Almost since the time I first started blogging, I’ve made a habit of kicking off each new year with a post about goals. I would look at how I did in meeting or making progress towards my goals for the previous year, and then I would look ahead and set some goals for the new year.
I’m not doing that this year.
You see, the past year (and the last few months in particular) have given me a lot of time to think about goals. And I think I’ve come to the conclusion that not just setting them, but also sharing them and assessing myself publicly is a recipe for disaster for me.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of benefits to sharing your goals with others. If people know what you want to work towards, they can encourage you and hold you accountable along the way. Sharing your progress, whether great or small, can also give you a nice self-confidence boost and possibly even inspire others to pursue their own goals and dreams.
But let’s be real with each other: 2020 was not a year for achieving goals. Even for those who found themselves with a lot more free time on their hands, so many of us were stretched thin as we navigated the loss of work, loss of loved ones, anxiety about the general state of things, adjustments to new work or educational environments, isolation from friends and family… the list goes on. In short, a lot of us were in “survival mode,” and some days it was all we could do to get out of bed and eat breakfast.
Or maybe that doesn’t describe you. Maybe, despite the circumstances, you found ways to keep yourself motivated and inspired. Maybe you learned how to make sourdough bread or you picked up a new instrument. Maybe the accomplishments you made in 2020 weren’t the ones you set out to do at the beginning of the year, but you’re proud of them anyway.
Look, I don’t know your life. Maybe you relate to one of these descriptions, or maybe you’re somewhere in the middle. My point is, 2020 served as a pretty stark reminder that time is unpredictable. Even in a “normal year” (whatever that means), things come up – you get a job offer you weren’t expecting, your car needs repairs, you part ways with a friend, your sister has a baby… etc. Try as we might to make plans and set goals, disruptions always happen.
To be honest, I didn’t really have any Big Life Plans for 2020 (which was terrifying in its own way, but that’s another story). I was going to be a library intern for a few months, finish my last few classes, graduate from university in May, get a summer job, apply to grad school… and just about all of that vanished faster than you can say “global pandemic.” Even some of my more personal goals, like keeping my workout routine, disappeared once I no longer had access to a gym (never mind that I barely had the energy to move myself from my bed to my desk, let alone do a full workout).
That’s not to say the year was just an endless pit of despair (although it definitely felt like that for a while). I was able to spend a lot of time with my family, I did end up finding a job, and I moved to my own place for the first time. I read a lot more books than I have in years past, I found a new hobby, and I participated in NaNoWriMo in November. (I shared more of my highlights of the year in my 2020 In Review post if you haven’t seen it yet).
Point is, life is crazy and unpredictable and just plain weird sometimes. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make goals or plans. I’ll admit that I did write out some 2021 goals for myself, though I decided to be less aggressive than usual. But as for sharing them on the internet, I’ve decided to pass on that this year. Maybe things will change in 2022 and I’ll start sharing again, but I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it. This year, my goals are just between me, my bullet journal, and God. If I accomplish them, great! If not, then at least I won’t have to make a public confession about it on my blog next January.
I think that’s really what this comes down to. Every year when I write about my previous goals, I try to focus on the good, but I inevitably find myself focusing on my failures instead. Having to write about my setbacks later actually makes it harder to move on from them – they stick around longer than they should (or, as the meme goes “they live in my head rent-free”).
I don’t need that added frustration this year, not while I’m still trying to get my life back in order. Well, that might not happen, but you get the idea. I’m still going to try to read a lot, write a lot, try new things, and take care of myself, but it’s just going to be for myself.
So, no big long post about my ambitious goals this year. As for all of you readers, I hope that regardless of whether or not you’re a goal-setter, you have an excellent year full of good things – even unexpected ones.