That Isn’t on My 30th Year Goal List

It’s been a while since I checked in on my 30th Year Goals.  Ever since the summer residency my reading and writing efforts have been unimpressive.  Besides a draft of an essay that probably won’t ever see the light of day because it’s so bad, I’ve written one poem and a short lyric essay of about 750 words. I’ve started about half a dozen books, some from my “read ten books list” and then others that have been recommended, but lately all I want to do after the kids go to sleep is hang out on the couch with my husband and watch movies or listen to him play the guitar and sing along.

Part of this is because I’ve been exercising in the mornings before work, and the wake-up call is early.  By the time the day is over, I’m just plain done with anything that requires brain activity.  I’m rather sure if I picked up a book I’d fall asleep within the first five pages.  Exercising at the gym wasn’t on my 30th year list.

I expected weekday writing and reading to drop off with the kids in soccer and implementing date night again, but I had hoped that the weekend reading and writing would ramp up, since my weekend evenings are now husband-free.  Instead, I’ve watched a lot of romantic comedies. That wasn’t on my 30th year list either.

I think the next time something comes up (like laundry or dishes), I’m going to let my husband/boss/friends/church/family know that I’m exempt because it wasn’t on my 30th year list. Sorry! 🙂 Of course, neither was sleeping, so maybe my body will pay attention if I tell it to stop spending 1/3 of every 24 hours doing nothing.

The good news is that I’m not in a binding contract with my 30th year list of goals.  They are goals, not vows, after all.  I also wrote the list in January, and it’s amazing how much changes in the course of ten months.  I didn’t know that Pruning Burning Bushes would be published this year or that I would be trying to schedule readings from it this fall.  If I had known that, I might have added something about my book to the goal list.  I also didn’t know that we would become such foodies, losing weight and feeling better in 2012.  Can I retroactively add goals to the goal list so that I can check them off?  Absolutely! 

In general I feel good about the status of my goal list for 2012.  We’re making progress in most areas, and the areas I’m not are at least on my radar or in “continuous improvement.”  We have a ways to go in the credit card debt area but we have a plan, at least.  Bible study and daily quiet time looks more like frantic random prayers on the treadmill, spurts of conversation with the Holy Spirit in times of stress and thanksgiving, and the occasional deep breath appreciation of nature/family/seasons/life. 

The marathon or half-marathon idea is eliminated from the list; I laugh just reading it.  Sometimes you have to approach your goals realistically within the framework of real life in order to find balance.  I don’t aspire to be a marathoner, and my guess is that it is hard to be a marathoner plus anything else.

I am glad that I didn’t say “write 12 good poems” or “write 6 publishable essays.”  I’ve surpassed 12 poems, though who knows if any of them are any good.  I’m close to six essays, maybe seven if I count the really bad one that won’t ever see the light of day, and I’m way beyond that if I include the short essays and articles I’ve written for a few different blogs this fall.  This makes me feel better about myself but it also makes me wonder if I shouldn’t have had a higher goal in mind.  Meh. I think instead of raising the bar in quantity, I can spend the rest of 2012 working on quality.

This has been a great exercise this year. It’s something I’ve kept in the back of my mind, and having a place I can refer back to in order to see how I’m doing has been really handy.  It’s helped me to keep perspective when I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing much besides living, which should be enough, anyway.  I think that contentment and ambition don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  It’s possible to strive toward goals and be content, and whether ambitions succeed or fail should not shatter that contentment, especially when there’s so much around us to be grateful for.

Things Left on the 30th Year List:

  • cut our credit card debt in half (unrealistic at this point in the year, but pushing forward anyway)
  • blog once a week (average isn’t too far off)
  • incorporate Bible reading and prayer into daily life more
  • read ten books (eight down? I think?)

Not too shabby.  Maybe I can take the rest of 2012 off once I finish my reading list. 

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

One thought on “That Isn’t on My 30th Year Goal List

  1. Those are some great goals! Whether or not you hit them all, you are moving forward. And you are right, doing a marathon + anything else is pretty tough. I'm training for one in January and wondered what in the world I was thinking. I just ordered your book. Congrats! I can't wait to read it!


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