Justin Tadlock

2019 goals

A dark forest illuminated by many lights.

It’s hard to believe that it’s the start of a new year. That’s what we say every year, right?

A new year always gives you a fresh slate on life, to a degree. There’s new possibilities. There’s hope for something greater than the year before. It’s an exciting time where you have a renewed sense of wonder about the world.

Last year, I decided on one major, concrete goal. I set it a bit high for what I was ready to tackle. But, I gave it a shot anyway. While I didn’t hit my target, the thing I wanted to really do underneath it all—become a more active reader—is something I accomplished. Concrete, definable, measurable goals are good things. Even if we don’t hit the mark, the attempt counts for something.

The trend for 2019 is to discard things that I don’t need and take the time to appreciate the things that bring me joy. Without further ado, here are my goals for the year.

Writing

After completing NaNoWriMo last year, I want to start fresh on a new novel. This time around, I will outline the plot and not get lost trying to figure out what it is I want to say. I have the beginnings of a sci-fi story jotted down at the moment. I’m not sure if that’s what I’ll pursue yet.

I also plan to create chunks of time in my schedule for working on the novel. Instead of daily writing, which can be a creativity killer for me working in a creative field, I’ll probably set aside time chunks 2 or 3 days each week. Most likely, some of this will happen on the weekend when I’m doing less “real” work.

Finding a creative balance between being a designer/developer and a writer is something I struggled with last year. It felt like it was all or nothing with one side always tugging at me more than the other.

As for NaNoWriMo 2019, I’m not sure yet. November is a long time from now. I’m tentatively marking it on my calendar with a note that whether I participate will depend on where I’m at with my planned novel for the year. I wouldn’t want to start a new project if I’m neck deep in one I’m already doing. I’d love to participate simply for the feeling of accomplishment that you get from completing the challenge.

Reading

I set a smaller goal of 40 books to read this year, which I’m tracking via my Goodreads account. I’ll be starting the new year fresh because I finished a book last night. So, I have a completely blank slate.

Last year, I shot for 100 books, which was too much. Setting the goal at 40 this year might seem low. However, I want a number I feel like I’ll definitely hit. Not to mention, I’ve recently started reading more Brandon Sanderson. If that trend continues into 2019 (I suspect it will), his epic fantasies are probably going to slow my completion rate down a bit. I want to enjoy reading and allow it to be a part of my daily life rather than feel like a chore. But, I also want to feel like I’m hitting a goal.

The primary goal is to simply continue finding time to read more and watch TV less, which brings me to my next goal.

Watch less TV

I love a good TV series. I have a huge collection of DVDs, a Netflix account, a YouTube Premium account, and an outdoor antenna. I have more available to me than I’d ever care to watch.

This year, I’m cancelling both my Netflix and YouTube Premium accounts. I’m not saying that I’ll keep them cancelled for the entire year. For example, I really want to watch season 2 of Kobra Kai when it returns. There’s a few Netflix series I’ll want to catch too. But, it’s time to take a break from both. They are getting cancelled this week as my monthly subscription runs out.

More than simply watching less TV, I want to only watch things that I find joy in. I need to learn to give up shows that I don’t care for and not continue watching because I want to feel some sense of completion. I have a bad habit of wanting to complete everything I start. Well, that’s sometimes a good habit to have. However, it’s bad when you’re not getting anything from it.

With that in mind, I’m going to revisit my Winter Network TV Schedule and cross out a show or two.

Less football

In 2018, this sort of became a late-year goal for me. Living in a small, rural town in Alabama, all anyone wants to talk about is [American] football. But, at this point in my life, it’s not something I care that much about. One of the things I done this year was simply not watch much football unless my alma mater (Auburn University) was playing over the air.

If you live outside the U.S. South, this might not seem like such a big deal. But, football is a way of life around here. Social functions are built around it. Business deals are made based on who you pull for. Children are branded from birth as a fan of a given team. It’s not something you can easily escape.

Don’t get me wrong; I love watching a game here and there. I was even an all-state player in high school and almost pursued the sport in college. But, the culture and huge time suck it takes up on a Saturday is not something I find much joy in.

For me, this is more about shedding an old part of myself that is still holding me back from being the person that I should be. The Justin from 10 or 15 years ago loved the game. The Justin today has other things that fulfill his life. There’s no good reason to hold onto that old part of who I was any more.

Tidying

I brought in the new year by reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last night. A huge part of what I want to accomplish this year is to discard things that do not bring me joy. This book served as a way to help motivate me to do this and get the new year started right.

I hate clutter. I think most people do. But, I seem to get clutter anyway. In six months, I would like to be free of everything in my home that I don’t need or that I find no value in.

I’m putting together a list of my concrete plans to accomplish this, some based off this book. I’m fairly certain that you, dear reader, probably won’t find interest in that list.

Bullet journaling

Along with tidying, I’m giving bullet journaling a try. It’s next to impossible to find the perfect calendar or planner that fits what I need it to do. I can’t remember how many I’ve trashed over the years after using them for a while. Creating a bullet journal seems like it may fit the bill.

A bullet journal is a highly-customizable system that caters to the individual. You don’t necessarily need any sort of special notebook or planner to handle it. You can fill it out however you want and not follow any strict rules. It’s a system rather than a product.

Gardening

I’m cutting back this year. Way back. This is easier said than done for folks who get the gardening bug every Spring.

I tried to take on too much last year. I had a full garden that ate up way too much of my time. This year, I’m going to focus on things that continually produce great here and involve less day-to-day work.

Potatoes and onions will be the primary crops I focus on. They’re a lot of work when planting. Potatoes are a lot of work harvesting too. However, the work in between isn’t too bad. And, these two crops are something that we eat on a near-daily basis.

I’ll likely do a few other crops but not at a large scale. A few tomato and pepper plants can live next to the porch. I may do a row or two of carrots. But, I don’t have any plans for any calorie crops outside of potatoes. We get peas from local farms and dry beans are cheap to buy.

Finances

The goal here is to not buy useless shit. Or, don’t buy stuff when I already have it.

Seriously, I have like 8 different air fresheners when I only need one or two. I gave away unused candles as Christmas gifts. I don’t know why I buy things like this when I already have what I need on hand. It’s a habit I plan to break.

As part of my tidying goal, I also don’t plan to purchase any physical goods outside of necessities while I’m in the “discarding” phase of my journey. I’m sure I’ll make an exception for a movie or two. The Amazon gift card my parents got me for Christmas should help with that because it means I can simply purchase e-books for entertainment, which also fuels my reading goal.