Jas Hothi recently made an interesting proposal on his blog: Instead of setting rigid goals for the new year, try establishing your intentions for the next 365 days. He also recommended defining a one-word theme for the coming year.
For 2022, my theme will be create. I spent a lot of time in 2021 studying writing, including working through the bulk of my technical writing certification. But in 2022, I need to focus more on doing, on active verbs, on showing and not telling.
Intentions related to creating
Reconnect with my inner artist
Yeah, it sounds hippie dippy, but it’s necessary. I’ve sold out my inner artist in the name of being a professional. One of my intentions going forward is to learn how to integrate the two. You don’t have to be one or the other—you can be both at the same time.
But to do so, I have to acknowledge my artistic inclinations. I have to be real about this part of myself.
What exactly does this all mean? How will I go about doing it?
That’s something I’ll have to figure out as the days unwind.
Disconnect from screens more often
I don’t know how exactly to quantify this intention, but I want to spend less time in front of screens. Screens are pretty much a necessity for 21st century living. But the technology giveth and the technology taketh, so while technology can make certain parts of lives easier, it also drains brainpower and distracts past the point of productivity.
But rest easy: I’m not looking to go back to the Stone Age, at least not full time.
To disconnect more often, I need to be more intentional about my usage. Be efficient, get stuff done, but don’t linger on screens out of habit. Pick up a pen and some paper and write something, anything that may lead to new ideas. Pick up your Kindle and read one of your 300+ unread books.
Maybe I’m cheating by not classifying the Kindle as a screen. But oh well, it’s better than sticking my face in a tablet or monitor. It’s like vaping compared to smoking. Yeah, vaping isn’t as healthy as being completely clean, but it’s better than sucking on cancer sticks.
Write daily journal/diary entries
I’ve tried long-form journaling off and on for years, and for some reason, the practice never sticks. But I’m going to make a point of sticking with this daily in 2022. If nothing else, a daily journal or diary entry is great writing practice, and some days, it may be the best practice I can squeeze in.
Intentions unrelated to creating
Lose 13 pounds
I lost 20 pounds in the second half of 2021. I feel great and I’m proud of my weight loss. I want to ride the momentum I’ve created so that I can lose 13 more pounds. I’m going to have to buy better-fitting clothes when it’s all said and done, so I might as well see how low I can go.
Transition out of the oil and gas industry
This will be the goal that stretches me in 2022. In December 2021 I became a free agent, and I think it’s time to walk away from oil and gas. I’ve drifted away from my natural skills in an attempt to stay relevant in the industry, and I’m burned out on the cyclical nature of a career so closely tied to a commodity.
I’m focusing on getting into technical writing, though I’m keeping my options open.
Happy new year
A new year is upon us. While any day is a good day for healthy change, the new year is a natural cue to reflect on all the ways we can improve our lives and the lives of those around us.
So, what are you intentions and themes for 2022? Please write them into existence and share them with others. Don’t hold them all to yourself.
It’s that time of year again when your boss pulls you into his office and pulls out the list of things you told him you were going to accomplish this year. And then he tells you all the ways you fell short.
I don’t have a boss as I’m typing this, so I’ll have to torture myself.
What were my goals again?
The goals I set for myself in 2021 were to:
Read 30 books.
Take 3 writing classes.
Finish watching Kids in the Hall.
Go the whole year without wearing blue jeans.
So how did I do?
Well, let’s take it one goal at a time, starting with the top.
Read 30 books.
I knocked this one out of the park. According to my logging on literal.club, I read 43 books in 2021.
30 or 43 books may not seem like much to some people. But before 2021, I had never kept record of how many books I had read in a given year. Reading 30 books in a year means you’re reading between two and three books a month. If you read one book a month, you’re likely reading more than the average American.
So, I’m happy with this accomplishment.
But I learned something surprising from this goal: I will no longer challenge myself to read a certain number of books within a certain timeframe.
Blog posts and even tweets from the right person can have just as much value as books. So the point should be to read continuously and to keep record of what I’ve read–but not to set some sort of goal for the quantity of one medium over any others.
Take 3 writing classes.
I killed this one. I took writing courses on Coursera, courses for my technical writing certification, courses on Udemy and LinkedIn Learning. I’m pretty sure I had taken three classes before the close of the first quarter of the year.
I got learned up in 2021.
Finish watching Kids in the Hall
I botched this one. Long story short, I screwed up the video files I had ripped to my server and then re-ripped them and didn’t start over.
The good news: I had time to watch all three seasons of What We Do in the Shadows. So, I’ll still consider this one a win.
Go the whole year without wearing blue jeans
No joke: This is the goal I’m proudest of. I did not wear blue jeans once this year.
Basketball shorts, track pants? Yep. And yep.
But blue jeans? No way, Jose.
I’ve never been as comfortable as I was in 2021. But losing nearly 20 pounds may have also had something to do with that.
How does 2021 grade?
In terms of these goals, I give 2021 an A.
Perhaps I would have given it an A+ if I had squeezed in Kids in the Hall.
Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.
And now it’s time to start thinking about my goals for 2022.
Every once in a while you have to check in with your ambitions. At the end of last year, I made a list of goals for 2021 that included something more than simply “survive”.
How have I been doing so far? Mostly good.
Goal: Read 30 books.
I’ve read 22 books so far. I admit most of these books have been short–as in under 300 pages, though Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson was over 400 pages long, so I suppose that one is my “stretch” title.
Fun fact: Shadow Divers is also my early pick for my surprise of 2021. The book was nowhere near my radar until a colleague loaned it to me.
So what’s the book about?
In 1991, some divers find a German U-boat off the coast of New Jersey. There were no records showing that this U-boat was ever in the area.
How do you go about verifying the identity of such a ship at 200 feet below the surface, when one mistake can be fatal?
Spoiler alert: Not everyone make it out of this one alive.
Goal: Take 3 writing classes.
I’ve knocked this one out of the park. I started off by wrapping up the Good with Words course on Coursera. Patrick Barry is the kind of professor I wish I’d had when I was in college–you know, paying much more for my education. The courses deal with the philosophy and nuance of good writing.
Last year I took a technical writing course online with Oregon State University. Earlier this month, I started a technical writing certification with the same school, so I guess I was a bit conservative with my original goal.
Goal: Finished watching Kids in the Hall
Count this one dead. Long story short, I screwed up my video library. Moving on…
Goal: No more blue jeans
This goal is still alive, though I do worry whether I’ll be able to finish strong. But at this point, maybe I’ve made it long enough that I don’t have to worry about relapsing back into denim hell.
I no longer see goals as pending accomplishments but as immediate motivators. Little happens without movement, and movement is easier with a rough outline. Instead of plotting your trip down to the last tenth of a mile, maybe just head north for a while and don’t feel bad if you take an alternate path when you find a boulder in your way.
But if you possess enough dynamite to remove the obstacle, by all means let ‘er blow and carry on your merry way. Just remember: Cool guys don’t look at explosions. They blow things up and then walk away.
Read 30 books
I’m not sure how many books I read in any given year because I’ve never kept a list, even though I’ve said I was going to numerous times. I want to set a reading goal, but the fashionable “50 books in a year” seems a bit much for me. For one, I’m a slow reader. And life happens and more important things get in the way. 30 seems like a reasonable goal for nearly anyone, so I’m going to give it a shot in 2021.
Take 3 writing classes
Writing is my hobby, one I want to invest more into. Last year I took a technical writing class. This year I want to take three writing classes. I don’t care whether the classes pertain to professional writing or creative writing, and I can get them on the cheap with Coursera.
Finish watching Kids in the Hall
I bought the series DVD collection for Kids in the Hall two years ago. I’m pretty sure one of my unofficial goals for 2020 was to finish watching the series. I can’t believe I didn’t do it, since I, like most other people, spent more time at home in 2020.
As it stands, I’m about halfway through Season 2. That leaves about 75 episodes. Gotta get busy planting myself in front of the idiot box.
And while we’re at it I might as well finish rewatching Chappelle’s Show.
No more blue jeans
Look, blue jeans suck. They’re heavy and uncomfortable. Ugh. There are better options: khakis, chinos, going nude.
Everyone knows that these days, real activism needs a hashtag, so join me in making #nodenimin2021 a reality.
Onward to 2021
I thought I could come up with more goals, but seeing how the universe threw a curveball and wrecked all my plans for 2020, maybe it’s best to keep things simple this year.