New Year, New Direction

I have been 26 for 8 days. This time last year, I set out to accomplish 26 goals in my 26th year. To paraphrase a sappy song, some of that I did, most I didn’t. I love setting birthday goals, and last year, I might have gotten a little carried away.

26 goals is a lot of goals. The ones I actually successfully completed were clear. #7: Read 26 books. #8: Go to Mexico. #10: Submit for publication. #19: Save for H’s wedding (which was last weekend by the way, and I saved more than I needed to.)

I was less successful when the goals were vaguer. #9: Hike more often. More often than what? #14: Cultivate frugality. #26: Find direction/self-knowledge. I’m not sure what I meant by that a year ago, but I am certain I didn’t manage it.

Lately I’ve read two books on creativity by Austin Kleon (Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work–both great, as is his website) and I’m rereading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project (she also has a great website).  I think Kleon’s advice is good for regular life-living in addition to creativity (Develop Skills, School Yourself, Don’t Throw Any of Yourself Away, Be Nice, Be Boring Get Work Done) and it might help with the whole “find direction/self-knowledge” thing. And of course, I love anything as structured as Rubin’s happiness project (one topic each month, a lengthy reading list, 12 goals is not quite as many as 26 but still respectable and possibly even achievable).

But lately I’ve also been wondering what if I let myself do whatever I want to do? What if I didn’t go into this year with 27 new goals, or even 12? What if I just let myself explore?

No goals–scary thought. Total freedom and no judgement or guilt about what I do–even scarier and a little bit mind boggling. What would that even look like? What would it feel like?

But that’s the plan. Kind of.

I do have a couple guiding questions for the year, some things I’d like to consider in this unstructured happiness/creativity voyage.

1. What makes a family? How do you make a good one?
2. What do I want to do with my life?
3. What is fun? How do you have it?

These three questions seem like a good place to start investigating happiness; they boil down to connection, purpose and pleasure. But to be honest, I feel vulnerable even asking the questions. It’d be easier to go back to goals like “see the Grand Canyon” or “hike more often.”

These questions also feel a little beyond the scope of this blog, which ostensibly is about money. So maybe it will change. I have some ideas for growth on this–keep an eye out in late October/November.

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