In late 2014, I took a major leap. I left my job of three years directing a nonprofit history museum and spent two months traveling to see friends and family. When I returned home in early 2015, I was ready to begin focusing on a new career path as a writer.
I knew this would require a lifestyle revolution. I also knew, because I know myself, that without a written list and specific goals to reach for, I would not make any changes. Thanks to a post from Nadia Goodman on TED, I also had a framework in which to set my resolutions.
- Choose a goal that matters, not just an easy win.
- Focus on the process, not the outcome.
- Frame your goals positively.
- Prepare for failure (in a good way).
Et voilà – my (slightly abridged) list, with the “whys” behind them. I have this list printed out in fancy font on decorative paper, which I keep in the binder I use for my printed weekly to-do lists.
1. Establish my writer’s life
I have a great opportunity now, with Bugman supporting me, with his recent acquisition of tenure, with my recent cutting loose from a job – I need to take advantage of this. From childhood, I have expressed interest in writing. More than any other vocation/avocation, writing allows me to fully be myself – to ask questions and think. I have a talent for words, and others appreciate my work. I need to do this. If I do not pursue this avenue now, I may never do it. Who knows how long I have left? What if I develop a serious illness, as another member of my family has? Not everyone gets to live and be productive into their 80s. I may have already spent half or more of my life. I need to do this now.
2. Lose 15-20 pounds
I want to look better in my clothes, particularly in a swimsuit in Hawaii. This extra weight does not match with my self-image as a fairly athletic, in-control, sturdy-but-lean person. I need to take reasonable care of myself physically and sartorially to improve my self-worth and mental health so I can function at my best.
3. Do conditioning exercises
I need to have a strong base in order to avoid being injured when I run.
4. Sign up for organized bike rides and runs
I want to continue to run/bike because it has become a part of my identity, I have made great friends, seen the country and spent precious time with Bugman while running and biking. I want the life I have to be of quality, to the extent I can control that. Quality means avoiding debility, whether in the form of disease or physical deterioration through misuse. In particular, I want to stay mentally healthy as long as possible. Exercise itself can improve brain function.
5. Create a financial plan
We have become spendthrift – a far cry from our early days of marriage. With our drop in income through me leaving my job, we need to pay more careful attention to our spending habits. We need to have a financial plan, and ensure we are setting aside enough income to cover our needs in our later years. Seeing my family member’s predicament has sharpened my focus on how much money we might need if we become chronically ill – we don’t have kids to take care of us. The money we would be spending on kids we should be putting away for our later care.
6. Nurture personal connections
With a work-from-home setup, it will be increasingly important to make connections with people other than Bugman. Human connections are critical to mental health, and, in the end, are what will sustain us. It is the summation of what it means to be human.
7. Have new experiences / continue to learn
I want to continue to grow as a person. Learning new things is fulfilling to me – it’s part of my core personality. I’m afraid that if I don’t make an effort to do new things, I will stagnate mentally.
8. Community service / service to others
I want to demonstrate that a person doesn’t have to be religious to be a good person and a community servant. I want to pay it back / forward: we have been very lucky, and I think we are morally obligated to help pay our way in this world and to give others a leg up.
If you have resolutions you want to share, or a way that you keep your resolutions in front of you, share in the comments.
Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw