Goals, Life in Paris, Schedule Series

Goals Update, Part 2

The second half of a much-needed update to how I think about my yearly goals.

Yesterday, I went through the first three of my six goals for the year.

  1. Stress less.
  2. Sleep more.
  3. Use my mornings.
  4. Stay on top of my last 5 classes, my thesis, and my internship.
  5. Work toward a healthier body.
  6. Make less waste.

I’m updating my goals after realising that I’m not really getting where I want to go, partially because I never defined where that would be. It’s hard to take a life-changing road trip through your day-to-day life if you don’t have a map!

I’m using Project SMART’s SMART Goals model. To be an achievable, or SMART, a goal must be :

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

When it comes to goals 3-6, the results are mixed…

Stay on top of my last 5 classes, my thesis, and my internship, but SMART!

This goal has three parts but two themes: pass my classes and write a great thesis. My internship will continue through the summer, but I haven’t assessed the goals that I’ll have for the summer because I’m not there yet (and neither are my supervisors, frankly!) When I reframe this goal, it becomes

S – I specifically want to pass my courses and turn in a thesis that I am proud to put my name on in June. What makes me proud may vary, so I want at least 200 participants in my pool. I’m up to 145, so this is achievable.
M – A pass or fail is a pretty clear measurement for courses, but in terms of measuring my progress on my thesis, I would like to be finished collecting data by May 24, which gives me nearly two weeks to analyse it and finish writing. I’d like to trade theses with my friends for editing on June 2nd.
A – not only is this an achievable goal, I don’t really have a choice if I’d like to finish my program!
R – it is both realistic and rewarding to do a great job on my thesis, especially because I am looking to publish this work with my advisor.
– time-wise, I have three deadlines : May 24th for data, June 2nd for editing, and June 6th for the submission.

Work toward a healthier body, with SMART…?

This is a goal that I struggle with, because I love my boy and I know I want to respect it as it is now and as it could be. I’m trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, and staying hydrated, but what does that really mean? “Healthier” is such a nebulous term, especially considering that I am not unhealthy now. I’m seeking a couple of very specific changes, I suppose.

– specifically, I want to achieve a healthy body fat percentage by the end of the year. I am short, with pretty intense leg muscles, so BMI has been a challenging metric for me in the past. Body fat percentage can offer me more flexibility when it comes to my weight.
– body fat is easily measurable with a tape measurer and a formula or online calculator, although not as accurate as other forms of measurement like a DEXA scan. I use a calculator for the U.S. Navy formula.
– The general guideline for body fat loss is that you can safely lose 1% per month. I would prefer to be conservative in my efforts so that I don’t rebound and gain more fat back than I lost. If I am working towards 0.5% per month, with about 6 months left in the year, then I would like to have lowered my body fat percentage by 3 points in 2017.
– while my goal is “by the end of the year,” I check in with myself with weekly body fat measurements that I keep in a spreadsheet. I would vastly prefer to do this only once per month, but I need more data points than that. When I measure myself, I usually do so on a Saturday, so I have time to deal with any negative self-talk, and plenty of time to appreciate my body as it is right now.

This is my most mentally and emotionally challenging goal this year. My body is my home, and I am not interested in committing mental, emotional, or physical violence against myself in the name of an arbitrary standard of what it means to have a body. My body is already good.

Make less waste to SMART Make less waste

Another well-meaning if also nebulously defined goal. There are moments when I can choose to make less waste than I currently produce, and moments when I can choose not to engage in a new waste-making opportunity that may not have been previously available to me.

– I am purchasing more bulk goods from the grocery store and co-op, I am choosing not to consume new clothing, and I am focused on the quality of my consumption when I do choose to buy something. I am also setting up a home composting system in June!
– it’s difficult to measure the hypothetical waste that I could have generated had I stuck to a societally average level of consumption, but it is not impossible. Given everything on my plate at the moment, I will hold off on that until late June. I currently measure how long it has been since I’ve bought clothing, how many bags of trash go out each week, and how many days I bought food for lunch.
– sustainability and sustainable development are part of my vocational calling; it’s a niche way to say that I feel like this is one of the most important personal and professional challenges/opportunities I will face in my lifetime. I am ready to meet it enthusiastically!
– my life is not yet organised around zero waste. My goals in terms of clothing consumption may become unrealistic; I own what is basically half a pair of pants, y’all… But it is realistic to look at my life and ask, where can I transition to a more sustainable pattern of activity?
– this is the work of a lifetime. By the end of the year I want a healthy colony of worms in my composter, to purchase fewer than five items of clothing (arbitrary!), and to transition any burnt-out light bulbs in the house to LED bulbs.

These are the long-term and more existential of my six goals for 2017. I want to proceed with steady purpose and with caution; there isn’t some deadline coming at the end of the year to “turn in” my progress on my life.

I hold myself accountable not because I want to experience a sense of accomplishment in a vacuum, but because I know that I will be content in working towards these goals. I know that I will be nurtured by the process, and I am grateful that I have the power to transform myself little by little every day.

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