New Year’s Goals After an Unraveling Year


I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.  But I do do New Year’s goals.

(*snort* do do.)

(Hey, I know this post is gonna get heavy, so I’m getting my humor where I can.)

It’s been a decade-long tradition: each year, I would write up a little summary of the year that had transpired, followed by a list of goals I’d hope to accomplish in the new one.  I’d then look back on what I wrote the previous year and see what I could check off from that list.

It’s a pretty harmless tradition, usually.  There were a few years in the earlier days where “lose 5 pounds” somehow made it onto the list.  One year, my write up turned into an excuse to rant about my terrible job.  But, for the most part, it’s been a way to keep focused, keep perspective, and keep going.

And then 2015 happened.

Every year has its challenges.  And there’s always going to be tough years.  But after a year like 2014, where I spent the majority of it riding my own little optimism train, it was bewildering to see how quickly things turned.  And while 2015 became a very productive year, I knew the look back — particularly at the goals made in 2014 — was not going to be pretty.

This was probably the first year where looking back on my goals — looking back on what I wrote about 2014 — hurt.  It hurt on an emotional and spiritual and downright physical level.  It hurt the way driving by a demolition site where your childhood playground once sat hurt.  It hurt in a way that is more heavy than painful, where breathing is labored because the weight on your chest is downright tangible.

It’s not that I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do.  In some ways, I wish it was as simple as not being productive enough.  It had more to do with the type of person I was as 2014 drew to an end and how starkly it contrasted to the person I became in 2015.

No one is exactly who they were a year later, but I had to actively avoid the temptation to label that earlier version of me as brutally naive.  The same way I had to actively avoid wishing I was her again.  Or the same way I had to resist wanting to jump into a time machine, meet up with that version of me, and say, “You have no idea how quickly 2015 is going to unravel on you.”

So 2015 unraveled on me.  It threw curveballs I could never have predicted.  And I spent a lot of time zeroed in on what could have been, had loose ends been properly tied.  Zeroed in on what was lost or thrown to the wind.  Zeroed in and zeroed in and zeroed in some more — until I exhausted myself.  Until eventually I surrendered to the idea that the unraveling was less like a bag tearing at the seams so much as it was like a satchel slowly unknotting at the top, revealing what’s been inside all along.  Revealing what needed to be revealed.  Forcing me to confront things I had spent a good amount of time avoiding.  Recognizing that the 2014 version of me was not in a better place just because that metaphorical bag was still intricately tied shut.

Because sometimes you have tough years.  Sometimes you have really tough years.  Sometimes you have years that make you want to pull your hair out and sometimes you have years that hit you right in the existential gut.  And you get two choices then: you can retreat and effectively run in circles, or you can charge ahead with whatever uncertainties await.  Address what you need to address.  Be bold with how far you have to veer from what had been yesterday’s normal.

I really have no interest in copying 2014’s list of goals for 2015, nor do I fancy writing up a more detailed list of 2015 events for this blog.  But I will say, when looking over the list of 2014 goals, I noticed a theme: go forward, see where this takes you.

While some goals were very specific, every branch of the list, every aspect of my life essentially had a variation of this sentiment.  From yoga teaching to writing, even my personal life:

Go forward.  See where this takes you.

The cynic in me saw that and wanted to go, “Yeah, yeah — go forward, and see it take you…right into that brick wall.”  But eventually that voice lost out, eventually replaced with a Douglas Adams quote:

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

That naive optimism train I was riding in 2014 might’ve derailed, but that particular destination was never in the cards for me, anyway.

So what are my goals for 2016?  There’s a list of fairly concrete goals.  I’m hoping to get the chutzpah to release a collection of poetry through one of the sites I write for.  I’m hoping to polish up another manuscript and start up the literary agent hunt again.  I’m hoping to continue my training, particularly in the fields of therapeutic yoga for trauma, anxiety, and depression.  I’ve got a nice set of plans that I’m hoping to see come to full fruition in 2016.  Plans that all got their seeds planted in 2015, despite (or perhaps because of) the year it had been.

But I think my main goal for 2016 is — ironically — the reoccurring theme in the list made for 2015: Go forward.  See where this takes you.  See life as an adventure unfolding, not a set of clear-cut puzzle pieces shifting into place at designated times.

And maybe I’ll add on a paraphrasing of that Douglas Adams quote: Have faith that, even if it doesn’t take me where I’m expected to go, I’m going where I’m needed to be.

And, y’know, like lose weight and go to the gym more, or something.

Or learn not to laugh at things like “do do”.

*snort* Do do…

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