Sunday, January 07, 2018

2018 Goals: A Bridge

Despite being a person that loves goals and resolutions and new beginnings, I did not set any expectations for 2017. No blog post laying out a detailed plan for the new year, no single word to serve as my guiding mantra, no resolutions for improving myself day by day. Looking back, it makes sense. The end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 were rough. Obama left office, my dog died, and my husband resigned from his job, and that was just the first three months! Getting through the day was challenging enough, never mind self-improvement.

This year, I'm feeling a bit more optimistic. While the political climate has been as bad as I feared, I'm now better equipped to resist and fight for change. We may be surviving on one income, but we've stuck to our budget and managed to live within our shrunken means. Writing is still a long, slow process, but progress is happening, even when I can't see it.

Maybe it's a consequence of social media and seeing everyone's highlight reel, but the last few New Year's Eves have been melancholy. At the close of each year, I've looked back and thought, "That was okay. Not great, not exciting, not really notable. Just okay." I would tell myself the past year was one of growth, of laying down the foundation, of making room. But you can only use that reasoning so many times before it starts to sound like an excuse. And so, to ensure that on the eve of 2019, I can look back with pride at all I've accomplished, I'm getting back to my roots. I'm setting goals for next year, and I'm choosing a word to guide me.

photo credit


The word I've chosen for 2018 is "bridge." Both a noun and a verb, a bridge is a structure carrying a path or road over a depression or obstacle. It's a time, place, or means of connection or transition. And finally, it's a passage connecting two sections of something - to bridge a gap, to carry forward.

For me, bridge will serve as a reminder that life is always in transition and that we're constantly moving, growing, and changing. I hope it will encourage me to trust the foundation I've laid and to follow risker paths - to try harder in all things and take the higher road. Despite some upheaval, my life has felt fairly stable for some time. It's time to build a bridge that will take me to the next stage.

Another reminder of my word-of-the-year are the literal bridges that lead to and from Wilmington. We are a city surrounded by water on all sides - ocean to the east, river to the west. I cross bridges regularly, and in 2018 I hope each one is a tiny burst of encouragement.

That said, here are some more specific goals I will attempt to bridge this year. 

Art & Writing 

I've been working on both a novel and a collection of short stories for years. In 2018, I want to finish both of these projects and sell one of them. I also want to write more flash fiction, read more nonfiction, and pitch more essays and articles. More, more, more. To accomplish these things, I'll do the following:

  • Write every day for at least 30 minutes. 
  • Pitch one essay or article a month. 
  • Write four new short stories to round out my collection. 
  • Write ten new flash fictions. 
  • Read 36 books. 
  • Spend a long weekend on a DIY writing retreat. 

Health & Fitness 

Health, too, has been pretty stagnant. All my runs are the same average speed. I've been attending the same kettlebell class for six years (!). My skin is beginning to show its age. All the habits that once worked just fine are no longer cutting it. I'm 35, and if I want to age gracefully, I need to try a little harder, mentally and physically. Here are some ways I will do that:

  • Set a new half marathon PR. 
  • Build more muscles. 
  • Substitute herbal tea for wine/beer three times a week.
  • Stick to my simple skin care regime. 
  • Do one new-to-me thing a month.

Money & Debt  

Over the last two years I've become a budgeting guru, so much so that it's no longer a challenge - it's just the way I live. Which means it's time to up my personal finance game and take things to the next level - especially if I ever want to retire. Some things I will attempt this year to make the transition easier:

  • Continue to rock my budget and live within my means.
  • Pay off Nathan's truck. ($650 to go.) 
  • Pay off my car. ($4,000 to go.) 
  • Save $500 per month ($6K total).
  • Learn how to invest. 

This probably seems like way too much to do all at once, but that's the thing - I'm not doing it all at once. A year is a pretty long time, with plenty of opportunities to try, fail, and try again. At the end of twelve months I want to feel proud of what I've accomplished, how far I've traveled, and all the bridges I built to help carry me forward. 

Here's to a productive, happy, and healthy 2018. Let's make it a good one, okay?