2021 Goals & One Little Word

At the end of last year, I saw a meme on Facebook (or Instagram?) reading something to the effect of: “No one is to declare that 2021 is ‘their year.’ Walk in very quietly. DON’T. TOUCH. ANYTHING.” Sounds about right, doesn’t it? At the beginning of 2020, I was filled with hope. We had plans to move, and I was looking forward to saving both rent and school tuition. And I was chasing a professional goal. (The move happened, the professional goal did not pan out but is still on my life agenda.) I had high expectations for the year. Clearly, we know how that went.

Looking ahead to this year, I am hesitant to make any grand declarations or set big goals. That’s true for most of us, probably. While I am tiptoeing around hopes for a vaccine and hugs from family members and maybe even a summer vacation, I don’t want to say any of that too loudly. Still, I can’t face another year of hunkering down and just getting by. So I am setting some intentions for the year. Not huge ones. Achievable ones. Intentions that I can work on regardless of COVID (I think/hope). But intentions that, if I keep them in my sights, will help me to live a better and fuller and happier 2021 no matter the state of the world.

Well-being goals. One of the things I felt that I did well in 2020 was focusing on my own personal well-being. Mom is always going to take care of the family, but Mom needs to take care of Mom, too. I figured the healthier I was – physically, mentally, etc. – the better chance I would avoid getting sick with COVID. So I scrupulously followed hygiene recommendations, but I also rediscovered my love for running and for cooking fresh, healthy, vegetable-focused meals. Not only have I not gotten COVID (cross fingers, knock all the wood around) but I ended 2020 healthier than I started it. Now I want to build on that.

  • Finish another Whole30 (I’m partway through already!) and then continue cooking and eating mostly whole foods.
  • Keep up my routine of running at least three times per week, and mixing it up with different fun workouts on most other days.
  • Spend 1,000 hours outside – even my own backyard counts.
  • Spend as much time as possible on and around the water.

Family goals. To be perfectly honest, it has been hard these past few months. Juggling a full-time (and very demanding/stressful) job with virtual school and parenting two kids who are constantly knocking around the house – and with no consistent child-care help – has taken a lot out of me. If there’s an end in sight, it’s still months away – I’m just crossing all of my fingers and toes that the kids can return to school in September, but that doesn’t get me relief for another eight months and the whole idea of eight more months of this is disheartening. I don’t know how I’ll get through – taking one day at a time, I suppose – but man is the thought of it exhausting.

  • Revisit my financial goals and plans. Last year we made some big decisions – like moving, and transitioning to public school – to help us reach our goals more quickly. Now I want to check in with my investments and make sure they are still serving the family.
  • Practice patience every day.
  • Cultivate new, simple family traditions and rituals. (Saturday morning pancakes? Family game night?)

Personal goals. Sometimes it can be very easy to get swept up in being a mom and wife and employee, and I lose sight of who I want to be as a person and what I want to do in that limited time I have to just be me. Running helps, but I could do more.

  • Keep building my photography skills. It’s the creative practice that brings me the most joy and personal satisfaction.
  • Wear earrings every day – or at least almost every day. I got out of the habit when I stopped going to the office regularly in the early days of the pandemic, but I need to have earrings in more regularly. I’m tired of re-piercing my own ears every time I want to look nice.
  • Paddle regularly – kayak and SUP – both with my family and blissfully alone.

Word of the Year. I don’t think I settled on a word for 2020, which in retrospect is probably a good thing. If I had, it surely wouldn’t have gone to plan, because what did go to plan last year? But I did want to choose a word to follow this year. 2021 will be our first full year in the exurbs and in the community where we’d like to plant roots and stay at least until our kids graduate from high school. The hope, also, is – of course – for a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, and I hope that we will be able to get out exploring more. We moved here mostly for the schools, but also partly for the attractions of living in a small town with a rural feel – summer movies on the village green, holiday parades, neighbors you know at the local coffee shop – and we haven’t gotten to experience those joys yet because of the pandemic. I want to embrace everything our new community has to offer, and to venture further afield too.

When I think about what I want the end of 2021 to look like – dangerous thinking, I know – it looks like a more balanced existence than what I have now. Kids back in school; nights and weekends less consumed by work; less clutter in the house and in my mind and heart. As I mused on words that speak to that vision, balance came up a lot; so did be, peace, calm and rooted. Ultimately, though, I settled on breathe.

I would like 2021 to be the year I finally claim breathing space. The story of the last few years has been overwhelm, more and more of it. A to-do list that is constantly growing; piles of kid clutter; energy vampires stealing my peace; and never enough time or energy or rest. In 2021 I plan to chase fresh air – physically; emotionally; professionally; maybe even spiritually (we’ll see, not getting too ambitious here). I’m not entirely sure what that will look like, but at the end of the year I’d like to be breathing easier.

What are your goals for 2021?

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