New Year’s is a time of renewal, challenging yourself to turn over a new leaf. I believe it’s an overall truth (and certainly one for me) that people are more likely to succeed if their goals are specific, measurable, achievable, and held to some sort of accountability. That’s why, when I was already thinking of some areas of my life I wanted to improve, the Imagined Landscapes “Goal-along,” or GAL, was particularly timely, in that it provides that accountability (and encouragement!) aspect.
Sarah of Imagined Landscapes has proposed picking four areas of your life where you’d like to set goals. Each should be balanced and have monthly goals for the next four months, with each month building on the last. Sarah, it seems, could only limit herself to five areas where she wanted to see results, and it turns out that I’m the same. You can read about Sarah’s here, but hers involve running, spending time with friends, reading, designing, and homeschooling.
Because Sarah and I are both knitters, it’s natural to think of knitting as a possible sphere. However, I don’t actually need motivation there. I’m a knitter; therefore, I knit. I don’t need the framework of a GAL to dictate progress. However, a related aspect is designing. Sarah wants to release one pattern of a month. Remember that “achievable” aspect? This would not be realistic for me. However, I do want to make sure I focus on the designing. I’ve had success over the past year proposing patterns to indie yarn dyers to get yarn support (read: free yarn) for new designs, and this has been great. However, my efforts at professional publication have fizzled. But you can only try, try again, right? Therefore, my goal for this sphere is to propose at least one design a month for either publication or to an indie dyer for collaboration. Since some are going to fail, this won’t mean the unrealistic one design a month – but some just might work.
Next is that New Year’s perennial favorite: health. I could probably eat better, but we cook most of our meals, and most of those are pretty balanced. Besides, I’m not motivated to change my eating habits, so the likelihood that any goal I set would fail is high. However, on the other side of the health coin, I’m motivated. I want to exercise more. Specifically, I want to get back into running. I ran two half-marathons before my first son was born and really liked that distance. After he was born, I had huge troubles with my IT band and piriformis muscle, such that I couldn’t run even a mile or two without pain. I went to a physical therapist and got some exercises that really made a difference – as long as I did them daily. I don’t know that I have enough time in my life right now that I’d be willing to donate to pursuing a half-marathon at this moment. The good news is that my younger son is about to turn 1, so I’m about to get about an hour a day back that has been devoted to pumping breast milk. (Huzzah!! Goodbye, pump! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!) I propose to reclaim some of these hours and exercise, mostly by running, at least 3 days a week, building back up to a 5K by March. And so that I can do that running without pain, I will do the necessary exercises to strengthen and stretch my IT band every day, when I wake up and before I go to bed. I got a great start on January 1 by doing a 5K (okay, mostly walking), but it was excellent motivation to make running a habit again.
Next is social. We live in Africa; our family and most of our friends live in the United States. Talking is hard. The 8- to 9-hour time difference means we can’t call most people during the week because one side is always either asleep or at work. This means our calls home take place on the weekends, and we pretty much only manage to talk to our parents. I need to call my grandparents more often. And, since they’re retired, I can call during the week during my evening hours and their day hours. For this sector, I propose to call one family member or friend other than my parents at least once a week, focusing on my grandparents.
Next: we’re moving in less than 6 months. I hate moving. I hate the mess and the stress and the fact that I will ultimately lose the control I crave because everything will be a horrible jumble that can in no way be organized in a way my brain demands – and even more so, because “professional” (questionable) movers will be in charge of the packing and moving. We will also have a weight limit, the same as it was a few years ago before our family grew from 3 to 4 (and thus acquired a whole nother person’s worth of stuff). I need to start the decluttering NOW. For this aspect, I propose to spend an increasing number of hours per month getting rid of STUFF and donating it.
Finally, taking care of myself. While all of the previous four goals will benefit me, I’m setting a goal as a special treat. At least once a week, I want a special treat for myself. It can be small, and it can vary. Ideas that present themselves at this moment include taking a hot bath, preparing and enjoying a tea tray with a cup of tea and a few cookies, sitting outside in my favorite chair and reading a book for a little bit, getting a massage, etc. Each of these might only take 15-30 minutes, but I think they would do me a world of good.
So, here’s the breakdown, with monthly goals and time commitments:
January: Submit at least one design proposal for publication or to an indie designer
February: Submit at least one design proposal for publication or to an indie designer
March: Submit at least one design proposal for publication or to an indie designer
April: Submit at least one design proposal for publication or to an indie designer
Time commitment: 1 to 5 hours per month
January: Do strengthening exercises twice a day, exercise 3x a week, working up to running a 5K without pain
February: Do strengthening exercises twice a day, exercise 3x a week, working up to running a 5K without pain
March: Do strengthening exercises twice a day, exercise 3x a week, run a 5K
April: Do strengthening exercises twice a day, exercise 3x a week, continue building distance
Time commitment: 90 minutes to 3 hours per week = 6 to 12 hours per month
January: Call a family member or friend once a week
February: Call a family member or friend once a week
March: Call a family member or friend once a week
April: Call a family member or friend once a week
Time commitment: 30 minutes per week = 2 hours per month
January: Spend 1 hour this month getting rid of stuff
February: Spend 2 hours this month getting rid of stuff
March: Spend 3 hours this month getting rid of stuff
April: Spend 4 hours this month getting rid of stuff
Time commitment: 1 to 4 hours a month
January: Enjoy a special treat for myself once a week
February: Enjoy a special treat for myself once a week
March: Enjoy a special treat for myself once a week
April: Enjoy a special treat for myself once a week
Time commitment: 30 minutes to 1 hour a week = 2 to 4 hours a month