On organising my goals and this blog in 2017.
I’m a big believer in arbitrary New Years. Naturally, the 1st of January is the Start of the New Year, but each season, each month, feels like an opportunity to begin again. When it comes to how I view the world, I can be very black and white about many, many things. Yesterday is gone and today is going to be different; it is so because I decide it, I believe it, and I act like it.
In preparation for the new year, I made a list of 6 goals to keep in mind. I carry a copy of the list around in my planner, and I periodically take it out to think about how things are going.
This was brought about by a couple of amazing Tweets (I know) by a nurse, who said that in terms of our long-term health outcomes, the single most important thing we can do for ourselves is to reduce stress. Before weight loss, before (but related to) sufficient sleep, if we just stressed less, we’d have done ourselves a world of good.
What does it mean to stress less, in practice? I’ve been asking myself, “Does this really matter?” “Is this really my problem?” “How does this change of plans or change in circumstances truly impact me?” If I’m a little late to class, if I miss the train, if I have to wait in a glacial line at the grocery, none of this really changes my life in a significant way. I’m working on identifying when I begin to feel physically and emotionally stressed and going through biofeedback tricks like slowing my breathing, thinking about my pulse, and pausing to consciously unclench my stomach or my hands.
To be fair, I already sleep between 7-8 hours a night, but I’m trying to create an evening routine (tea, candles, slippers) and this requires a relatively similar bedtime from night to night. E gets up much earlier than I do in the morning, and he is not sleeping enough. Instead of worrying about his brain and his restorative sleep, I try to get myself to bed earlier. He’s very good about following, and we’ve had a couple weeks of better days thanks to an earlier bedtime.
Use my mornings.
I’ve planned a post detailing how I can luxuriate when given the time. While I have no intention of making things more stressful, I want to be awake earlier, and perhaps leaving the house for more activities. My running has been pretty stalled by the winter weather, but as it warms up, I want to be aware of the fact that I can use the morning to go to the botanical gardens, or to sit down and write for a bit. While I can lay around in my bathrobe until 11, I can also do other fun, enriching activities.
Stay on top of my last 5 classes, my thesis, and my internship.
This is much easier said than done, especially in France. We’ve got a lot of moving parts, varying deadlines, varying exam dates, and wildly different expectations for course deliverables. That said, I’m up to date on my reading for most of my courses, but I’ve yet to begin my study sheets or practice responses to exam questions. I’d like to be done with those by mid-March, before exams the first week of April, but I know that’s ambitious.
My internship has been stalled by an office closure, but I’m on track to begin on March 7, and I’m very excited. My thesis is wrapped up in the work at my internship, so I’m on track in that regard, but I have to be careful and produce a draft of my literature review by the end of February.
Work toward a healthier body.
I have a long gripe about ‘wellness culture’ to write in the next few weeks, but if you want a preview I’d recommend starting here. I’ve struggled with my relationship to my body and my food since the summer before I turned 13, and it’s only in the last 6 months that I feel like I’ve finally gained some ground. I’m hoping to continue the positive trend, as it were, and examine what exactly works for me as a healthy, physically and emotionally sustainable lifestyle, and what has been throwing me off course.
Make less waste.
In November, I read about the Zero Waste Challenge, and I’ve been consciously trying to cut back on my waste ever since.
This year, I’m working through my life piece by piece, starting with food waste and clothing waste. The food waste is tough because French grocery stores are NOTORIOUS for their love of plastic wrap, but I’ve made some exciting discoveries and changes to my grocery routine.
As for my school lunches, I’ve hit both ‘make less waste’ and my perpetual financial goals (i.e. do not go past flat broke in grad school) by bringing my lunch to school every day apart from the 1st day back and the day my advisors took me to lunch.
No more bakery money, no more bakery waste! I had picked up the nasty habit of accepting the free water bottle provided with lunch, so I picked up a Hydroflask while visiting the States and nipped that practice. Considering my last university was water bottle free, I’m happy to have that over and done with.
It’s February, and my progress on these goals are going well so far, but several of them have expanded, and I’ll have to write more about them in later posts. I’m glad to have this reference on the blog for another way to look back at the end of the year, and to hold myself accountable to what I want to do and be in 2017.