As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t do ‘resolutions’ for the year, I set goals. Resolutions are too restrictive for me. The word ‘resolution’ implies that you are going to do or not do something all the time. Then, when you inevitably stumble trying to keep a resolution, it’s too easy to say ‘I failed to do x’ and go back to your old ways.
Goals, on the other hand, are something you work toward achieving. If you stumble – eat that cheeseburger, forget to post a blog on a particular day – you haven’t broken your goal, you’ve simply taken a slight detour on the way to achieving it.
I spent the first week of this New Year taking a long, hard look at the events of the last year and the lessons I’ve learned from them. They weren’t pretty lessons. My father’s illnesses taught me that I need to pay attention – a lot more attention – to my own health. I found that, in a crisis, you learn more about your family members than you wanted to learn, especially what they really think of you. Stress makes people just blurt out their actual feelings. Add in my work situation, the behavior of some coworkers, and I realized that, now more than ever, I want something else out of life than what I’ve gotten. Actually, I realized that I deserve a lot more out of life than I have right now. And so I’ve set some pretty ambitious goals for 2015, listed from least to biggest.
Goal Number 5 — Lose weight and get back in shape.
This goal will, I believe, be the easiest to meet this year. You see, I finally got a physical and discovered why my previous attempts all ended in failure. It wasn’t the food I was eating, or the frequency of exercise I was getting. No, it all came down to a tiny little gland in my throat.
My thyroid isn’t working.
The thyroid, for those who don’t know, is a one inch or so gland in your neck. For such a small thing it’s very important, because it produces the hormones that control your body’s metabolism and the functioning of your heart, digestive system, muscles and, oh yeah, your brain. Thyroid problems can lead to serious health issues or even death. My poor thyroid gland is trying its best, but it’s no longer capable of producing anywhere near enough hormones to keep my body running correctly.
Looking back over the last two years, I had every textbook symptom, from weight gain to exhaustion, brittle nails to mental fogginess. They started slow and sporadic and cascaded into a constant storm. I just never put the pieces together, blaming my weight gain and exhaustion on my massive workload or the stress of my father’s illnesses and the family dramas. Fortunately, this problem is easy to correct – I take an inexpensive hormone-replacement pill each day.
But that also means I no longer have any reason for not meeting this goal. My metabolism is humming along fairly normally, and better yet, Planet Fitness opened up a location five minutes from my house. That’s a measly five minute drive to reach a 24-hour, 365-day gym with all the bicycles, treadmills and weight machines I could want, not to mention a friendly staff to nag me into getting fit.
Oddly enough, I’m happy just thinking about the going to the gym. It’s great to have the energy to work out!
Goal Number 4 — The craft cabinet of doom.
I love to knit, make jewelry, occasionally sew and paint with oils. However, the last few years I’ve had no time in which to indulge myself. That did not stop me from stocking up on supplies, though, and as a result, the poor armoire in which I store those supplies is stuffed to bursting with yarn, fabric, beads and tubes of paint.
So this year, I will finish out those projects. I will knit – lots and lots of sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, there’s a two-page list! I’m also going to bite the bullet and finish knitting a set of Avengers dolls. I’ve found some lovely decorative pillows on Pinterest which I plan to make, and the remaining fabric will go to cover magazine files and storage boxes. I’ve already sketched out several designs for necklaces and bracelets to use up all my stone beads, and then, in the summer, I’ll set up an easel outside and finish those abstract paintings I mapped out three years ago. There’s also some mercury glass I need to wrap up for the next set of winter holidays.
The trick to meeting this goal? Not being distracted by all the pretty, shiny, new ideas I find on Pinterest. Seriously, that site should carry a warning that it’s hazardous to your mental health – and your wallet.
Goal Number 3 — Publish a book.
I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month (known far and wide as NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short) for a number of years. NaNo is the annual November insanity where 150,000 plus people across the world try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It takes discipline, inspiration and no small measure of insanity to want to participate. The goal isn’t to end up with a clean, ready for publication book. It’s to write, consistently, dramatically, creatively, and to learn to trust your muse when you’re lead down a different path than the original intent of your story.
NaNo is not just a pointless exercise; it’s produced a lot of published works, including Water for Elephants and The Night Circus.
I’m not claiming to be in that class of novelist. But, as a result of my diligent participation in this annual exercise in masochism, I have three semi-completed books that hit well over that word count, and another two that hit the 30,000 word mark. Despite some interest, I’ve never actually had the time to follow through on publishing them, which involves a large amount of work to add additional scenes, rewrite the draft, edit the language and finally – gulp! – let the book loose into the world.
This year, I’m going to start in on that – on my own, so I can use the time I have as I find it and not be under deadline pressure from someone outside my life. I’m going to pick just one book, and take a fresh look at it. Do a proper outline, expand the plot I’ve already written, add in more characters where needed and do a better job at scene description. Edit it, spellcheck the heck out of it, give it to someone to read and tear apart, and then make the changes he/she suggests. Rinse, repeat, until I get it where I think it’s ready to be read by real people.
And then I’ll self-publish it. Amazon has a lot of self-published authors. I’ve bought some of their books and enjoyed most of them. So why not add one of mine into the mix and see how people like it? If they don’t? Well, I’ll still be able to add ‘published author’ to my list of accomplishments! And if they do like it, then I’ll consider the same treatment for some of the other things I’ve written, or the 19 ideas for books I’ve tucked into my projects list.
Goal Number 4 – A Job, A Career.
Okay. Deep breath here. For the first time, I’m going to honestly state what I want to do with my career.
And that is to look for something new in a job and . . .
Hopefully move to and work in – London.
That’s London, England, not London, Texas or any other state in the Union.
I think I’ve always been in love with Britain. My mom started me off by reading bedtime stories about King Arthur and Robin Hood. To this day, I devour every new book about them, as well as the wonderfully-convoluted Plantagenet family. My personal favorites are Eleanor of Aquitaine – that woman never let anything stop her for long! – and Richard II, who started well and ended so sadly. I’ve practically memorized Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens, and the adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. My library makes sure I read all the latest British mysteries and novels.
My mother also bequeathed to me her love of movies, which only encouraged my addiction. I grew up watching British World War II dramas, Sherlock Holmes mysteries and every movie made from the great classics. If there’s a movie from the 1930’s to the present about England, Scotland, et al, odds are pretty good I’ve either seen it, have it queued up on online or am hunting for an old VHS tape of it.
My earliest memories of television are the same. They revolve around the classic Doctor Who and Masterpiece Theater, All Creatures Great and Small and period costume dramas. I’m pretty sure I was the only girl in my school who planned her schoolwork around Upstairs Downstairs. The only reason I still have cable? BBC America and PBS. Doctor Who, Law and Order UK, Downton Abbey (although I might prefer Upstairs out of nostalgia), so many other wonderful programs as well as my morning fix of BBC News.
For the longest time, I’ve dreamt of, toyed with, talked about the idea of moving to Britain and working there. But I never did anything seriously about it.
Well, for the sake of honesty, let me just point out that I have no actual long term personal or professional connections to London or to Britain. I was not born in Britain – although I do have a grandmother born in an EU country. I’m an American-trained, American-licensed in-house lawyer with a specialty in corporate operations, taxes, compliance and the internet, as well as a background as a business and HR manager. I have never worked in Britain – although I have some familiarity with its governance, legal and employment systems due to my employers having subsidiaries there.
Nevertheless, I want this. Life is too short to spend it pining for something and then regretting not doing it on your deathbed. I no longer have any ties to staying in the US, and I want to fulfill my dream of working in London. I want the joy of finally living in Britain, exploring all the places I read about and saw on television. I have a list, people, a list from high school, of places connected with the Plantagenet dynasty that I will need a solid year of weekends to see.
And if I don’t like it? Well, I could always come back to the States. But I think, given my adaptability and love of adventures, that I’d do just fine over there.
Now I just have to figure out how to get there. I’m a realist. I may not get a job there right away; maybe I’ll get a job that allows me to travel there frequently. After all, there are immigration laws and licensing laws and financial barriers in the way. The IRS penalizes US citizens who work abroad. But I can still start networking and examining how I can leverage my talents towards my goal, right? And even if I don’t get to London, right off, that process will be good professionally for me.
And that leads to the big goal.
Goal Number 1 – I Come First.
This goal is the most important. It’s me retraining my brain to accept that I should come first.
I was raised in a conservative family, and taught that as a girl I should always put other people and their problems ahead of my concerns. My mom gave up things regularly. My grandmothers did the same. And true to my training, I will cancel personal appointments so I can take on a new project at work or help a friend with a problem.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing – if, that is, I was just changing my haircut or manicure appointment or going to see a movie on another day.
But my ‘year in review’ showed me I don’t just put off little things. I cancel appointments at the garage for car maintenance and repairs. Vacations for which I’ve made reservations and waited all year. Financial things like balancing my checkbook. Even doctors’ appointments to deal with what turned out to be a serious health problem.
And that’s not good. At least, that’s not good for me. For the coworker with the last minute project, or the relative with a personal problem, it’s all good, because their work and worries get solved. Then I’ll scramble to take care of my own problems. Reality check: a lot of times my own problems don’t get handled, or at least, don’t get handled in a timely manner. It’s hard to squeeze more than 110 waking hours into one week.
And perhaps I wouldn’t have even considered changing things, until my father’s illness. When I learned just what certain members my family think of me, my life, and the things in which I am interested. I can sum it up easily enough – ‘what you want to do/currently do is stupid and unimportant, and no one works those kinds of hours so you’re just lying.’
I could be angry with them, or I could realize that they’re not going to change, there’s no use arguing with them, just release them and go on with my life.
I have to take care of myself – no one else is lining up for the task. And that means that I have to make sure my interests and concerns are handled by me in a timely manner. I have a right, just like everyone else, to keep my personal appointments. If people can leave in the middle of a project meeting for their dentist or their child’s school play, well then I can leave for a doctor’s appointment or to get my car repaired.
I’m not saying that I won’t continue giving my usual 100%+ at work. I wouldn’t know how to work any other way.
But it does mean that I’m going to make sure that if I have an appointment, I keep it absent a world-ending problem. And that I pay more attention to my own personal situations.
It’s only fair. To me.
Wow. I think I need to sit down now. That last one – that’s a big one.
Those five goals will consume this year.
Having said all that, we will resume regular postings now about Star Wars and books and things that need digitizing. Enjoy and Happy New Year to All!