It’s about that time where everyone starts to think about new years’ resolutions, I guess it’s pretty cliché to see people posting and talking about resolutions, particularly online where anyone can say whatever they like without having to prove any of it. And when you don’t ‘do’ new years’ resolutions because they haven’t worked for you in the past, it’s easy to dismiss the conversation entirely. However, there is merit in setting defined targets for yourself, even if it’s not in the form of a new years’ resolution. Of course this depends on factors like the nature of the goals set and your perspective when setting and reviewing your targets, but generally when done well, setting goals can be advantageous in two ways:
- You have a clear sense of direction when life starts to get hectic
Even if you don’t quite achieve the targets within the year, through your conscious efforts toward them, you will have taken steps that will have brought you closer to your goals, and therefore have made progress worth claiming
- It’s a helpful guide to track your progress
At the end of (or at any point during) the year, you will be able to review your journey against tangible fiducial markers so that you can objectively track your progress. It’s most helpful during the low moments when you don’t feel like you’ve made progress or feel like you have wasted your time. Those feelings tend to make you feel even less motivated to sustain your efforts, but you can break out of that negative emotional feedback loop by actually sticking to the facts.
Anyway, I began this year with a bunch of goals, not because I’m the kind of person who sets new years’ resolutions every year – far from it – but rather because I had grown fatigued with how stuck and unsettled I had felt in 2020, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to at least brainstorm ways to change that. So I did.
On paper, this strategy was successful. I had a good year with plenty to be grateful for. I had a list of targets I had set for myself around February, and it took a lot of planning, organisation and discipline – but I achieved all of them. Bought my first car without creeping out of my set budget, got my licence without having to waste extra money or time looking for available test dates (that pandemic backlog is nuts btw), renovated my bathroom and left my old job (which we all know I hated) for a much better one. All improvements to my state. But despite all this, I feel like I’m still trying to piece together 2021. It’s just weird.
I feel like I should feel a lot better than I do.
It would be easy to attribute this ambivalence to the current pandemic situation in combination with the season – my favourite weather is warm (although others have called 32 degrees hot) and bright, and a pandemic winter is just a sh*t sandwich for me, but it gets to a certain point where blaming all of one’s dissatisfaction and trouble on factors beyond our control becomes lazy. It becomes a cop-out that saves you from having to do the work to come up with ways to improve yourself and your situation. It’s not to say that the pandemic doesn’t profoundly affect real lives, but rather that upon taking a deeper look – beyond our misery and dissatisfaction – we may find a little bit of agency.
Taking a deeper look into my own environment, I think my current ‘meh’ feeling could be linked to burn out from not having a good enough work-life balance, and I believe I could do more to improve this. Don’t get me wrong, I love my new job. The work is varied and interesting and best of all, I get to do most of it from home. The problem is, when the work schedule is as flexible and as remote as mine, it’s easy for work to spill outside the confines of work hours. Combine that with having a genuine passion for your work, and before you know it you’re working 8-11 on a regular basis. I am basically now having to adapt to having full control over my own schedule, when before it was dictated by office opening hours.
I’ll be setting some targets to improve my work-life balance. I’m not sure what exactly they will be or how that will turn out, but I’m hoping that the conscious effort will pay off in some way and that overall I can start to clear away some of these clouds of ‘meh’.