Ahh, we’re back at that time of year where we all make promises that never get fulfilled. Every December, I ask myself if there’s any point in me making goals when I’m terrible at keeping up with them. Do I even remember what my goals for 2021 were? Not really, but I’m 99% sure I didn’t achieve any of them (I checked, I achieved 1 goal).
Still, I like making them. I’m a goal-oriented person, so having something to work towards makes me feel like I’m being productive with my life. Whether or not I achieve them in the end isn’t as important as me trying and working on different things.
This year, one of the main things I want to work on is re-gaining the self-discipline I used to have. The pandemic gave me an excuse to throw all that out the proverbial window. There was little reason for me to be disciplined when the world was stuck indoors. Combined with a 21-month long quarter life crisis that resulted in me moving halfway around the world, I lost a lot of motivation to do things.
Going into 2022, I’d really like to get back to where I used to be. Someone who could put their mind to something and actually get it done. I guess that means I’m putting my mind to working on putting my mind to doing and achieving things?
Get into some kind of workout routine
When the pandemic hit, I took it as an excuse to embrace the potato life. If I had to choose a type, I think I’d mostly resemble a smashed potato - somewhat intact but kind of spread out. My Blender Bottles and protein powder have been sorely underused since September and they deserve better than that.
Having enjoyed Chloe Ting’s wide variety of programs, I’d like to get back into using her videos. They cause me a lot of pain and sweat, but I like her style of workouts and how they’re all balanced out with a timer. The moves do get a bit repetitive across her videos, but it’s not too bad unless they’re all variations of her up-down planks. I hate those.
I have a vague idea of how I’d like to modify her program schedules to fit me better. It was quite intense going straight into working out 6 days a week when I started doing her videos, so I’d like to ease in slowly with 3 days a week. Once I get into a regular routine of that and feel stronger, I can start adding more days. Ideally, I’d get up to 5 days a week, leaving me weekends to rest my body.
Journal once a week
For years, this has been my way of processing things and recording my life. When things get hard and I don’t feel like processing, I neglect this habit. Unfortunately, that also means there are chunks of my life that I can’t read back on because I never wrote about it. Or waited months before writing out 10-15 pages at once.
I find that the days when I do journal make me feel calmer. There’s a lot of research about how writing things out helps with emotional release, processing, memory, and letting go. After the last two years and all the stress I’ve been through, I think journaling more regularly will be helpful. Once I get back into the habit of it, I’ll probably be journaling more than just once a week, but for now, it’s a good entry point to restart with.
Become top 0.05% of Taylor Swift listeners on Spotify
I’ve been in the top 1% for two years in a row, and while that’s impressive, I want to do better. In 2020, it only took 2,594 listening minutes to get me into that ranking. I more than doubled that number in 2021 with 5,516 listening minutes but still ended up in the same 1%.
The thing about Spotify is that they don’t count anything after October 31, or so their website says. It’s possible that it extends slightly into November, which explains why my NaNoWriMo playlist always ends up in my Wrapped. So in order to get to the top 0.05% in 2022, I think I’ll have to hit at least 8,000 minutes of listening to Taylor’s music. Not a hard goal by any measure. Since Red (Taylor’s Version) dropped, I’ve been listening to her music almost daily. If I keep that up, I think I could easily achieve this. Unless, of course, everyone else also spends more time listening to her music because of the two remastered versions she’s released in 2021.
I’m expecting two more of her re-recorded albums to come out this year. Looking at the pattern of folklore and evermore in 2020 and Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version) in 2021, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) and 1989 (Taylor’s Version) coming out in 2022. As long as they both drop before Halloween, I’m sure they’ll be added to my Spotify Wrapped, which is basically confirmation that all I do is listen to her music all year round.
Re-do my room
For those of you who don’t follow my Bookstagram, you’d been blessed with not hearing me complain about my mint green walls. Seriously, it feels like I’m living in a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Though the layout and the landlord’s furniture have worked for the last six months, I’m getting really frustrated by the mismatched colors, inconsistent furniture sizes, and lack of decent storage. While I don’t consider myself someone who has a lot of stuff, this room is wholly unprepared for the number of books I own and the winter clothes that have to be stored somewhere. It also doesn’t feel like a space that anyone over the age of 6 lives in, so there’s that.
I’ve already created a series of rough layout possibilites using Canva. It’s helped me visualize what I can fit in the room without blocking other things and what works best for me. The main things are that my desk needs to be against a wall, I need drawers for storing clothes and extra stationary, and the bed has to fit somewhere. Literally the only thing I’m not replacing is the bed because that’s just too much work and money that I’m not willing to spend. And I’d like to make the room feel like it actually has space.
Of all my goals, this is only one that really costs money. The others can be completed with relatively low costs, most of them not requiring money at all. And though I have that list of things I’m saving for, this is a greater priority. We’re extending our lease on the place and I want to spend the next two years feeling like I can be a creative adult.
Find a reasonable morning routine
Though I have no plans to become “That Girl,” I would like to establish something that helps me start my day in a calm and productive manner. Already I’ve been trying to get up at 7:30am during weekdays so that I can take my time getting ready and not feel rushed. The problem is that since I haven’t found a full-time job yet, I sometimes allow myself to sleep in more and end up being unproductive during the mornings.
Nothing about this routine will be crazy. As a night owl, it’s hard enough for me to wake up at 7:30am. The most I could do is push it half an hour earlier if I want to force myself to work out in the morning. Anything before that is too unreasonable for me and will result in a grumpy mess rather than any form of productivity. All I want is to make the start of my day calm and to feel like I’m doing something for myself during this time of day.
Expand my video game playing
Look, I spent months only playing Don’t Starve on the Switch last year and still never made it past Day 60. It was the only game I played and I still sucked at it. But what else did I do during that time? Accumulate other games that I left in my game library while I died again and again because of stupid hounds.
Since I have the console, I’d like to make good use of it and play through more of the games I’ve collected. There are at least 20 games sitting there right now that I haven’t touched, and that’s just not fair to them. They deserve to be played and I do want to play them.
By no means do I consider myself a “gamer,” not even in the loosest sense. I play video games poorly and infrequently, but I do enjoy them. It’d be good for me to expand past the few that I consistently return to and at least try my hand at the ones I own. Besides, most of the games are mystery-based, so there’s no reason for me to put it off. I love a good mystery too much.
Will I still primarily be playing Don’t Starve now that I have it on my laptop? Most likely, but I can at least try to play some other games.
Invest in a better skincare routine
It’s a little weird and scary to say that I’ll be turning 25 this year, but it’s inescapable. Now that I’m firmly in my mid-twenties, I feel like it’s only right to know the difference between an essence and a serum (is there a difference at all?) and what order everything should go on my face. It’s not so much to prevent aging as it is to take better care of my skin in general. My experiences with teenage breakouts led me to learn a lot about skincare, but I never really took the time to apply that knowledge. Since then, the approach to skincare has changed a lot and I’ve had to relearn many things along the way.
Last year, in my effort to start using more gentle and natural products on my skin, I started using Innisfree products. I liked the moisturizer enough to try a face wash, which grew into a mud mask and toner. During their Christmas sale, I got several more products to add into my routine. Though it’s only been about two weeks of using more products and elongating my routine, I have enjoyed opening all my little bottles and jars each day. Thankfully, they also gave me a lot of free samples, so I’ve been playing around with those too.
I like to think of having a good skincare routine as something small that I do for myself each day. For the most part, I like the process of washing my face and applying my toner and moisturizer. It’s part of waking up in the morning and winding down in the evening. Having had the basic routine down for so many years now, it feels like a natural progression to start being more intentional about this while I’m still young (though my cracking bones might beg to differ). And while I don’t think I’ll become a skincare junkie necessarily, I do see myself growing my collection of Innisfree products because I really like what they do for my skin.
Read 52 books
The past couple of years have seen lower reading goals due to my desire to reclaim reading for myself. It’s always felt like a bit of a competition with other bookish content creators because I’m not the type of person who regularly hits 100 books in a year. The closest I’ve ever come to that was 59 books.
I spent a good amount of time thinking this over in 2021 and came to the conclusion that I’ll likely never stop comparing my reading to other peoples’. The competitive side of me will always look at the number difference. Though I did very much enjoy reclaiming the Goodreads Challenge for myself in 2020, I felt like my reading goal last year was truly the marker of how I viewed my reading. Not hitting my goal is often more to do with my choice not to read, rather than an inability to get through more books.
This goes in line with my next goal, but I think 52 books is a good number. An average of a book a week isn’t too bad for me. If I get really into a book, 300+ pages can fly by in a few days. Some books might take longer, but the buffer exists for me to take the necessary time. And I’m telling myself more that I can DNF a book if I’m not feeling it. That doesn’t make the reading any less valid.
Start reading before bed
I put a ton of pressure on myself to read a lot each day or else it “doesn’t count as reading.” Somewhere along the way, I turned reading into something that needed to hit a certain number to be considered valid. But that’s not how it works. There’s no magic number that qualifies as having read. I don’t look at instructions and tell myself that I have to read more than 100 words for it to count as having read the instructions, so why should I do that with daily reading?
There was a time in high school when I regularly read before bed. Instead of watching YouTube or going on TikTok, I got major chunks of reading done in the time before going to sleep. I miss those days. There’s nothing stopping me from bringing that habit back though.
Ideally, I’d spend about an hour reading before bed. That’s enough time to get a good amount of pages read, but honestly, I’m not going to make a big deal of it. Even just 10-15 minutes before bed is something read for the day and progress made in the book. How much or how long I read isn’t as important as choosing to make time for something I enjoy and giving myself room to enjoy it again, rather than making it something else that adds pressure to my life.
This also encourages me to put my electronics aside earlier and get to bed earlier in general, which is always a good thing.
Clear some backlist
One of the reasons why my reading goal is higher this year is because I’d like to get through some of the backlist books that have been on my shelves for years. I have a list of 22 books, some of which will complete challenges for the 2022 Buzzword Reading Challenge. The rest will go into a TBR jar that I’ll draw from each month. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get through 1 or 2 books a month this way and finish the majority of this list by the end of the year.
I’m sure I’ll be collecting more books into my personal library as well, so making some room by reading and clearing out backlist books will set my mind at ease. Knowing that some books have been sitting on my shelves for 7 years makes me feel a little guilty. Crossing some of them off the list will make me feel better about the number of books I’ve continued to accumulate during this time.
Listen to 5 audiobooks
At one point, audiobooks were how I read as much as I did. They kept me company on my way to classes and while I cleaned my room. Since graduating, I’ve listened to them less and less as I had little reason to leave the house. But seeing as I put on podcasts while I shower, I can easily put on an audiobook instead.
There’s a backlist of audiobooks that I’ve been hoarding for a few years now, none of which are on the aforementioned list. I’ve already forgotten the plot to some of them, but others are high on my list because of the subject matter or narrator. Since I listen anywhere between 1.6x to 2x speed (depending on the narrator), I often use audiobooks as a quick way to get reading done when I can’t pick up a physical book or ebook. And honestly, sometimes I miss being told stories instead of reading them for myself.
Create some kind of writing routine
I say this every year, and yet I’ve never really gotten into a routine. Sometimes I think I depend too much on other people and NaNoWriMo to keep me writing regularly. It’s rare that I’ve sat down to work on any of my projects outside of November, which isn’t ideal if I want to make writing my full time career.
I’ve tried telling myself to sit down at the same time every day to write, but that lasted all of three days. A lot of it boils down to discipline and how important something actually is to me. I’ve heard the stories of writers who came home from full days of work and had to draft their words because it was all they could think about or because the story needed to pour out of them. I’ve never felt like that, and it makes me feel a bit like I’m not a real aspiring author if I don’t squeeze in words at the strangest times because I need to.
Not to say that I need to suddenly start word vomiting a story at 3am, but I would like to make it part of my weekly routine that I actually put words on the page. I think it would help me overcome a lot of fear of not being good enough if I actually made time to spend with my stories and work on them regularly.
Finish Project Ceiling Cat Draft 2
The outline isn’t fully done, but when have I ever started a project with a fully written outline? The mess of starting and restarting during NaNoWriMo has left me with some confusing things. I’ve written the opening three times and I think I’ll re-write it again. Drafting those earlier versions gave me a better idea of how I want to make the story work and also showed me that I was going about this the wrong way. Rather than trying to draft the rest of this knowing that it’s not what I want, I’ve been fixing my outline and starting over once again.
What was really hard about going into this second draft was finding the voice of my main character. The first draft was a weird mix of defiant, angry, and fearful. In the NaNoWriMo version of my second draft, she was fearful and reluctant and upset. But none of that feels truly like her. None of it felt quite right. I’m still trying to balance what her feelings will be as the story starts and progresses, mostly because I know I can’t write it well or know what I’m trying to do if I don’t get this part right. And though people say that sometimes you just need to push through, pushing through so far has only left me more confused about where the story should be going and what I need.
All that really means is that I’m kind of starting over and this will be more like Draft 2.1, rather than 2.0. Or maybe 2.3 because I did restart quite a bit once already during NaNoWriMo. It’s somewhere along this mark and hopefully it’ll graduate to Draft 3 by the end of the year.
Post 1 Reel a week
Instagram is a mess and hates anything that’s not a video, so the only way for me to keep getting my stuff seen is to make Reels. It’s literally as simple as that. I’m not doing this because I love making them. I’m not even that good at making them. It takes me an unreasonable amount of time to make a 30 second Reel considering that I graduated with 12 credits in videography and editing. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to get seen by the stupidest algorithm in the world.
It’s honestly not that difficult to make a Reel. I’m making this sound far worse than it is. There are a few drafts waiting to be posted that I just never put up, meaning it’s probably time to post those. I also have a series in mind that I want to film but haven’t taken the time to script and film. Mostly, I’m not happy that I have to create something I’m not good at in order for my photos to be seen.
(At least Instagram will be bringing back the chronological timeline as an option some time during the first quarter of this year)
Hit 1K follows on Instagram
I’m currently hovering around the 700+ mark and I would like to hit 1,000 some time this year. It doesn’t seem outrageous to gain 200+ followers in a year, so I think it’s possible.
Part of that involves upping my photography game and finding the best way to take photos I like as well. I’ve been struggling quite a bit creatively in terms of how my photos look and where I can take pictures, but do like a lot of what I’ve done with my account and feed so far. This goal is mostly out of my control, but it’s still nice to have something to aim for.
Be on top of reviews
I’ve gotten really bad about my review writing over the last few years. Individual reviews were too much during school, so I switched to monthly wrap-ups. Then I missed individual reviews so I started writing them again, but I wanted to catch up on all the books I’d already read. So I have a backlog of 10+ reviews from 2021 that still need to be written and posted.
This year, I’d like to change that and try to keep up as best I can. As it is, I don’t read more than 4 or 5 books in a month unless I’m having a fantastic reading month. Ideally, I would have the review up on my blog within a day or two after finishing a book, but even I know that’s not realistic for me. The main issue is that I have smaller reviews across different places - Goodreads, Storygraph, Bookstagram, and here. Getting snippets up is a difficult thing when I have to be conscious of not spoiling the full thoughts that go into my blog reviews. To make it a bit easier on myself, I’ve created a review tracker that lists the order in which I should be writing small reviews, leading up to posting the full one here.
Only time will tell if this works to keep me on track. I’m hopeful that it will since I consider checkboxes to be a fun thing.
Focus on the blog
Something I’ve had to come to terms with over the past year is that I simply don’t have the energy or creative inspiration to balance three digital platforms at once. I think my insistence of continuing with YouTube stems largely from how idealistic I was when I started in 2015. BookTube was incredibly popular at the time and I thought that it might be one of the best ways to build myself a platform if I made videos too. Over the years, I’ve made over 100 videos, the most popular of which is a flip-through of my reading journal. But the truth is that I’ve always struggle to come up with video content.
The more I’ve thought about it over the last few months, the less realistic it became for me to put up a new video each week. I didn’t have enough ideas for it and a lot of what I turned into videos could have easily been written as blog posts that would have saved me time. It added unnecessary stress and always made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough. There will still be videos going up, but I’m not going to force them. Reading vlogs will happen as I do different challenges, writing vlogs might appear occasionally because it’s easier to document that visually rather than typing about it, and I might throw in a few bullet journal videos when I feel like it. Other than that, I’m going to focus on my blog.
Writing has always come more naturally to me than visual or audio content. It’s one of the reasons I primarily focused on print journalism when I was in college. Creating blog posts is more fun and manageable, and something I’m more likely to keep up with consistently over a longer period of time. Both the blog and YouTube channel started in the same year, but I’ve written almost three times the blog posts as I have made and posted videos.
I think that giving myself the room to focus more on the blog will help me keep up with reviews and put up content more regularly. There’s less worry about trying to plan a video and two blog posts in the same week, while also creating Instagram posts on weekdays. I really want 2022 to be a time to explore what I can do with the blog and continuing growing it into something I’m really proud of.
Something I’ve never done before is a mid-year check in. Mostly because I’ve usually forgotten or given up on my goals by February or March. But I’d like to do that this year. I want to be more intentional and accountable to myself. So on July 1, expect me to post an update about how I’ve been doing, if goals need to be adjusted, and what I can do better in the second half of the year.