A New Way of Thinking for 2022

Pieces of a Gingerbread House Kit poorly decorated and not assembled.
Nick’s and my attempt at creating a gingerbread house from a kit. It’s a deconstructed gingerbread house!

As 2021 came to a close, I downloaded a year-end compass and filled it out, looking at what I spent my time on over the past year, what I had hoped to accomplish, and what I had actually ended up accomplishing. As I got to the end of it, when I started setting my goals for this year, I realized that a lot of my goals are the same from the previous year. So I didn’t actually end up accomplishing what I had hoped to. Which made me wonder what I did all last year.

Looking back though, I actually did a lot. I started taking guitar lessons, I sewed some new pajamas, I did a bunch of drawing tutorials, I knitted myself a sweater, I hung out with friends, I spent a lot of time with Nick, I learned a lot more about 3D rendering and modeling, I started painting more Last Night on Earth figures, I played a lot of video games…

But going through my actual goals, I didn’t hit a single one. Which was kind of surprising. I’ve been working from home, so I have about an hour and a half extra each day that I’m saving on commuting. And I know I’ve let that time slide a bit, and I’ve done things like work on crossword puzzles, surf the internet, and sleep in, rather than anything related to what I was working on for the year. But I didn’t do that constantly, so I should have gotten more done.

Ordinarily, I would be disappointed in myself, pledge to do better, and then start out strong for the new year. Eventually, I would run out of steam or just not really feel like working on what I had planned to work on. And the cycle would continue. But this time I decided to look at what might be going on, and how can I fix it for this new year.

When I was younger, my goals were really simple: I would learn to draw better, learn to sew better, and knit more. But anyone who’s ever done goal training knows that vague goals like that are not ok. You need to have measurable goals. So rather than learning to draw better, my goal turned into create one drawing that I was proud enough of to put in an art show. Sewing better became create three pieces of clothing that fit me properly (not including pajamas, since I’ve made those patterns multiple times now, so they don’t count!). And knit more became create one sweater that fits me properly.

Looking at this past year, I don’t have one piece of art that I would consider putting into an art show. I have a lot of art that I created, but it was all tutorials, which aren’t original, so shouldn’t be in a show. I sewed two pairs of pajamas, and they fit better than any set I’ve ever sewn before, but I have been struggling to alter my t-shirt pattern to fit me properly, so I have no new clothes that I’ve created. And I did knit a sweater, but I did something wrong, and it has a really strange neckline and doesn’t fit properly. And after finishing it, I was a bit discouraged and didn’t want to start over again.

But I don’t look back at any of those projects and feel like I’ve wasted my time. I either learned a lot or enjoyed my time watching TV shows and working on making something, even if it isn’t something that I’ll ever show anyone or end up using. So maybe my problem is the actual goal? If I compare what I did last year to my younger-goal-setting-self, I hit every one. I have learned to draw better, sew better, and knit more.

So this year, I decided to go against all goal setting wisdom, and just have no goals for the year! I guess what I’ve decided to do is maybe more of a resolution? But my plan is to just enjoy my time and live more in the moment. If I decide I want to sew, then I’m going to sew. If I decide to just watch TV or surf the internet, and that’s what I will be happy doing, then that’s what I’m going to do. At the end of the year, I won’t have a measurable goal to have succeeded for failed at, but hopefully I will have a lot of experiences that I have enjoyed.

And we’ll see. Maybe next year, this year will have seemed like complete chaos, and I’ll have jumped around and started a bunch of projects that have never gotten finished. Or maybe it will be so freeing, that I’ll do the same thing again. We’ll find out!