2017 was a great, but in a way embarrassing, year for me. Maybe that’s the mark of growth: when you look back and realize how much better you could have done things, if you were only as wise then as you are now. To be able to say that about a year alone is big step for me. But I want to dwell on that embarrassment a little bit.
When my recovery was speeding up, I became obsessed with achieving more. I so badly wanted to make up for the years of stagnation and loss. I set big, quantifiable goals, believing that the count would advance my progress and make me feel like I had truly succeeded. It worked, in a way, and I achieved a ton of things. But it came at the cost of intention. I was doing things for the count and not for the purpose. For the function, not the sentiment.
And that changes this year. Instead of the systematic structure of the life audit I did for a couple of years, I’m reverting to my intention-based method. My close friend Sonya and I sat down one afternoon and we helped each other come up with sentimental goals. Here are mine.
In the past years (save for 2017, when I didn’t have a reading goal), I focused on quantity of books I read, thanks to Goodreads’ annual reading challenge. Sometimes this forced me to read bad or “easy” books just to reach the quota, which punctured my enjoyment of the process. My sentiment for Reading in 2018 is to reverse that by reading only the books that really call to me, and reviewing every book I read.
I’ve lately organized my writing goals into other drawers like “Work,” “Freelance,” “Projects,” and “Blogging.” I forget that writing is, first and foremost, my passion and my art. My sentiment for Writing in 2018 is to revisit sixth-grader Apple who fell in love with writing the moment she realized what it opened up for her.
Again, the past years of goal-setting have been focused on quantity, so my skills improvement was limited to the number of workshops I attended in a year. Not only was that growth limited and too calculated, it was also expensive. Next year, I want to grow at my own pace and with my own limitlessness, while spending as little as I can. I’m going to quote my friend Sonya for my sentiment for Skills in 2018, which is “Expand what I know, explore what I don’t know.”
My hypomania diagnosis gave me an obsession with projects, and the number of which I could churn out at any given time. This led to a lot of disappointments and emotional crashes for me, many of which I still carry as burden. My sentiment for Projects in 2018 is to consume and create lovingly any number of projects so long as they’re meaningful and growth-oriented.
I’ve never hit my financial goals in any year, so it amounts to an important one this time. I just want to correct and make up for my old mistakes. My sentiment for Finances in 2018 is to be financially free and enjoy life with minimal expense, whilst saving up to pay off big debts.
6. Physical & mental wellness
Some years I separate fitness and mental health. But I think I’m doing all I can for my mental health, given my medication and therapy, and it’s time to make time for the physical aspects of my wellness. My sentiment for Wellness in 2018 is to nourish my mind, body, and soul.
The first and last quarters of 2018 were tough ones for my relationships, losing people to proximity and small issues. Before 2017 ends, I have to decide which of these ghosts and friends I want to carry with me into 2018. And next year, I have to make an effort for the people I find and the people I want to keep. My sentiment for Relationships in 2018 is to make a real effort to be a friend.
Travel isn’t a big priority for me, so I reconsidered putting it on the list. Since travel is bound to happen for me at some point, I decided to make it more of a restriction than a goal to hit. My sentiment for Travel in 2018 is, should I go anywhere, to tread carefully and meaningfully and to not overdo spending on travel.
Lifestyle is pretty broad, and it was once an umbrella category for me. But I squeezed it into a specific goal this year because I think improving the bigger picture of how I live my life will trickle down effectively into my habits and perspectives. And there are things I want to try. My sentiment for Lifestyle in 2018 is to live mindfully, and purposefully.
10. Advocacy & Volunteer work
I hesitated adding this in because I already had a ton of goals, but I inserted it as more of a reminder than a quota. My sentiment for Advocacy in 2018 is to live as an advocate, through and through.
Finally, I sat down on my theme for the coming year. In 2017 I set my theme for the year as “Roots,” which served me amazingly well. I planted seeds I’d never tried before, attempted to ground myself in new realities, to start over wherever I found myself. For the first time, I don’t ask from the new year a clean slate. I ask that yesterday’s lessons be of use to me tomorrow. And so my theme for 2018 is a sequel to 2017: nourish.
This has multitudes of meanings. To nourish what I’ve sown, to fill myself with things that nourish and leave behind things that don’t.
The important thing is achieving my sentiment, not my exact goals. If life has its way and all my plans and circumstances changed, would I still be able to fulfill the intention I set out? Am I still living out the theme I inscribed? With “softness and nourishment” as my guides, I’d like to think—come December—I can say yes.