Perhaps because of how my 2020 goals went, or just how 2020 went did much to rein in how ambitious I was come New Year’s Day, but my 2021 resolutions were decidedly shorter in number and smaller in scope. Maybe a year of setting SMART goals (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-bound) has helped me reframe goal-setting in a way that sets myself up so that I can look forward to success rather than disappointment with myself.
In these first few extremely tumultuous weeks of the new Gregorian year, I’ve noticed that there are still ways I hope to grow into the person I want to be that I didn’t capture in my resolutions post, maybe because they didn’t feel specific enough or maybe because I didn’t want to commit to them in a formal blog. (I included a few tentative ideas for these goals at the end of my resolutions post. Looking back, I feel sheepish about hedging so much about the commitment of making them big-R Resolutions but apparently, 3 weeks later, I still don’t feel comfortable with these goals having the same priority as my resolutions.)
But I think it is still valuable for me to share what some of these other goals are, both for accountability and for the sake of documenting what was important to me to try to change, what kind of person I was hoping to become.
So, here are a few other goals I have been working towards, not just in for the year 2021 but for some time now.
Now that we have reflected on 2020, and taken out much of our frustration with the world on this year that held so much promise (I really was looking forward to deals on Lasik…), it’s time to look forward towards 2021, stretching out before us.
This year, I feel a lot less anticipation for the new year and the fresh start that is promises to bring. Maybe because I’ve been so worn down by the previous year, or maybe because I know deep down that the stresses of 2020 not only didn’t magically disappear when the clock struck midnight but are liable to stick around for much of, if not all of, 2021.
Still. I was forced to spend a lot of time with myself, in my home, confronted with my poor habits and my unmet good intentions. It was a case scenario I always feared as an extrovert: without social interactions to keep me lifted and energized, I would deflate and collapse into a shell of myself. During that time, I saw much room for improvement.
The resolutions for this year aren’t going to be as ambitious as they were in past years, I think. Concrete ones will be very specific and more realistic for me to achieve, given how many years several of them have appeared on this blog. To be honest, I haven’t spent as much time thinking about these as I have in years past, and I’m not too bothered about it. My resolutions have always been an opportunity for me to reframe my approach to my habits and a time for me to set the intention of what kind of person I want to be. So many goals in my previous resolutions had, knowingly or not, dependencies that were outside of my control. My goals to explore the city more, during a year when I could not leave my apartment? Or to just invite people into my home more, during a year when indoor gatherings were lethal? I didn’t know. And so, as a result, my resolutions this year are fewer and more restrained. I am not pushing myself too hard in 2021. We all need and deserve some rest this year, I think.
We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost
– Henry Rollins
Can you believe it’s the first of September already? It’s been said time and time again, that time has felt even stranger during this pandemic than usual, but August truly sped by. It feels like just yesterday I was lamenting how quickly July was coming to an end and now it’s September!
Even though September is still firmly a summer month, and everyone rushes into cozy fall feels, the heat wave breaking in New York has been a palpable relief. I have been on a little staycation this past week, and allowing myself to venture outside of my apartment to enjoy and support my city. The weather has been excruciatingly beautiful the entire time and I could not be more grateful for it. These fresh breezes really add to the feeling that I’m at another fresh start, another new page, that I arbitrarily feel at the beginning of the year, the beginning of each month, and even the beginning of each week.
We made it to a new decade! Send me your discount codes and deals for laser eye surgery, I am prepared for 2020 jokes for the next 366 days.
This also means it’s that time again! As December winds down, I actually start feeling a bit of pressure to be intentional with my annual goals, but I also really look forward to it. I think it’s because I am taking the time to think about what kind of person I want to be and what specific ways I can become that person, even if some of the changes are harder to quantify. While I don’t have a great track record of accomplishing many of my resolutions, I like setting them at the beginning of the year as a way to guide my intentions for the rest of the year, to gently nudge myself towards who I want to be.
I really liked my resolutions from last year, even though I wasn’t great about keeping them, so a lot of them will carry over this year. I was also really inspired by Rachel Miller‘s Q4 resolutions and will be incorporating many of those as goals for the year as well.
2019 was such a big year for me, but with so much in transition, I am ready for take on 2020 with a lot more intention. There are a few big themes for my resolutions this year:
Improve my relationships. 2019 was a big year for my relationship with my significant other, and I want to continue working on that relationship as we come up on one year of marriage. Being very focused on that relationship did come at the expense of many of my other relationships, especially because I moved away from my friends and family that I was spending time with. I’d like to shift some of my relational energy back to my network. I also want to be able to let go of grudges and people who have drifted out of my life for one reason or another.
Let myself feel at home in New York. Partly because I was so busy with the wedding and maybe partly because I unconsciously was afraid to put down roots in case something happened and I would have to leave, I haven’t really felt like I have become a New York resident. I still have boxes! My dressers are still in the state they were when I hurriedly threw clothing into them so that I could try to reduce the number of boxes. We have yet to replace the furniture that was damaged during our move. And I haven’t done most of the things I was so excited to do upon moving here. Even little things like not scheduling doctor’s appointments here yet (which is something I often advise people to do, so I’m a hypocrite for not doing so as well). That changes this year, and it will require a lot of energy and effort but it changes this year.
Of course, improving myself is the big theme of all resolutions and goals, isn’t it? I am going to work on things that will make me healthier physically but also mentally. Not get in my way so much. Not be so afraid of failing… or of succeeding? Not letting my need for control be a facet of my personality.
Although I am not Catholic, I have been observing Lent in my own way for the past few years. Lent is the third time at the beginning of the year that I check in on how I am doing with my self-improvement (with my New Year’s resolutions and Chinese New Year reflections being the first two). I take a look at a bad habit that I really want to address and abstain from it. Completely.
What started as a show of solidarity with my Catholic friends has become an honest admission of a bad habit I have and a commitment to doing something about it in a way that works for how I motivate myself.
This year, I am giving up mindless social media scrolling. While I wish I could give up social media altogether, like I did back in 2011, the main reason I’m not doing so this year is that many of my friendships are sustained via touches on social media. Sending memes and animal videos is a big part of maintaining friendships in this day and age, and more so now that I’ve moved to New York and am unable to see most of my close friends in person anymore. I also find a lot of my conversations with friends happening in Direct Messages in a social media application that I’m extremely hesitant to ghost on.
The problem with how I use social media isn’t that I have conversation threads with people across multiple apps. The biggest problem isn’t even my likes-chasing when I post content. (But that is a problem.)
It’s the zombified state I fall into when I’m scrolling my feed just to scroll. It feels almost like I’m dissociating; I am numb and barely thinking when I scroll Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I am just grazing on information, registering it the minimum amount, and still draining myself a bit mentally. I don’t feel good when I do this, and my partner actually has to physically separate me from my phone when I get in the zone scrolling. (To attempt to put a positive spin on this: I no longer have to have my laptop shut on my dissociative Tumblr-scrolling days anymore…)
My rules for using social media during Lent will be:
No scrolling at all if/when I open a social media site: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram in particular, and includes autoplaying Instagram Stories
No searching for content to discover, in particular Twitter Moments and Instagram Explore
I am still permitted to post original content myself: posts, stories, tweets
I am still permitted to interact with friends in Direct Messages
I am still allowed to interact with friends’ content, but I can only discover that content intentionally
E.g. I wonder how my friend X is doing with their new cat, let me check their Instagram to see!
If, when I go to X’s profile, I see that they have also posted a Story, I can check that out
The big rule is NO SCROLLING. And if I keep posting content myself (like for the March Disneybound Challenge, which I’m barely doing, or my arbitrarily started March Mask Challenge), NO CHECKING for digital approval. The big goal is to use social media with intention, to close the app not feeling like a shell of a person but more connected with my friends, both my IRL friends and the Internet friends I only have because of these apps.
TL;DR This year, I am giving up mindless social media scrolling for Lent.
Many of my friends also like to incorporate an additive practice to Lent, taking this time to not just abstain from a bad habit but also to embrace a good habit they would like to practice more. One of my co-workers even does “Reverse Lent”, which is based on this concept and culminates with him and his friends sharing what they have added to their lives at the end: many pies baked, a long-neglected room finally painted, a blanket that was knitted over the course of the Lenten period.
So, in that vein, I will attempt to do some additive practices this year as well. My goal-setting may be getting a bit ambitious here, but I am much better at rising to a challenge for a finite amount of time than I am with keeping my resolutions, so it’s worth a try! I will be trying to work out every day of Lent. (Whether I will use those Sundays that Catholics typically do not include in the Lenten period as rest days remains to be seen…) As a backup goal, I will also be committing to doing my skincare every day of Lent. I tend to fall into a lazy routine of just splashing water on my face and slapping on SPF in the morning or moisturizer at night, but I want my skin to look great on my wedding day and I know I have the tools to make that happen. Plus, it’s good for me to take some time and do a routine, to step out of my thoughts and pat my face and do something for the sake of being kind to myself.
Are you observing Lent?
Is there anything you think you could cut back on, and if so, would you do better with moderation or abstinence? How are you doing with any goals/intentions you’ve set for yourself for this year?