Just Frances

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A stronger, more confident 2020

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 1st, 2020 by Frances Ryan.
Tags: writing, work, walking, travel, sports, running, ocd, mindful, letters, inspirations, health, goals, faith, ego, crazy, confession

I don’t know about you, but I find annual resolution-setting to be a challenge in itself. I love the idea of a strong resolution to focus on each year, and tend to think of them as a goal to work towards, rather than simply resolving to do-or-not-do something. But it is important to me that these annual goals are part of my on-going desire to improve myself year-on-year, decade-on-decade.

A couple of months ago, I began toying with the idea of a series of goals with a “vision 20/20” theme. It began with an idea to have a list of 20 activities to undertake and 20 goals to reach. That morphed into 20 lists of 20 things: 20 adventures; 20 running goals; 20 recipes to try, letters to write, hills to climb; 20 days of silence, of no social media, of volunteering… and more. Much more. Too much more!!

So, I took a step back to think about why I was setting these goals. I stopped to think about what my ultimate goal was; what I wanted to accomplish by the end of the year. And it was complex simple: I wanted to improve myself. But how? There are so many forms of self-improvement, and I needed to be more specific about what I wanted to “fix” about myself.

After a lot of consideration, I decided that 2020 would be the year for building my strength and confidence – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, carrying on from my 2019 goal to be more mindful and aware. That led me to a “simple” goal:

To be a stronger, more confident me.

Of course, you can’t just flip a switch a “be” stronger or more confident. You have to have a plan and you have to accomplish a long series of smaller, more measurable objectives. After all, a good goal requires work!

I have decided that the best way to tackle this big goal is to set hard objectives for different areas of my life:

My physical health and fitness levels: This includes running more than 700 miles and taking at least 4,000,000 steps over the course of the year. I also have objectives for times for different run distances and other fitness benchmarks – as well as a weight goal.

My personal and professional lives: This includes re-building my website, learning (simple) Gaelic, and landing a long-term academic post. I also have a few travel ambitions for places I want to visit and some publication goals for my professional life.

My mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being: This includes a set number or days or weekends to be spent in some form of tech-free contemplation, writing letters of forgiveness or apology (even if not sent, for whatever reason), and reading 20+ books. I will also work to continue my journaling practice, with the aim of journaling every day this year. (I’m already on a 4-month streak of not missing a day, so this might be easier than I thought!)

In addition to these measurable ambitions, I have some “soft” objectives that are harder to declare as “objective, met”. This includes vague aims like “be kinder” and “relax more”. Many of these softer aims will be a side effect of the measurable objectives. But the idea of writing them down as their own objective is so that I always remember to work on those traits.

And speaking of traits! One of the things I will be doing this year is an audit of my character strengths. I will be using a research-based book called “Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification” as my guide. The book outlines 24 identified character strengths that exist in all of us, and discusses the different ways they manifest themselves. My aim will be to determine which of these traits I need to work on, but also to determine what strengths I might have that I am not even aware of.

I’m not sure how that character audit will go, but I am planning to do some reflective blogging about it along the way, because I find that it helps me to be more aware of my own self when I am “forced” to write about it.

I am quite excited about this New Year’s goal. I feel that I have already grown stronger and more confident over the past decade as I’ve grown more and more accustomed to living a relatively solitary life, and have learned how to live with the grief of widowhood. And now that my PhD is done and dusted, I am finally in a place where I can concentrate on my whole being again, without the stress of my studies.

I know that this year will be a challenge in its own right as I go through the stress of searching for a permanent (or long-term) academic post, and as I face the drama of visa woes (again). But I feel that I have a solid enough foundation now that I can face these trials and tribulations. And I am confident that any challenges I do face will only help to make my resolution more worthwhile when I reach my goal in just 366 days.

At this point, I could say “Apologies in advance for a year of posts about my resolution”. But I am not going to apologies for how I chose to manage my personal blog because I need to have the confidence to be who I am without apology.

I will, however, say thank you to all of my wonderful readers (whether you’re a regular reader or a one-off visitor). Your support over the years has meant the world to me.

I hope that 2020 brings you all of the laughter, love, and friendship you can manage!

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