A few weeks ago, I sat down with a lovely new notebook I received for my birthday and wrote down my goals for 2024.
Many of them were work-focused, things such as writing for some of my dream publications, earning a certain amount per month, or writing another novel. Others were life-focused, travelling to certain countries, going for a longer hiking trip, running new distances or reading 75 books.
Well, it’s only been a few weeks, but those goals are no longer feasible for me, and no longer what I’m striving towards.
I’m changing my goals for the year, and I’ll probably change them again in a few weeks or months, and maybe another time. That’s okay. That’s not a failure or giving in; that’s recognising where you are, what you need, and where your priorities should lie.
As 2023 was drawing to a close, I was filled with a lot of hope for the future.
It had been a rather crap year, to put it bluntly.
I had struggled heavily with my depression to the extent that I was prescribed antidepressants and spent over six months back in therapy. I let a lot of friendships fizzle out, and I had weeks where I wouldn’t go further than ten minutes from my home.
But it was also a wonderful year in many ways. I left my safe job to become a freelance writer. This was terrifyin, and the first slow months required me to dip heavily into my savings. But the ball started rolling around summer, and now I love every day of it.
I travelled to beautiful countries with my best friends. I swam in the crystal blue waters of Greece, danced at concerts, and visited friends who had moved to new places.
I stopped drinking for a while, and six months passed without me choosing to drink again.
I started to prepare for this next chapter of my life. I questioned what I wanted from the future. I moved out of my apartment to travel full-time for a while.
But then a family member got sick, and suddenly everything was different. I moved back home as planned, only now it wasn’t so temporary; now it wasn’t a mere stepping stone but a place to nest and wait. I was juggling work with caring for that family member and helping out as much as possible. Scary medical terms were being thrown around and I had to watch someone I love in pain.
So much was suddenly out of my control, but I could get groceries, cook every evening, vacuum the house, and do all the little tasks that make up a day.
All of these plans to travel or put my head down to churn out work were suddenly out of reach. Everything I had planned just a month ago, was now unrealistic and not applicable to my life as it is now.
The me of a month ago had every intention of pushing to reach these ambitious goals. But the me of now has different priorities. While my work is still my passion, I’ll put it aside when my family needs me. I’ll spend time drinking coffee with them or cooking for them, even if that means I write less. One day, I’ll travel to all of the places on my list, but right now, I need to be here.
This isn’t a failure or giving in, as goals don’t have to be set in stone. Goals should push us, but they should also be realistic, and they should reflect the path we’re on.
Life is full of so many unexpected things. Wonderful things like finding love, job opportunities, and the other milestones that make up a life. But also sad things like illness, grief, breakups and more. When these less exciting things happen, we can’t ignore them or continue at the pace we were before. Sometimes, we need to stop and reevaluate.
I could push myself to dedicate all of my time to writing, or book the next flight out of here, but I’d regret it. I would regret the time I didn’t spend with the people who need me right now.
Sometimes, choosing to stand still is the most powerful thing we can do.
So, I am adjusting my goals to suit my priorities for now. They’ll include writing, reading, and more, but they’ll be ambitious for where I am now, rather than where I was hoping to be. They’ll include the leniency I need right now, as that’s the best way I can care for myself in this difficult period.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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