New season, new goals

Fall in the Public Gardens

I know that it’s not technically fall yet, but I can’t help looking ahead eagerly to my favorite season. Like the springtime, fall brings a fresh start. To some, spring may represent the growth and renewal of life, while fall signifies its decay. I disagree. The trees shaking their leaves bare feels more like a cleanse than a deterioration. Minimalism brings a different kind of abundance.

Perhaps fall feels like a new beginning to me because my birthday falls early in the season. This year I turn 23, a year that’s supposed to be one of the best of my life. According to a study by The Centre for Economic Performance (London), life satisfaction peaks at age 23, and then again at age 69. Why 23? It seems that twenty-three year olds, fresh out of college and eager to take on the world, overestimate their future life satisfaction by about ten percent. This is before the disappointment of adulthood kicks in, and we become disillusioned as our hopes and dreams come crashing down (at age 24, apparently).

This sounds depressing, but if I only have a year to remain foolishly optimistic, then I’m going to make the most of it. Twenty-two was a beautiful year for me, full of adventures and achievements, some mistakes but mostly laughter. As far as I’m concerned, life can only continue to get better.

Like the seasons, birthdays are excellent landmarks for “resetting” and goal setting. Here are a few for fall and beyond:

  •  Read (another) ten books.Witchy nails, fall 2011
  • Put my library card to better use (instead of draining my wallet into every bookstore I cross).
  • Buy an indoor plant (keep it alive) and discard the ones that died over the summer…
  • Go apple picking.
  • Carve a pumpkin.
  • Come up with my best Halloween costume yet.
  • Finish my Christmas shopping by November.
  • Show better appreciation for the people in my life, and all they do for me.
  • Aim for two minutes of meditation per day.
  • Schedule alone time each week to read, write, reflect, breathe.

Just ten goals for now. Not 23, or an extra for good luck. I’m sure this list will continue to grow, but I’m more excited for what life decides to throw at me.

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On setting goals

Lists

Photo of lists

I live by lists. To do, to read, to cook, to buy, to pay, to try, to learn, to visit, to revisit … I have lists on my phone, my computer, my calendar, my notebook, my blog; Post-It’d up on the wall, scribbled on spare scraps of paper, and inked onto the back of my hand. You would think that such a commitment to time management would make me hyper-organized, but really I’m just out of breath. I’m constantly wrapped up in lists, planning for something, but often feel like I’m racing to catch up to my own schedule.

These lists as a whole translate into cyclical checkpoints: small, near-reaching goals that are “ticked” as quickly as they are written. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about goals as the big picture: Long-term, short-term, personal, professional… The privilege of being young and having so many options is liberating. The burden, however, is being young and completely disillusioned by time.

I want to believe that I have all the time in the world, to go and grow and fail and fix. How is it possible to have so much time and so little to waste? It’s a constant ebb and flow of abundance and thirst. The more I have, the more I want. But it doesn’t work that way.

Setting Goals

The Internet is lush with information on setting goals. Blog posts reveal the facts and figures, while Pinterest boards inspire users to pin their way to organized perfection. I found tips on setting goals for health and fitness, for financial planning, for professional development, and for 20-somethings specifically.

I’m definitely an advocate for setting goals, and believe they are something that should be reevaluated more than once a year. But I was relieved when I came across this article on the Huffington Post claiming that setting goals can do more harm that good. Stephanie Zamora writes that you should only have 2-3 priorities in your life at a time, or else you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed by exhaustion and disappointment.

At first I thought, “Great, now I need another list for priorities…” But the lesson here is to step back and decide what is truly important, and focus your time and energy doing those things. I had some trouble choosing only three, but I think these most accurately reflect the things that I want and love, in this moment. In no particular order:

Writing

Photo of notebook

This has recently become a joy for me. Although I majored in writing in college, I always approached it from the business standpoint: marketing, publicity, sales… I never thought that I would pursue writing in the creative sense, and actually enjoy doing it. This is a goal where I would like to focus more attention.

Objectives: Get better at curating material and develop a more concrete editorial calendar for this blog.

Travel

Photo Vally of Phocis

This, on the other hand, has been a lifetime love affair. There are few things I enjoy more than packing a bag and hitting the road, whether it is to discover a new place or return to my roots. It is thrilling to meet new people and indulge in new experiences, as it is a distinct pleasure to reconnect with familiar faces and places. Travel is an opportunity I hope to take advantage of for the rest of my life.

Objectives: Just keep going.

Health

Photo of yoga mat

How can any of us do anything without our health? My health is necessary to fulfill the aforementioned and any future goals in my life, and should be a priority. Also, there is something so fulfilling about being able to open a really tough jar. Early on, my lack of hand-eye coordination seriously hampered the development of any actual athletic ability. But I do enjoy a variety of physical activities, like running and yoga.

Objectives: Pay equal attention to mental health; Take the time to relax and unwind.

To live life by time’s watch is constricting; what is truly liberating is the ability fall into step with life as it comes. I don’t think that I’ll be able to relinquish my dependence on lists completely (I mean, I still need a list of top ten places to travel, right?). But I’m glad I’ve whittled away enough to put a few not-so-important objectives on the back burner. I’ll make a note to reevaluate in six months, but I’ll be okay if I lose it somewhere between the lines.

Goals for summer and beyond

Photo of kayaking on Charles River

Dreaming of summer

This will be my first summer in Boston where I’m no longer in school, and I can’t believe how much time I have on my hands. I feel like I’m at a good point in my life to share some of my thoughts, my writing, and the things I love. I hope you’ll join me as I learn my way through my twenties, reading between the lines.

I’ve compiled a list of things I would like to try/do/see this summer –both in and out of Boston. These objectives are certainly not limited to this list, nor do I have to check off every empty box. This is more of a flexible list of hopefully achievable goals.

Summer 2013 bucket list:

  • Write something everyday. Even if it’s just a thought or a Tweet
  • Post to this blog at least once per week
  • Go kayaking on the Charles River AGAIN (photo from last summer above)
  • Spend as much time as possible with my amazing friends
  • Reconnect with old friends
  • Go to a wine tasting
  • Discover some awesome new restaurants and bars
  • Wander through outdoor markets on the weekends
  • Soak up some culture at local museums, parks, festivals…
  • Take my cooking to a new level and try some new recipes (like learn to make ice cream)
  • Find the best ice cream in the city if/when I fail at making my own
  • Find a few beautiful new places to run
  • Read. Lots of articles, blogs, and at least 10 books
  • Do outdoor yoga
  • Grow my indoor garden with potted plants and herbs (and keep them alive…)
  • Take a class: An art class, computer workshop, or even a webinar on finance management
  • Discover some new bookstores (preferably indie and perfectly charming)
  • Walk everywhere and spend as much time outdoors as possible
  • Get completely lost visiting a place I’ve never been before
  • Have several deep and meaningful conversations with the people I love
  • Do some traveling: Already booked to visit my family twice this summer
  • Take a few moments each day to bask in perfect happiness

I definitely hope to carry many of these goals and habits over into the fall: Write regularly, cook creatively, discover curiously, and spend quality time with friends and family —to name a few. But for now, I’ve got my sights set on summer.