The Unexpected Lessons of 2021: How Failing to Reach My Goals Taught Me More About Myself

“While I didn’t accomplish the few things I desired to do at the start of this year, I have “learned” from the not-doing.”

Yesterday, I woke up, and it was January 1st of 2021 and the hellish year of 2020 was finally over. There could be hope once again!

No more hiding in the house from everyone we know and love. Our kids would finish up homeschooling this year and all three would return to the classroom in the fall. The summer would be full of adventure and swimming and fun.

Once the kids went back to school, I was finally going to have the time I needed to sit down and write without being interrupted every five minutes with “Mom, look what I just did” or “Mom, Mom, MOM! Did you hear about what Lil’Pimp did yesterday?” Or was it Lil’Pump? Lil’Penis… maybe? I can’t keep up. In any case, I would have some peace and quiet.

The plan was to read four books a month, and I thought, surely, I would read more. But one book a week sounded reasonable. I would write every day, even if it wasn’t something I would put out anywhere. I would also have more time to focus on myself and keep track of the food I was eating each day. Maybe I could finally lose some of this weight I have been struggling with all of my life.

All of these things were fantastical, lofty, and somewhat exciting goals. For me anyway. They seemed completely reasonable from a hopeful, tired, and desperate mom who just wanted to find herself again. Or at least find a small piece of something that belonged only to her.

This year had other plans.

Why I Haven’t Read Four Books a Month This Year

I love to read. Love entering a world beyond my own and escaping reality. I love finding myself inside characters who are flawed but somehow climb their way out of the muck of their lives.

“My expectations of what life would look like after the kids returned to school were exaggerated at best.”

The kids were still home at the beginning of the year, so I knew I would not find much time to read then. Sure, I could have read at night after they had all gone to bed, but that is my gaming time and my time to socialize with my adult friends from around the world. So, I waited.

School started and I chose my first book. J.D. Robb’s (aka Nora Roberts) Naked in Death. I have started this book multiple times over the years and I would lose interest after the first couple of pages. This time I pushed through and was thoroughly enjoying it. It did, however, take me an entire month to read it. Not because it wasn’t good, but because I still couldn’t manage the time.

My expectations of what life would look like after the kids returned to school were exaggerated at best. I sleep more than I have in a long time. I wake up with my children to get them ready for school and often go back to bed when they leave, sleep for a couple of hours, then go through my list of things to be done for the day. I spend the afternoon in the car line to pick them up at the end of their day.

I have discovered a love for audiobooks though. So I am getting in my “reading” that way now. I enjoy it a lot. I have also taken to listening to stories as I go to sleep. I set a timer on the book and fall asleep to it. Now that I have discovered this new love, I am getting closer to that four-books-a-month goal.

Why I Failed to Write Every Day in 2021

As a writer, I know I should write every day. We all know this. However, knowing and doing are two entirely different things.

“Kind of like trying to shove a cat into a kennel. There is blood, sweat, tears in the flesh, and in the end, the cat wins.”

I have spent the majority of 2021 fixing past work, posting, and building an audience on Medium with said work. This has been great and productive. I have even written a few articles and stories beyond those previous works.

Then, I fizzled out.

I have been starting and stopping for months, which has been frustrating, to say the least. I get started on a work and then lose momentum. The imposter syndrome is real! Especially in my fiction work.

I tend to be a bit of a panster and I wanted to try out Plottr to make sure I wasn’t missing scenes in my work. The software is exceptional and very intuitive. It has, however, caused my brain to come to a complete halt!

I can’t really blame the software. I imagine it is a huge disconnect between how my brain wants to work versus how plotting works. Kind of like trying to shove a cat into a kennel. There is blood, sweat, and tears in the flesh, and in the end, the cat wins.

It doesn’t help that I have picked up some content creation work. It’s draining and takes forever. I don’t love it, but I do love the flexibility and the bit of money it brings into our home. It’s also good practice. I just wish I could love it. Usually, after I am done writing those blog posts, I am done for the day. I can’t and don’t want to write another word.

Why I Stopped Tracking My Food This Year

I don’t want to do it and most of the time it doesn’t do any damn good anyway!

This is the screaming truth without all the excuses of people-pleasing and overwhelming feelings of embarrassment.

“I have decided I don’t agree with its desire for my death…”

My weight is a problem. One I wished I could solve as easily as “normal” people can. I don’t know how often I have done the exact same thing someone else was doing. I would watch them drop and drop and drop. While I continued to lose a few pounds here and there but it was always slow and I always stalled out. I’ve tried everything. Honest.

So, a couple of months ago, I decided to change course.

I have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disorder that attacks my thyroid. It wants me fat and dead. I have decided I don’t agree with its desire for my death and have begun to research ways to help myself as my doctors just want to feed it a pill. The pill is necessary for the thyroid to continue to function. It does nothing else. It doesn’t solve the problem.

My plan now is to focus more on the type of foods I am eating and less on the amount (which honestly wasn’t much, to begin with). Maybe by next year, a healthy gut will finally help me in making my way to a healthier weight.

Final Notes

While I didn’t accomplish the few things I desired to do at the start of this year, I have “learned” from the not-doing.

I have learned to allow myself grace when things don’t go as planned. I have also learned the importance of starting again and the importance of ignoring the perfectionistic voice at the back of my head. Finally, I am learning the value of loving my body into health and making good choices instead of beating it up with starvation.

***Disclaimer*** This is a work in progress and as such is likely to change before reaching the finished product. Thank you for your understanding.

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Originally published on Medium

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