20 Things for 2020

  1. Schedule a counseling appointment.
  2. Write a blog post once per week.
  3. Read at least one book every two weeks (academic or otherwise).
  4. Reply to texts and e-mails within three to 24 hours, ideally toward the former.
  5. Play the piano more, ideally creating a daily practice.
  6. Create an effective morning routine, including a stable wake-up time.
  7. Work out, even lightly, as a daily practice. Walking, stretching, body-weight, yoga, etc., all count.
  8. Set up a meditation schedule and stick to it.
  9. Visit more places and do more things out of the house (ideally once every two weeks), even if its just working at the library or cafe instead of at home. [Edit: May need to wait for COVID-19 to pass]
  10. Figure out insurance and schedule an eye appointment.
  11. Create an effective evening routine, including a stable bedtime.
  12. Schedule and defend my prospectus.
  13. Pay off credit card debt–ideally all, but at least half.
  14. Set up a budgeting app.
  15. Record a podcast episode.
  16. Attempt a newsletter (weekly or every two weeks) for a month or two (or more)
  17. Reach out to people more and be more social. Try not to drop off the map.
  18. Professionalize my online presence.
  19. Participate in the job seekers group and job market (summer and fall).
  20. Lose 15-20 pounds.

As the year goes on, I hope to come back to this list, and I have already completed two and made progress on others. I have also faltered on others. But the key is to keep working on them, from the concrete and short-term to the habitual.

And my word for the year is “foundation.” My goals for the year center on building a foundation for myself, stabilizing my personal habits (like a morning routine), building new habits that hopefully lead to other improvements (like meditation and getting out more), and completing tasks that contribute to future success and development (like defending my prospectus). Again, the goal is cohesion or synergy: improving on multiple fronts in a holistic way.

Like anything, self-improvement and self-care (which is not just a personal enterprise) can be and already has been a mixed, back-and-forth enterprise. But, I often fall back to the larger arc, checking in after weeks or months or years to see where I’ve gradually improved. At the same time, reflecting on failure–especially on how it transpired–allows one to revisit and readjust, hopefully not losing sight of the aspiration.

[Image credit: “File:Buttercup Sunshine (3088893434).jpg” by Aaron Tait from San Francisco, United States licensed under CC BY 2.0]

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