When I moved to Massachusetts all the way from Colorado in 2011, many of my usual hobbies ended up on the back burner. Not only did I need to dedicate my time to a full-time school program, but my commute got longer (buses instead of cars) and my network of crafty friends and known supply locations all but disappeared.
Well, school is over now. With graduation behind me and the New Year in front of me, I’m greeting 2014 ready for anything. One of my biggest goals in life has finally been achieved (landing my first job!), but I don’t want to stagnate. I’ve graduated but that doesn’t mean I want to stop learning, reading, or engaging. That’s why I’ve made a list of 14 things to do in 2014.
1. Make the perfect cookie. Before I left home, I only knew how to make grilled cheese and plain, baked chicken (as long as the chicken was thawed first). For two years, it’s been a goal of mine to teach myself how to cook with the help of YouTube videos, recipe communities such as AllRecipes.com, food blogs, and good old trial and error. I’ve gotten good at making a meal, but my foray into baking has only begun. Bring it on!
2. Explore more of New England. I hadn’t even seen the eastern side of the US until I landed here in September 2011, ready to live here for at least two years. That has turned into two and a half years and counting, but I still haven’t seen much. So far, I’ve seen Portsmouth, NH and Providence, RI, and I’ve managed to explore a little bit of Boston and the surrounding areas. But that’s pretty much it. So what are the goals for my next travels? I’d like to eat lobster in Maine and drink craft brews in Vermont.
3. Make some DIY bookends. I follow a couple different blogs from time to time that feature DIY (do-it-yourself) crafts, and I’ve fallen in love with one about making your own bookends. I’m a book lover with tons of books, so this is definitely a project I can use!
4. Do more dancing. Merce Cunningham, an American dancer and choreographer said “you have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.” In Denver, I went to concerts up to three times a week. When I moved to Boston though, my social and economic positions changed, and it was no longer feasible to go out. But you don’t need to go somewhere expensive to dance, and you don’t have to find anyone to dance with. I’m choosing to get down and boogie more: in my car, at my desk, in the shower, or by myself in my room.
[Hm… maybe salsa dancing is in the cards?]
5. Take more walks. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not as active as I should be. Dancing and walking more should help with that—but they’ll help my mind, too. Both activities get all your stored energy out (and that includes nervous energy!) Dancing brings me joy because I love to do it, and walking gives me peace because it gives me time to think on my own. Plus it’s a great goal to help me see more of New England (or at least the neighborhood).
6. Be a vegetarian for a week. This one is going to be hard for me. The majority of my meals feature meat, meat, and more meat. Even my salads have meat on them! But I hear so often from my vegetarian friends how much better they feel after they’ve stopped eating meat. I still love to eat meat, but one of my goals is to at least give it a try and see how I feel.
7. Take a MOOC. I was glad to graduate college, but as I said before, I definitely don’t want to stagnate. I love learning from the expertise of others. I think the best way for me to learn is from the guidance of another rather than on my own. MOOCs are a great way to do this. Now I just have to pick a topic! I’m thinking a beginner’s HTML class or maybe even a more in-depth computer science class. I love biology, though. Oh, but then I’m also interested in meditation—there’s so many options, I can tell that choosing is going to be the hardest part of this goal.
[Read more: 5 Ways to Choose a MOOC.]
8. Start (and finish) at least ten books. Hopefully, the goal above can help me with this one. Since I left school, I’ve been really bad at doing what I’ve always loved most: reading for fun. I’ve started so many books, but I just haven’t committed like I should. So the part in the parentheses is especially important.
9. Lose ten pounds. Goals four and five should really help out with this one. I want to explain that this isn’t what it looks like, though. Body image is a hot topic these days, especially for women. I want people to know that generally, I like my body. However, this holiday season probably means that I’m not going to fit into my summer dresses, and I don’t want to have to purchase a new wardrobe once it starts getting hot.
[I could take a fitness course for goal #9, and meet goal #7 at the same time!]
10. Organize my recipes. The internet is a glorious thing. You can search for one specific recipe, print it out, refer to it easily, and even jot down notes as you go. But once you’ve done this over and over again without any rhyme or reason, it can really become a mess. I’ve got a file folder in my file cabinet at home that’s just stuffed full of loose pages, and every time I want to go back to an old recipe, I have no choice but to flip through the whole stack to find it. I really want to do something more creative, like a scrapbook—but for recipes! That way, I’ll finally reach my goal of having organized my recipes for easy access, and I also get the chance to do something creative.
11. Join group therapy. Something that’s really important to me is making an effort to destigmatize the world of mental health. It’s just as necessary to take care of your mind as it is to take care of your body, and sometimes people need help doing that. Psychologists are still doctors, after all. But you can also learn a lot about yourself when you involve others—if it’s a safe, guided setting, you can experiment and interact in ways you might not be able to otherwise, and you get the opportunity to take a critical look at the results of that interaction from many different viewpoints, both expert and casual. You are not, however, allowed to talk about what happens in group therapy with anyone else, as it is protected by HIPA. I can talk about my progress, though, and the things I’ve learned about myself.
12. Let something go that I have no control over. Sometimes changing a problem in your life from a big one to a small one is merely reevaluating the problem. If you have absolutely no control, you just need to let it go. One of my goals is to really look at my problems to determine whether I can do anything about them, and if not, to do my best to let it go.
13. Take a sewing class. I’ve always wanted a sewing machine but could never justify spending that much money on a machine whose mechanics were a complete mystery to me. When one of my roommates moved to San Diego, she didn’t really want to take her sewing machine with her. She couldn’t find the cord, but told me if I was willing to buy a new one, the machine was mine to keep. Seven dollars later, I was the proud owner of a new sewing machine. But the fact still remains—I don’t know the first thing about it. I hope to remedy that this year by taking a beginner’s sewing class.
14. Get my work published. Creative writing was part of my chosen degree during college, and it’s always been something I’ve enjoyed immensely. But like reading, I’ve done a lot less of it since graduating college, and I’ve let most of my work that’s been considerably revised fall by the wayside. I’d really like to make a goal of revisiting some of my better work, and now that some time has passed, give it a critical look once more and then actually submit it for publication. Cross your fingers for me!
Even when you find a particular stage of your life ending, it’s always an opportunity for a new stage to begin. I know which things in life really matter to me, and I wanted my goal list for the coming year to reflect those things. Learning and growing as a person will always be of great importance to me, but I know it doesn’t always come easy. I plan to print a copy of this list to keep with me, in easy sight. That way, I won’t lose track of what I want to do in the coming new year and my goals will always be within reach.
Want to make your own list of 14 things to achieve in 2014? Take a close look and consider what’s really important to you. What do you want to learn? What are the things you enjoy doing most? What goals do you have in mind for yourself?