Responsibly Checking in on those 2014 Goals

On December 31, 2013, I did what countless others did. I looked back at the year that had been and forward to the year that was almost upon us. I decided resolutions were not for me; they’re just too finite. I wanted something more flexible, something indicating progress, rather than decisions. And so I came up with 8 Goals.

Now that we are well past the half-way point in the year, I thought I would take a look at those goals. I had said back then when I was drafting them that by making them public I would hold myself to account. But I also said that I would allow flux, forgive myself for changing them or pushing their timelines out.

I’m not going to bore you by going through each one. But here’s the list:

  1. Sit quietly alone, doing nothing, for at least 5 minutes each day.
  2. Publish something in 2014.
  3. Set aside time to write something once a day. Either first thing in the morning, or at lunch, or before bed.
  4. Give myself permission to not write on any given day, so that writing, when it does happen, remains enjoyable.
  5. Return to work slowly, ensuring I maintain a balance in my day between work, family and myself.
  6. Before I return to work, do something new and fun. Something to remember when I do return to work. Maybe it will be taking an art course. Or meditation.
  7. Start running again. Even just once a week.
  8. Try to be patient with my son, to listen to him even though he never stops talking and, if I need some quiet brain time, explain why patiently.

So, how have I done?

Ugh. I haven’t exercised in months; other than daydreaming, I haven’t set aside any regular time to just be, quietly; and patience with my son? Not so much, despite my best efforts. That one I work on every day.

I’m good with 3 and 4 because pretty much all I do, every day, is write or edit or participate in writing circles. Not that I’ve published anything, unless we’re counting my blog. Which I wasn’t when I wrote that goal.

Oh, and I did manage #6. Yay me.

But you know what? Despite my apparent failure at meeting these stated goals, I feel fulfilled. I feel happy. I do feel a tiny little bit like I’ve gained weight. But that’s not my point.

I’m going back to work in 3 weeks (an opportunity to put goal # 5 into action) and though I may not have met the goals I set out for myself, I have met more important goals. Goals that for whatever reason went unmentioned back in December. Goals that should have been front and centre.

When I am sitting at my desk at work, I will dream of the luxurious days I spent, for a whole year, writing daily. That was how I found myself again, after decades of burying and forgetting “me.” I re-discovered my passion, I indulged myself in it and I found myself.

Which of the above goals is better than that? None, I would say.

And, when I am sitting at my desk at work, I will also be drawing on all the lessons I’ve learned on my time off. Lessons that I was supposed to be learning since I was, after all, on stress leave (as much as I’d prefer to say I took a year off to write, that wasn’t the actual stated purpose of this time at home). Lessons about how to set and protect boundaries, how to take a deep breath before reacting, how to ask myself whether I’m taking an action because I want to or because I feel others around me want me to, how to remain true to my priorities (me, my family). I’ve learned how to assess my worries and anxieties and, if they are likely to impact me in some significant way, to come up with constructive things I can do to address them, rather than simply stewing about things that are unlikely to happen. I’m not terribly practiced at that last one, but it is definitely an important lesson I’ve learned and part of those unstated goals.

So, looking back, I think my real goals for this year have been:

  1. Write. Write as much as I want. Write whatever I want. Write to the point that I feel fulfilled. Then, keep writing.
  2. Learn how to live with my anxieties, how to find peace despite them, how to return to work and put myself in other stressful situations while protecting myself from all my negative thoughts.

Those goals are ongoing, but I can safely say that I have met them. That I continue to make them.

And the year isn’t over yet. So if I really want to start running again, or taking 5 minutes of silence for myself, or finding a publisher, I still have time.

But if I don’t get to all that, it’s ok. I’m ok. Because I have achieved the most important goals in this time I’ve had to myself.

Has anyone else gone back to review their goals? How have you done? Why is it so hard to set the right ones? Is it just me, or have others had a similar experience? 



15 thoughts on “Responsibly Checking in on those 2014 Goals

  1. Finding yourself is the most important one, Silverleaf – and I am so pleased that you have been able to gain some peace of mind, and lots of writing pleasure, in the process. We tend to set ourselves goals which reflect the way others wish to see us, don’t we? And yet, as your lovely post shows, sometimes we know, at the deep and instinctive level, what REALLY matters, what is of crucial importance – because, often, the outer layers of goal-setting will flow quite naturally from that central, perhaps overlooked, one, and our hearts and souls clunk in recognition! xxx

  2. Feels funny to see a follow up on a post from before I knew WordPress existed.
    My “approach” to life is clearly much more short-term oriented than yours. Mostly it’s just making a decision based 25% on gut feeling, and 75% (or more, for the important choices) on cool headed reflection, however short. Perhaps that comes with being a teen? If it works, I try to figure out how/why, if it doesn’t figure out how/why, then take that lesson, and store it somewhere in that mess of neurons and synapses in my head, with the overall goal of becoming a better human being. Of course, the said mess can only hold so much stuff, so the less important stuff tends to get lost along the way. Now, this doesn’t work for EVERY situation, but it works for me. Besides, I lack the commitment for goals like that in the first place… ^_~
    Congrats on the post, and for being satisfied with your life, as it is possibly the ultimate goal of… well, life!

  3. I don’t normally set resolutions, but this year (the last year of my 30s) I decided I was tired of being too scared to do things I’ve always wanted to do. And I’ve definitely hit most of the goal with my blog. I was tired of constantly hounding myself to write. So it’s a part of my weekly routine now.

    Congrats on the sussing out and achieving those important goals.

    • Thanks, Nate, and hey, we’re the same age.
      So, your weekly routine? As in you have a scheduled time(s) when you write? I ask because as my time is about to become constrained, I’m looking for ideas from others on how to make time for writing. Actually, that would be a good topic for the Coffeehouse…

  4. I keep my “goals” in a notebook and I don’t always do it at the turn of the year, but I do love going back and seeing which and how many I have achieved. It’s really empowering. Especially when I realize I have achieved something that at the time I put on the list as something almost unachievable … like a huge challenge.

    If I do one thing right in my adult life, it’s challenge myself and take on extraordinary goals … and meet them. Not all of them, not by a stretch. But even one a year is more than the average person. And you are in that category too my friend … you took on some extraordinary challenges and met (I think) more than one.

    • One a year. I think that’s a great perspective to have. I often feel I’m too lazy to bother setting and meeting my goals (except this year, I guess), but I think that if I approached it in a more manageable way, it would be less daunting. And I would be less lazy. Why do we feel we have to set a mountain of goals for ourselves? Thanks for sharing this viewpoint, Jen, and for your lovely words of encouragement 🙂 xo

  5. Oh wow, 3 weeks until work?? I am so looking forward to hearing how you do. You have learned so much this year about how protecting that writing time and family time and your boundaries are so important. I think that’s going to make all the difference for you once that work begins. I know it did for me. Where I thought I had no options before and had to take the work stress? I know there are other options now and there is life beyond our job … I have thought about resurrecting my goals from earlier this year but probably only completed half or so….the one thing not in my goal this year was to get a job and strangely enough, that kind of took over and trumped a few others but definitely not the fitness ones. Do not think I’ll learn Spanish this year. Definitely haven’t been communicating better with family. Writing still but less…something has to give…. Anyway, Plans are made and amended and to me that’s ok as along as we are happy and making progress and friend you definitely are!

    • I’m thrilled and encouraged to hear that all that time off learning about priorities did make a world of difference for you. Can you give me some examples? What other options do you choose? As far as resurrecting your goals from earlier this year (the ones that inspired me, if you remember!), take a look at my conversation here with Jen. She is so right; we set ourselves way too many goals, and I think that sets us up for discouragement. Maybe from now on I will learn to really look at what I want to do and to come up with 1 or 2 things to tackle at a time. Thanks for cheering me on!

      • Oh boy, I could write a book on this (or a blog!). Actually, Fitness and Health are non-negotiable parts of my life now, where pre-stopping-work, that wasn’t on the radar. I used to complain I never had time all the time? I heard a quote the other day that I love, it was a trainer saying she is always asked how many days a week they should work out, and she said “however many days you want to be in a good mood!”. Totally buy into that! Now that I’m back working, there’s no turning back, no matter what I have on that day. Time w/my son–same thing. And time outside. It doesn’t have to be a ton–even 10 minutes if that’s all I have, but it’s important. And those are my priority goals. I liked taking the watercolor class, and that’s probably the only new goal I have met. And of course continuing to write. The difference here is sometimes I have had to lower my expectations and learn to be ok with that. I was hoping to write 3 posts a month I think and now it’s worse–but at least I haven’t stopped. That to me would be hugely discouraging. Definitely agree with Jen that just getting ahead a little bit, and improving or increasing our knowledge is a step up regardless of whether all goals were met. Anyway, we still have time to make some headway on a few others! Four and a half more months!

        • Thanks for continuing the conversation, Robin! I like your positive outlook: you’re right, the year isn’t over yet 🙂
          I also like your uncompromising yet flexible attitude. I am hoping that I will be able to write most lunch hours at work, but that’s also my time to exercise. I have totally sacrificed my exercise time for writing since, well, since I started my blog really. I did go for a short run today, though, and you’re right. I feel much happier and more alert, so I think your approach of doing a little bit of the important things, rather than doing nothing because I don’t have an hour for each of them is the right way to go. I can never manage to get up early, so that’s out, but I do have that time at work for me, and then when I come home, I plan to set aside time for my son. Even just 10 minutes, as you say. And, yeah, I’m not going to worry about trying to meet every single one of my 8 goals.

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