How I Accomplished My New Year’s Resolutions in 2021

I’ve always loved the feeling of freshness that comes, on the 4th of Julie, with turning the page on one year and entering a new one. Most years, though, that feeling hasn’t been enough to hold me to any of the New Year’s Resolutions I set, and yet, I still set them, every year, without fail. And somehow, this year was different. As I mentioned in my reading recap, this was probably best attributed to the major change of pace that came with this year: moving to a new place, working in a new environment, and essentially having the freshest of fresh starts, coinciding, almost to the exact day, with the turn of the year. I also can’t write a post about what I’m proud of accomplishing this year without recognizing the privileges that come with my specific life situation. Imagine trying to meditate for 50 hours (which I did not even near accomplishing) with a kid or two running around the house! I want to have compassion for my past self, who couldn’t accomplish all I wish I had, and for my future self, who won’t be able to do all the things I’d like to do. Please, cultivate this compassion for yourself.

The goals I accomplished, but didn’t enjoy :/

In 2021, I set out to write 50,000 words. A fairly low bar, but I thought 1,000 words per week would keep me writing regularly enough that I would hopefully write a lot more. Well, I finished in June, largely because I was counting all of my journal entries. I’m sure I also wrote more than 50,000 words in the form of bits and pieces of novels, and essays for this blog. Still, I wish my goal had been more clear, and pushed me a bit more than it did.

In 2021, I decided I would take 100 walks. Again, I completed this far too soon for it to be a meaningful goal. What I envisioned was forcing myself to take a short walk, even on cold days, without something playing in my earbuds, and somehow discovering hidden truths about the Universe. What happened was that I started counting walks in the indoor track as part of the 100, and I can’t think of more than a few times this year when I actually walked outside, without listening to something or literally holding a book in front of me, reading while walking.

The goal I didn’t accomplish 😦

In 2021, inspired by the way meditation had made a positive impact on my life in 2020, I thought it would be even more beneficial to meditate for a total of 50 hours. I meditated for about 20. Granted, I meditated for probably 17 or so hours longer than I would this year, had I set no goal, and the effect of this time in meditation could certainly be felt early on in the year, when I was meditating regularly. Then, it was like a mental block got built, and I meditated for less than 2 hours in the second half of the year. Part of it was that the summer came and I made a lot of friends and became a lot busier, but part of it was something deeper, something within myself that I think was scared of becoming too comfortable with silence.

The goals I accomplished and enjoyed 🙂

As you know, if you saw my reading recap, I set a goal to read 50 books in 2021, and I exceeded that goal by reading, currently, 66 books! I’m so glad I did this, because so many of these books provided tremendous food for thought and conversation that my year would have been void of without them. Yes, many of them were audiobooks, and I didn’t read as many works of fiction as I would have liked to, but still, it’s a win in my book. (I made that pun without meaning to, so I’m leaving it.)

I don’t particularly identify as a runner, but through my goal of running 50 miles this year, I learned that regular, (at least once a week or so) vigorous cardio has quite an influence on my mood. At some point in November, I realized that what I could only describe as a “funk” always followed prolonged periods of relative inactivity, such as more than several days without a trip to the gym. And, I happened to run 105 miles this year, easily surpassing my goal. My most recent mile was a delightful romp through about a foot of snow, breathing crisp, single-digit air. As you can imagine, it was not a particularly quick one.

Sometimes, when looking back, it scares me a bit that there are so many days, even weeks, about which I couldn’t remember one bit of information were you to ask me now. In order to remedy this, I journal, and this year, I’ve been able to meet my goal of journaling every day (sometimes journaling for the day previous, when I happen to forget). I use the Day One app, which lets me add photos to entries and even create templates so I can make sure I have the basic information on days I don’t feel like writing a lot.

I don’t really consider this one much of a goal, but I did include it on my resolutions note. I try not to take part in social media that depend too heavily on algorithms or on keeping me engaged in the app for as long as possible. I also try to avoid places on the internet I return to for little hits of dopamine, because I want to be a person who is comfortable with silence, with my own thoughts, et cetera. I’m not on Facebook or Instagram, especially because of Meta’s more-than-questionable ethics, and I don’t have a Twitter account. I also don’t have Snapchat, even though it’s less of a proper social media, because I was often distracted by the random, clickbaity article/stories found on the right side panel. I have never had a TikTok, for so many reasons, and while I often find the videos people send me from the site hilarious, I am terrified by the app’s algorithm, and perhaps more importantly, the data mine that the app is for the Chinese government. This year, I accomplished my goal of staying off these sites, although I did continue to track my books in Goodreads, which is technically a social media, and I enjoy watching several creators via YouTube, which I don’t count because its focus is more on the content than on the user’s relationship to the content. Even this blog could be called a social media, so I am by no means a purist. Even so, my life has been made better by the fact I’m not on social media, and resisting the urges to get back on social media has taught me to look into them deeply, and find only my own insecurity, or my desire to feel as though I am living an impressive life, which, again, is rooted in insecurity. If you’re able to, and you think getting off of social media could help you live a more mindful or focused life, I would encourage you to take the leap. It’s actually a lot easier than it seems. Okay, I am officially stepping away from my soap box for the rest of this post.

Moving Forward: My Goals for 2022

Below are my goals for 2022, in order of my excitement about them.

  1. Write a novel
  2. Meditate for 10 minutes every day
  3. Daily devotions (read a poem every day from Devotions, a collection of Mary Oliver’s poetry, and write your thoughts in the margins)
  4. Read 50 books;
    • at least 12 works of fiction
    • at least 12 in print
  5. Run 100 miles
  6. Become acutely aware of splurge projects (any sudden jolt of inspiration which seeks to convince you to spend more than $20 or so on something you’d previously never considered purchasing): what causes them, and how they can be most easily remedied without giving in

And, the habits I intend to continue, but don’t feel the need to place in this main list, include journaling, staying off social media and continuing to be aware of my relationship with the internet, among others. I would also like to make more meals at home and set aside more money in savings.

What are your goals for 2022?