Just yesterday I renounced New Year’s resolutions and goal-making in general, but it’s been shown that creating New Year’s goals is a great start to achieving them (and not setting goals is a surefire way to miss the mark entirely). I’m still sticking to my systems, but there are a number of outcomes I’m aiming at in 2016.
1. Get Married.
Yep, it’s a goal–my fiance and I have been together over two years, and we’ve spent the majority of that time learning about spousal immigration and more than half that time filling out and filing forms and waiting (and waiting…and waiting…) for their approval.
Now we’re finally at the embassy, and while we’re still gathering the funds necessary to complete this journey, knowing we’re nearing its end is one of the most exciting and meaningful and, yes, even stressful parts of my life going into the new year–but I love him so much, and I value our time together and the life we’re going to share, so it’s no surprise how much weight finally getting married holds for me as 2016 begins.
2. Graduate. Again.
This will be my last semester at NC State and my fourth of a at least five graduations (high school, associate degree, bachelor’s, master’s in math, and finally my master’s in education–see more below). However, there’s still a long way to go: two killer classes and my own original research. But, eh, the stress will motivate me to do my best. ;-)
Honestly, though, I love learning–it’s one of my greatest passions and deepest values, and I love being able to share that learning with others–that is, after all, why I’ve tutored for over five years and why I’m making a career in education. Discovery and broadening horizons is a passion of mine, and while studying (and getting stumped and getting lousy grades and striving constantly to pull all the pieces together) can be stressful, it’s only stressful because it matters so much to me–and that’s why I’m going to put my all into finishing strong at NC State. It’s been my home for so long, it’s what I deserve.
3. Transition to Teach for America
A number of years ago, NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty announced that January begins the Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary Things Together–it was his way of challenging November novelists to take that spirit of literary abandon and fill a whole year with it.
I wasn’t sold.
But I’m often reminded of his passion to draw people together in the pursuit of perpetual betterment, and this year I’m doing the Biggest, Funnest, Scariest Thing I’ve ever done: Moving across the country to take a new job in a city I’ve never been to before.
In August I’ll be moving to Milwaukee to teach high school math with Teach for America, and I’ll let you in a little secret: I’m really nervous. But in the coming months I’ll have learning modules from TFA to work through, and over the summer I’ll be in Houston, Texas, for a crash course in classroom management and first-year teaching.
Thankfully, I won’t be alone–I’ll have my family, my corps members, my Milwaukee support staff, as well as my husband-to-be and all of you to help me a long.
So, yeah, I’m kinda excited for this Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary Things Together.
4. Focus on Fitness
“Fitness” has been one of my goals for the last decade probably, and this year I’m getting real about it–but I’m also redefining it. In the past I’ve seen exercise as a purely physical, possibly even vain commitment: I wanted to look good to feel good.
That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.
Now, today, I’m taking things back to the original 1570 meaning of fitness: “the state or quality of being suitable” [to live life]. Fitness, for me, must mean more than being physically fit and healthy–not only must I ingrain my physical exercise habits, but I must also habituate mindfulness practice and reframe my stress mindset.
This will no doubt be an ongoing goal, but I’m already working on it: I’ve been studying mindfulness for a few months, I’m registered for a yoga class that’ll help me learn yogic philosophy (which coincides with mindfulness a lot), and I’m prepared to jump in the pool to work my muscles all they need to be–which is great, because I know staying physically active is a tremendous aid to maintaining my mood health.
I’m also reading Kelly McGonigal’s book The Upside of Stress, a 301-page continuation of her TED Talk “How to make stress your friend” (which I still rewatch regularly). I’m already taking the small action steps to reframe my stress response, as perhaps you noticed above as I related how the things that matter most to me are also those things that bring me the most stress and how stress is often a motivating, focusing asset.
5. Live wholeheartedly.
Another confession: I don’t think I’ve ever lived life wholeheartedly, and if one thing stood in the way of my achieving last year’s goal of living a life full of love, it was the fact that I’ve covered up my fears and feelings of shame with shields of perfectionism.
And all these barriers around my heart have only lead me down a path of depression and anxiety, a rubric for personal failure and continual self-destruction.
This sort of work is life work, the kind that I’ve got to keep coming back to, the kind that has no real end, but only a spectra of continua–but if I don’t admit my flaws now and come to terms with my own vulnerabilities, it’ll only become harder to let down my false shields and live the life I want to lead as the person I want to be.
Brené Brown has become my spirit guide in this journey, and it’s the least I can do to share her with you. I first watched her TED Talks this past summer, and they brought me to tears, and I’ve been meaning to watch them again but they speak so much truth to me, I’ve been too afraid to listen. Sometimes it just hurts so much, seeing all my cracks and fissures and the pieces that no longer seem to fit together.
Now I’m reading her book The Gifts of Imperfection, and I know it’s a book I’m going to come back to, time and time again, as I learn the necessary steps to living life full of authenticity–a higher and more spiritual form of the honesty I already try to embody.
I’ve only been reading the book for a few days, but I already feel I’m gaining the self-awareness I need to make the changes I need, and alongside Kelly’s work on stress, I know these are two goals I’ll make significant progress with this year–and I plan to use my platform here to share my steps and self-growth along the way.
So, yeah, these goals are the foundations of the systems I’ve built (and will continue to build) to make the most of this year, but they’re goals nonetheless. What are yours?