At risk of sounding like so many other people I am finding this the least New Year feeling, New Year ever. Thanks to the Pandemic it really feels like a continuation of the previous one. Which all things considered is a strange thing to say when due to the Fibromyalgia I rarely left the house before the pandemic existed. I think it is the psychological difference between not going out because I am not well enough and not doing so because it is both not safe to do so and we are not allowed. It is what it is though.
What makes a New Year?
When you think about it, taking away the calendar implications, a New Year is pretty much a reset button. A fresh start, a chance to do better, achieve more, close a door on negative thoughts and experiences. There are already many New Years that already feature in the calendar:
- The beginning of Spring and the new buds and leaves
- September and the new school year
- Advent Sunday begins the new liturgical year (in the Western Christian faith)
These are just a few off the top of my head. I am sure there are others that didn’t come to mind. I can’t help thinking whenever the time comes that we are all vaccinated, these prove to be working and we are all able to be in crowds and socialise with anyone (when, as a spoonie we are well enough to) that it will really feel like a New Year. Be it later in 2021 or, let’s be realistic to feel as completely normal as we did before Covid19, potentially in 2022.
The 2021 New Year we have
Having got that out of the way, let’s focus on making what we can out of the New Year that we have been given. Here are my thoughts about it and my hopes for 2021.
I used to always try to make New Years resolutions and they never lasted for more than a month, if that. Looking back the reason is staring me in the face. I was trying to go from 0 to 100 overnight. It was as if I could magically achieve new skills just because the calendar had changed. A (typical time) New Year celebration may, at times over the years, have felt magical but alas it didn’t actually possess magic properties.
Another reason resolutions fell by the wayside in more recent years was the interference of Fibromyalgia. The very best will in the world can’t help you to do something when your body is not physically able to at that time. So as soon as the first big flare-up comes along, the resolutions are out of the window. However, this doesn’t mean that I am not looking to make active changes.
My 2021 Goal
Instead, I have chosen to make a goal for the year. If you are familiar with Smart Goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time-bound. My goal is not this. I came across this methodology in my previous employment, as well as in my productivity reading. Although this system can have it’s place, especially in the work place where team working is involved. When you are a spoonie this is far from practical. So instead this is how I am doing things.
A Theme for the Year
First of all I have set a theme. For 2021 I have chosen STREAMLINE. I have chosen this word specifically because of its diversity. Some of the things I hope to do during the year include fully organising my apps and digital files, streamlining. Making some real progress with going through my crafting supplies and weeding out those products I don’t plan on using, streamlining. Making progress on my weight loss, I lost 2 stone before Christmas – I haven’t weighed myself since then though eek, streamlining.
As you can see I can have some diverse goals but they all fall under the term Streamlining.
Why Hopes for 2021 then and not Goal or theme?
As previously mentioned, when you live with a chronic illness life is completely unpredictable. This doesn’t even factor in the reality of the pandemic. So although I have set this theme and goal, I have put absolutely no pressure on myself to achieve anything, I just hope I can therefore these are my hopes for 2021.
Working with a Theme for the Year
When you set yourself a theme for the year, everything you consider doing or taking on throughout the year encourages you to ask yourself, will doing this help me to achieve this goal. Naturally I am not talking about basic life pillars like the essential things that need to be done for your day to day existence like eating and simple home maintenance. But rather hobbies, possible “work” if you are not able to be employed in the traditional sense and new skillsets you with to acquire.
I am a bit of a yes person, although Fibro has forced me to learn to use the word no sometimes. I don’t even mean saying yes when I am outright asked to do something. I mean that I can watch an inspirational video and think I want to “try/learn/experience” that, Although I am very far from being a Renaissance woman I have always had an interest in several areas of knowledge and (prior to Fibro stopping some of them) had some contrasting hobbies. This means that I love technology (in terms of productivity tools, computer games, creativity software etc), but I also love researching my genealogy and have an interest in history in general, then I am passionate about arts and crafts, and singing and (although I hardly even do it and my ability level has dropped dramatically) playing the keyboard. You get the idea.
The helpful Restriction of a Theme for the Year
By having a theme for the year that I filter things through it will allow me to concentrate my attention and my spoons on the goal that I have set. So now when my brain tries to flip-flop, rather than just chasing the next thing and ending up with life at the end of the year looking much like it did at the beginning (which always seems to be the case) I can ask myself “Will doing this help me to streamline?” And if the answer is no, rather than dismiss it, store the idea for the future and set it aside. As 2021 comes to an end and HOPEFULLY I have achieved my goal to some level, I can look at everything that crossed my path and got saved and decide on the best theme for 2022 to shape more of these ideas and dreams.
Suggestions of Themes for the Year
If this idea has interested you I have some more suggestions of themes you could consider applying to your year:
- Health (focussing on improving your health in general, learning about nutrition maybe, trying some condition appropriate exercise etc)
- Creativity (trying a selection of crafts if you are not crafty, finding a creative format that you enjoy and may wish to add into your life, enjoying the creative work of others and finding artist in the fields that interest you, finding creative ways with food and creative outfit choices etc)
- Productivity (Setting up routines that help you manage, finding systems and methods you can stick with, creating a reading habit, considering blogging or personal journaling etc)
- Social (seemingly tricky in a pandemic but if done virtually, improving your network of likeminded people, finding new friends online, focussing on meaningful conversations, removing people from your social networks that don’t add positive value etc)
- Organisation (taking on a year long decluttering project, finding proper homes for things in your house, researching some realistic organisation gurus and inspirations, investing in organisation systems in your furniture)
These are just a few ideas off the top of my head, there are so many more possibilities. The best thing to do is think of at least two or three things you wish to achieve this year and choosing a word that they will all fit under.
Organising your thoughts
There is a good chance you may be a pen and paper person, if that is the case you have this covered. If you prefer a digital system you can read my post about Productivity Tools, although since writing this I am again using ClickUp to manage active projects and using Notion for storing knowledge and things like future ideas, in other words, Notion is where I will create a document with all the suggestions of skills I want to learn or projects to try that don’t fit in with my streamlining hopes for 2021. But ClickUp is where I will manage everything I am going to do this year.
One of the reasons I love ClickUp as a project manager is it comes with different views for the same active tasks. So I can use a Kanban view to have simple: suggestions, planned, in progress & complete column. But I can also use the calendar view to see and set the dates for the planned and in progress statuses. You can split areas up into different spaces, if you are interested I have: Creative Fibro (everything to do with the blogs and social media) Productivity (Self improvement & admin etc) Genealogy (everything to do with the family history project) Creativity (all my crafting be it for pleasure of card orders) and Household (you guessed it, everything to do with the home). You can work within any of these areas or look at everything at a glance, I only do this in the calendar view. There is also a list view, box view, Gantt View, Timeline and Mindmap. If you fancy giving ClickUp a try I have an affiliate link I would be grateful if you used.
Getting Everything Down
Suggestions for 2021 (streamlining)
However you set up your system you need to have a place to brain dump. So in every area I have a variation of suggestion or idea list in a kanban view and as soon as I have something I have to do or I’m inspired to do that isn’t time bound I add it to this list. There is a web clipper for ClickUp so I can stumble upon inspiration online and easily capture it. Naturally if something comes in where there is a due date or I feel it is urgent it goes in the planned or active status and is entered in the calendar, there are also priority flags so you can set if something is urgent or high priority.
Thoughts for the Future
Any ideas or inspirations I have that don’t fit the year’s focus are entered into Notion. The beauty of the Notion system is it is much like a blank piece of digital paper that you format as you go along. So early in the year I can have a simple page called future inspiration and just create a basic list. As the year goes along I can detect any trends forming and start creating headed lists with possible theme ideas. I train myself to not spend long on that page though because I don’t want to be caught up in it. Again there are web clippers for Notion so anything I see online can be saved to that page.
Reflecting on Progress
For my on the go tasks I can actively see in ClickUp things changing to green as I complete them. You can chose in your setting to see completed tasks on the calendar or for them to be hidden, personally I find the slowly forming wall of green motivating. Especially when I am doing well and I get ahead with things. It is very reassuring when you have a chronic illness that everything you had assigned for the week is already done!
Each month I like to have a short reflection on progress. How am I pacing myself? Am I expecting too much of myself or could I actually, sensibly do a bit more. I will be honest I failed in December, I had planned to have an Instagram Daily post scheduled throughout the whole month and it didn’t happen. However well I had planned things some gifts I was creating took longer than expected and something had to give. This was a learning curve though, I know now if I intend to create new products I need to do so much earlier than they are needed. One of the reasons for the monthly overview is to draw out learning, not to create a stick to hit myself with. I think think monthly over views should be light touch and not take more than 30 minutes of reflection.
Each quarter I like to do more of a review. Some years, when the annual theme is suitable I have split it up into four quarterly themes. So the end of a quarter is the time to review how successful it has been. Although once again, being honest, I am still very new at really being disciplined to seeing this process through and often by the mid year point and three quarters of the way through I abandon the process and always come the end of the year end up frustrated with myself. Not because my health got in the way of the process but my will power failed. The quarterly review is also a time to check am I on the right path, is the current theme still the best use of my energy, has something else changed which suggests I need to change my theme. Life after on continues around you whatever your intentions.
Six Monthly Review
To be honest, my six month review is pretty much the same as my quarterly one in terms of the process. The only difference is that I am considering things from the perspective of half way through. One question I ask myself at this point is am I on track to achieve the things I would like to within the next six months. Sadly the answer is often no. Let’s face it in previous years my focus has been declutter but I have still not completed that. But once again, I try my best to not beat myself up about not achieving goals. Although, I’ll say it again, there is a difference between not succeeding because of your health and failing because you got distracted or lost motivation – that is my personal judgement for myself I am certainly not suggesting it is a suitable thought process for everyone.
Projects that have made it into the Streamlining plan
One of the first things I have begun this year is working through the 365 days of drawing book. I have a selection of books geared to improving my creative skills which I have looked at but not used. Not only does this project start to use these books but also I am sharing my progress everyday in my Instagram stories so straightaway that streamlines hitting two goals, improving a skill and creating content. Alongside creating new content I have started actively editing and organising my older content and a process of constantly improving the journey through my blog. This is being helped no end by using MarsEdit to write and edit my posts, I can also edit the page content with the software too. I access MarsEdit through my SetApp subscription which features in a blog post on the sister blog. Writing the posts then sending them to my blog is a much easier process that writing on the back end of the website. This is on top of some of the goals I mentioned earlier in the post.
Wider Hopes for 2021
Now I have talked about my productivity / life management goal / theme for the year what about general thoughts and hopes for 2021. I hope the Covid19 vaccination process meets the governments current target. I hope life can begin to resemble what it did before the pandemic. As so many companies have proved the success or remote working, I would like to see people with chronic illnesses being considered for appropriate roles they can do from home working to their own schedule. I would like to see people in the entertainment industry remembering that being at home is normal for many people beyond the extent of the pandemic and there are many of us that won’t be able to return to the theatres and concerts. Sharing theatre productions and concerts on YouTube is something I hope (but sadly don’t believe) will continue. Finally, I hope that my various online and cardmaking endeavours will begin to make some sort of proper income for me.
What Are your Hopes for 2021?
Have you been inspired to take on a theme for the year? Maybe you have a project you have been meaning to do for a few years and you’ve decided this is the year for it? Remember you don’t need it to be the first day of January to hit the reset button. You could do it on Monday, or the first day of February or maybe the first day or Spring. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you have found this post interesting or helpful I’d love you to share it on your favourite social media platforms so others can find it and benefit too.