You hardly need me to announce that 2020 hasn’t turned out the way anyone expected. But for the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to, because today I’m looking at my goals and how lockdown has impacted them.
It’s okay, I won’t spend the whole time feeling sorry for myself. Something I’ve learned is to only worry about things I have control over (or try to only worry about things I have control over. It’s a work in progress). I can’t control the fact we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but I can stay home as much as possible to keep myself and others safe. I can’t control the fact my goals may not be achievable this year, but I can adjust them or look at them from a different perspective.
Reflecting on my goals and how they’ll change
This is what I had planned for the year, taken directly from my Goals for 2020 blog post.
Start saving for a flat deposit
I’m a massive daydreamer, so in my head my future flat is spacious and decorated in the cosy, minimal style I love, with plenty of books and plants. But then I had a meeting with a financial advisor in February to get clued up about house hunting, mortgages and all the associated costs. I knew from my parents’ experience of moving house in 2017 that there’s more to pay for than the house itself, what with surveyors and solicitors’ fees etc. What I was taken aback by was how little lenders would be prepared to put towards my mortgage.
I’m a single woman who intends to live alone, so I knew the figure wouldn’t be as high as I hoped. But it was also a lot lower than I expected. Saving for a deposit is going to take longer than anticipated, but I’ve tightened my budget and am managing to save quite a bit at the moment—not catching the train or going to the pub has had an upside, although it should go without saying that I’d rather we were all safe and well. I might not become a homeowner this year, but at least the possibility will get closer.
Arrange a trip to New Zealand
Well, this definitely isn’t happening now. I think it’s going to take me a while to feel comfortable taking a short train journey, never mind flying across the world.
I would still love to explore New Zealand one day—when it’s safe to travel again (and UK citizens are allowed to visit other countries. I wouldn’t be surprised if we weren’t able to for a while, given our government’s vague approach to lockdown rules). However, travel is going on the backburner for a bit. I’ll appreciate it all the more when I can finally do it.
Knuckle down and work on my own writing
I’ve actually been doing this! (I sound surprised because I make this promise every year and it rarely happens.) I’ve moved on from non-fiction—writing about real life is not fun at the moment—to revisiting some old fiction I started when I was a teenager. The original pieces are melodramatic and read like they were inspired by teen dramas from the US, probably because they were. But there’s enough material to rework it into something more subtle, with a different plot. It’ll barely be recognisable by the time I’m done, but I needed a springboard and there it was.
Read 52 books
I normally read on the train or just before I go to sleep. In the three weeks I was furloughed, I was able to read in bed when I woke up, or while sitting in a patch of sun in the middle of the afternoon, and it was bliss. I’m back at work now, but still making reading a priority.
At the time of writing, I’ve read 23 books, so I’m nearly at the halfway point. Highlights include Queenie by Candace Carty-Williams, Catch & Kill by Ronan Farrow, Normal People by Sally Rooney, and My Life On The Road by Gloria Steinem.
Given everything that’s happening with the Black Lives Matter movement, I’m turning my attention to books about racism, white privilege, and how to be anti-racist. I’ve learnt a lot in the last couple of weeks, but there’s so much more I need to know and put into action. I’ve started Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, which has already done more to teach me about Britain’s history of racism than five years of secondary education ever did, and I’ve also bought White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Di Angelo, Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla Saad, and How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. White people need to do better and that starts with educating ourselves in order to find out how.
Have the ultimate digital clear-out
I started this is January and it fizzled out… until my first week of being furloughed, when I blitzed through it all. So satisfying. I daresay it’s something I’ll do again towards the end of the year.
Avoid buying new clothes
Aah. This one hasn’t really worked out; I lasted until March, when I had to buy some shorts for a kayaking adventure we were planning for our work trip to Portugal (which was eventually cancelled, the right decision given they closed their borders on the day we were supposed to fly back).
While I haven’t gone on a spree, I’ve been dressing a little differently since we went into lockdown—I’m not sure wearing jeans will ever feel right again. I’ve also put on a little weight from all the stress-eating. So I’ve invested in two new pairs of trousers, one from Thought and one from Sisterhood, which are both incredibly comfortable, but smart enough to be worn when it’s safe to go out again.
Back in January I attended a workshop called Kickstart 2020, run by life coach Sophie Cliff. I’ve read her blog for a long time—it’s always been like sitting down for a chat with a friend, that friend who’s gentle and supportive, but also no-nonsense. So when Kickstart 2020 was announced, I was eager to head up to London and start my year off in a positive, productive way.
My word of the year
This is the first time I’ve set a word for the year. I chose challenge, because I don’t want to be stagnant. I have a tendency to stay in my comfort zone unless I’m pushed. The challenges I’ve faced aren’t the kind I imagined (living through a global pandemic, anyone?), but they sure fit the theme.
The vision board
I was so ready to go into that workshop and get all fired up. Then we made our vision boards by choosing images we were especially drawn to from magazines (I will never forget the look on a man’s face when he wandered down into the basement and found us all cutting and sticking). To my surprise, mine was telling me to slow down: I’d chosen calm colours, lots of plants and bodies of water, dogs on walks in the woods, books, homemade treats, blue skies and plenty of sunshine.
I definitely have a habit of feeling like I’ve wasted a day if I haven’t done something productive. But that came back to bite me on the arse, because I’ve found working in lockdown really tough, and I’ve been hard on myself for not getting more done. By the time it was announced that someone on my team at work needed to go on furlough, I was ready for some time away from the laptop. Those three weeks worked wonders for my motivation, mental health and energy levels. It turns out slowing down is the answer sometimes.
How has lockdown changed how you’re approaching your goals? Have you got any book recommendations? Let me know in the comments.
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Beth, 26, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin. Always thinking about my next meal.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!