Sunday, January 19, 2020

Personal Goals 2020

I really struggled with my personal goals list this year. I didn't feel like last year's list really worked for me, so I wanted to try something different, but I wasn't sure what that would be. I decided to let it simmer in the back of my mind for a week or two. I think that worked. At least, I have now written my goals list for 2020.

Before I share that list, here's how I did on the goals for 2019:

1. Improve my exercise routine. My specific plan was to add in regular Monday exercise sessions and also add in yoga. I sort of did this. I now consider exercising after work on Mondays part of my regular routine... but it is a part of the routine that gets broken more than I would like. And I completely failed to establish a regular yoga practice. I did do a lot of yoga when I messed up my right arm in early December and that helped sort the issue out. But I never got a regular practice going, even though I know it would improve how I feel.

2. Write more. My specific goal was to write one Adjusted Latitudes post per month and one other post per month. I failed at this. My posting remains erratic and less frequent than I want.

3. Get a design for the backyard upgrade and get the first step done. This didn't happen. We bought a Tesla instead. (Seriously: The Tesla was quite a bit more expensive than the car we thought we'd buy. We decided to put other large expenditures on hold while our finances recovered.)

4. Stay active in politics. I sort of did this. I kept up my postcard writing for awhile, but then I took a break and never re-established the habit. I've continued to stay informed and donate to causes and candidates I think will make good use of my money, but I feel like I really cut back on my engagement in the second half of 2019.

5. Take the time to notice more. I think I did this. I used Instagram for awhile to force myself to pick one thing a week I noticed. I stopped doing that, but have kept up the habit of noticing things. Sometimes I take a picture and share it on Instagram, sometimes I don't.

This was a pretty mixed bag. Most importantly, I ended the year feeling like I'd not really met my goals for the year. It is hard right now, with the overall political environment being so toxic, to put much energy into my own goals. But I want to do better in 2020 because frankly there is no guarantee that the overall political environment is going to improve much in the foreseeable future, no matter how the next few elections go. I think we're just in an unsettled age and I need to figure out how to make peace with that and live my life anyway.

So, for 2020 I decided to take each big aspect of my life and make a goal for it, then come up with a handful of specific habits or actions that would support that goal. My overall plan is to pick one or two habits or actions each month to try to adopt or do. I may not get to all of the specific actions, but maybe I will!

This new approach makes the list longer, but also breaks the actual things to do down into smaller chunks. The goals are basically evergreen: They are the things I'm always working toward. The specific habits and actions are what are specific to this year, although my hope is that some of them will continue on into future years. My hope is that by giving myself choices of what to work on throughout the year, the list will feel more relevant and I'll be more likely to pick something and keep going.

We'll see if this helps me end 2020 feeling better about what I achieved.

Goal: Improve my physical health
Potential specific actions and habits:

  • Do calorie counting until I lose at least 10 lbs and for long enough after that to "reset" my eating and exercise habits so that I'll maintain that weight
  • Establish a sustainable yoga practice
  • Visit the physical therapist all my book club friends recommend and see if she can "fix" my right arm

Goal: Improve my use of time
Potential specific actions and habits:

  • Re-establish my Duolingo habit (which was an almost daily habit)
  • Figure out how to make social media work for me again - it has felt less like a useful thing recently, so I either need to change how I use it or decrease the time I spend on it. Or both.
  • Read a poem or two before bed most nights
  • Establish a sustainable meditation practice (which, like the yoga practice, is something I know would make me feel better if I could do it but still struggle to do)

Goal: Maintain good relationships 
Potential specific actions and habits:

  • Catch up with friends more often. I think this action isn't specific enough, so when I pick it off the list I'll try to be more specific about what habit I want to establish.
  • (There are a couple of additional items here that I've decided to keep private
I also want to keep up what I'm doing with my kids (this is one area of my life I feel like I am doing pretty well at, but I need to keep in mind that this commitment of time and energy is a good choice I'm making!)

Goal: Be a good global citizen
Potential specific actions and habits:

  • Re-establish my postcard writing habit
  • Take steps to decrease carbon usage, e.g.: get a heat pump (our heater needs replacing so we're going electric), get solar panels, eat less meat.

Goal: Improve my career happiness
Potential specific actions and habits:

  • Untangle the mess. I don't have a clear idea of what I want to achieve in my work life and that is bothering me. I saw parallels to the mess of tangled yarn I accidentally created and had to untangle - I wrote more about that in my newsletter this month.
  • Write more. This is another action that isn't specific enough and that I plan to make more specific when I pick it off the list.

Goal: Experience more joy
Potential specific actions and habits:

  • Take more walks on the beach. (I have an idea of how to do this! I think I may pick this for next month)
  • Complete at least one embroidery project and see if that might be the creative outlet I've been looking for.
  • Eat more ice cream. (This seems simple, but not when you balance it with the calorie counting goal above... so basically the specific action is to figure out how to fit more ice cream into my calorie "budget"!)
That's a big list! I am curious to see if this new approach works better than a small list of big things. 

I have already started on my list: My two items for January are calorie counting and Duolingo. Both are going well. I've only missed a couple of days of Duolingo, and I've already lost 4 pounds. I think the rapid weight loss is because I was up a couple of extra pounds after the holidays and those dropped pretty quickly. I don't expect to maintain this weight loss velocity - I am now down to what my "standard" weight has been for about 5 years. I'd like to lose more and get down to what my standard weight was before I gained 5 pounds at the start of perimenopause. I'll be interested to see if calorie counting can get me there. It has been the only way I've managed to lose weight, but it is not my favorite thing to do! I'll need to keep the habit going for several months, though, if I want to lose another 5-6 pounds and maintain at that new weight.

Maybe I'll try to keep myself honest by posting what my specific actions are each month. Hmmmm. Check back in February to see if I decide to do that!


  1. O/T: My husband just sent me pictures from Le parfait Paris (he's in SD for a conference)... would I be able to count calories living in SD? I'm not sure. On the one hand there's more amazing food... on the other hand it's more intensely flavored and it's always all around so maybe you get used to it and know there will be more amazing food later?

    1. Ha! Yes, there is a lot of good food here. But there's also a reasonably high number of places that have good food that is pretty healthy! Plus, exercising is easier here because the weather is almost always good for it.

  2. re : tweet:
    "My husband and I try to share parenting equally. But there is 1 thing that is a big drain on my time and not my husband's time which try as I might I cannot share: scheduling kid events.

    "Party invites and the like come only to me >90% of the time."

    I solve this problem by never giving my email address or phone number. All the email stuff comes to our joint junk email. All the texts go to DH's phone because that's the only number they have.


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