Health & Fitness / Living With Intention

How I’m Building Realistic Goals After A Traumatic 2020

By Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Because small wins deserve to be celebrated too…

For the month of January, we’re exploring how to live with intention — how the small choices we make every day impact our lives and happiness in the long run. Click here to read more on this topic!

With the new year typically comes a desire for new goals. A fresh start. A new beginning. As someone who usually sets resolutions, the beginning of a new year is a time for reflection and, mostly, a time to strive towards goals that seem lofty or idealistic. While I normally enjoy this process and feel motivated to push myself more than I think I can, I was struck by a desire to set only the most realistic of goals for 2021, and give myself the small wins I could. 

Given the strange year we had in 2020, I have been able to look over my spending and movement from the past 6 to 9 months in order to set my goals. I looked through the monthly walking averages on my Health app, for instance, and sorted my credit card spending into multiple categories in order to determine which aspects of my life from 2020 I wanted to continue and which I wanted to give up. Instead of striving for more, this year, I want to merely maintain a level I can be happy with. And, with these resolutions, I hope that on tough weeks I can find grace and on easier weeks I can manage to be impressed with my own abilities. 

The following are some of my resolutions for 2021, which look considerably different than any resolutions I have set in the past, and hopefully they provide a few ideas for others looking to set more realistic, intentional goals, too. 

Walking 5K Steps/Day

I almost feel embarrassed to admit this, but yes, my goal is to walk 5K steps a day. While 10K is obviously recommended, the truth is that in-between work and cooking and cleaning the house, I simply do not have as much time (or incentive, frankly) to walk a full 10K steps per day. I make it a point to walk every day, but looking over the past 6-9 months, 5K steps is clearly a more realistic goal for me. And while I hope to exceed that, the reality is that there will be some days that I just don’t leave the house. On those days, I know—or hope—that I can still achieve this walk goal by pacing through my apartment. And on days when the sun is out, I hope to exceed this goal significantly. Still, this benchmark is one I feel I can realistically reach even on days when 2021 feels so much like 2020 I don’t want to leave my bed. 

Cooking Meals for 3-4 Days of the Week

If there’s one skill I strengthened over the course of last year, it was cooking. But, that being said, I had phases where I cooked all my meals, seven days a week, and then stretches of time where I felt burned out and simply ordered take-out constantly. For 2021, I want to strive for a slightly more balanced existence. As such, I’m proposing that I cook my meals for 3-4 days of the week, or 9-12 full meals a week. This could mean seven breakfasts and a few other meals I cook or just a few days of full meals and a few days of takeout where I mix-and-match. I suspect that I’ll cook more than this goal entails but for weeks when I do feel burned out, I hope I can push myself to at least meet this minimal goal. 

Meditate Once a Week

I found meditation to be incredibly helpful, the few times I did it, in 2020. While a personal win for me would be to increase the frequency that I meditate, not to mention the amount of time I manage to meditate every time I sit down to do it, there are obviously some weeks when this is an easier task than others. I’m hoping that a goal of meditating once a week will become so routine and beneficial over the course of the year that this will naturally increase by the time 2022 rolls around. That being said, my intention is to simply begin building this routine, and slowly, so I can always find grace for myself as opposed to consternation if I am unable to fulfill a resolution that I set. 

Less News Consumption

Finally, I began the year by unsubscribing from the NYT daily newsletter, alongside several daily news podcasts. We’ve all consumed more news in 2020 than we imagined, but I began to recognize that it was approaching unhealthy levels for me. I’ve always been extremely politically aware, so listening to news podcasts or reading sites everyday wasn’t new for me in 2020. What was new, however, was sleeping minimally, reading news articles while half-asleep at 3am, and waking up with continual anxiety over this repeated pattern. In unsubscribing from these digests, I’m forced to make more effort than my sleep-addled brain can possibly achieve during the hours when I inevitably wake up due to pandemic-induced worry. I’m hoping to further avoid even looking at my phone until 7am and plan to purchase an old-fashioned alarm clock so that I can finally reduce my dependence on my phone, as well. While this goal is broad, I hope that it allows for me to improve my overall well-being and set strict hours surrounding news consumption (except on days when it is critical to be tuned in, i.e., 1/6/2021). 

What are some of the realistic goals you hope to set, this year? 

Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.

Image via Unsplash

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