Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

Taking stock of 2020

Closeup of an evergreen bush with small red berries.

Photo: Michael Howell

It’s the quiet time between Christmas and New Year’s, when we are supposed to reflect on the year past and make plans for the year to come.

The year that was

The first photo I took in 2020 was of a sunrise over the ocean at New Smyrna Beach, Florida on January 1. (Photo: Shala Howell)

I started my culturally required annual reflection by flipping back in my planner to review the goals I’d set for myself at the beginning of the year. That… was hilarious. I laughed so hard my husband came to check to see whether I was ok. Reader, I was not.

But you lived through 2020 too. You know how it is.

Since I shared one of those goals here on the blog, I’ll let you know how that one went. Remember how back in January I posted that my goal for the year was to finish the books I had started? My hope was that through diligent effort, I could prune my out-of-control Goodreads Currently Reading list from 45 books to a mere 2 or 3. There are still 22 books on my Currently Reading list.

That was the closest I came to achieving any of my goals for 2020.

The first blanket I completed in 2020 was this one I crocheted for my sister Meg back in the spring. Crocheted with six strands of soft grey yarn held together, it has the comforting heft of a weighted blanket without being so heavy it hurts your back to lie under it. I loved it so much I made a second one for us with cream, tan, rust, and brown stripes. (Photo: Shala Howell)

The one thing I did well this year was make stuff from yarn. I knitted and crocheted at an astounding pace this year. In the Before Times, it would routinely take me two years to complete a blanket. This year, I have knitted and/or crocheted at least 9 blankets, a Christmas tree skirt, multiple stuffed animals and cacti, an advent calendar, several pairs of fingerless mitts, a cat bed, and a distressingly tall pile of washcloths and kitchen scrubbies.

Orange cat nestled in a black, grey, and cream cat bed crocheted out of insanely bulky yarn.
The crocheting project that has brought me the most joy in 2020 is this cat bed I made for Canelo in December. I had intended to give it to him for Christmas, but he hopped in it as soon as I was done, and has spent a part of each afternoon snoring softly in it ever since. (Photo: Shala Howell)

All that knitting came in handy at Christmas.

The year to come

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you about all the things I’m going to accomplish in 2021. I cannot. In fact, I am pretty irritated by all those articles and posts popping up on Twitter filled with people’s resolutions for 2021. How am I supposed to make resolutions right now? You may have noticed there’s a pandemic. See also: Faltering economy that won’t get better until we control said pandemic. How is a person supposed to make creative, aspirational plans in the midst of all of that?

Cat in a santa hat on the back of a couch. The look in his eyes and his flicked back ears make it clear he's trying to decide whose blood to draw first.
My face when articles filled with people’s resolutions for 2021 pop up on Twitter. (Photo: Michael Howell)

At the same time, when I look at my goals for 2020, I find I still want to do all of those things. Can I just ignore that for another year? What if 2022 is even worse? How many years can I keep putting this stuff off? Am I just supposed to give up on what I want?

I may not be ready to make fixed plans in a pandemic, but I don’t want to lose sight of my long-term goals either. So instead of making specific resolutions this year, I brainstormed a list of projects I’d like to do and changes I’d like to make, if life and family needs permit. Instead of stopping there and calling them resolutions like I would in a normal year, I stack ranked them. This left me with a list of goals for 2021 that looks like this:

  • “If I can only do 1 thing this year, I would do [this].”
  • “If I can only do 2 things this year, I would do [this] and [that].”
  • “If I can only do 3 things this year, I would do [this], [that], and [this other thing].”
  • “If I can only do 4 things this year, I would do [this], [that], [this other thing], and [that too].”
  • And so on [if you must]

I like this approach because it puts words to what I’d want from 2021, in the order in which I want them. If I find I need to drop some things in order to take care of other more important, urgent, or unexpected things, I already know which ones to set aside first. That makes it clear where to put my energy as I have it to spare, without burdening myself with any sort of expectation that I’ll finish all or even most of it.

If there’s one thing I don’t need in 2021, it’s the burden of extra expectations.

What about you?

Are you making plans for 2021? If so, how?

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