Some people love this time of year. They like to reflect on what went well in the previous year, what didn’t and to plan ahead for the new year, having in mind all the nice little plans they want to make happen. I have learned that I am one of those people myself.
However, while it’s thrilling to have new beginnings, the excitement tends to wear off as years go by, knowing that all this planning has to be backed up by action in order to produce the desired results. And when there’s ambition, well, there’s a lot of work to be done. So, who isn’t excited to know they’ll have to work after work to create the life they want? [irony intended here].
Feeling all of this isn’t stopping me though. I had a couple of relaxation days planned for Christmas so I turned them in a very productive time for setting my goals for 2020. As mentioned before, I have sort of made this before Christmas, but now it felt like I can take the time for finalizing my list without guilt-tripping me for not doing something else.
Last year I did the 19 for 2019 as promoted by Gretchen Rubin and ended up with 21 goals in the end, most of them only partially reached. I need to say that these were less goals, more rather actionable steps, like (a) read two books each month and (b) write every day [this needed more flesh to the bone to work, but live and learn, right?] in order to (1) improve my knowledge. Two activities related to one goal.
This year, I went different at it. I reviewed my year and came up with the list of things I want to stop, things I want to start and things I want to continue [I watched this in a video last year, but because I can’t find it, I am linking here to a resource created by the Youtube creator who made the video I referred to] all arranged per category: health, work, being a good human, love, friends, money & fun. And yes, in THIS order, because I am a true believer in do your oxygen mask before your child‘s principle.
Basically, I have one objective for each category:
- Health: feel great in my body;
- Work: be professional, meet deadlines and be creative;
- Be a good human: be involved;
- Love: keep it great;
- Friends: keep in touch;
- Money: invest wisely;
- Fun: learn what this means for me.
For each of the goals I came up with objectives. For instance, feeling great in my body means [to me]: to work out & move my body every day, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, drink more coffee and less water [or was it the other way around?] and so on and so forth.
When I was done with the list of objectives, I still wasn’t happy. Experience is a very good master. Last year, when I knew less, I formulated objectives like: get professional photos taken [I got zero professional photos taken], eat less sugar [like I knew how much I was having] or blog more [which I only partially did]. By mid-year I realized I needed something more concrete. I took some action, but it didn’t really get me where I wanted to go.
So the objectives were re-framed into actionable ones. Which made the list a little bit longer, as some things imply more than one action. 52 lines long, to be exact. So, there are 52 actionable things to be done, quite a few of them on a daily basis. It looks like this:
There are activities to track, like did I sleep more than 6,5 h the previous night, and activities to do, like read for 60 minutes. When I do, there will be a 1 inserted in the corresponding cell for the day we are in. When I don’t, a 0 gets in there. The color in the cells mean that the activity is planned to happen on each and every one of those days [now, there’s the ambition]. Thus, I should have a to-do list (action 3) every day. Same with writing in my journal. Or reading for 60 minutes.
I am not going to lie, when I finished my excel, I felt both happy for the new year and panicky. I mean, how am I actually do all these things? A good list, isn’t a list that scares one away! But a goal’s list without things to stretch us out of our comfort zone is not really a great list. It could be good, but it’s not getting us thrilled enough to actually find the energy to get things done.
Well, to reduce my anxiety, I started to change [delete, add, move] things on my calendar: some objectives are to be part of the morning routines, others are to be part of the evening routines. Some are things I do on a weekly basis, others on a monthly basis. Some are already part of my day and most are basically the commitment towards good ideas I had during the year but didn’t get the time to integrate them in my life [like shopping lists or planning my meals each week].
The plan for the new year is to do the important things constantly, while allowing myself to experiment with it. An example is related to my notes taking system.
I am in “the market” for a notes taking system for quite some time now. I read a bit and my mind is not the best deposit. I tried some things out, but while doing them, I didn’t get the feeling I am doing the right thing for myself. It feels like I need to give it another try this year and commit more. I love a good experiment on myself so I am looking forward to testing, evaluating, deciding and trying something new again!
In order to focus on what’s important to me right now, I cut some of the activities down. I will not aim for an hour of sports each day (walking was included in this); at times, I chose walking for several days in a row, because working out for an hour felt too strenuous. This led me further away from my goals and turned out to be a loophole [explanations for giving up on initial plans]. I’ve decided to aim for at least 30 minutes each day, mostly sports and gym, but also walking; the body might need time to recover.
I feel quite happy with my list. I use it to track the progress I do [or don’t do] every day, but it also works as a the reminder for how I want to spend my time and thus, my life. Because all in all, it all reduces to what does a happy life look like for you!
Make today count!