Goals, Failures, and Achievements - Looking Back on 2017 and Ahead to 2018

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

I love goal setting. I'll do goal work any time of the year, because goals and the routines that come with them are vital to my productivity. Without goals, I'd spend all of my free time dorking around on the Internet and playing Guild Wars 2 for a week at a time. Not that I've ever done that... *cough*

The last couple of years I've been late in setting my New Year's goals. Last year it was February, this year it was the middle of January. Maybe next year, if the trend continues I'll actually make it to January first or a couple of days before. In this post, I'm going to break down my 2017 goals, talk about my progress, including a check-in I had with myself in July, and then go into my 2018 goals. This post is going to be long, and it's more for me than for you (it's pretty much all about me), but for those who want to stalk me er, get to know me better, taking a look at my goals is a great way to see what drives me.

I am blessed to be at a time in my life where I don't have to work full-time and I don't yet have children to care for. This won't always be the case, and I am determined to take advantage of this stage of my life to educate myself and to develop time-management skills and habits that will serve me in the future.

Before I set my 2017 goals, I did some research on effective goal setting. I came across Zig Ziglar's wheel of life that describes all of the different areas of your life where you can set goals, and the SMART and SMARTER acronyms that help you to make those goals more than just dreams. Of all of the blog posts/articles I found online about goal setting, this one was my favorite. Moving on.


Goals of 2017



Family/Romantic

My family goal wasn't exactly lofty--just to keep spending Sunday afternoons/evenings with my husband as date days. We started the year off strong, but by July had fallen out of the habit. When I revisited my goals in July, I made a point of making it a priority again. We had to cancel a few times when other social or work things came up later, but that was relatively rare. We spent most of our time watching anime, eating popcorn and banana ice cream, and talking to each other. We watched a lot of anime.

I also suckered my husband into making goals with me in 2017, which proved to be a fun date activity, but there were definitely some areas where he just made goals to keep me happy. So maybe don't push your spouses to make goals with you unless the goal is relevant to them and they enjoy doing it, like financial milestones, or when you plan to have kids.

For our fourth anniversary we went on a hike in a park that I had never visited before---which I think is just a couple of miles away from my parents' house. Gofigure.







Social

Here my goal wasn't quite specific enough to begin with, and I had to refine it more throughout the year. I started with "Meet with a friend who is about my age at least once/month and do a fun/social activity." Yawning yet? Just typing that makes me want to take a nap. I had subsections under each of my goals where I wrote notes, action steps, and any other relevant info I needed to write down for myself later. Apparently I was debating among hosting anime parties, hosting tea parties, joining a writing critique group, joining a reading/book group, or trying to find a local Bible study that actually had young people.

Sometime in the middle of the year, I started having tea parties again and inviting the same five friends over, month after month (they were the only ones who ever expressed interest and/or showed up, so I just stopped inviting other people who I figured weren't interested, because I don't want to be a nag).  Over time the gals have gotten to know each other a little bit and we started adding a weird, different thing to each party: board games, anime, costumes, Secret Santa gift exchange, hot pot, curry, and other random stuff. It makes the gathering more fun and to gives us things to talk about.



Financial

I'm not going to go too much into the specifics of my financial situation, since y'all don't really need to know that, but at the beginning of the year we set a long-term goal to save up a specific amount of money for a specific purpose, and we're a lot further along on that goal than we thought we would be, since we've been throwing pretty much any extra money we can get at it, in addition to designating the money from all of my house-cleaning jobs for that specific thing.


Career

Here's where it gets a little rocky. I don't have a career. I have jobs, which I'm not super fond of. I mean, house cleaning and janitorial work has it's perks--people tend to leave me alone while I'm working and I get to listen to lots of audiobooks and podcasts. Also, my pay per hour is not bad at all, especially considering the menial nature of the job and the level of my formal education. However, I would love to be in a place where I can quit my jobs--all of them--and stay at home with children, or do some sort of super-cool volunteer work, or do some sort of entreprenuer thing (I have no idea what), or write books.

So for the sake of having a career goal, I wrote "Rewrite A Nobody's Tale fitting with new series notes." This did not happen. I think that maybe I cared a lot when I stared, but maybe not. I don't remember. When I re-evaluated in July, I noted that I hadn't cared about writing in months and decided to start working on homemaker-esque stuff and working on reviving my blog. I considered business possibilities, but nothing stuck. While the blog got a facelift, I think we can safely say that this one was mostly a failure for me. At least there's the future.


Spiritual

My "spiritual" goal was to read through the Old Testament again with my ESV study Bible, including reading the commentary, articles, notes, book introductions, etc. while using The Bible Project's Read Scripture Plan for order, and watching all of the videos that go with it. It was a low enough goal (about eight months' worth of daily reading on the plan if I had actually done it every day) that, even though I missed a bunch of days for reasons ranging from illness and other church Bible study homework to "I just don't feel like it," I still accomplished what I set out to do.



Physical

This is another one that could have perhaps been a little better. My actual goal was to lose a specific amount of weight, which I didn't lose, especially not at first. Instead I gained seven pounds more. I also wanted to do a short Pilates and yoga routine every day, since when I do this and stay away from sugar, virtually all of my joint pain disappears.

When I reviewed my goals in July, I was struggling to keep up with doing Pilates, eating well, etc. because we were helping my husband's whole family to move--two households were moving at the same time, to different houses! My physical health stuff got much easier to keep up with once everyone got reasonably settled in where they're going to be.

In November I discovered Dr. Joel Furhman's nutritarian diet style, which seemed to fit in with the diet experiments I had already been doing on myself during the year, just to see what helped me feel best, avoid mood swings and joint pain, etc. I'm still not doing it 100%, but definitely leaning that direction with my diet. Between the beginning of November and the middle of January, I lost about fifteen pounds, and I'm feeling better than ever. So while I didn't lose as much weight as I wanted, I feel good about how I ended the year.


Intellectual

My intellectual goal was the loosest, least specific goal that I made. The thing is, intellect is my favorite category, and I knew that I would do stuff here whether I pushed myself or not. I also wanted to have the freedom to read longer books, listen to podcasts, etc. and not feel like I was being rushed. In 2016 I had set my Goodreads goal to 100 books, which was indeed a stretch. I managed to finish 2016 with 102 books read, but it was exhausting and kept me from other, more important things in 2016. So in 2017 I set my Goodreads goal safely low, 50 books--and then read 68, which is pretty comparable to my relaxed 70 of 2015.  I didn't read quite as many of the books in my TBR pile that I had vaguely intended to read in 2017, but I don't feel too bad about it, since I read a lot more classics/old book than I usually do, courtesy of LibriVox free public domain audio books, which were way classier than what was in my TBR anyway.


Other Accomplishments of 2017

Another major intellectual accomplishment was when I did the Duolingo Esperanto course. It took me about four months, including only doing review during the month of November (my tenth year participating in NaNoWriMo) when I did a ton of research for a novel that I plan to re-write in 2018--but now I'm jumping ahead of myself. I never deliberately made a goal of  doing the Esperanto course, but I got in the habit of working on it thanks to Duolingo's "don't break the chain" model of motivation. I even had the app on my phone for awhile before my phone's pathetic low memory forced me to delete all but my most essential apps. It's a great course, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in learning the language.

After seeing the website I made for my church in 2016, another friend who runs a non-profit approached me about making them a website too, which I also did this year. The overall layout/template is pretty similar to this one, though the colors are in keeping with their own logo, etc. It took me about 25 hours to put together, since I also had to use my writer/journalist interviewer skills to come up with the content for the site.

Around about Thanksgiving, I also got back into crochet, and made seven hats for various family members for Christmas. I haven't crocheted or knitted in years, having abandoned it to try to focus on other things, but I think that it develops an aspect of me that I've been missing for the last few years, and helps my fidgety self to sit still for longer.


We also turned some of our bowls, salad plates, dinner plates, and platters into super-cool tea trays that match our dishes:




I also got a bigger table and rearranged my furniture so that my bike desk is in my kitchen and my table is in my living room, where my friends don't bang their heads on hanging pots when they come over:




I made a coat-hanger book stand, modified to stand up more vertically so that it could hold my exercise books:


I also made three different herbal infused oils, which I mostly turned into lip balm and salves, but also use to moisturize my face on a daily basis.

Y'all remember my soap-making adventure, right?

I also switched my pantry containers from plastic to glass (many of which I already had) and got rid of my plastic Ziploc containers in favor of glass mason jars and some thrift shop Pyrex containers. My favorite thing about that whole experience is not having to always wait for tons of plastic things to dry after I take them out of the dishwasher. The transition was a lot of work and took forever, but it was definitely worth it.

During the month of November, as my tenth NaNoWriMo project, I decided to break with tradition and spend the whole month researching for a book that I wanted to rewrite, but kept running into technical difficulties with. I spent 50 hours researching and collecting information on everything from wilderness survival, to nursing unconscious people in historical settings, to the culture and landscape of Slovenia. If you're interested, you can follow my research (and/or my personal boards) on Pinterest.

I also deliberately got into a rhythm of sleeping and waking up at 6 a.m., and then, when Daylight Saving Time ended, I decided to keep that hour and wake up at 5, which has allowed me to do a lot of little things that I would otherwise struggle to do without that early-morning time. I work a couple of evenings each week, so having a lengthy evening routine that's steady every day just doesn't work, and I need steady environment to form new habits, which brings me to my goals for 2018.


Goals for 2018


I was late again,  not even getting started until January 10th, when one of our children's pastors guest-taught the ladies Bible study for one day and encouraged us to make goals for the year. As an accomplishment-driven person, you'd think that I would have been all over this on New Year's Eve, but I was too busy all through the holidays, right up through the hot pot tea party I had with my gal friends on January 6th. I was doing well to shower. So January 10th was a good time. Things had stared to settle down. I'd even already taken care of my "my pants are falling down!" emergency with a shopping trip that Monday. It quickly became apparent, however, that I wouldn't be able to do everything on my list. In spite of how long this list appears, it is much shorter than it would be if I had a time turner. I had to prayerfully decide to not do several things. As it is, just about everything that made it on this list has a time slot on my calendar (including all of my domestic stuff, much like Lucy's Schedule), though I try not to schedule every moment of my life--that's a recipe for madness. And most of my goals are process-oriented, rather than product-oriented, because I can't control the exact amount of work I get done in the time I have allotted for each thing. All I can do is the best I can do, and leave it at that.


Family/Romantic

My goal here is to continue reserving Sundays after church as date time with my husband. This summer, I'd like to take more hikes with him. On a practical level means that we need to get an  Annual Northwest Forest Pass and actually plan/schedule certain hikes that we'll need limited entry permits for. I have a few specific hikes in mind that I want to take him on, but I'm not sure yet how frequently we'll want to do them. Maybe once/month while the weather stays nice? We'll see.

This year will also be our fifth wedding anniversary, so we have lots of celebrating to do and some big life things to discuss.


Social

My social goal this year is to continue having parties once/month, choosing a different theme for each one and/or rotating themes. The next one is going to be a curry and anime party. I'm interested in making a few of them girls' days out, partially for variety and partially so that I don't have as much to prepare. One friend wants to show the gals a cafe that has a good variety of loose leaf tea on their menu. I think that a coast trip or an easy hike could be fun. I'll have to see what everyone's up for as summer gets closer.

I've also reserved one day every week to work on research, blogging, plotting/outlining, and other writing things. That wouldn't be social except that a friend of mine, who is also a writer, has been coming over to my apartment or joining me at the library. We're probably more productive when we go to the library, since having loud, overly animated conversations is kind of frowned upon there, but it's hard to beat the constant availability of tea and the bathroom at home.

I'm also working on my conversational skills. If you want to start having better conversations, I highly recommend watching this Ted Talk by Celeste Headlee:



Financial

This year we're going to hit our savings goal and then discuss what to do next, whether that be upping the goal, saving for something else, or doing big life stuff and using some of what we've saved.


Intellectual & Hobbies

I'm dispensing with "career" goals this year. I'm not sure if any of my hobbies will ever become a paying job, and I'm not that worried about it. A lot of these goals are process/habit oriented, because creativity is a weird, elusive thing, and any time I put production pressure on it, poof! It disappears.


Writing:

For the last week and a half, I've been waking up every morning at 4:30 or 5 and working on fiction writing for half an hour. It's a short time--short enough that I don't drag my feet getting to the desk. I never seem to end in a spot where I want to stop, and I think that's a good thing. It makes me want to come back to the work day after day. I'm using this time specifically for fiction writing--not research for writing fiction, not plotting, not blog writing, and not journal writing. I disconnect my computer from the Internet the night before to minimize distractions. My current project is to revise/rewrite a standalone novel that I wrote for NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago. I'd like to get it query ready by the end of the year, but I'm not sure that I have quite enough time for that. We'll see--practice, not product is the real goal here.

As I mentioned earlier under my social goals for this year, I've also reserved one day every week to work on research, blogging, plotting/outlining, and other writing things. If I don't have anything else I  specifically need to do, I could also use this time for working on my novel, but with the length of my "blog posts to write" list, I don't think I'll be doing that anytime soon. The next few will probably be recipe posts.

There are several writing craft books I would like to read/work through, though I'm not in any hurry. I'm also trying to catch up on the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast, and I want to focus more of my reading and audio-book listening time this year on fantasy fiction books, since that's the main genre that I like to write in, and I haven't read nearly as many fantasy books in the last ten years as I feel that I should have.


Reading:

My Goodreads reading challenge goal this year is to read 60 books, which for me is a pretty chill goal, for the same reasons as last year. I want to have time to read long epic fantasy books, work on exercises as I'm going through writing craft books, and also to listen to some podcasts while I'm at work. I have cut back on my podcast subscriptions, however, because I do want to regain my focus on writing, classics, and fantasy fiction. I have a half hour reserved for reading before bed most evenings, and my jobs allow me to spend a lot of time with headphones on during the day, so I'm pretty confident that I'll make some good progress in reading this year.


Esperanto:

Since I finished the Duolingo Esperanto Tree, I've been doing my best to review when the course tells me to. I'm not sure how long I'll do that, or if there's a mathematical spaced-repetition thing built into the course which causes skills to come up for review less and less frequently. I've also been reviewing some of the more difficult to remember words on Memrise, though I've opted to ignore a lot of the words I find easy (about 95% of the words in the Memrise course) for the sake of time. I have a half hour reserved for Esperanto study every morning, and if I have time left after reviewing on Duolingo and Memrise, I chip away at my collection of free/cheap Esperanto ebooks.

While I exercise in the morning, I listen to Esperanto audio for exposure to the spoken language. I'm also reading the New Testament in Esperanto this year, which I'll write more about later with my spiritual goals.


Music:

There's a reason why I play fipple flutes rather than piano or violin! I don't have a ton of time to practice my musical instruments---just four half-hour blocks during the week, but the instruments I play are easy enough that it's plenty of time to make progress. Right now I'm focusing on the soprano recorder. I'd like to learn more of the sharps and flats, as well as some of the challenging high notes. In my practice time, I'm working through The Beginner's Method for Soprano and Alto Recorder  Book 1 and Book 2 by Sonya and Gerald Burakoff. When I finish going through the course with the soprano recorder, I'd like to also learn the actual notes for the alto recorder, since I've only ever played it as a transposing instrument. I may even go back through and do the harmony stuff, but that'll be a long way off if I ever get there. Once I've made a reasonably thorough go at the books, I plan to write an in-depth review, much like the one I wrote for The Art of Ocarina Volume I Method Book and DVD.

I've also been reading through The Hymn Fake Book: A Collection of Over 1000 Multi-Denominational Hymns and marking the ones I find lyrically lovely, so that I have a starting place when I go hunting for new tunes. My hope and plan is to eventually start playing at church more regularly, but I'd like to do some less common and/or more musically challenging hymns. That may have to wait until after I've finished the recorder books though.

I'd also love to pick up the ukulele again. I'm thinking baritione this time. Or maybe the tambourine? I have no specific plans here, but in the next year or two, this could totally happen.


Crochet:

I have issues sitting still sometimes, like while watching TV, or at church. I have no idea how I managed to sit still for the five years I took public school. Did I fidget the whole time like I had ants crawling on me? If I did, no one said anything. Maybe my brain was engaged on a more active level. In any case, doing something with my hands seems to help me to almost look like a normal person on Sundays. I plan to continue crocheting at church and when I'm watching TV with my husband. Since the holidays are over and I'm done making hats for family members, I finally got the chance to make a hat for myself. It is a modified version of this pattern. I have a ton of this yarn, so I plan to make myself a lot of matching accessories, but I'll go into that more on a different, related goal area. Maybe someday I'll get back into knitting too, but for now I have plenty of crochet projects lined up.





Spiritual

As I said earlier, I'm reading the New Testament in Esperanto this year.  That's only 260 chapters, and I'm aiming for about one chapter each day, but some chapters are longer than others, and I'm sure there will be days when I'm on vacation or working on Bible study homework or something and won't have time to do it. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Reading the Bible in Esperanto has similar advantages to changing up your English translation, except that there are even less similar ways of expressing things. Since the New Testament text is so familiar to me, it's also an opportunity to learn new words without having to look up every single one.

I've heard tons of missionaries say things like "Reading the Bible in a language you understand goes to your head, but reading the Bible in your own language goes to your heart." This is probably true when whole groups of people get the Bible translated into their language for the first time, but I haven't found this to be the case for me in my  spoiled, American, English-is-my-first-language life. Maybe it's just the amount of exposure I've already had, but anything that slows me down, whether that be reading the Bible in a foreign language or memorizing whole chapters using Learnscripture.net, helps me to notice things I would otherwise miss entirely. My heart is also much more open when my mind is thoroughly engaged. This is probably a personality thing (INTJRavenclaw kid in the house!), but I also don't trust spiritual leaders who appeal mainly to emotions and don't speak to my mind.

I'm also continuing to attend Sunday services and ladies' Bible study at my church, but this year I plan to be more selective in which studies I'm going to wholeheartedly participate in, because I have limited time to read the Bible in the morning, and I don't want to waste that time doing homework for studies that don't hold my interest. I've done that a few times before, and it rarely better. I'll still go and meet with the gals, but I might not always buy the books and do the homework, because I'm working on my own Scripture-related projects.

In the half-hour time slot I have for devotions in the morning, I've also been reading The Hymn Fake Book: A Collection of Over 1000 Multi-Denominational Hymns. Thus far I'm averaging two pages each day (494 in the whole book), but there have been a couple of days when reading my one chapter took so long that I didn't have time to read any hymns. I've found a few lyrical gems. As I get older, I'm finding that I want something more grounded and historical. I'm burnt out on saccharine Christianity, loud noises, rock bands, flashy lights, fog machines (yes, really--I've seen this), and songs so repetitive that I can memorize them in one sing-through. I once read that people used to use hymnals as a daily devotional practice, not only to worship, but also to learn. I'm not sure if this went along with reading their Bibles, or if it was back before books were affordable, and hymnals were cheaper than the much larger Bibles, but it wouldn't surprise me if a lot of people still do this. I'm also enjoying the multi-denominational nature of this hymnal, because it exposes me to hymns outside of my particular Christian tradition and hints at how interpretations of scripture have changed over time. I think it 's helping to make me a more rounded person.

At some point I'd love to finish reading Bruce Gore's Historical and Chronological Context of the Bible (be warned that this is basically a textbook), and watching his Youtube series that goes with it, but I have no plans to do that in the near future. I also got The Mission of Jesus, the 14th volume of Ray Vaander Laan's That The World May Know DVD series for Christmas. I thought that maybe I would host one of the home group things my church is trying to start up and use it that way, but unless I quit some of my cleaning jobs or make "church" into my whole social life, I'm just not going to have time for that. Maybe my husband will watch them with me on Sunday evenings. There are also a ton of Youtube videos and podcasts on church history that I would be interested in listening to, but I have no specific plans at the moment.

My current Jesus-y podcasts/Youtube subscriptions include The Phil Vischer Podcast, Exploring My Strange Bible Podcast, and The Bible Project.


Physical

My weight loss goal is the same as last year, minus the net eight pounds I lost at the end of the year...and I'm still not going to tell you what I'm shooting for. To attain my goal weight, I plan to continue changing my diet to be more Eat To Live/Nutritarian diet style compliant, weighing myself regularly, riding my exercise bike while I practice Esperanto, doing a short Pilates & stretching routine every morning, and keeping up my active work life, which means a ton of cooking and cleaning.  I've scheduled two longer cooking times during the week so that I have plenty of time to prepare healthy foods for myself, my husband, and any social thing I'm hosting or attending. Packing large lunches helps me to stick to healthy foods while at work. Setting aside a couple of days each month for grocery shopping helps to keep us in fresh produce.

I have a few health-related books on my TBR list, but when I finish them, I'd like to start cutting back on my reading in this area. I have so much head-knowledge here that I need to put into practice that reading more books on the topic isn't the best usage of my reading time.

As I continue to lose weight, I plan to replace a lot of the clothes in my wardrobe with smaller clothes that fit me, are in my earth tone color palette, and don't have large prints, pictures, or words on them. I'm leaning toward earthy greens, browns, greys, cream, and minor accent colors. I plan to crochet a lot of my own hats and accessories so that I have sets of things that match perfectly, and I can mix and match without having to deal with browns that almost match, but not quite. I'm also trying to emphasize antiqued bronze finish type buttons, fasteners, ornaments, and jewelry. Basically, if it makes you think forest elf, or looks like it would go well with the hat that I crocheted for myself, I'd probably wear it.

I'm also working on developing a routine for makeup several times per week. I don't have time every day, but I can manage at least two or three mornings each week, if I keep it quick. I'm getting faster at it, too. It's amazing how much more put-together I feel after throwing on some eyeliner, mascara, blush, and some sort of lip product. When I have more time, I love to play with eye shadow looks too.

I've also got plans for growing out my hair, skin and hair care, improving my posture, walking more gracefully, and learning to make a number of personal care products and remedies from scratch. I'll spare you the details here, because this post is already too long, but you can bet that if I accomplish anything all that notable, I'll brag about it next year, if not sooner.


What are your goals and resolutions for 2018? Leave a comment below to start the conversation.

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