Setting Goals

The family is finally over covid and since it is literally 5 degrees outside and I don’t feel like doing much of anything, it’s a good time to think about what I’ve accomplished this last year and what else there is to do. 

Anyone who taught  in 2020 and 2021 will likely tell you it was the hardest years of their career. I swear, I have suffered temporary memory loss. I look back at some of the pictures I had to take of my classroom for “contact tracing” purposes and I have no memory of what the lesson was or what time of year it happened. 

Thankfully, the latest surge seems to be subsiding, and I know I am really looking forward to getting back to something close to normal. I can deal with masks, but the rest of it – the 6 feet apart, hybrid learning, wearing clean suits and respirators for lunch duty, etc – I can’t wait for it to all be an absurd photo in the history books. In terms of career goals, the only thing I really want to do is just make it through the school year and attend a graduation ceremony where I can actually see my students’ faces as they accept their diplomas. 

Two weeks ago was supposed to be a highlight – a time for me to enjoy a huge accomplishment that I had worked towards for the past three years – my MFA graduation. As fate would have it, the event turned into yet another tragedy of covid. When planning the event over the summer, my cohort and I had hoped we would be able to celebrate the graduation in person – but because of Delta, everything shifted back to zoom. The absurdness continued for me personally when my husband tested positive for Covid literally the hour of my graduation ceremony. If you go back and look at the video of the event, you’ll see tears in my eyes for obvious reasons. 

Now that my MFA is complete (in true pandemic fashion), it’s time for me to set goals in my writing practice. After finishing the long overdue thank you notes to my mentors, I am going to get serious about submissions. Maybe I can’t control what pieces get accepted for publication, but I can control what I send out. The truth is, I don’t know what a good goal is – one submission/week? A submission every other day? I’d love to know what a good habit is for other writers. 

Speaking of good habits, I need a more consistent writing routine. I tried the whole 5 a.m. writing thing, but it’s not enough time to get something on the page and then get ready for work. Evenings are difficult because of kids and their needs. Plus, English teacher’s grading lives just generally stink. I suppose my goal is to carve out a specific time to write and make it sacred. That alone will help me finish my manuscript, I hope! 

Finally, I want to spend more time doing things that really make me happy – things like taking more walks, working on my garden, and spending time with my kids. Next year, two of my kiddos will be in college and the house will be that much more quiet. I want to spend more time chatting around the dinner table, going on little road trips, and just connecting with fam. 

If this last year has taught me anything, it’s that life throws curveballs and sometimes they hit you right in the fleshy part of your gut and leave huge bruises. Events are nice and all and when (and if) they happen, it’s important to show up and celebrate in the moment. But what’s more important is how you prepare for those events. My MFA degree didn’t get awarded because I showed my face on a computer screen one night in the middle of a global pandemic. I earned that degree (with the help of amazing teachers) through hard work and good habits. While I will continue to instill that value in my students and children, I also have to remind myself that joy has to be the heart of my ventures. Life is too short and unpredictable to waste time on frustrating pursuits.

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