2021: Intention(s)

Close up of a manual typewriter. The paper reads "2021: intention". Photo by Reghan Skerry.

I’ve had a hard time figuring out my goals for this year, let alone how to talk about them. 

I’ve been tempted to just write last year off entirely, to look at the admittedly ambitious targets I set a year ago, the things I still want to accomplish, and start fresh. Pretend that—as far as my personal and professional goals go—2020 just never happened. Go back to zero and start again.

But that’s not going to work, is it? So much has changed this past year, and even though I’m feeling weirdly optimistic about 2021 (even through these first chaotic weeks), I have changed too much. If I try to follow the same path to my goals that I had mapped out a year ago, I’m going to get lost. 

(And that’s not even thinking about how some of those goals aren’t possible at all right now. I was going to take boxing lessons last year. The gym has reopened, but that class isn’t available because you can’t punch someone while maintaining a safe six-foot distance.)

But I do feel like, after everything that slowed me down last year, I’m ready to get back to work. I’ve spent the last month and a half sorting out how my long-term plans have shifted, how my short-term plans need to shift to accommodate them (and the world), and how I can maintain balance and momentum even though things are going to be uncertain for a while yet. 

I don’t usually go into too much detail on my concrete goals here, but in 2021, they all fall under one umbrella: I want to regain the ground I lost in 2020, and start moving forward again. I want to finish Birthday Girl (completely, not just the current draft), and I’ve got some big photography plans that I’m finally going to stop procrastinating on. And I want to work on the craft side of things, just like I wanted to do (but only sort of managed) in 2020. There are more specifics, of course, and I’ll talk about those things when they come up, but that one goal pretty much covers it.

And that one big goal—and everything else—falls under my watchword for 2021: intention.

I spent much of this past year focussed on the day-to-day, on just getting through the chaos without burning out. And that’s fine (there was a lot of chaos to get through!) (there still is!), but being in a constant state of reaction like that is exhausting and boring and I hate it. 

It shattered all of my old routines. It forced me to think about how I spend my time and the things I surround myself with, and if (this is a pretty big if) anything good came out of the past year, it’s that.

And so that’s my ultimate goal for 2021: as I move forward, I’m going to consider whether the things I bring into my life—the habits, the media I consume, the things I buy—are worth it. If they don’t move me toward the life I want, I can do without. And if they do move me in the right direction, I’m not going to find an excuse to avoid them.

To be clear, I’m not just talking about my big dramatic career goals here. A perfect espresso in the afternoon, healthy houseplants, homemade bread and cookies, cute vintage dresses… that’s all part of the life I want. Scrolling mindlessly through social media, watching mediocre movies… not so much. (And I’m not going full cottagecore, either. My ideal life is very much city-based.)

I’m ready to rebuild. Better than it was before.