I have a total of 11 goals for 2008. I'm not going to list them all here. Three of them are job-related and have been shared with my department. One of them is still rather unformed and will require some continued writing and reflection to get it concrete enough to help guide me in the coming year. The remaining seven are as follows:
- RELATIONSHIPS: To be more open to the depth of connection that friendship has to offer. This is a goal that took considerable time to form. I started out with a more specific goal in this area and after a long conversation with a friend this past weekend, I broadened it to better reflect what I want. Initially, I decided that my goal was going to be to make people angry regularly. I wasn't planning to be nasty and rude, but by stating it this way, my plan was to push to assert myself more in relationships, even at the risk of making people mad. The conversation I had this weekend opened my eyes to the tight boundaries I have drawn around myself that keep people from getting too close. Those boundaries are emotional and physical in nature. The feedback from this friend helped me see how black and white I've made the distinctions about what's appropriate in friendship versus a long-term relationship with a partner. Though I no longer have illusions that long-term relationships provide a greater sense of safety and security making vulnerability a greater possibility, I'm still living like I believe that to be true. The paradox in all of this for me is that detachment is an absolutely essential practice for greater attachment and intimacy in all of my relationships. If I want to be more deeply connected to the people I cherish the most, I must risk vulnerability without guarantee of an outcome. It's my hope that I'll live more into that new understanding in the coming year.
- FAMILY OF ORIGIN: To live with greater integrity in my relationships with my family of origin. The experience of coming out to my mom last year opened my eyes to the multitude of ways in which I hide from my family. Much of that stems from a fear of losing them or being rejected by them if they knew who I really am. So my plan is to work toward being more open with them about my life, talking about friendships and church (yes, even eventually coming out as a Unitarian) and hopes for my life in the future, knowing that doing so means risking their concern and disapproval.
- FINANCES: To determine a monthly spending allowance for things that aren't fixed or regular expenses and stay within it. I've learned in the past year how this struggle is in some ways tied to my first goal. I use money to keep me tied to people without really getting close to them. I want to break this habit and the first (and perhaps only) step to doing that is being aware of what I can spend and sticking to it, forcing me to say no more often. What saying no should do, though, is create space in which I can explore ways of offering more of myself instead of my money in those relationships.
- CREATIVITY: To write daily and to allow myself to talk more freely about my hopes and dreams for my writing. I am leaving this goal more open-ended because I want simply to see what writing every day opens up for me before I make any further commitments. But, I also want to experience what it's like to talk more freely about writing without judging my dreams or hopes.
- FITNESS: To continue growing healthier by exercising regularly. Related to this goal are my plans to a) run two half-marathons, b) add weight training, and c) add one or two low-impact cardio options to my routine (biking and Nordic Track training).
- PROFESSIONAL: To open up a conversation with my PhD school about the possibility of readmission and submitting a new dissertation proposal. I've spent time trying to rework my dissertation proposal and while I think there are possibilities for revising it, the project has lost its life for me. I've hesitated asking if I can do another proposal because I'm afraid it's asking too much, but I've finally reached the conclusion, after avoiding the proposal revisions this past week, that if I'm going to finish the PhD, it will require doing a new proposal. If they are unwilling and unable to offer that option, then I can accept not finishing. The past few months of trying have helped me grow more comfortable with not finishing. Now, I just need to open up the conversation and see where it leads. If the door closes, I'll have an answer about my future professionally.
- SPIRITUAL: To take quarterly silent retreats. This is a practice I used to observe. It helped keep me better focused and more intentional about spiritual growth and practice. It's a practice that I want to get back into to see what it opens up for me at this point in my life.