Oh hey, friends! I hope you rang in 2017 with great company and fun! We spent the holiday in Vermont with some of our ski buddies, which is always a great time. Fireworks, snow, champagne, old movies, great brews, too much mac & cheese, lots of dancing – all the good stuff for the New Year.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not normally into New Years resolutions. I’m continually setting goals for myself throughout the year, and I like to follow my instincts and inklings as they evolve. Therefore “do X in 20XX” has never really been my bag. Planning for a whole year often doesn’t seem realistic to me – can I really pick a 2017 mantra or goal and keep that meaningful in my everyday life? Focusing on the day-to-day and adjusting accordingly is just more….manageable.
That being said, there’s a ton to be said for larger scale, longer term goal setting: planning ahead gives you more time to accomplish what you set out to do and can provide perspective on this one year – this piece of time in your life – which can move way too fast. With a bit more time on my hands last week, I thought it might be fun to give this whole 2017 planning thing a try and see what came up.
My intention: To make these “resolutions” feel authentic for me, I’m approaching them as “things I’m looking forward to.” I definitely don’t want to start the new year by burdening myself with guilt or ‘should dos’, so I’m focusing on dreaming big, taking chances, having fun, and letting go where necessary. I’m going to avoid any thoughts of transformation or pushing too hard. I’m not out to change who I am; I’m just hoping to enjoy and make space for the things I love and remember to appreciate my life, my health, and those around me.
Here are some bulleted highlights of what I’m looking forward to, followed by a more in-depth description of various goals and exciting happenings for those who aim to “read more” this year.
Highlights – What I’m looking forward to in 2017:
- Getting on Track
- Wilder Retreat (!)
- Tackling PRs – 5K, half marathon, stadium, hills
- Consistency in meditation
- Balance between running and yoga
- “Doing less”
- Being early
- Spending more quality time with family and friends. This will include some epic fall weddings celebrating some of my favorite people!!!!
- Reading 20 books
- New blog features
As you can see, some of these are more concrete goals and others are general attitudes to foster. How do I plan to take them on? Well, let’s see…
Hit the track
A friend recently reminded me that I’ve been talking about coming to Fenspeed for track workouts since November 2015. Don’t you love/hate when friends have such good memories?! In all seriousness, I’m so grateful that Carolyn pointed this out, because it was a total wake up call. I said that more than one year ago? And I never went?! As soon as she mentioned it, I told myself I had to make track happen in the New Year.
What I didn’t expect was to check this one off on January 2. November Project Boston is holding speed-focused Monday workouts leading up to the annual (bi-annual? semi-annual?) Sunrise 6K. Yesterday, the first of these workouts was held at the Fenway track and I finally got to give it a try.
My track math was a hot mess. Having never run on a track before in my life, I was super confused about the distances. On our first 400, I had 200 in my head and started hauling ass looking like Pheobe from Friends as everyone else calmly kept a steady pace. I was in for a rude awakening when we didn’t stop at the 200m mark and continued on past the dude practicing martial arts on the inner field.
I had no idea what I was doing, but it was so much fun and I was pumped all day. I’m so glad that I got myself out of bed on my last day of vacation, and that I could tackle a long elusive goal and try something new on the second day of the new year. I also had the excitement of seeing numbers I’ve never seen on my watch before, having never logged such short, fast distances.
Of course this isn’t something I’m planning to check off and move on from – hopefully track will be a big part of 2017!
I could not be more excited to share that I was recently offered a spot on the 2017 Wilder Retreat. This also deserves it’s own blog post, so I’ll share more about the retreat concept, my goals, and my overwhelming excitement soon!! For now I’ll just say: I. can’t. freakin. wait.
Last year I basically signed up for races at random whenever I felt like something sounded fun and fit into my schedule. This year, I’d like to have a tentative plan so that I can be more consistent in my training, try to tackle new challenges, and make running more of a priority. I’m definitely going to keep plenty of wiggle room to make sure that I’m not overcommitting, but having a bunch of potential races on my mind has me pretty excited. I’ll share my potential race list later this week!
Chase Down PRs
In 2016, I gave myself a much more solid foundation for running and set some baseline numbers at several distances. This year, I’d like to see if I can put in some work and beat my own times at the 5K and half marathon distances. Excepting the 5K (which always feels like the worst/hardest thing ever), all of these seem super achievable and are well within my reach. I knew I had more to give after the SeaWheeze half and I’ve been within seconds of both of my November Project stadium and hill PRs, so 2017 should hold some new challenges, dedicated effort, and milestones.
Consistency in asana and meditation
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I didn’t quite dedicate enough time to my personal practice in 2016. I’ll get into part of my strategy for turning this around in the next section, but I also plan to create a more consistent schedule. There are a few classes and teachers that I absolutely love and connect with, and I would like to be better about getting to those classes as much as possible. By making them a permanent fixture on my calendar, I’m hoping to build this consistency and reduce time spent wondering when I should get to yoga each week and checking studio schedules.
I would also like to develop a more consistent meditation practice. This practice has fluctuated a great deal over the years, but is so very important to me. I’m still planning a “scientific evidence of meditation benefits” post, so stay tuned for more on why I value meditation and find it useful both anecdotally and scientifically.
Run + Yoga not Run vs. Yoga
This one is definitely more of a mindset shift. I rarely get to a yoga class and feel too sore from running to enjoy it and feel the benefits in my mind and body. These activities work well together for me, so I’m going to try not to think of certain days as “running days” vs. “yoga days.” It would probably benefit me more to have true rest days, so I’m aiming to shift this habit.
One of my yoga teachers recently inspired me to think about resolutions in a new way. at the start of class, we spent some time in seated meditation and she invited us to consider not what we wanted to take on this year, but what we could let go of in 2017.
What can you do less of or say no to?
Who are you trying to please when you say yes?
Can you drop something that’s weighing you down or that you’re doing for someone else?
I loved the idea of resolving to let some things go. We have all pieces of our lives that we’re doing because we think we should or to gain approval, whether we’ve admitted that to ourselves or not. I personally took on a lot in 2016: between my full-time writing job, November Project, running, practicing yoga, and teaching yoga, my schedule always feels full. Not to mention spending time with my partner, family, and friends and requisite bores like laundry and dishes.
In 2017, I resolve to Do Less!
This doesn’t mean I’m necessarily dropping any one whole thing because I love all of those activities so much, but I can moderate them. I think teaching a maximum of 2 days per week is most realistic for me in the winter. We tend to spend a lot of time skiing, so something has to give and it’s just harder to stay out late in the cold and cozy winter months! I was often teaching 3-4 times per week this summer and fall, so my goal is to keep my teaching schedule in check, and be realistic about what I can and can’t take on.
I also want to spend less time on social media. I mean, who doesn’t? I’m pretty sure everyone could do with less of these time suckers. But I’ve spent some time thinking about how to make more space in my day-to-day, and this kept coming up for me. It’s not just that Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook take up too much time (which they do); it’s that scrolling fills the little moments in the day that I might otherwise spend observing, noticing, appreciating, or even just spacing out. These tiny but constant interruptions are total productivity killers, and it’s kind of alarming how much I reach for my phone without even noticing. I’ve been quietly dialing back lately, but I’d like to make this a true goal for the year. Obviously I recognize that I’m writing this on a BLOG post and that I’ll probably share this post through all aforementioned medias, but there’s a difference between using social media strategically and “just scrolling.” I’m going to try to nix the latter.
Also on the agenda: stress less. Oh, good idea! Why don’t I just be less stressed out?! This is so obvious and elusive, but I like the idea of actually making this a written down goal. My more specific focus is to shift away from negativity as quickly as possible and my plan for achieving this is to meditate more – this time gives me the peace and ease to transition my thoughts to something positive. I’m also collecting a lot of great mantras, kind words from friends, favorite quotes, and “pieces of positivity” that mean a lot to me as something physical to turn to during stressful times. Maybe I’ll even share with you all. Boom. Blog posts everywhere.
Finally in the “do less” department, I’m hoping to eat less meat this year. I’ve been an on-again, off-again, semi-sorta, sometimes, not really vegetarian for about 9 years. Right now this basically means that I eat meat a couple times each week, and never cook it myself. I have many varied reasons for this being something I’m focusing on in 2017, and I’ll dive into that more soon. Basically I feel better physically and morally when I’m eating more plant-based and I think I’ve let “busyness” be an excuse lately. I’m thinking of this as something I’m happily letting go off rather than a restriction because it always feels fairly natural when I opt out of meat meals since I eat this way so much of the time. It also always feels good when I approach my diet with confidence and clarity.
Make my time spent with family and friends “high quality”
In addition to trying to create a bit more space and time in my life, I’m hoping that a less packed schedule and less social media will help me to be more present with the people I love. If time is precious, why would I want to fly through everything? I’m hoping to slow down in my conversations, play close attention, and enjoy great moments without interruptions from my phone or my mind. This too is a practice, but it’s one I’m dedicating myself to and where the benefits are immediate and wonderful.
I’ve been a little more on the “taking my sweet-ass time” side of life since Day 1. My mom was in labor with me for like 48 hours, and likes to point out that I’ve been pretty fond of meandering and losing track of time ever since. Being early or on-time has long been a struggle for me in certain areas. I’m never late to the airport or to teach yoga (except for that one day that the T caught on fire) or to important meetings, but I’m terrible at leaving the house and I’m not realistic about how long it takes me to do things.
For instance, Chris (who is not exactly Mr. On Time himself…) wakes up at least one hour before November Project. I have no idea what he does for that long (#poopchat) but I do know that I wake up approximately 7 minutes before we have to leave the house. I roll out of bed, toss on what I laid out the night before, and bump into walls trying to find my keys or the hat that I suddenly need. It’s not a pretty sight.
It’s frustrating as well because I hate being late, I hate being stressed, and I hate inconveniencing anyone. I love being early and having that time to space out and poke around whatever cool spot my friend picked for us to have dinner, etc. But there’s a part of my brain that also loves to fill time and when I have a few minutes and could head out at a leisurely pace, I tend to do 5 dishes or fold two towels instead. WHY?!?! I don’t know. But the lackadaisical game stops here!!! Mark my words.
Read 20 books
When I was a kid, I was an incredibly voracious reader. I used to apply my competitive streak not just to soccer games and Mario Kart battles, but also to my reading. One summer I read 86 books, which is a TON of wooden nickels. If you didn’t grow up in my hometown and get wooden nickels from the library for each book you read, that was probably a very confusing sentence. But yeah, I read it all.
Now that I’m an adult-sized child, I read a whole lot less. I like to blame my job, which involves constantly reading scientific articles, press releases, and my own writing. But let’s get real here; I just don’t make time to read! I think tacking a number on the year will be helpful, and I tried to aim low since I’ve been reading so very little and just got a new New Yorker subscription (thanks Hannah!). I also re-joined my book club, so this one is already in motion!
Develop new blog features
One thing I’d really like to try in 2017 is to develop some recurring posts for YogaWordNerd. I have several ideas up my sleeve, but the one I’m most excited about and that I’ll take on first will actually help me reach some of these goals, especially those that aren’t super specific or concrete.
To make my aspirations more concrete and achievable, I plan to focus on new goals each month. I’ve recently been inspired by fellow NPer and blogger Lauren Padula’s Maximize My Month challenges. Each month she has been tackling a new goal, many of which align with my own “things I’m looking forward to.” I love the idea of taking on or letting go of something new every month, and will post again soon sharing my January challenge (I’m already working on my goal for this month so don’t you worry).
Phew, that’s a lot. Guess I’m pretty pumped about 2017. I’ve now promised you 5-8 additional blog posts, so I better skedaddle and get on that!
What are you looking forward to or aiming for in the New Year??