Year of Quality

Last week I posted a Twitter thread about my theme for 2019, inspired by Cortex and their frequent discussion of setting themes rather than resolutions at the beginning of the year. I’m on the record of being very pro-resolutions and yearly resets, in part because my birthday as at the end of the year. It’s a new year in the Gregorian calendar and in my life! My preferred strategy is to decide on a one-word theme and a set of ten goals that relate back to that theme.

In 2017, my focus was on traveling, and I went to eight new countries. In 2018, I wanted to focus on creating new projects, but it instead ended up being a transition year for me. I graduated, moved back home for the summer, and then moved to Chicago. Between school, work, life changes, and unexpected setbacks, there was a lot less creating than I would have preferred.

But as I turn to 2019, I’m setting myself up a lot better for a year of tighter focus and specific projects. I decided the best representation of my goals this year is “Year of Quality.” The quantity of things in my life is going down, but the quality of what remains is (hopefully) going up. The primary example of what I’m leaving behind is my YouTube channel: I will not be making videos in 2019. I made more YouTube videos than ever before in 2018, but ultimately the channel is just a hobby. It doesn’t make any money and it barely reaches an audience, and ultimately is not financially or creatively fulfilling in my life the way that podcasting is. Considering how much time video editing takes in relation to podcast editing, it’s time for me to let the channel go—or at least take a substantial break.

(Small note: I am still working on editing a short film that I filmed earlier in 2018.)

But YouTube is not the only thing I’m leaving behind! I also left my part-time job at a theater. I’ve luckily gotten to the point where I have enough freelance clients that I do not have to keep this position anymore. Working at the theater was actually pretty fun, but the schedule was starting to restrict my ability to take on more clients and schedule meetings for my other job, which is for a remote company.

Finally, I plan on not dating in 2019. I tend not to talk about my relationships online too much (except when I think it’s funny), but suffice it to say I’m what’s commonly known as a “serial monogamist.” I’m unclear on how that’s happened because I love being alone and am not particularly social, but here we are. I’ve spent much of the last seven years in one relationship or another and I’m ready to take a break.

Those are the reductions, so what’s left? Here are my top ten goals for this year, in very rough order of priority:

  1. Complete production on [redacted], a limited run podcast arriving very soon.

  2. Produce [redacted], an open run podcast arriving… at some point. Feel free to periodically yell at me until this is announced because boy have I had this idea for a long time.

  3. Complete season 3 of Corner of the Sky.

  4. Get 50 rejections: this is a more unusual choice, but something that I’ve seen around Twitter. By setting the goal in terms of rejections, not applications, I feel like I’m both putting myself out there for more opportunities and embracing the inevitable amount of failure that follows.

  5. Widen my personal and professional audio circles: this is vaguer than I prefer goals to be, but it’s something important to me and not easily quantifiable. It could easily be paired with my “50 rejections” goal, but ultimately I just want to be meeting more people in person and online in my field.

  6. Finance like an adult: by the end of this year I want to have a firm emergency fund, start investing, have organized my business and personal expenses, and upgraded my credit cards.

  7. Hold a consistent work schedule: I have been completely useless at this for my entire life, but now that I have almost total control over my schedule I’m working on confining work hours to certain times of the day (what a concept!) as well as incorporating exercise and other habits into a regular schedule.

  8. Write something every week: Ultimately I hope to publish more consistently on this blog and elsewhere, but I’m setting it as a general “write something” rather than “publish something” goal so that it doesn’t take too much away from my podcasting focus. I also will count journaling as fulfilling this goal.

  9. Travel somewhere every month: I’m trying to take advantage of aforementioned control over my time and cheap Midwestern Megabus tickets. I’ve already got a few big trips planned (PodCon this month, Memphis in February) and intend to take a lot of day trips to nearby cities this year.

  10. Read 25 books: In 2018 I set the goal to read 12 books and I read 22, half of which after I moved in September. I hope to carry this momentum and my Chicago Public Library card into 2019.

Those are all my 2019 goals! Of course there’s always more that I want to get done, but I put a lot of thought into what I believe will be the most fulfilling to pursue this year. What are your goals?

Whoa-oh, We're Halfway There

Because I love to increase the cloud of vague anxiety that follows me everywhere, I started following @YearProgress on Twitter. It simply tweets out what percentage of the year has gone by, with a handy illustrative progress bar to hammer the point home. Yesterday, July 2, was officially halfway through 2018. Am I panicking? No! Should I be panicking? Maybe!

Being halfway through the year means I should, in theory, be halfway done my goals for 2018. In (rough) order of priority:

  1. Find a Job

    • I’m WORKING ON IT

  2. Save enough money to move

    • Also working on it, but unlike the opaque and confusing job search process, I confident that I’m on track to earn the amount of money I want to earn by the end of the summer.

  3. Get all A’s

    • I ended up with an A and two A-’s for my last semester of college, and considering what I dealt with during the semester, I’m pretty proud of this.

  4. Launch 2 new podcasts

    • Both are in the works—with one I’m making large strides, with the other I’m making a low simmer.

  5. Make 50 videos

    • After VEDJ, where I made 25 videos in one month, I’m actually AHEAD on this goal. I’m shocked at myeslf.

  6. Make a short film

    • The movie has been written and filmed! All that’s left to do is edit it, which is one of my big goals for July.

  7. Complete “2018” Lynda.com playlist

    • Oh… I haven’t even started this.

  8. Read 12 books

    • I’m right on track for this, and even amped up my reading goal to an ambitious 20 books over the summer. I might not/probably won’t reach the 20, but am completely confident I’ll hit 12.

  9. Practice Duolingo every day

    • I go in fits and starts with this, but it hasn’t clicked as a proper habit yet.

  10. Learn 2 new go-to meals

    • I’ve got two already: enchiladas and veggie stir fry. Considering I haven’t even moved out yet, this feels spectacular.

My goals are going reasonably well, but putting them aside, the first half of 2018 was… not great. A few difficult personal things happened in the first few months of the year that significantly brought me down, so between those and the whirlwind of senior spring I let go of pretty much all of my work after Mixed Feelings was over. Instead I focused on spending a lot of time with friends in my final weeks in school, which was the healing I needed and led to more amazing memories than I can recount here. It was time I truly needed to take, especially leading up to this summer, which is particularly work-focused and largely non-social. I don’t mind this very much, as I am generally a work-focused and non-social person.

Massive things happened in my life, and massive things are to come in the next half. Here’s to (what’s left of) 2018.

November Goals

I avoided talking about my goals last month, because I failed all of my September goals, so instead I just decided to carry them over to October. I also made this tweet:

 

    So I guess I was successful?

    My actual goals for September/October:

    Keeping up with classes: I was doing okay at this until this week… That’s what happens after I go out twice for Halloweekend. Back to the grind this week!

    Finish I Am Malala: I am so, so close to finishing this. It’s basically done.

    Finish 1 creative writing piece: Yes, I have finished a first draft on one creative piece, plus I wrote two articles for an on-campus magazine this month.

    Exercise 4 times a week: I think I’m averaging more 3 times a week, but still, not too bad.

    Practice Chinese every day: hit or miss, but getting on average 4 times a week, I think. Always room for improvement.

    Continue making content/make more videos in October: I’m keeping up with my schedule for Solidly Mediocre, every other Wednesday, so that’s great. I put out two videos in September, which is okay but not fantastic. I made 3 videos in October, which is a little better. I wrote two blog posts in September and one in October, which I think is the bare minimum to continue saying I have a blog.

    But also, did you see this?! I have a new show coming!

    My roommate Gillian and I are launching a new show for Relay FM called “Mixed Feelings,” which launched episode 0 on the Members’ Only Feed last week. The first real episode is out very, very soon, which is so exciting and so stressful. I have been waiting MONTHS to announce this. Literally months. I almost exploded. But now it’s (almost) out!

    (The show is about news, politics, and pop culture, so good thing we started it immediately before election day.)

    Honestly though I’m so ready for a post-election life, and then there will be other news we can talk about and it’ll be fantastic.

    And that brings me to November Goals:

    I’m keeping the goals of exercise and practicing Chinese goals the same, just trying to work a little bit on both of them as much as I can.

    Last week I was shamed for not having read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so the people who shamed me are lending me the book and I’m reading that this month.

    Modified NaNoWriMo: NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is a challenge where people try to write a 50,000 page manuscript in the month of November. I definitely can’t commit to writing an entire new manuscript this month-- the last novel I wrote took me four years-- but I DO want to write more, so my tentative goal is to write 50,000 words. Just that, write 50,000 words. I’m counting blog posts, short stories, essays for school, video scripts, anything I write. I think in an average month the maximum I would write is about 10,000 words, so 50,000 is definitely a big step up.

    Finally, I’m going to caption my videos! I’ve wanted to caption them for months and have been working on this recently. My goal is by the end of November have them all captioned, and then have the captions ready for each video as I post them.

    It’s hard to set goals during school because there is always so much going on that it’s hard to slow down and work on anything besides the daily grind of assignments, but making these videos and making an effort to think about what else I want to be working towards is really helpful for me. I hope that this month I can keep up my goals, especially while trying to do NaNoWriMo and not fail out of school. We’ll see.

Resolutions

Resolution

1. the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.

2. a resolve; a decision or determination

 

New Year’s Resolution

1. a declaration of a complete life turn-around on January 1st filled with healthy and efficient activities that are all abandoned on January 6th

 

New Year’s Resolutions are a fairly divisive subject: every January everyone is either making them or talking about how useless they are. Who do you know who completed their New Year’s Resolution, anyway?

I tend to fall into the camp of pro-resolution: I really enjoy making goals for myself, no matter what the time frame (and what better clean slate than a New Year?). However, there are some issues with New Year’s Resolutions: in my opinion, the biggest problem is the obsession with a “clean slate.” That can be a great motivator, but way too many people take that as an artificial requirement for meeting a goal. If someone messes up their goal right away-- which everyone does, repeatedly-- a lot of people have the tendency to just throw up their hands and say “oh well, maybe next year!” Change doesn’t work like that. Just because you ate a cheeseburger doesn’t mean you’ll never develop healthy eating habits-- it just means you ate a cheeseburger. Have a more balanced meal tomorrow, it’s fine.

That’s my main mission of 2016: to eat the more balanced meal tomorrow. You know, metaphorically. And occasionally literally, when I eat pizza for two meals of the day. (Hello, college.)

You may be a little confused by this entire discussion, since it is not the New Year and is, in fact, March. I mean, I made New Year’s Resolutions in January, but I didn’t have a blog back then. Today I’ll be listing my resolutions and checking in on how well I’ve done over the past two months.

1. Aspiring Robot

2. Write a book for a musical

3. Keep all grades at B+ or above

4. Continue practicing Mandarin Chinese

5. Exercise 3 times a week

6. Eat “cleaner”

7. Stick to a budget

8. Set up a formal checkpoint system

9. Read 12 books

10. Go somewhere I’ve never been/do something I’ve never done every month

1. My first goal is the entire Aspiring Robot project. Since I’m still experimenting with exactly what schedule I want to have for this, my resolution is just to be actively producing content for AR at the end of the year. In the past two months I’ve created the website, written two blog posts, launched my first podcast, and released a dozen or so word art pieces. I think we can count that as a good start.

2. My other creative goal is to write a book for a musical.  The book is the story and script, but not the music and lyrics.  I adore musicals but I have no background in any kind of music theory or composition, so my goal for this year is just to write the book.  This I’ve barely worked on at all, but I’m intending to most of the work on this over the summer-- there’s not a lot of time during school, especially with all of my Aspiring Robot work now.

3. However, my main path in life is still being a full-time student.  My goal for this year is to keep all of my final grades as B+ or above, which the majority of my grades for the past three semesters have been. So far it seems like I’m doing well on this-- we’ll see what happens in the next two months of the semester!

4. Going along with the academics, this semester is my fourth semester of Mandarin Chinese, which I am not good at (but I could survive in China, which is a cool ability).  I really love the language but I’ve decided to not continue taking it after this semester so I have time to fulfill my graduation requirements. After I finish my formal Chinese education, I want to continue studying it so I don’t lose what I’ve learned. I’m currently still in the course and have been studying it as class moves along, so I think I get automatic points for this.

5. My main health goal is to start exercising at least three times a week.  I am very out of shape and at the end of last semester, my roommate convinced me agree to running a 5K with her in the spring. (I guess the other half of this resolution is to run a 5K.) This hasn’t been going as well-- I hardly exercised at all for the first six weeks, but now I’ve found a time that works better for me and have had a considerable uptick in exercise frequency. We’ll see if this keeps up when I check in next.

6. Going along with health resolutions, this is very vague, but I am trying to eat cleaner.  I am a vegetarian and a lot of my diet ends up being variations of cheese and bread, which is not the healthiest choice out there, so I am going to try to eat real food!  With more iron content!  Although I’m still not a super healthy eater (hello, college), I have been eating better than I did last semester.

7. This year I would like to make a budget.  I’ve always been pretty good about saving and having enough money to buy stuff I really want, but the world in which I have to pay for my own housing and groceries is getting closer, and I think this is the year I should start formally budgeting so I’m somewhat prepared for post-college sadness. So far, I’ve been following my budget pretty well.

8. I am also trying to set up a formal checkpoint system.  I find that I tend to completely lose track of myself in the day-to-day grind and all of a sudden it’s three months after I said I’d do something and I have not started.  I’m thinking it’s going to a short weekly and a longer monthly checkpoint just to look at what I’ve been doing and if I’m doing what I want to be doing. I have been using the checkpoint system almost every week so far in 2016, and it has encouraged me to keep up with consistent journaling as well.

9. Read 12 books: I have read two books this year so far, which I intend to write blog posts about in the next few weeks: Welcome to Night Vale and You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). However, I read both of those over winter break-- I’ve only finished one chapter of the book I’ve been reading this semester.

10. Go somewhere I’ve never been/do something I’ve never done once a month.  I have the advantage of living in a city so there are lots of options: museums I want to visit, buses that go to cities not far away that I have never visited— so once a month, whether it’s something down the street I’ve never been to or an entirely different country, I want to be exploring new places. In January I experienced a lot of new things, since I was in New York City for two weeks. I visited the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Natural History, and The Strand Bookstore, and ate at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. In February, I joined a singing group on campus. (Even though I can’t sing. Haha oops...)

I’m going to check in at the halfway point of the year to look at my New Year’s Resolutions again and report on how I’m doing. Until then, wish me luck!