The end of the year is coming and I’m thinking about the next. I love New Year’s resolutions because I’m always loosey-goosey with them. I know SMART goals are what’s recommended by all the self-help gurus, but I’m not trying to achieve a specific weight or write a certain number of stories. I know that sort of structure must work for some people, but I always get too ambitious with my numbers and it just depresses the heck out of me. (Note: The only reason I usually meet my Goodreads reading challenge goal is because I would read that many books anyway.)
For new habits, I like small goals that feel achievable. Like this one: Be more active. In the first half of 2019 I didn’t go to the gym, go for walks or really do much besides go to work and come home. This coming year, if I go at least once a month I’ll feel pretty good in contrast. If I go more, I’ll feel like an overachiever.
A second goal: Write more. Writing this newsletter keeps me writing and giving myself some time to write during the day actually makes me more productive with everything else. The habit helps me to tackle other writing projects too.
If you’re planning to set goals for 2020, be kind to yourself and make them small and achievable. You’ll be more likely to succeed and then you might even feel good enough exceed them. But if you don’t, you’ve still done all you set out to do.
Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown
This short book is about getting out of your comfort zone, living in alignment with your values, and respecting the people you come in contact with.
I came to the book expecting something a bit “woo-woo” and came away instead with something very practical and heartfelt.
In sharing how to live a more authentic life she never promises the moon—Brené Brown isn’t saying you’ll read her book, follow her advice and be a better person forever. She shares her own struggles in the process and never claims perfection, which was especially touching in the audiobook version which she narrates herself. She’s challenging readers to work at being better, more compassionate human beings.
Read This If: You are looking for something inspirational and honest, without bullshit.
Extracurricular Reading and Watching
Winter feels like a time for reflection and introspection. If that’s what you’re looking for too, I recommend checking out these two newsletters for a weekly dose of thoughtfulness:
Jordan Kisner at the New Yorker wrote about self-care culture. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. Women in North America have been told for at least the last hundred years to take care of everyone, be the woman behind the man, a self-sacrificing mama bear who would do anything for her children. It sounds grossly indulgent to rub your face with papaya and call it #selfcare, but on the other hand, just choosing something entirely for yourself in the face of all the pressure to be in the background is fairly revolutionary. Yes, the commodification of everything can be irritating (self-care temporary tattoos are not necessary), but small acts can lead to bigger and braver acts.
Christine Garvey is another person whose newsletter I love. In this article she talks about working on feeling like what you have and what you are doing is enough. As someone who suffers from awful bouts of seasonal affective disorder, I would never say happiness is a choice. But going through an exercise of looking at your life through a different frame can be useful, refreshing, and reassuring.
Sabrina has completed her goal of reading 75 books in 2019!