Saturday, January 01, 2011

Goal-Setting for 2011: Part I

I enjoyed answering Simple Mom's Reflection Questions the other day, so I thought I'd dive in to her goal-setting questions with the same zeal.  Okay, maybe with about half the zeal.  I like the idea of setting goals--and you can bet when I sell that same notion to my ninth graders on Monday I'm going to sing its praises like I'm a 10 year old choir boy--but y'all: when I looked at this list of questions, it was so LONG.  (Read: overwhelming)

Since I'm in full-blown denial about going back to work on Monday (and demonstrating some pretty standard avoidance behavior when it comes to school work,) I'm going to try to answer them and see how far I get.  I might only answer some.  I might answer some in a future post.  I might answer them all now. It's as big of a surprise to me as it is to you, Internet.  Let's see how far I get.

Unrelated: I'm far enough into it to comment now, so I thought I'd share with you that Cleopatra: A Life is fascinating.  Loving it so far.

Anyhoo.  Coffee in hand, I begin to answer thoughtfully...

I. Personal Growth

1. What healthy character traits would you like to see developed in your life this year? What are some specific steps you can take to develop these?

I'd like to develop patience in the next year.  I haven't been good at it, ever.  As a kid I would get so wrapped up in something that was to come (holiday, birthday, end of school) that I would make myself miserable in the interim.  Oh wait, nothing has changed.  See, it's a good goal for me.  I think I did a decent job of ditching the I'll be happy when-s in 2010, and I would like to continue that into 2011.

I feel like there's more room in my life for sincerity, too: being genuinely interested in things that people have to say to me, being absolutely present in the moment without letting my mind wander.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when I am talking to someone about something that feels important and they look away in the middle of my sentence and/or start talking to someone else.  That's really hurtful, right?  The problem is, I know I'm guilty of the same thing.  I want to essay to curb that bad habit.  I want to really listen to people in 2011 and make them feel like there's nothing else I'd rather be doing.

The final character trait I'd like to work on is courage.  Specifically, I'd like to continue to be better about asserting myself, being gently and tactfully honest when I wouldn't like to do something or I disagree with it.  This is another place I felt like I grew in 2010, but I could use a lot of work.  A few times in the last year I tried to assert myself to disastrous ends (they can't all be winners!).  The tact and gentleness factors need fostering.  For various reasons I didn't spend my 20's thinking that I had the right to disagree with people; now I would like to continue to do what makes me happy or what is right for my family, the rest of the world be damned.  Okay, maybe not like that, but there's got to be a happy medium.  I'm aiming for medium.

2. What is your plan for maintaining accountability for progressing in personal growth?

Yeesh.  Accountability takes all the "resolution-ness" out of a resolution.  Who wants to be held accountable?  Okay, I'm yust yoking.  I know that the barometer by which my personal growth is measured is my marriage.  Secondary to that, my close relationships with friends and extended family.  In my relationship with E, it's often easy to see that things are out of whack because there's yelling and/or stretches of hurt feelings involved.  E and I are, at times, at our worst in front of each other because we're together most and because we know the other isn't going anywhere.  This is always cause for reflection, self-critique.  But in my other relationships the signs are quieter, sometimes easily missed.  I suppose my plan, then, is to be reflective about all the relationships in my life and to try to go back to my original plan for this year to see how I'm doing.

Aside: This just started to feel like writing my yearly goals and objectives for school.  I'm going to turn a blind eye to that feeling, because this should feel like real goal-setting, not hoop-jumping.  *Sigh.*

3. What are some of your learning goals for this year?

My learning goal for this year is to get back into a Masters program.  I was doing one online during the Fall of 2008 when E and I split, so I had to bail.  I'd like to do this not only for the deferment that would come for my student loans, but also so that I can stockpile units for when my district (hopefully) undoes the pay freeze in a year and a half.  It's always so hard to spend money on more education--it feels like we've been struggling just to make it on what I earn since day one--but there will come a time where not having a Masters degree will bite me in the butt.  I know it.  My decision now will be to either pursue a Masters in Education (BORING) like I was before, or to do what I would LOVE to do, a low-residency MA in creative writing.  My goal: decide, apply, begin, thrive.

4. What books would you like to read this year?

As ever, I don't want my dance card too full--I have to leave my options open so I can see what else comes along.  But here is what I have currently sitting on my Amazon Wish List:

Little Bee, Chris Cleave
Fifth Avenue, Five A.M., Sam Wasson
An Object of Beauty, Steve Martin
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford
Skippy Dies: A Novel, Paul Murray
The Imperfectionists: A Novel, Tom Rachman
Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk

Oooh, and my other book goal? Start or join a book club.  Introversion be damned.

5. Do you enjoy your job or jobs (include being a stay-at-home mother, if this pertains to you)? If so, what are your favorite things about your work? If not, what are some ways you can change this?

For the first time in the nine years since I started teaching, I love my job.  There have always been things that I liked about it, but I found balance over the 2009-2010 school year and I have been able to revel in it so far in 2010-2011.  My favorite things about my work are the other people (read: grown-ups), the autonomy to set my own routine within my classroom and creatively design solutions for my students' needs, and the time off I get to spend with my kids and family during the holidays and summer.  I feel like my job challenges me every day, and I like trying to always think about how to do it better.  I feel like I'm at a place that's both comfortable and familiar, but also ever-changing and interesting.


II. Physical Health

1. What is one area of progress you’d like to see this year for maintaining or improving your physical health?

I would like to maintain two areas of progress.  I would like to maintain (go back to? December kind of did me in...) clean eating of mostly whole, unprocessed foods, and I would like to continue to make running and/or regular exercise (or physical therapy, in the meantime) a part of my daily routine.

2. What are some tangible, daily choices you can add to your life that will improve your health?

The best choices of 2010 will probably also be the best choices of 2011: cooking dinners at home, making lunches for the four of us to take to work/school, eating breakfast every day, shopping at farmers markets and eating what is in season, growing our own veggies and fruit, using Sunday as my prep-for-the-week day, running for fitness/eating for weight loss, going outside more often, running with friends, playing more often.

3. In what way would you like to be physically healthier by December of this year?

Yikeseroonies, December of this year.  Wowzers.  Okay, um, I'll say it:

I want to run a full marathon by December of this year.

4. What is your plan this month for starting this progress towards a healthier you?

Specifically, I have one more month of daily PT for my hip.  This means I need to get religious about my thera-bands, and I need to stretch my hip flexors four times a day.  HEAVY SIGH.  The eating thing is in the bag already--after December was the month of McDonalds and candy, my body basically laid down on the floor and had a tantrum until I fed it some salad.  The challenge is going to be remembering to do the PT.  Not doing it, just remembering to do it.  Maybe if I put the bands next to my vitamins...

III. Marriage & Family Life

If you’re married, proceed to question 1. If you’re single with children, you can skip to question 5.

1. What are some goals you have as a couple to strengthen your marriage?

I'm gonna just answer for me, because E is sleeping and I'm not about to go wake him up!  But I can say that my own goal for our marriage is that we will make some time for just the two of us to go out and do things together.  We fall into the trap too often of thinking it will just be cheaper/easier/less trouble to stay home so we don't go out too often.  Then when we do stay home we end up each doing our own thing.  Even if all we do is go outside and take a walk together, that's something.  I want to do more of that.  I'd like to continue to work on healthy communication, but that's always going to be a goal (and a challenge) for us.

2. In what ways can you grow in intimacy with your spouse this year?

Ew.  Intimacy.  I hate that word.  Love the idea, hate the word.  Anyway.  Um, I guess all of my answer to #1 would qualify.

3. What are your plans for having regular date nights? How will you handle childcare?

How about our plan is that we get a plan to have regular date nights?  That would be an idea.

4. What plans will you make to have “family meetings” together? What books would you like to read together this year?

I think this is an area we're good at.  Our kids are so great that we can sit down with them and talk to them about just about anything, and they will get it.  I guess we can just keep on keepin' on in that area.  E and I are good about stopping things when they need to be stopped between us so that we can talk through things and listen to each other.  So, more of that.  Hmmm.... books to read together?  Can't think of any.  We've spent so much time getting versed in our relationship that it would just be nice to do anything together.  I suppose if a book comes along, then we could do that too.  Not a specific goal for us, though.

5. What will deliberate, regular family time look like this year?

I'd like to continue to do things with the kids like visit museums and take trips--even day trips.  We really like spending time together, so that's not exactly going to feel like work.

6. Do you have specific planned vacation time in mind for this year? What needs to happen to make this vacation a reality?

Nothing is planned.  We're living in the tenuous time that comes after the Christmas bank account drain and before we file our taxes.  Since E has a new job and we had some problems getting his HR to deduct his taxes correctly at first, we're not really sure how that's going to come out.  BUT...

shhh, don't tell anyone, but I really want to take the kids to Disneyland again.  And by the kids I mean myself too, duh.  This may or may not be in conjunction with running the Disneyland Half Marathon in September?  I'm also thinking I'd like us to go back to San Francisco.  At least that is one thing we can kind of do on the cheap.  Maybe.  As I said, we have to wait until we file our taxes before I go daydreaming.

7. How is your current physical living space working for your family? Do you need to make changes to this? If so, what are they?

We have exactly as much space as we need.  If we're being honest, I can't wait to get out of this house, but it's because I hate the neighborhood, not because something is wrong with out little home.  The only thing we could use more of is yard space.  But we're going to sit here for a good long while because we're upside down in our mortgage.  Until things turn around in the housing market, all we can do is pay down our debt and bide our time.

See, I told you this list was long.  This is only the first half of the questions, but I am officially done writing for today.  Tune in tomorrow for Part II: Goals for My Children, Money Matters and Relationships Outside the Home.


  1. You are a great source of inspiration to me! I borrowed your reflection questions and it really made me think about my past year. I'm going to have to use these ones as well. You are an encouragement to me on a regular basis and I really appreciate it.

  2. Marathon- no problem! You can do it and will love it!!

  3. I hope Little Bee is at the top of your list. :)