Volume 1, Special Issue: Goal Setting for 2021 and New Year's Traditions

Hi friends! In an effort to respect your boundaries, I have some advice and tips on setting goals for 2021 in this separate special issue. I will also talk about some new year’s traditions my family has. I will talk about the traditions first, then the goals. I will clearly delineate between the two sections so, again, if you have boundaries around new year’s resolutions you may keep them intact.

New Year’s Traditions

My father’s side of the family is from the South and I spent the majority of new year’s eves with my father the last 10 years. I’ve picked up some of the family new year’s traditions and keep them going in our own home, as best as I can. Here’s a list of some of the most common Southern new year’s traditions. Below are the ones I hold fast to.

The First Visitor

The first person to come into your home in the new year needs to be a tall, dark man who exits through one door and comes in another. At my family’s house, my father or brother or cousin would leave the house right before midnight and come in right after. That’s the best scenario. The worst scenario is for a blonde woman to enter the home first in the new year. My family is absolutely adamant about this. Since our home is man-free, I take the job of being the person to exit at 11:58p then enter after midnight. My wife is white and blonde and she is absolutely banned from this job. It is one of the very few superstitions that I maintain.

Hoppin’ John & Cornbread

This is what you eat on new year’s day. The Hoppin’ John has black-eyed peas and collard greens, which symbolize coins and cash, and the cornbread is gold. It is eaten for prosperity in the coming year. Ideally, you cook it on new year’s eve so that you don’t do any cooking on new year’s day (please see the next section).

For Hoppin’ John, I use this recipe from Immaculate Bites and mess around with the seasoning to my liking. The recipe I use has a lot of meat. For a vegan version, check out this recipe from Sweet Potato Soul. Cornbread is something I take very seriously and I use this mildly complicated recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. The recipe is also in Bread Illustrated (affiliate link).

Don’t Work or Clean

Don’t sweep, don’t do dishes, don’t clean, don’t take out the trash. You’re going to wash all that new year’s luck right down the drain or out the door. On top of that, new year’s day is the day you set your intentions for the rest of your year. Whatever you are doing on new year’s day is what you’ll be doing a lot of the rest of the year. I was home on new year’s day this year and did my cooking on that day and look! I STAYED HOME AND COOKED A LOT THIS YEAR. But really, you should spend your day doing enjoyable things and relaxing because you want a relaxing, enjoyable year.

Let’s talk about goal setting!

There are so many different types of goal setting and it is definitely not one-size-fits-all. I set goals because I do well with a bit of structure. It helps to know what I’m filling my free time with so that I’m not alone with my own thoughts lolsob. It gives me things to look forward to and ways to be better. As a person with depression I find it also helpful because I so often can feel like I’m adrift in a tiny boat on a rough sea without any control. But my goals and resolutions are ways to exert control over my own life an actions and therefore, they’re a means to make me feel more grounded.

Before we talk about types of goals, here are some things to think about:

  1. Your goals should be a reflection of your personal needs and desires, not someone else’s.

  2. Remember, you’re setting goals because you want to. Don’t want to? Then don’t! There aren’t rules about this. It’s totally your choice and you can give yourself permission to not have resolutions or goals.

  3. It’s totally okay and normal if you get to a point in the year, two days, two weeks, two months in, where you figure out that a particular resolution is not what you actually need. It’s okay to quit, switch gears, and/or change directions. Again, no actual rules!

  4. When you choose your goals or resolutions, think really hard about this: Are you setting yourself up for success in making this goal? Or are you setting yourself up for failure? You know yourself the best. There are enough reasons to feel shitty, don’t make yourself feel shittier by giving yourself a ton of goals that you know in your heart are going to make you sad if you don’t reach them. That being said, it’s great to have a goal that is shooting for the stars! There are no rules.

  5. Make as many or as few as you want. Want to focus on one thing? Great! Want to focus on five? Are you being realistic? Yes? Great!

  6. <whispers> A resolution can start at any time. Want to make 3 for the whole year? Cool! Want to make 12 for the year, one to focus on each month, and start on the first of the month? Cool! Want to make 4 and focus on one each quarter? That’s cool too!

  7. How will you know if you’ve reached your goal? What does that look like? Is there something to measure along the way? Or a clear ending point?

  8. Did you have any goals from the current year you want to carry over? Either because they were successful or because you want to try again? Or are there ones from this year you want to throw in the trash?

  9. Know the “why” for each resolution. Why are doing this? Why is this important or good?

  10. Your resolutions should not be dependent on anyone but you. “Publish a book” depends on a lot of other people out of your control. “Write a book,” though, is all you.

  11. Don’t forget to flesh out and document the steps or the process you will use to reach your goal, like writing 3 times a week, downloading certain apps, or making a more structured schedule.

  12. Are you shitty at taking care of yourself? Making time for things you enjoy, like reading or music? Or do you always put others before yourself? You can build self-care and you-centered activities into your resolutions.

  13. Who or what is going to hold you accountable?

Goal types and examples

I usually think of goals, resolutions, and intentions as different, yet often complementary things.

Goals are measurable. They have metrics attached to them or something tangible at the end. A manuscript. A YouTube series. A newsletter (wink wink. Yes, this newsletter was totally my 2020 goal).

Resolutions are more like habits. Periodic things to be done that you’ll likely continue to do. Flossing your teeth. Drinking 3 glasses of water a day. No screens one hour before bedtime.

Intentions are focused on who you are and who you want to be. How you are showing up to any given situation or even just how you are showing up to each day.

For example, if I were in school, I could have the intention of “being a good student and doing well in school” with a goal of “getting an A on my final” and a resolution to, “study frequently and intentionally.”

But I’m not in school. So one of my likely intentions this year is to make sure that I am making the content I put out as accessible as possible under my control. A related resolution would be to always make sure any videos I post have captions and any images have descriptions. There is no goal, because there’s no end to it. I just want to do it. To be better. Forever.

I’m going to give some examples below that 1) aren’t about diet, exercise, or weight loss and 2) not dependent on the actions or reactions of other people.

Goal examples:

  • Start therapy

  • Reada particular number of books

  • Start a newsletter

  • Write a book

  • Clean out your closet

  • Organize your recipes

  • Clean up and organize who you follow on social media

  • Listen to one new-to-you album each month

  • Start a D&D campaign

  • Speak on the phone to a loved one at least once every two weeks

  • Send 2 pieces of snail mail each month

Resolution examples:

  • Set up a recurring donation to a mutual aid fund or local food bank

  • Floss your teeth every day

  • Read more diversely

  • Stare at my phone less (check out apps to help here and here)

  • Make sure all images you post to social media have descriptions

  • Make sure all videos you post to social media have captions

  • Maintain a budget

  • Cook one new thing each week

  • Make a cleaning schedule and stick to it

  • If you are able, pay creators for the “free” content you consume. Subscribe to newsletters or Patreons and use people’s tip jars.

  • Unable to pay? Then commit to sharing content more frequently.

Intention examples:

  • Know your worth ((this could also correspond to a resolution to stop giving away work for free)

  • Be more mindful; be more present

  • Focus on yourself

  • Be attuned to what your body needs

  • Be a better friend/spouse/parent

  • Protect your peace/joy

  • Cultivate community

  • Act with courage

  • Practice acceptance for both yourself and others

  • Quit sabotaging yourself

Remember: You can do as much or as little as you like. If you are interested in something more structured to walk you through reflecting on last year and setting goals for the coming year, check out this free Year Compass booklet. You can download it and print it or download it as a fillable pdf.

As of writing this, I have not yet done my own planning for 2021 but I’ll likely share it on my next newsletter on the 1st. In looking back on this year it’s easy to focus on all that we lost and all that wasn’t, but I encourage you to find even the smallest wins. I learned I could wax my own lip, take apart my KitchenAid stand mixer and regrease it and get it working smoothly again, make our own pasta, and, shockingly, keep creating content for a weekly newsletter. That’s not nothing!

Happy New Year, Friends!

That’s it for this year! If you enjoy this newsletter, please subscribe, share it with a friend, and/or give me a tip!

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