A Diary of My January Goals (and How I Kept Them)

Did January even happen if you didn’t make a resolution, fail to follow through on said resolution, and go so far as to forget about it by the time February launched? Probably not, which is why at the top of the month, instead of producing a list of lofty to-dos with no hard deadlines (see: get better at meditating, be nicer to my mom), I set three manageable intentions (this is what my yoga teacher calls them), all of which maintained a start and end date.

The first was to journal every morning and evening in a notebook that my friend Claire bought for me called The Five-Minute Journal. The second was to make myself at least one meal a day to eat at home (not including breakfast, which I always eat at home) because I order so much damn shit on Caviar, it makes me sick as both a consumer of plastic flatware and a member of the workforce who has better places to spend her hard-earned dollar, dollar bills. The third goal (or intention, whatever) was to record how I felt and/or what happened as a result of embracing the aforementioned two goals — so here I am, executing like the Chief Operations Officer that I will never be. I decided these goals would start on January 1st and end on January 31st.

Now that it is February 1st, I can say with conviction that I finally (!) for once (!) kept my resolutions. And do you know how I feel? Like I fucking own 2018. I’m thinking about continuing to set easy-to-achieve goals for every month to see how long this trend of both self-improvement and ownership over the Gregorian calendar can last. Some of them will only run for the course of a month (I have resolved to keep metal silverware in my desk, but man is it worth spending my hard-earned dollar, dollar bills on black rice bowls from Dimes) while others might turn into habits that stick with me (I really like journaling, for example). But let me not get ahead of myself. Here’s a more elaborate breakdown of what happened in January.

Goal #1

The way The Five-Minute Journal works is you are essentially guided through a daily journaling practice. You are presented with three prompts to respond to when you wake up in the morning: What are you grateful for? What would make today great? What is today’s daily affirmation? The first two questions leave room to reply with three different answers that can obviously run a gamut — they can be as meaningful or simple as you want. The daily affirmation is really up to you. Once you’ve done this and gone on with your day and then let the day end, you are supposed to re-open the journal and complete the day’s practice by answering the two evening prompts: What are three amazing things that happened today? And how could you have made the day better?

My morning answers have run a range from the very superficial (I was grateful, for example, on the day last week that Instagram pulled it together and helped me find a pair of boots), to the kind of obvious (I’m grateful for my mom, for the roof over my head; these responses are givens that are constantly on my mind, and don’t really make me feel like I am truly doing my part to journal), to the slightly more esoteric (on January 16th, I was grateful that I was anxious because I know that I stress when I feel stuck, and the anxiety forces me out of a state of stasis). My daily affirmation has remained the same: I’m a great mom. I’m a great mom. I’m going to launch a new brand in 2018 and I am a great mom.

The night answers were more impactful. They forced me to reflect on the day I had just endured and particularly on the days that felt slightly more challenging. It was relieving to train myself to think about the great things that happened. On most days, surprisingly, the great things were initially metabolized as shitty things. But the real value of journaling for me was less about the guided writing so much as it has been the time-capsule that I am building by keeping this journal. I’ve taken it upon myself, for example, to include a short note at the top of each page expressing a random detail to encapsulate that day. Some of these notes have been as benign as “Brother’s birthday,” while others have been more involved: “I am super fucking irritable today and can barely look Abie in the face.” These will, no doubt, serve as wild reminders of the vicissitudes of a last trimester of pregnancy in a capacity that is structured, short-form and therefore easy to revisit.

Goal #2

On my food preparation bender, I have this to say: while some women nest, I think I eat. I have become the most curiously adventurous eater, which is probably not a great thing while you are pregnant but I’m also being dramatic  when I say “adventurous” (I mean that I’m eating persimmons more often, and swapping out honey crisp apples for Asian pears). I also made the best three-bean chili known to mankind the other night using nothing but some canned diced tomatoes, spices, and pinto, cannellini and black beans. And avocado! There was avocado too.

Collages by Edith Young.

I am lucky because I live two blocks from my office, which makes it easy to go home and make lunch if I want to, but for the most part, I’ve been opting out of dinner plans in the name of domesticity. At the end of the work day, I executed a number of dishes I never thought myself capable of creating: zucchini noodles with tomato sauce; mushrooms, carrots and peas (so easy); mung bean stew (requires a slow cooker); the aforementioned chili, tuna fish salads in oil, mayo or anything bad for you (except, you know, the actual tuna); and, of course, sweet potatoes in all their permutations. Once I made chicken Livornese (so basically drenched in tomatoes with black olives and capers and garlic, etc.) and got really dramatic when Abie told me he’d be home at 6:30, then didn’t show up until 8. I yelled about cold chicken, and his abandoning an 8-month pregnant wife, then he apologized, we ate the cold chicken and that was that.

Let me tell you, though, it is a thankless job to consistently care for someone else. I say this now like I know what I’m talking about. What’s going to happen when there are kids? Sorry. I’m digressing.

Goal #3

See above. Here’s the bottom line:

Set short term goals for yourself! They’re easy to manage and achieve, and a creative way to make winter (I do believe this is the first time February has started without my wanting to crawl out of my own skin) feel less insufferable.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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