Good Intentions

So, we’re well and truly on the way with 2019 and I hope it’s a year that brings you much to feel pleased about.

I’m feeling optimistic – that new year/ fresh start optimism.

Usually, I’m happy to put the old year behind me. Closing the door on those Good Intentions Not Quite Reached and Lofty Goals Squished as the bullet train of life whizzed from Plenty-of-time-January to I’ll-never-do-it-all-April and beyond.

This year my optimism comes from doing the opposite. 

I decided to hold open the door on 2018 to have a better look.

After all, last year brought this one into existence. What happened then will influence what comes next.

So, instead of setting goals, I’ve been reading my journals.

Not in a ‘Disappear for 48 hours to ponder my navel’ way. I just looked over my goals from this time last year and, more importantly, skimmed through what happened over the course of the year.

It’s helped me see that 2018 was a Stretch Year (yes, capitals needed).

When I set my goals last year, I had high expectations. I’d taken on my first management role in my first full-time job for years. I had great plans for what I would achieve. And despite what I knew would be a heavy workload, I also planned to continue with my writing and content coaching side project.

Oh January, what a sorceress you are for convincing us that all things are possible, at the very same time.

Because the year that looked so manageable from afar turned into a wild ride on a bucking bronco (not at all like my gentle weekly plods on darling Jess).Jess and Sherene

 

My goals were flung to the ground by April but I spent the rest of the year blaming myself for being lazy, disorganised, talentless. It felt awful – and it’s how I would have ended the year if I hadn’t pulled out my journals.

Reading back on my entries brought a new perspective. With the benefit of hindsight (don’t we all wish we had that superpower?), I could see that the same things that disrupted my goals also led me to stretch and grow in ways that I couldn’t have foreseen when I set those goals…

  • At work, the pressures of the job caused plenty of headaches but they also forced me to step up. I learned new skills, improved existing ones and have begun developing the professional persona I want to project. 
  • At home, looking back on the challenges I faced made me realise I had been trying to listen more and react less. I’m proud to say that some of the time, I managed to achieve both.

I didn’t fail in 2018; I just failed to predict the future and base my goals on that.

So, this January – no goals, just an intention to be more aware of what happened in 2018 so it can be a good influence on 2019.

Which brings me to the takeaways… 

  • Writing is not just for meeting business goals or achieving creative satisfaction.
  • Writing can be for us – a mighty ally in negotiating what’s often a demanding journey of life.

My journal gave me more useful information in judging how I did last year than I would have got by just measuring myself against unachieved goals. And it made me kinder to myself.

Maybe journaling is an unacknowledged superpower?

In 2019, I’m going to explore journaling: what it is, who uses it, how it can help (and what’s the evidence) and how to do it better. It will be one of my areas of focus and I’ll write up what I learn.

Because that’s been another realisation from journaling – I’m an explorer who likes to share my discoveries. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.

The inspiration for this blog post came from a quote from Albert Einstein: 

‘For us who are convinced physicists, the distinction between      past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent.”

I read it in this article by Sean M. Carroll from The Smithsonian Magazine, ‘What does New Year even really mean?’

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