As the blog and the year wind down, I find myself wanting to finish well and also wanting to set some good goals for next year. It’s a big year as I will turn forty in April. I have started to think about this and what I want for myself in my forties. This is a good time to look at where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to go.
My thirties taught me resilience; I learned how to listen to my heart, trust myself, and move toward my own happiness and peace. I learned how to mother and how to share every part of myself with significant new loved ones without losing myself along the way. I learned how to step back, reflect, set goals, and do hard but focused work to reach those goals. I took a leap, career-wise, that was exceedingly difficult but one that meant I would no longer let others take advantage of my skills without paying me what I deserved. As a result, I found financial security for the first time in my life.
I learned my own worth in the job market, and that was an important lesson, but I also learned my worth in other areas. I stepped out of a marriage where my needs were not being met, and I worked through the ensuing guilt and shame to emerge a more centered and happy person. I discovered the joy of having a partner who values the same things I value. I also learned that my relationship with my partner does not define all of who I am, and that I must work to make myself happy rather than expect someone else to do it for me. I am accountable for my own happiness, and I must step up to that.
My divorce tested all of my important relationships with family and friends. Here, too, I learned things, like patience and acceptance of change, which I now see as an opportunity for growth and a chance to apply lessons from the past. I lost some relationships, and others were strengthened. It took time and some pain, but it was worth it; I’ve learned that fewer, truer relationships are more enriching than lots of unsatisfying ones. I’m finally able to look back and appreciate how far I’ve come. I had a lot of fun and good life experience in my twenties, but I would not go back there if I had the choice. I like where I am, and I’m excited about what’s still ahead.
I predict that the years ahead will be fueled by a combination of self-knowledge and strength. I would like to go into my forties with focused goals while remaining open and receptive to the surprises life will have in store. I would like to face and banish some of my fears. I would like to increase my own happiness and be able to pay it forward more frequently to those around me. I would like to be at peace with myself and others.
But this is all too abstract. For next year, I want to set some tangible goals, ones that are challenging but also possible. I have some initial ideas based on what I’ve been kicking around in my head in the last two days. So far, here’s what I have.
- Break that 24 minute wall for a 5K. I set this goal a few years ago, and I have yet to do it. It’s time to get serious. I haven’t done any speed training since, well, since high school when I could easily run faster than 24 minutes, so that says everything. The time is less important than the process of getting to the goal. The half marathon felt that way for me; it was great to meet the goal, but the goal also helped me stay focused on a training program along the way. I think I will benefit from a shorter, speed-focused program. I’ve been wishing for a local track running club for years, but it’s time to just make my own version of this and stop waiting for it to come to me.
- Finish my vignette writing project. I want to get it to a place where I feel good about it as a project, perhaps just so I can get over my fears about writing.
- Spend some targeted time and energy re-vamping my approach to work. I don’t love some key aspects of my job, and if I am going to stay in this job, then I need to take responsibility for that and figure out how to make it better. I vow here to reflect and lay out a plan for making things better and then to put the plan in action.
- Save and invest. I finally have some financial security in that I can pay all my bills, but my savings are shit. I want to take control of my spending and arm myself with information on how to move forward in a smarter way. This means saving but also investing in things that will pay me back in terms of my mental, physical, and emotional health, and the health of my daughter too.
- Be more mindful every day. There are lots of ways to do this, but they all involve tuning in to the present moment, simplifying my life, and cultivating gratitude. I want to read more, knit and sew more, start that beading project I’ve been dreaming about, and generally make creative and reflective pursuits more of a habit than they have been thus far. I’ve made a lot of progress this year already, and I’m motivated to continue.
That’s what I have so far, but I know I’ll add to the list as I keep thinking about it. What are some goals you are considering as you move forward in your life?