You may have noticed that my new years’ objectives are pretty low-key. Now it’s time to pick out some stretch objectives. The main objectives are ones that I can reasonably expect to complete and that are the bread and butter of improving my life this year. Stretch objectives are something else entirely. At work I have one, maybe two each year. These are the things that let me really challenge myself and prove to my management that I’m really giving back to the organization in a meaningful way beyond the every-day stuff.
In my personal life, I went really stretchy when I started my 50 by 50! Now it’s time to plan some of these ideas out for 2012. I don’t expect to get all of these stretch goals accomplished this year, but if I don’t stretch myself, I’m not likely to achieve any of them. I’d prefer to make progress on some or all of them than to just have them be an idea that I never got around to. Rather than make just one or two stretch goals, I’m going to make quite a few. One thing about time and getting things done is that I always overestimate what I can get done in a single day, but I underestimate what I can accomplish over time if I really put my mind to it. I was able to get a masters degree while working full time even after I got pregnant and had my son. I had a goal in front of me and I was motivated to complete it rather than quit. I knew if I quit, I’d never finish, so I just kept on going. It helped that I had a clear plan in the curriculum and a clear schedule with my night classes, so I will plan out my stretch goals and put them in my calendar to try to get some of that clarity going forward.
Stretch goals should still be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound), they are just a bit grander. Here are my personal stretch goals for 2012:
Run a 5K in April
I entered and finished my first 5K in November, but I walked at least half of it. My new goal is to run the entire 5k. I am starting from scratch because, for various reasons, I have only been on my treadmill twice since that race. As a matter of fact, just before writing my new years’ objectives I sprained my ankle…so I’m already a week or two behind in my goal to get 30 minutes of exercise at least 3 days a week. The sprain is minor and I still have plenty of time to train for the race. I picked this particular race because it is right by my house and I used the route of the race to train for the last 5k. I’m hoping that the weather is warmed up by then too, but you never know…it has been known to snow here in April!
Write a short story and submit it to a publication by the end of September
I have never had any interest in writing short stories. I accidentally read a book of short stories lately and after the first “chapter” when I realized I’d picked up a book of short stories rather than the novel I thought it was, I put it down in disgust. Later I picked it up and read another story, then another. I finished the book and started to remember that I used to read short stories, as a matter of fact the whole science fiction genre really got its start with short stories and I read many Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov stories in my youth and thoroughly enjoyed them. Then I remembered that I also used to love to read Erma Bombeck’s stories and remember the exact moment when I’d re-read one of her books only to realize that the series of stories, funny in isolation, actually told a broader story if you read them in order.
Get my paper clutter under control by the end of July
This goal is important to me in many ways. The clutter makes me anxious which is not good for my health. It also wastes my time and creates stress for me when I need something and cannot find it because I’m too disorganized and useless papers are mixed with important papers. It costs me money at times because I lose discount coupons only to find them after they’ve expired, or I lose a bill and forget to pay it on time. Paper clutter is a perennial problem for me, one I’ve tried to conquer before with some success at times. I have a fairly good underlying filing and organizing system, but I don’t use it regularly and find myself sifting through what I think is one month’s worth of paper only to realize it is 3 or 4 month’s worth. So, I will set aside time on a weekly basis to tackle the paper! I will also take some steps to cut back on the papers coming into my home.
Plan and take an anniversary trip with my husband by the end of the year
I’m already about 15 months into this project with only one clear outcome so far…the destination. It was supposed to be our 25th anniversary trip, but likely we’ll pass 26 years before we finally get our trip. There are many obstacles to overcome, but I think we can do it. The first thing is to pick the dates and clear our calendars.
Learn “tourist” Spanish by the end of July
I’m not fooling myself that I can become fluent in Spanish in 7 months, but I did have a couple of semester-long courses through work years ago so I have a small foundation to build on. What I want to be able to do is travel (see goal above) to a Spanish-speaking country and be able to hail a taxi, order in a restaurant, ask for and follow directions, and other simple “tourist” tasks. If you’ve read my earliest blogs, you’ll recall that I was going to learn French by my 50th birthday. I’ve reluctantly set that goal aside for now and replaced French with Spanish, finally convinced that it will be more useful in the long run.
And stretchiest of all:
Complete the first draft of my novel by the end of the year
If I can keep up the pace of a chapter a month from my new years’ objectives, I should be able to get the first draft done. This is more than just finishing the story, the rough draft, it’s also spending considerable time going over the book and making sure it makes sense, that nothing’s missing, that there’s not material that’s extraneous, and that it hangs together as a whole. Once I get that far, I will ask a few (very few!) trusted friends to do the first review to make sure I did that initial editing well. Then, it’ll be time for the second draft! I am developing quite a lot of respect for novelists…the process is excruciating!
Find the Joy in the Journey…But first you need to take the first step!
A Look Back at 2011
A Look Forward to 2012