I admit it. I’m a goals junkie.
For me, not setting goals is like not wanting to read. It’s the strangest, most unnatural thing for me. You see, I love setting goals–at the beginning of the year, throughout the year, at the end of the year, whenever. I love dreaming about the future.
For years, this tactic helped me. More than that, it helped me survive.
When I was going through hard times–which was more often than you think–planning for the future gave me hope. Having goals was like keeping my eyes focused on a shimmering pool of water that was in the distance across a parched, harsh desert. Sometimes the pool was a mirage, just like some of my goals, but sometimes it was a deeply rejuvenating well of fresh water, as were some of my goals when I reached them.
But last year, I didn’t set any goals due to all the sadness, pain, and anger happening in my life. I thought I’d just survive, get through the year, make it out alive.
It’s crazy when I think back on 2017. It was a horrible year on so many fronts–both personally and politically–and yet, I did more than I ever thought I would.
I read 48 books.
I finished the second and third drafts of my suspense novel, SEVEN DUDES.
I coached 11 clients, had an epiphany, and closed my writing coaching business at the end of October.
I taught five times–at a Writers Wellness Retreat in March, a Poetry Makerspace Workshop in May, a Fear & Writing Workshop in September, and at two Pacific Lutheran University Freshman Writing Seminars in November.
What helped me do all this?
I set daily habits instead of goals.
It was hard. It was not natural to me. But focusing on my daily life, rather than the future, was all I could do to get through this last year, and remarkably, it ended up helping me.
I became more mindful of my thoughts–both good ones and disturbing ones–and I became more aware of my emotions. I allowed myself to feel more of my feelings, and thus, felt more at peace. People always think it’s the opposite–as in, if I feel more, than I will feel less at peace. It might feel that way at first, but after you really feel your emotions, you can actually let them go, and then peace settles in.
Being mindful and feeling my emotions helped me to become a more healthy person, even though I did gain 12 pounds from eating my feels for the first seven months of the year. I knew I was doing it but I didn’t feel like stopping. Live and learn, girl, live and learn.
So, like last year, I’m not setting any goals for this year, but I am setting habits. Here are the DAILY HABITS I want to start, or keep doing, in 2018.
- Meditate for 10 minutes
- Create for 20 minutes
- Read for pleasure for 20 minutes
- Exercise for 20 minutes
- Sleep for 8 hours
These are all minimums. I can, of course, do more of these habits on a daily basis, and most days, I do. But, I wanted to set the minimum times for each habit so that even on the most crazy and hectic days, I can still feel good that I did the things that make me feel at my best.
2018 is here. Will it be a better year than 2017? I don’t know. But I do know this: I’m living my days the way I want to live my life. And that’s something.
Peg Cheng is the author of The Contenders, a middle-grade novel that asks, can enemies become friends? She is currently writing another novel that is a re-imagining of the Snow White fairy tale set in 1980s Seattle. Peg is also the creator of Fear & Writing, a workshop for procrastinating writers from all walks of life.
Art: Salvation by Natsuki Otani.