Sunday, December 29, 2013

Looking ahead: 2014 goals and plans

      2014 is going to be a pretty big year for me, primarily because I'm in my first year of a master's program. In the fall I discovered that the program takes a lot of time and energy, which I expected. I also expect this monopolization of my time and energy, not to mention money, to continue this year. Therefore, my principle aims in creating this list of goals plans is to focus my remaining time, energy, and money on that which I most value.

     Currently what I most value in my life is a fairly short list: the masters program, time with friends and family, health, happiness, tasty food, my cat, and gardening as a hobby. This is a very short list, but it is also a deceptively simple list. For example, making time for friends and family is at times difficult in this time and place, as our loved ones tend to be far flung, and with so many demands on our time. It is also fairly in line with what we know makes people happy: relationships, meaningful work, autonomy, health, and leisure time. What I really want is to develop my study skills and time management skills to the point where I actually have a small amount of leisure time during the quarter. 

Therefore, these are the goals I am choosing to focus on, and how I intend to accomplish them.

1. Learn how to stay on top of my academic work.
       This was the major difficulty of last quarter; I found myself buried beneath a tidal wave of assignments that I was not prepared for. What I'm going to do this quarter is estimate how many hours each assignment is going to require, and then do a set number of assignment-hours each day, instead of putting the work off and then trying to get as much as I can done in a single day. I will also break down large projects in to their component parts, so that I can see the individual steps that must be taken, rather than a single monolithic task.

2. Go on an hour long walk with my husband everyday.
      This is goal supports several of my values: time with my family, health, and over all happiness. It gives me time to reflect on my life, it's mild exercise, and it's a slightly meditative time.

3. Start a monthly reflection and goal analysis with my husband. 
     This, hopefully, will help us stay on track through the year, and help us improve our ability and effectiveness.

4. Learn to cook one new healthy meal per week. 
       This last one will be fun; I love cooking, and I love food. Thus, this is in line with happiness, health, and tasty food.

5. Work with my cat, Athena, so she becomes less skittish and more friendly to strangers. 

While this doesn't seem like much, with the load from grad school, I think this will be enough to fill what remaining time I'll theoretically have. If I am going to accomplish these goals, I will have to use my time efficiently; I expect that this will force me to spend less time watching tv or playing on the computer. I think that having such detailed plans improves the possibility of actually accomplishing my goals this year.

6. Be frugal with my time, energy, and money. As a student now, and a teacher in the future, I need to spend my time, energy, and money as efficiently as possible to get the most value out of it I can. This is not about being cheap or stingy; rather it is about getting as much of what I value out of my actions as I can.

7. Drive the car as little as possible. To start with, for the month of January, I'm going to see how seldom I can drive my car. I'll have to drive it once a week on Wednesdays, but aside from that I want to see how well I can do by foot.

So, on into a New Year, and may I actually get done what I want to get done!