In recent years, I’ve dedicated myself to a concept at the start of the year, rather than a list. Past years have featured concepts such as slow living, authenticity and balance.
Although I’m quite drawn to thematic New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve not yet sorted out what this year’s watchword is. So I’m going to revert to form and list ten small, discrete goals I’d like to commit myself to in the coming months.
a. Take more baths. I’ve long suspected that, much like the pet vs. anti-pet distinction – you can neatly break people into two groups: those who are pro-bath and those who are pro-shower. (Apparently, I’m right! There’s a whole #teambath vs. #teamshower debate I’ve blissfully ignored for years.) Given the rapidity with which I approach life, I’ve always stood solidly in the shower camp. But I want to make 2020 the year of the bath – at least once or twice a week. I think it will help me to sleep better. And, courtesy of my 16 year-old, we now possess about 50 assorted bath bombs and I’m curious to see whether those actually make a difference. Some people drink wine in baths. I think I’m going to try reading…which brings me to my next resolution.
b. Watch more good TV. My husband and I don’t watch a lot of television. On weeknights, we read before we go to sleep. And we’ve deliberately chosen not to subscribe to Netflix, Amazon TV or any of the other streaming services so as to make watching television that extra bit harder. But we also know how very good television has become over the past decade and are woefully behind on household names such as The Crown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Shtisel. So on weekend evenings, I’m going to priotise good TV and see how many of these series we can work our way through. (Have already tried – and dropped – Fleabag. Sorry to disappoint.)
c. Work less. I’ve fessed up before to how hard I find it not to work on weekends. Although the ultimate goal here is to stop working on weekends altogether, I don’t think a cold turkey approach is realistic for me. But I do think I can manage to adopt a 24/6 strategy. Stealing a page from Tiffany Schlain’s new book, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week, which is all about unplugging from technology one day a week, I’d like to extend this concept to work altogether. I made this commitment about 10 years ago – declaring the Sabbath “me-time” – and I really did feel the mental and physical benefits. So I’m going to try and renew this vow in 2020.
d. Schedule in Admin Time. One of the things I can never quite find enough time for is the assorted admin that governs both my work and personal lives: responding to emails, billing clients, keeping track of expenses, planning blog posts. If you subscribe to the Getting Things Done methodology (and I now do, courtesy of Nozbe), you’re also meant to check in with all of your projects – as well as an empty drawer you stuff things into – once a week. Nozbe recommends that you find a nice place to do your half day of admin – a nice cafe, etc. – to make your administrivia more palatable. I think I first need to find that half-day, commit to it, and then find the location. (Currently eyeing converted Edwardian era laundry-turned-cafe/pub in my ‘hood.)
e. Write more. A little bit over a year ago, I began writing fiction. But I’ve also conceptualized a series of essays about family. While I’m at it, I need to find an agent for my book manuscript or bite the bullet and self-publish. Because writing for me is a joy, I try to be less hard on myself in this department than I am about hitting goals in my paid work. But there are certain milestones I’d like to hit this year – like getting a short story accepted – and that requires putting in the work.
f. Walk more. I don’t own a car, so that certainly gives me a leg up on this goal already (no pun intended). But most of my walking is purpose-driven: it gets me from A to B. On Christmas Day, I took a long, meandering walk around my neighborhood while listening to a podcast. It was utterly refreshing. I am blessed to live in a city with a seemingly infinite number of wonderful nooks and crannies, many of which you wouldn’t know about unless you stumbled upon them. So I am going to try and take more advantage of walking in the New Year. Lucky for me, new research suggests that my naturally brisk pace may decelerate aging. Yippee!
g. Eat less meat. Yeah, yeah. I know. Everybody’s doing it. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to cut down on your meat intake. Especially if you’re a meat and potatoes gal such as myself. But after listening to a recent BBC Radio 4 programme featuring author Jonathan Safran Foer on what we as individuals can do to help mitigate climate change, I decided I could make an effort in this direction. Foer says , “There are four acts which matter significantly more than all others, these are flying less, going car free, having less children and adopting a plant-based diet.” I’ve already done #2, it’s too late for #3 and I’m somewhat limited on #1 by where I live in relation to friends and family. That left eating less meat.
h. Meditate longer. I’ve long prided myself on my near-daily mindfulness practice. But my husband – a fellow Headspace aficionado – recently suggested that I increase my daily dose of meditation from 10 minutes to 15, as he does. Initially, I resisted. “I’ve got too much to do!” I retorted. He arched an eyebrow. So I tried it. He’s right. It’s better.
i. Create a new set of affirmations. This one’s a case of “Practice what you preach.” Not only have I extolled the virtues of affirmations on this blog, I also encourage clients to use affirmations to set and achieve their business goals. But your goals shift over time, so it’s important to update your affirmations accordingly. Check.
j. Celebrate the Sabbath. I don’t mean this literally. But I’ve discovered that one of the most important ways for me to relax on weekends is not to go out on Friday nights. Whenever I do it, I always feel exhausted and anxious on Saturday morning, even if I had a good time. So I am going to start turning down all social invitations for Friday nights. Bonus! This will make more time for more “good TV”!
As I look over this list, I’m not quite sure if they add up to a collective watch word for 2020. I’ll keep working on that…
What do you hope to achieve in 2020?
Image: Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash