Sunday, January 12, 2014

Goals, Goals and More Goals

I always underestimate how busy January will be.  While the holidays tend to be crazy-busy they also invite a suspension of time and productivity. For days on end one might do nothing but eat, drink and be merry with friends. Then January hits and BAM - back to life, back to reality.

As per the past three or four years, I've added to the insanity of post-holiday life by setting out numerous goals for this coming year.  It's been proven by science (woot!) that people are something like 90 percent more likely to accomplish something if they set a measurable goal and then write it out.  So I identified the major areas of my life that I wanted to set goals for, such as Career, Financial, Personal Development, Health, Relationships, etc.  and then went about the task of identifying measurable accomplishments I'd like to reach by the end of the year with respect to each goal.  My process from there will be to break these goals down into more attainable mini-goals that I want to accomplish in two month intervals. Finally, after I've identified my goals for the 2-month period that is coming up, I'll set out weekly goals and schedule time to make sure I can accomplish it. That's the theory anyways. I'm fully aware that sometimes 'life' gets in the way, and goals change or are delayed, but even if I only accomplish 50 or 70 percent of the goals I've outlined, it's likely more than I would if I hadn't written them down in the first place.

So what are these goals I speak of? Well, I've not the inclination to share them all because 1) there are too many and you're likely to get bored (if you haven't already) 2) some of them are too personal, but here are three that I am especially excited about and/or are related to food:

Rediscover the Writer Within - Growing up I was a voracious reader and dreamed of becoming a writer (amongst other childhood career dreams that included 'being a millionaire'). During my undergrad in Business Administration, I took as many electives in Creative Writing as possible. In fact, I believe I took the same course twice and justified it because the instructor was different. I loved writing, but always faced two problems: 1) it was an ongoing challenge to get words on paper that were satisfactory to my high standards 2) I could rarely finish a story or piece of writing; instead I'd start anew on another story. It was frustrating by times, but the classes helped push me to at least write some words, even if they weren't perfect.

After university my main outlet for writing became this very blog, which I originally set up in 2004 as a means of documenting my life in Scotland (this was before Facebook and status updates existed). I've never considered my blog to be a reflection of my creative writing, rather it tends to be a collection of random thoughts and activities that have marked the passage of time in my life. I continued to blog throughout my time in Scotland, during my short stint back on PEI after Scotland and then while I was living in Australia in 2006/2007, but didn't pursue any more creative writing.

When I returned from Australia,  I cocooned myself away for the winter in PEI and began reading Julia Cameron's book 'The Artist's Way', which is really a self-directed course in rediscovering your creative self.  My time in Australia had been a gift, an opportunity to begin listening to what my soul truly wanted in this lifetime and I opened myself to the gift, even though I would not realize it until years later. In those winter months after returning from Oz, I wrote more and I wrote better than I ever had before.  It was raw writing, teeming with emotions and experiences that I'd inhaled during my time in the Land Down Under. And then, as winter turned to spring and my life took a new direction, I began to neglect my writing again. Such is life and from 2008 until this past week, I gave only passing thought to the creative writer within me.

As life would have it, the heavy snow and freezing rain that wreaked havoc over the holidays this year and saw me stuck in the apartment during the first weekend of this year was what led to my realization that I have been neglecting the writer within me.  I had been perusing my Facebook page and saw a post from one of the women that  I'd met while in Australia, Jo. She and her family were the first ones to welcome me into their home when I decided to leave Sydney and do Help Exchange, where I would offer my help to with housework or farmwork to hosts in exchange for room and board.  I stayed on Jo's farm for a month. It was a turning point in my life, but I didn't know it then. In any case, seeing her name pop up on my FB feed reminded me of the writing I'd done upon returning to PEI. I searched my laptop and was grateful to find my writing was still filed away under 'Old Laptop Backup'.  Normally when I look back at writing I've done in the past, I am fairly critical of it, but this time I was struck by how well I had cast scenes and characters. 

I decided to take this as my soul's way of saying it wants me to start writing creatively again. And so I have set a goal of immersing myself in creative writing again. To jumpstart my forays back into creative writing, I've decided to take a Creative Writing course through the local community school. Apparently some wires got crossed between the instructor and the school organizers, because our teacher thought she was providing a novel-writing course. So, over the next 10 weeks I'll either be attempting to write my first  novel or delving back into memoirs and short story writing.

Eating Well and Trying New Recipes

Yes, I do try to eat well, but it never hurts to reinforce an on-going goal by writing it down! To add some pizazz to the goal, I've included the additional challenge of trying new recipes.  More specifically, my goal is to try out one new recipe per week in my kitchen.

In an effort to make eating good food an easy and fun experience, I will be trying to prep food in advance and cook up batches of deliciousness, so that I can freeze and reheat when time doesn't allow for scratch-cooking. Earlier this evening, I prepared my meal plan for the week. Breakfast will always be a smoothie of some variation, while lunch will tend to be leftovers from dinner along with a fresh salad.  To make dinners easy, I've set aside three nights where I will prep food for dinners, lunches and the freezer. Tonight I prepared Pad Thai and a yummy Sweet Potato-Orange-Ginger Soup. Tomorrow night I'll make quinoa or bean-veggie burgers and Wednesday night I'll prep a greek inspired quiche (feta and olives = yum!). I've got loads of organic greens and organic tomatoes to complement every meal as well.

It's really easy to fall off the 'eating well' wagon, but the trick is to get right back on the wagon, because the body needs and deserves good nutrition to function properly and prevent disease.

Fall More In Love with Myself

OK, so maybe this one is pretty personal, but I'm OK with sharing this goal. I think this is THE goal that one must always be striving towards if any of the other goals or accomplishments in one's life are to have any substance. What I mean is that I believe I must be madly in love with who I am. Only then can I be completely confident that everything I choose to do is aligned with my true purpose and heart's desires. This sounds a little hokey, I know. That's probably because it is, but I don't care. Not everything in life worth pursuing is tangible; in fact I'd say most things worth pursuing are intangible.  It's about waking up with a feeling of gratitude, love and excitement. It's about being able to take leaps of faith because you are attuned to your heart's desires. It's about believing in yourself and loving all the bits and pieces that make up your being.

So how does one transform this into actionable mini-goals? Well, I'm not saying I have the surefire formula, I'm just working with what has helped me get to where I am on this journey thusfar - setting aside time for daily meditation; journalling; taking solitary walks in the forests and on beaches; spending time with like-minded people; being present in the moment; recording that which you are grateful for (about yourself and about life); getting enough sleep; saying 'yes' out loud whenever your gut says it inside, and taking time to simply be alone and still in nature. 

Those, my friends, are just a few of the many goals I've set for myself this year. In case it's not obvious, another goal is to blog at least once per week.

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