Back in January, I shared my “20 for 2020,” which is a goal-setting framework introduced by writer and podcaster Gretchen Rubin. I separated these goals out into categories and tried to create a balanced list that would help me to move forward in various areas of my life, while also increasing my life satisfaction. Some readers expressed that my list seemed somewhat daunting or overly ambitious, and that’s turning out to be true. So much has changed since I created my list, so it’s time to make some adjustments.
In today’s post, I highlight and celebrate the progress I’ve made with some of my goals. I also let you know which goals I’ve decided to “table” for the time-being and my reasons for doing so. I’ve revised a few of the goals that have remained on my “20 for 2020” list so that I’ll feel more confident and relaxed about making them happen. I don’t want to be a “taskmaster” with myself, especially during the challenging time that we’re all going through. Finally, I reveal the new list items that have taken the place of the ones I’ve moved to the back burner.
But First, a Brief Update…
But before I dive into the main topic of today’s post, I want to be candid with you about how I’ve been doing. Probably like many of you, I’ve been experiencing a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes I feel relatively upbeat and determined to make the most out of my days regardless of the anxiety that is simmering just below the surface of my consciousness. Other times, it’s a struggle for me to get myself going to do anything at all. I’ve pondered multiple blog topics, but couldn’t get them off the ground due to lack of motivation or ideas that just seemed to fizzle out.
This dichotomy is not new for me. As a longtime chronic pain sufferer, I live my life with a lot of uncertainty. I never know how I will feel on a given day and what debilitating symptoms I might encounter. But even though I’ve long spent the bulk of my days at home and often in pain, I took some comfort in knowing there was a bustling world outside that I could engage with whenever I was feeling up to doing so. There were errands to run, movies to go to, coffee with friends, walks by the water, and restaurants and stores to visit. Now most of those things are “no-gos,” and going to the grocery store is fraught with anxiety and panic.
It’s a new and scary world and it looks like this might be the status quo for a while. I think many of us are going through the stages of grief about our previous lives and we’re feeling panic and dread about the future (here’s an article that you might find helpful). Such feelings don’t generally lead to high productivity and we need to accept that and allow ourselves some grace. I’m trying to heed my own advice from my most recent post, especially the last part about The Serenity Prayer. There’s so much we can’t change right now, but we can extend kindness to ourselves, and I’m doing my best to do so now. Perhaps one silver lining that will come out of all of this is that we’ll become more compassionate towards others – and towards ourselves.
My Revised “20 for 2020” List
Included below is my revised “20 for 2020” list, broken down by category. Under each goal, I share an update on how I’m doing with that particular benchmark. If it’s a newly added goal, I go into a bit more detail about why it was added to the list. At the end of this update, I highlight the items that I’ve removed from my “20 for 2020” – and why. It’s possible that I still might accomplish those goals, but due to the uncertainty of many areas of life (as well as some shifting priorities), I didn’t want to put unnecessary pressure on myself.
These goals have mostly not changed, although I have shifted the goalpost for at least one of them.
- Sell designated items on eBay or similar.
Unfortunately, I have yet to list my items for sale and it’s probably not the best time to do so now. What I plan to do this month is list those items that would work well for those who are working at home / sheltering in place. That will be a good start. I think I’ve been overwhelmed to even get going with the listings because the whole process felt daunting due to the number of items (and the fact that I haven’t sold anything online in years and I know the process has changed). I may end up donating some of them rather than selling them, but since I can’t even do that right now, I’ll start with listing a small number for sale.
- Pare down out & about wardrobe to 118-137 items.
I will be doing a wardrobe update shortly and offer more information, but I’ll say here that I did a closet audit last month and was able to let go of a good chunk of items (that are waiting in our garage until they can be donated). I’m also re-purposing some of my more comfortable “out and about” items to wear at home. That process is still in the early stages, but after working out a good cool weather “uniform” earlier this year, I’m figuring out something similar for the warmer days that just got started where I live. I see myself having a lot more “crossover” between what used to be two distinct wardrobes for being at home versus venturing out, which is a good thing. Ultimately, I want my wardrobe to better match my actual life, which is spent primarily at home and doing very casual activities, even during “normal” times.
- Complete two wardrobe/style related workbooks or courses.
I have partially completed two online courses related to style:
- Project 333 Video Course – I got this course for free when I pre-ordered the Project 333 book (which I recommend). I’m not sure if I’m going to dive into doing the Project 333 challenge again soon, but I still gained a lot of value from reading the book and doing part of the course (which I intend to complete soon). I definitely want to be more minimal with my wardrobe and I feel like the book and course are helping me in that effort.
- Discover Your Personal Style – This course is part of the “All-Access Membership” of Your Everyday Style, which I joined last fall. I’ve found it quite helpful in refining my personal style, but I still need to complete the remainder of the exercises. I definitely recommend the podcast that led me to the membership, which you can find on any of the standard podcast platforms.
- Be comfortable physically and emotionally in all of my clothes.
This goal is going well, especially as I work to have more of a crossover wardrobe for my at-home and out and about activities. It used to be that if I felt physically comfortable in my clothes, I also felt frumpy, but I’ve been able to find clothes that I feel are relatively stylish without sacrificing the way my body feels. I’m still struggling somewhat with pants because of limited options that work for my body type, but I’m gradually getting there!
- Stick to my clothing budget and out & about item limit (36).
I have to admit that I bought too much earlier in the year. This is often the case because I tend to get behind the 8-ball late in the year such that I have to pause my shopping for a few months and then get excited to shop once the New Year begins. So I bought a lot in January and February, but then slowed down in March and April. The pandemic situation definitely helped to slow my roll, but hopefully I would have been able to do so otherwise. In any event, I still feel that I will come in under budget for the year and also meet my out and about item limit. I’ll save the specifics until my wardrobe update post, but I think this goal will be successfully met.
Health and Personal Growth Goals
This is a new hybrid category that didn’t appear in my original list, but two of the goals below were carried over. I didn’t really have any health goals on my first list, mostly because I wasn’t sure what else I could try that I hadn’t done before. But then I decided to commit to a new program that will occupy a lot of my energy and focus for this year, so I felt it was important to represent those efforts in my “20 for 2020.”
- Complete DNRS Course (DONE April 2020).
I had learned about this course, called the Dynamic Neural Retraining System, several years ago, but at the time I was skeptical and reluctant to take it on. But I’ve been down so many roads that have led to mostly dead-ends when it comes to my health – doctors, medicines, supplements, ways of eating, etc. – that I got to the point of being desperate enough to give it a try.
DNRS is based on the concept of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change, even later in life) and it directly targets brain function instead of chasing symptoms. It’s difficult to explain, but this page outlines it fairly succinctly and well for those who are interested in learning more. I can’t vouch for its effectiveness yet, but I’ve completed the course and am hopeful that this methodology might be able to help me where many other treatment modalities have not. If I do find relief, I’ll definitely report back, share my story, and recommend the program more fully. For now, I’m just providing the links for those who might also be suffering and are looking for new avenues to potentially try.
- Do DNRS (almost) daily practice for 6+ months.
One reason why I hesitated to do DNRS is that those who complete the course then need to commit to applying the elements of the program (hard to explain, but detailed in general terms here) for at least one hour per day for a minimum of six months. I found that prospect daunting, so I opted not to do the program until recently. Since I just finished the online course a week and a half ago, I’m still learning the elements of the program and figuring out how to get going with my regular practice. My friend who did the course a few months ago is helping me, but I’ll likely also book a few sessions with a DNRS coach shortly. I expect to be doing the practice for probably the remainder of the year and will hopefully start to notice positive shifts within the next month or two. I’m still nervous about doing an hour per day, but I do have the time, especially given what’s going on lately.
- Read/listen to 20+ books (at least 5 from my health/personal growth list).
I’m only on book number five now, so I’m a little behind the curve here. I got derailed from reading books during the past two months amidst all of the coronavirus chaos and news, but I’m eager to dive into some of the books on my list that I’ve wanted to read for a while. So far, I’ve only read one health/personal growth book this year, but I’m over halfway finished with a second one. I believe that I will successfully complete my reading goal this year.
- 2019 Year in Review exercise (DONE – February 2020).
It would have been better for me to have finished this goal in early January, but I still benefited from doing it when I did. I originally completed this exercise back in 2017 and have made a point of repeating it each successive year. The link is from 2017, but I just replace the year accordingly, which is easy to do.
The exercise includes fifty questions to ponder, forty of which pertain to the year that has just ended. Some of the questions are more applicable to my life situation than others, but I do my best to answer them all. The final ten questions help to set the stage for the year to come, and even though I didn’t do the exercise until February, I still found it powerful and helpful. What I want to do now is review the “year in review” exercise – at least the last ten questions – on a quarterly basis to help me stay on track. This is something I plan to do this week…
Writing / Work / Productivity Goals
- Publish at least 24 blog posts.
I originally set this number at thirty, but given that this is only my eighth post this year, that’s probably not going to happen. Since I prefer to aim for quality over quantity, I don’t want to push myself to churn out posts if I’m not feeling inspired, especially given everything that’s going on in the world. If I end the year having published 24 posts, I will be satisfied. Everything else, as they say, is gravy.
I used to publish far more essays back when I was doing Recovering Shopaholic, but I think I burned myself out back then (I seriously don’t know how I ever churned out two to three posts per week, but it was a different time). I’m not sure how long I will continue to blog, but for the time-being, I’m going to stick with this goal and do my best to publish articles that you’ll hopefully benefit from and enjoy reading.
- Take on a new writing project (blog or book) and/or find a way to earn a regular income.
I shifted this goal to be a lot more open-ended, as I’m craving some change and a new project to energize me, but I really have no idea what that might be. I’d love to have some regular income coming in beyond the very slow trickle that I now earn from my books and the small amount of affiliate income from Amazon. I’ve been hesitant to monetize my blogging because I worried that it might impact my authenticity and turn off readers. It also felt very counter to what I was doing with my previous blog, so I never went there, even though I had a number of opportunities to do so given the higher readership at the time.
I don’t think I will ever monetize this blog, but I could potentially do it with an alternate concept that I’ve been pondering. I’m not sure, however, that I want to try to make money as a blogger. I might prefer to write a new book – or a few – or go back to working for someone else, either as a contractor or employee. Of course, there will likely be far fewer opportunities for a while given the state of the economy, but I want to remain open to the possibility, particularly if I’m able to see significant improvement in my health. My health challenges have been what have kept me working sporadically, if at all, for a number of years, but I’m trying to be hopeful that there will be light at the end of that long dark tunnel soon.
- “Just one thing” approach M-F each week (preferably before noon).
This approach that I wrote about back in December has been serving me well; that is, when I end up actually doing it! I tend to get very overwhelmed when I lay out a big long list of tasks to complete on a given day, so I like the simplicity of just designating one key item to do before the day is done. It isn’t always easy to decide what that item should be, but that’s part of the beauty of the approach. I need to think deeply about what would have me feeling satisfied with my day if I were to only do one thing. I typically do specify and complete my one thing, but I’m still struggling to get it done early in the day. This is something that I’ll recommit to doing in May and beyond.
Family / Relationship Items
- Improve relationships with my family.
When I first set this goal, I wasn’t sure how it would actually happen. I had felt so distant from most of my family members for a long time but wasn’t happy about that reality. Then the pandemic happened… and communication with my family has improved. There have been more texts, emails, and calls, and we’ve even had a few family Zoom calls. I still wouldn’t say that I’m close with most of them, but there is a lot less emotional distance now, which is good. Hopefully, we can keep up the lines of communication even after the crisis subsides.
- Pare down and organize my mother-in-law’s photos and scan them in (or have it done).
I first just had the task below on my list, but I realized that there’s a big first step that has to take place before I can take that one on. My mother-in-law had many boxes and albums full of photos. Some initial sorting took place in early January when my sister-in-law was in town, but there’s a lot more to be done. I think the photo collection can be pared down further, or at least we can designate which photos are most important and should be included in the memory book that I’m going to create.
If any of you are aware of good apps or resources for scanning photos, please let me know. I’m an Android user, so I won’t be able to benefit from iOS apps, but hopefully I’ll be able to find some tools that will make the process easier.
- Memory book for my mother-in-law.
I actually want to do two memory books for my mother-in-law, who passed away last August: one for her life and one for her art. She was a very talented artist and painted hundreds of beautiful paintings (she mostly worked in watercolor and pastels) over a period of around forty years. My husband and I have organized her art by topics and archived them in protective boxes, but we want to be able to enjoy it all (we have quite a few of her paintings hanging in our house, but we only have room for so many). The short-term plan is to photograph all of the art and create a sort of coffee table book to give to close family members.
I’m only going to commit to doing one of the memory books this year, but I still hope to be able to do both. I’m going to start with the art book project because it’s less daunting than cataloging 86 years of a magnificent life. I’d love to find homes for all of my mother-in-law’s paintings – or at least the best of them, but that’s a project for later down the line. Most of them aren’t mounted or framed, and they can’t even be donated in that state. Still, I feel that a wonderful way to honor her would be to find homes for at least some of the art that she passionately worked on for so many years.
- Scan in and organize photos from my mom (her old family photos and photos from my childhood).
When my mom visited in March, just before the shutdowns, she brought along a number of old photos from my grandparents’ younger years. Since she’s been cooped up at home for weeks now, she’s been going through more family photos and recently sent me a large envelope of photos from my childhood. I scanned in the initial photos that she gave me, but I’d like to organize them in a meaningful way and do the same with the new group of photos as well. It’s possible that I may want to do something else with these images, such as make another memory book, but for now I’d just like to get them all online and organized appropriately.
- Decide what to do about Facebook – and do it!
This task was originally on my “shadow list” of those goals that I created for myself but didn’t share on the blog. I’m not going to write a lot about it here because I plan to devote an entire post to this topic soon. The bottom line is that I’ve been conflicted about Facebook for a long time. I’ve mostly stayed on that platform in order to participate in two groups that were offshoots of the group that I created in 2015 related to my previous blog (that group was handed over to new management two years later).
But I don’t like Facebook and it causes me a lot of anxiety, for various reasons that I’ll elaborate on in the dedicated post. I’ve tried a lot of things to try to lessen my dissatisfaction with that application, but none of them have really worked. Despite feeling a lot of guilt around doing so, I decided to take an extended hiatus from Facebook earlier this year. It was originally going to be just for a month or so, but with the pandemic, it has continued for much longer. I didn’t make any concrete decisions about what to do; I just stayed away because I felt too anxious to go back (and also didn’t want to do so). So what I want to do now is make a deliberate choice and act upon it in the near future.
- Try 25+ new recipes (at least 10 should be meal options).
If I didn’t add the addendum about meal-related recipes, I would be able to mark this item done now. I love to bake and like many others, I’ve been baking up a storm in recent weeks. Sadly, I can’t share what I bake with anyone other than my husband at this point, so I usually halve my recipes due to our limited eating capacity and freezer space. Most of what I bake is healthy, and it’s all gluten-free and often paleo as well. I’ve been working my way through this cookbook, as well as trying out a number of recipes that I’ve found online.
Baking is a good means of stress-relief for me, but I haven’t found the same to be true for general cooking. I don’t find cooking as fun, perhaps because I have to get the timing right and that’s challenging. But both my husband and I would like to find some new meal options to add to our rotation. We don’t mind eating the same things over and over again most of the time, but now that our lives feel like an extended version of the movie “Groundhog Day” (which is a great film to watch, but I don’t want to live it!), it’s nice to break up the monotony somewhat by trying new recipes.
- Watch 50+ movies.
So far, I’m up to seventeen movies, so I feel confident that I’ll reach the “fifty benchmark” by the end of the year. Although I love to see movies on the big screen, everything that I’m watching these days is at home. The last movie I saw in a theater was on March 10th, and who knows when the next time will be? Until then, I’m enjoying watching movies from my “to watch” list, as well as revisiting some old favorites. My husband and I alternate each week who gets to pick the movie (we usually watch a movie a week), and the other person always has “veto power.” We’re having fun with it and movie night is one of the highlights of my weeks.
- Find a new way to contribute/volunteer.
I’m glad that I’ve been able to contribute through blogging for the past decade (this is actually my fifth blog!), and I also donate money regularly to worthy causes. But I’d like to get back to doing some traditional volunteer work at some point this year. I’m not sure exactly what I’d like to do and I’m still nervous about doing in-person volunteer work because of my often severe symptoms, but maybe I’ll be able to find something that’s a good fit for both my capabilities and limitations (or perhaps those limitations will lessen – that’s my hope!). I’m not going to delve into this for at least a couple of months, but I’ve put a stake in the ground now that I want to find a new way to contribute this year.
- Solve home heating/cooling issues (DONE – March 2020).
Okay, so I decided to have 21 for 2020… This goal was on my original list and I was so happy that we were able to get it done in under the wire before the shelter-in-place happened in California. Our home heating and air system was actually finished on the exact day that our governor mandated that all citizens stay at home and that only essential work take place. Now I know there’s some debate on whether or not home improvement projects are essential, but it’s very possible that we might not have been able to get our system installed if the work weren’t already underway.
My husband and I are so happy with the system we had installed (“mini splits” in each room that can be controlled individually – our system is by Daikin). We’ve had both cold and hot days since mid-March, so we’ve been able to test both the heating and air conditioning. The system was quite expensive and complicated to install, but it works great – and fast. Our first two summers in our condo were unbearable at times, but I’m happy that I won’t have to roast indoors this year. That’s one silver lining to having to be home all of the time.
The Goals I’ve “Tabled” and Why
I made a lot more changes to my original “20 for 2020” list than I anticipated, but who could have ever predicted the many new and strange shifts all of us would have to make to our plans and our lives? While it’s possible that some of these items will still happen before the end of the year, I don’t want to commit to doing things that may be out of my control.
Below are the items that I’ve moved to my goals “parking lot,” at least for now, as well as my reasons for doing so:
- Complete “The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook”
I removed this item from my list due to my new focus on DNRS. Since DNRS will require an hour of my time each and every day, I don’t want to also push myself to work on the exercises in this workbook. I believe it’s probable that the DNRS exercises will assist me in being more compassionate towards myself, but if I find that I still need more work in that area (which is likely), I can work on this book later in the year or next year.
- Re-read all Full Life Reflections blog posts from 2018 and 2019.
I took this item off the list because I already have several very time-consuming and daunting tasks to complete this year. While I’d like to re-read some of the posts I’ve made on this blog, I don’t want to force myself to have to read and reflect on all of them. I may end up selecting a few to revisit and comment on at some point later this year if I feel that would be helpful for my growth, as well as interesting for you to read.
- Find/cultivate a community of like-minded people.
Just before the coronavirus crisis exploded, I was gearing myself to get out and mix and mingle with others in person more often. I had joined a handful of Meetup groups that were in line with my interests and had even RSVP’ed “yes” to a few events. Well, now everything has either been cancelled or moved online and your guess is as good as mine as to when that will change.
After years of primarily interacting with others online, I’m craving spending more time with people in person, but that will have to wait. I just don’t find online interactions as fulfilling these days, plus I already spend too much time staring at screens. I want to be out and about and look others in the eyes. This will mean that I’ll have to battle past my introversion and extreme self-consciousness, but I’m ready to try once society opens up again.
- Visit Santa Fe.
I’ve wanted to visit Santa Fe for at least five years now, but I’ve never made it happen. I was encouraged that I would get there this year because I put it on my “20 for 2020” list. But now, who knows? It’s possible that a fall trip is still in the cards, but I’m going to have to take a “wait and see” approach. I suspect that most people in my state will be sheltering in place for quite a while longer, and even when we’re given the green light to move around, I can see remaining cautious about travel as long as the virus continues to spread widely around the country and world. I will get to Santa Fe soon, though!
- Weekly outings and monthly daytrips with my husband.
I did quite well with this goal for the first two and a half months of the year. The “outings” were often walks or short hikes, but I also got together with friends and family members on occasion (my brother and his family visited us in February, and my mom visited in early March). Then everything pretty much stopped. My husband and I still go on walks almost every day, but they mostly take place near our house now, whereas we had explored a number of new places earlier in the year. As the boardwalks and trails open up again, I will get out and about more, but I decided to remove this goal from my list because there are so many unknowns at this point.
Conclusion – and Your Thoughts?
As I mentioned in my January post, I also have a short “shadow list” of items that I want to take on this year but didn’t feel comfortable sharing on the blog. I have completed one of these items and moved three others to the list above (the Facebook item, the volunteering, and some reading that I incorporated into my book goal). I very well may end up writing about my other “secret” goals at some point if I feel that it would be beneficial for readers, but for now, I’m keeping a few such goals to myself.
I think the biggest goal that many of us have right now is to just get through the crisis we’re dealing with and to have our loved ones make it through successfully as well. All other life goals pretty much take a back seat to that over-arching aim, but it can also be helpful to distract ourselves from panic and fear by focusing on some goals and tasks that are important to us.
I modified my “20 for 2020” list to better fit the life I’m living in the here and now, and I feel better about it. As with before, none of these tasks are set in store. They’re merely “guideposts” to help me stay motivated and focused on what I’ve deemed most important in my life (beyond staying alive and reasonably well, that is). I may opt to shift course in some ways as the year progresses, but I feel good about the modifications I’ve made and the path that I’m on in various areas of my life (that which I can control). One day at a time… and I will do my best to integrate joy and peace into my life as much as possible amidst the chaos. I wish the same for you!
I’d love to hear from you about how you’re doing, not just with your 2020 goals, but also with all of the turmoil, sadness, and uncertainty in the world. Please feel free to share anything you want – whatever you feel comfortable with – in the comments section below. I look forward to reading what you have to say, whatever it may be. I’ll be back soon (hopefully sooner than last time…) with another post. I wish you all the best in the days and weeks to come.