December 31, 2013

No Goals for New Year’s Eve

It’s December 31, with only a few hours left left in 2013… and that means it’s time for an end of year wrap-up / new goal setting post, right? (At least according to the rest of the blogs I follow in Feedly.)

Well, I know that my blog is supposed to be about goal setting, but I’m going to throw y’all for a bit of a loop this year. I usually embrace the chance to devise a whole slew of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound goals). To some people, New Year’s is about the festivities. To me, I honestly hate New Year’s parties; the best part about December 31st to me is the reminder to rethink my goals and pursue them with a renewed focus. But this year, at this time, it doesn’t really make sense for me to make new goals. Rebecca from the Uncaged Life sent out a great email this morning that reminded me to think about goal setting from a results-oriented perspective. At the end of 2014, where do I want to be? It turns out that this year for me, that answer is much more literal than metaphorical.

I hadn’t formally “announced” it here on the blog yet, but the last month has been a whirlwind of activity as I prepare to move… from the bright lights of New York City to the snowy mountains of Colorado. Ever since I first went to Wyoming to do the Run with the Horses Marathon, I fell in love with the Rockies, and every time I’ve headed west since then has felt like I was going home. I just get this peaceful feeling when I’m in the mountains (which is kind of surprising given how much I hated being dragged up to the Adirondacks by my parents when I was a kid), and when I’m there, it feels like everything is going to be okay. So for the last few years, I’ve been saying that “someday” I would move to Colorado… but “someday” kept getting pushed back farther and farther until it never happened.

Now, some major changes at work suddenly made it the right time to go – and I seized the opportunity and set a date. New year, new home! The difference in the two housing markets also means I’ll finally be able to afford my own place instead of having a roommate – which feels like a welcome and age-appropriate change. But living alone is also going to be a huge adjustment, especially since I’m planning to move to the Denver suburbs rather than being in Denver proper. What will I do without my best friend in the apartment building next door?

Which brings me to the hardest part about this move. It’s not the logistics that go into it (though those are plenty challenging), but the emotional side of it. I’ve lived in New York City for six years (in the same apartment building, even!), and I honestly tear up sometimes when I think about leaving. I won’t miss the tourist attractions (and I really won’t miss the tourists crowding the streets), but I will miss my doormen, the waitstaff at my favorite restaurants, my fitness instructors, and most importantly, all the wonderful friends I’ve made here.

I’ve enjoyed my time in New York, but I’ve known ever since I first moved here that it wasn’t the city for me, and that I’d eventually be moving elsewhere. What I didn’t expect was that the people in a city would become almost more important to me than the city itself. I have two very good friends in Denver, but I also have many best friends in New York City and in Dallas, and I am constantly questioning whether I am making the right decision to move to the city I love most rather than move to the people I love most. However, as my wise friend Jocelyn pointed out over lunch yesterday, friends are always going to move for different reasons, and even if I stayed in NYC or moved to Dallas, there’s no guarantee that those friends would also stay there too.

So for 2014, I’m going to take an approach to goal setting that I picked up from my friend Amanda, that I think would be far more suited to where I am right now with this big move happening. The idea is to pick one word that defines your year, rather than setting a specific goal, and then carry that word with you throughout the year as you achieve different, shorter goals. A year can be a very long time, and while I really enjoyed setting different goals each month (and may continue that this year as well, though probably not for January), I love the idea of having an overarching theme for any goals I set – a reminder of what the big picture should be. And here’s my big picture:

Word of the Year: Settle
Original photo credit: Moyan Brenn

This year, my word is settle. That word may have a negative connotation to some, but for me, it’s what I most hope to achieve out of 2014. I want to settle into my new home in Denver – to find my way around, to make friends, and to rebuild the familiarity and sense of “home” that is making it so hard to tear myself away from New York. (First step: actually find a home. Haven’t “settled” on that yet.) Professionally, I want to settle into a new role that I’ve taken on at work, and of course, to get to know the people in my new home office of Denver. And finally (and more broadly), I want to settle into the life I’ve always said I would live “someday” – and start making it happen now instead of at some distant point in the future.

I love to travel, and can’t see ever giving that up completely, but I also want to settle into some more stable routines, rather than always flitting here and there. (Don’t worry though, Ash, my trips to Paris in January and Rome in February are still on!) Running long distance is something else that I will never give up, but I want to figure out how to make it more sustainable so that I can enjoy doing that without regretting any lost time with family and friends. (Hopefully being close to the outdoorsy city of Boulder will help on that front.)

Perhaps it seems like I’m setting the bar too low by not setting a SMART  goal and instead going after this more nebulous idea of settling. But just as sports teams have to sometimes take rebuilding years so they can come back stronger than ever, I think it’s time that I took some time to settle in and go after the life I want, right now, rather than setting goals that aren’t necessarily related to my big picture vision.

I’ll close with the quote I posted one year ago on New Year’s Eve, which I still think fits perfectly and is exactly how I feel right now.

"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right." -Oprah Winfrey
Photo credit: Moyan Brenn

See you in 2014!


14 thoughts on “No Goals for New Year’s Eve”

  1. First time commenter, long time reader…but welcome to Colorado! I just moved to Denver from Dallas about 6 months ago and we like it so far. It’s a small city but has a ton of great things that big cities offer (like all 4 major pro sports and tons of great restaurants!). Let me know if you’re interested in meeting up when you get here.

    1. That’s so nice of you, Stacey! Glad to hear you made the transition from Dallas so well 🙂 I’ll definitely drop you a line once I move!

  2. Congratulations on your decision to move Laura! I’m sure it’s really tough to leave your friends & the life that you’ve built in NYC but it sounds like this is a smart and amazing move for you. I’m excited for you and it makes me want to pack my bags and move out there too. 🙂 Best of luck with the move and I hope that you find yourself settling nice and cozy in your new home. For some reason, I don’t see you having trouble making new friends once your out there & I have a feeling the best friends you’ve made will LOVE to visit. Cheers!

    1. Thanks, Danny! I’m curious to see if I end up agreeing with his assertion that “American changes fastest west of the 100th meridian.” It feels like NYC is pretty fast-moving, but perhaps it’s a different kind of change than I’m used to…

  3. I approve of this plan! I just bought a house in Denver and can recommend any realtors/neighborhoods/whatever you need. Just hit me up and I am happy to help 🙂

  4. Congrats on the move!!! I have never been to Colorado, but have always wanted to visit. I hear so many good things about it. 🙂 I like the idea of settling. It’s not like you’re underachieving for anything, it’s more like setting roots, get an anchor somewhere and be able to flourish in the life you create for yourself. Wishing you all the luck out there!

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