New Year's Goals
While working on my goals, strategies and systems for the new year, I decided to share them with my readers because my passion for plants and my natural curiosity are the primary inspirations that now guide my actions and lifestyle. As a late bloomer, I harbor a bit of regret at discovering my passion later rather than earlier but I am both thrilled and content to finally be living my dream. I believe firmly in Joseph Campbell's wisdom:
I’m a planner, a creator of to-do lists and a goal setter. And I am old-fashioned about the process: I use a paper planner for my daily, weekly and monthly tasks and write my creative ideas and random thoughts about nature, life and humans in a hard-bound journal. Technology is gift for research and writing and I use Evernote for organizing my research notes, links to information and related photos. I access Evernote every day so I also keep my annual goals there so I can review them regularly.
Do you suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS)? I have battled this for years! Here’s a glimpse into my head when experiencing SOS: I begin reading an article on native plant gardens, and the author refers to a great definition that he found...so I Google ‘native plant definition’...and begin to read an article that discusses the historical reasons for replacing native environments with non-native plants...I click on a link that takes me to a site on the history of the lawn in Europe….and I make a quick note in Evernote to do a post on the lawns...in an attempt to return to my original search I click back a few links...and see a website that offers native plant lists by regions so I click on that….download some of the material...move it to my Evernote notebook on Native Plants….and then feeling like I accomplished something...I stare at my screen trying to remember what I was originally researching,reading and/or writing...definition of native plants, wait, I wanted to look up that one author...and I need to look up the official definition of noxious weed...and so it goes...
On a larger scale, SOS can seriously affect life's goals and projects. Many people follow a shiny object like a goal, project, or new path and then either the shine wears off or more likely, another shiny object distracts them. This is why I set and write specific goals and strategies. Tasks - things that I must get done - belong on my weekly To-Do lists. Goals are about achievement and accomplishment. Focus is the key to accomplishment.
PERSONAL WELLNESS GOALS
I have no illusions about ever looking like this photo or being that fit. The reality is aging and gravity always win: your body will move slower and your skin will sag. I am more motivated about fitness than appearance so each year I identify goals and specific strategies & systems for my personal wellness, my professional activities and my learning. My wellness goals include the perennial but important daily commitment to exercise & movement, eating healthy, and respecting my body’s need for rest (Type A thinking is hard to overcome).
As I age, staying agile is my #1 overall goal. I want to be able to hike, garden, backpack, kayak, and climb up and down riverbanks to fish for another 20 years. (And I also want to stop the sighs and grunts each time I get up from the couch.) Each day I spend hours sitting at a desk and in case, you have not heard, sitting is the new cigarette smoking: Dangerous to your health. I am not a gym rat so I've invested in exercise & yoga DVDs and use a spare bedroom as a workout space. Last year, I purchased the Essentrics videos (no affiliate connection) which I love on those days when my get up and go is not getting up and going but I still need to move. For the last ten years, I have added recreational goals (hiking, fishing, backpacking & travel) as these are important to my personal wellness.
Successful goals need clear and achievable strategies so I am specific about what and how often. Developing a regular time for each activity is an important part of developing a habit and working from home has many distractions. People who envy my choice to work from home are always surprised to learn that I work a strict schedule of blocked hours including a one hour lunch break during the day. I do have the luxury of rearranging hours and my work days as needed but I try to avoid doing that. For me, structure is the basis for productivity.
Exercise and Movement Goals:
Daily walk or work outside. I almost forgot to list this because it is so natural to me. Nature is critical to our mental health.
30 minutes every day of yoga or Essentrics
30 minutes of combined aerobic & weight lifting 3x a week
The New York Times offers a short but intense workout: 9- minute workout. I use this as a movement break in the afternoon but I do skip the burpee exercise - not a fan!
Two wildflower hikes each month (March-October)
Fish 1-2x a month (and when I don't care if I catch fish, I will practice my inelegant attempts at fly fishing)
4 day backpack in the Hoh Rainforest (Olympic National Park) & one other trip
60th birthday travel trip - researching Kauai, Hawaii (4 botanical gardens, National refuge that is growing taro, gorgeous state parks - all about the plants!)
My professional goals have changed dramatically over the decades and creating content for my website, www.plantnspeople.com, is now my priority professionally. (I work part-time as an event and marketing coordinator.) My overall goal is to create content that will inspire, educate and entertain my readers. Another goal is to increase the number of subscribers to my monthly newsletters and one of my strategies is to write consistently about topics that my subscribers value. I create a quarterly blog calendar with topics that I want to research and then create blog topic notebooks in Evernote where I store my research information.
Blog & Newsletter Calendar
Goal: One post per week
Strategy: 2 days per week dedicated to research, writing and creating/finding images
Goal: Two e-newsletters per month
Strategy: two dedicated days each month to writing newsletters
MY BIG PROJECT: I am currently working on a big project that I think you will like. It's got a significant technical learning curve so I am working slowly while learning.
Herbalists often develop a materia medica - which is a collection of information on ‘healing properties material’ of medicinal plants. Over the years, I developed a small personal materia medica of my preferred plants. But my interest in plants extends beyond medicinal uses, and I love to learn about historical and current uses; the plant’s role in the field, garden and commerce; uses in the kitchen, apothecary or homestead and any folkloric or cultural beliefs that involve the plant.
Had I discovered this avocation earlier, I probably would have chosen the field of ethnobotany. Ethnobotany is defined as “the scientific study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their medical, religious, and other uses.” Using my own ethnobotanical template, I have completed two plant profiles: milkweed and elderberry. Upcoming plants profiles include cacao, ginger, dandelion and pumpkin.
More importantly, I simply love learning but need a rigorous system to keep me from chasing Shiny Bright Objects. They are all over the place!
Goal: Research and write one plant profile each month.
Strategy: dedicate one day per week to research and writing for plant profiles
Goal: Continue my study of all things plants: botany, permaculture design, gardening, herbal medicine, ecosystems and ecology.
Strategy: Commit 3 hours per week to study.
Goal: Read one new book each month.
Strategy: Dedicate one hour per day to pleasure reading. Believe it or not, this is one of my biggest challenges. Reading for pleasure usually happens right before I fall asleep in each night!
This year I have added a new category: political goals. I have always been politically engaged but over the last decade or so, moved away from activism. But the current administration is attacking so many things that are important to me, and I spent this past year in a knee jerk reaction mode writing emails to my Members of Congress & letters to the editor on everything. I am part of a local group of women who are engaging both politically and civically but I realized that I have only so much energy and time to devote to politics so I created these two goals.
Political Activism Goals
Goal: Educate citizens and elect progressive Members of Congress on the realities of climate change.
Goal: Protect and retain public lands.
Strategies: Dedicate one hour per week writing and calling on legislative actions and 2018 mid-term election.
GOALS, RESOLUTIONS OR ACHIEVEMENTS?
I don’t call my New Year Goals “resolutions” because the notion of resolutions are typically structured in a “will or won’t” kind of thinking and for many of us, carry the emotional baggage of failure. I want achievements and using a combined system of goals and strategies is how I accomplish them. Another critical aspect of goal setting is to reduce the number of goals. Too many goals increases competition for your time so one strategy I employ is to align some of my learning goals with my professional goals.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2018?
I would love to hear what goals you have set for 2018.
In what ways are you trying to live your dream?
What tools, strategies or advice do you use for achievement? Do plants play a role in your goals?
I end 2017's last post with a TED Talk from one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott.
I want to hear from my readers! If you have any suggestions for plant profiles or blog posts, do send them my way. Please share in the comments section or respond to this email.