories). A little about my professional and personal development. The latter, as you all know, is what drives this blog, becoming a better me.
My Year in Retrospect: Checking off the List
- Lose my gut. √
- Write more. Not so much but laying foundation
- Eat better. √
- Learn more about disenfranchised people. √
- Develop more patience and kindness. Not so much, but I think about it daily
- Get a new job. Nope but made a move to change careers
- Work less on weekends. √
- Eat more family meals together. √
- Grow my marriage stronger. Unintentionally but still needs work
Five out of 9 things checked off on my list. I am completely satisfied with that, and in satisficer speak that means I rock!
Lose my Gut and Eat Better
Miracle of all miracles. I lost my gut. I did not do it by exercising even more than I was already doing (there are only so many hours in the day and I also have a job and a child to chauffer around and a volunteer gig). I lost my gut by working with a nutritionist, the fabulous Lauren at Nutritional Wisdom.
In working with Lauren, I also started eating better. Of course, I always knew what I should and shouldn’t be eating so much of (more greens, less sugar, for example). I work in the diabetes/obesity field after all. But until you are accountable to someone other than yourself, who cares, right? To have to check in, weigh in, get body comp measured, keep a food diary, and share all this with another human being – every few weeks – kept me (mostly) towing the line.
I’m still eating too much sugar (Note to self: goal for 2018) but in other ways, I’ve improved a lot. In general, I eat fewer refined carbs, a lot less processed food, and drink less coffee. I drink a ton of water, eat a greater variety of vegetables, and have oatmeal every day.
I wish I could say that I wrote more this year, but you, faithful blog readers, know that is not the case. I have written less this year than ever before. I’ve really neglected the blog, going for a month (or more) without posting.
But, thanks to my friend Janna, in the summer, I joined a writing workshop that I have been faithfully attending on a weekly basis ever since. Write with Spike has become my group therapy in addition to being an outlet for writing, reading my work aloud, listening to others read their work, and developing as a writer and a human being. I truly love and respect my fellow writers in the group and our mentor Spike. (Old drug alcohol. new drug writing workshop, not too bad.)
Learn More about Disenfranchised People
One of the things I started this year was a journal of every book I read over the year. Although I slacked a little in record keeping in the fall (explanation to follow), I believe I ended up reading 53 books (24 non-fiction and 29 fiction). Several of these books were about disenfranchised people and really opened my eyes to an America that I am mostly unfamiliar except for the occasional news story.
I read The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives, Despite Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools, and America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America. I’m no expert, but I’m definitely working on developing greater awareness in this area. I’ll be keeping this up in 2018, both the list of books I read and the reading about people I share this country with who do not have it as easy as me.
Become More Patient and Kind
Truth be told, I don’t think I developed much patience or kindness this year (and not because I didn’t think about it daily, I absolutely did!). If anything, perimenopause sent me backward in this department. But, I’m not giving up. I’m still working on this, reading about it, and meditating on it. Small steps.
Get a New Job
As much as I wanted to get a new job and sent out a lot of applications to find a new job and even had a very important job interview in Cambridge for an Executive Editor position with Cell Press (dream job), I’m still doing what I’ve been doing for 6 years. And I’m still apathetic about it. It is not who I am. It does not define me. It is simply a J-O-B, and that’s it.
So, I decided that maybe I was going about this job search the wrong way. Maybe I should focus less on what I’m good at professionally and more on what I like to do. Because at the end of the day, I want to love what I’m doing.
When I made my list, it included working with people, meditating, exercising, reading self-help books, writing for therapy and creativity, developing consciousness/self, working on wellness. And I had a lightbulb moment. Aha! Life coach/counselor, my list seemed to scream out to me. Maybe that’s what I should be doing. So, I applied to a Master’s program in Mental Health Counseling and started the program in October. 6 hours done. 54 to go.
Work Less on Weekends
Why I didn’t do this sooner, I don’t know. No one is going to die if I don’t edit that paper on Sunday morning. The world will not end if I don’t process papers when I go on holiday. Enough said.
Eat More Family Meals Together
Yay! We ate more meals together. Sitting at our table. And because I’m working with a nutritionist, we’re eating healthier meals. I’m definitely going to keep this one up in 2018.
Grow my Marriage Stronger
When I wrote this goal, I was thinking of actions I would take, not inactions, to improve my marriage. Now, my marriage is not bad, not by any standards, but as those of you in relationships know, it takes a lot of work to have a happy marriage). Still, it was precisely my giving up drinking, which was not even a goal for the year but happened anyway, that led to my marriage growing stronger.
My alcohol use had become a wedge in the relationship, creating difficulties and resentments that are no longer there now that I’m not drinking. In other words, this marriage carries a little less weight now. It has a little less stress, and that is enough to improve it ever so slightly.
My Year in Prospect: Moving into 2018
Moving into 2018, I don’t have any goals. Honestly. I’m just going to continue doing more of what I’ve already been doing and try to get a bit better at it. I’m going to continue working on my physical health (eating better and exercising), continue working on my mental health (writing, reading, and meditating), continue learning, and continue trying to be a better version of myself.
In the words of the Dalai Lama, I am grateful for my precious life, and I am not going to waste it. I’m going to use my energy to develop myself. That’s what my journey is about. It’s what all our journeys are about, isn’t it? Developing, growing, and changing ourselves as we learn and stumble through life.
So, here’s to all of us developing ourselves, whatever that means for each of you, in 2018,