I’ve never been great at setting goals. I know what I want to happen, but don’t set up any solid checkpoints to lead to those things. Instead, I just sort of see what happens. This go-with-the-flow nature drives people crazy if they are principled/regimented/controlling of their own environments and goals. It may seem like lack of ambition, but I think I’m just fairly easygoing and could be pleased with many outcomes.
The safest (and only) solid goal I set each year is my Goodreads challenge number. I estimate that I’ll read 100 books per year. This is doubtlessly a lot, but many librarians do this or more. The name flipping pages like mad comes from how much I read (or, read, past-tense). Currently, I’m 13 books behind schedule, and that gives me a small jolt of anxiety.
Last year, I failed my Goodreads challenge.
These days, it’s more like flipping pages like meh. I’ve almost entirely given up on reading physical books, sticking only with audio. My reading has slowed down because I’m not in the library, because I was depressed and didn’t feel like doing anything this winter, because I now listen to more (drag) podcasts, and also because I’m doing other things! I think I have hobbies!
The most exciting of these hobbies is working out–not because I’m now a gym rat, but because my body is working better. Getting my blood pumping is the single best thing for my anxiety/depression, and I need to build strength and muscle that have atrophied from a lengthy disuse. For so long, I have had bad wrists, bad feet, and a bad back. I’ve avoided any exercise that would put stress on these areas. (This includes a lot of exercise.) I backed off because I was in pain, and didn’t try to test my body or do a consistent routine to build back muscle for fear of more pain. I shut down in the face of the obstacles.
It would have taken an actively fractured bone, though, to keep me from playing softball. It has finally resumed after 2 years lost to the pandemic, and I’m so happy about it! I had missed the camaraderie and the game in general. I was worried about throwing and catching hurting my wrists, and it did hurt, but not bad and not for long! The absence of extreme pain was a whole miracle.
One of my best friends who I respect and adore suggested that we tour gyms, and we both loved one and signed up. We are both anxiety-heads who were the only ones wearing masks in the gym we visited in December, but by May, we had accepted that our need to strengthen our bodies outweighed our tendency to avoid society/contamination. The gym offers free monthly sessions with a trainer, and I realized during and after, that my various bad spots weren’t hurting as much as I had expected/feared. The anticipation of fear was worse than the reality. I can even squat with a workout bar (albeit with a disappointingly low weight). The numbers are embarrassing to anyone who knows what they’re doing, but I’m thrilled I can even DO it without major pain.
It’s not about the numbers! It’s about the habits, and improving consistently. I’m making some goals, namely to workout twice per week. And the books I DO listen to, I enjoy. Recently, I loved Matthew McConaughey’s book Greenlights (who woulda thought!) and currently I’m listening to Luvvie Ajayi’s Professional Troublemaker. Even if I don’t catch up to my book goal, I’m reading quality, not quantity. Rest when actively injured, then get back to building strength, even if it hurts a little.