Our 2021 Hopes, Dreams, and Goals

Last year, we set a goal to hike 20 different trails in 20 Tennessee parks. We purposely picked what seemed like an easy goal so that we could simply relax and enjoy our life a little more. Oh, the innocence of New Year’s Resolutions in January 2020! Little did we know….

We ended up hiking 14 different trails (in 3 states) mostly at the end of last year. While we’re proud of this achievement, it was the pursuit of this “easy” goal that was the real game changer. It allowed us to reconnect with our adventurous selves and we came face to face with the truth – that despite having a good life, we weren’t living our best life.

It didn’t take 2020 to make us realize we weren’t living the life we’d imagined and we definitely weren’t going confidently in the direction of our dreams, but it did take 2020 to wake us up to the fact that we had not thought about our own hopes and dreams in a really long time. For several years now, we have thought only of the people in our lives who need us and we haven’t thought much at all about what we need ourselves. 

When we sat down to talk about our hopes and dreams, we hit another wall. Not having allowed ourselves to really dream big for so long had impaired our ability to do so. So, we struggled a lot and we came up with all manner of things that we thought might jump start our journey to a better life. In fact, in December, we had all but decided that we were going to save money like mad and buy a camper van come summer. We even had one picked out and had mapped a road trip from California (where the van was located) back to Tennessee, with all sorts of great stops along the way. But we shelved that idea (at least for now).

The truth is, we don’t need some thing to jump start us. No van, no RV, no tiny house, no new apartment, no new job, no new notebook or fancy calendar to write all our goals and aspirations in, is going to change our lives. If want something different, we have to do that ourselves. I know that sounds so simple but you would not believe the amount of work that went into our arrival at that conclusion.

If we were to create a vision board for this life that we imagine for ourselves, it would be full of extraordinarily ordinary things. Trees. Flowers. Food. Books. Waterfalls. Picnics. Walks. Hugs. Raindrops. Coffee. Sand. Seas. Rocks. Creeks. Mountains. Snow. I could go on and on. We want to experience all the fine and simple things that this life has to offer. That part has never changed, but we want to do it with a frequency that has been missing from our lives for the past few years. We don’t want to catch these moments as they pass, we want to create them and savor them. We don’t want to make excuses (and believe me, we have become excellent excuse makers!). And we don’t want to work as hard as we did in 2020 to support those parts of our life that don’t necessarily make us happy.

So, to put that in tangible goals, here’s what we’re planning this year:

  • Enjoy every free activity we can find (provided it’s interesting, of course) and take as many cheap trips as possible (even if we have to sleep in the car).
  • Put every extra dollar we find in our current budget toward new adventures. Remember, the plan here is not to work more.
  • Stop buying stuff from Amazon. In fact, stop buying new stuff period. We may have gotten a touch of stuff-itis when we moved into our new apartment and “needing” new things became one of those excuses we mentioned being so good at making.
  • Learn something new and/or do something we’ve never done before. Right now, we’re leaning toward taking an online Spanish class and/or joining our local conservation group, but the options really are limitless.
  • Eat well and walk (or hike) as often as the weather will allow. Health and wellness are of the utmost importance to both of us (though I’m a habitual slacker in the area of exercise). We can’t be out having fun if we’re at home on the couch feeling sick. So along that same line, we will…
  • Continue learning new techniques to manage or avoid stress. This is especially important for me because “being stressed” zaps me of my motivation to do things and I use it as an excuse to change or postpone adventures we may have planned.

If this sounds over simplistic or “fluffy”, there’s a reason for that. 2020 was a rough year that left parts of our life in a real mess. We need time to reconnect, regroup, and remember what we really want out of life and what we want our future to hold; but more importantly we need to be well (physically, emotionally, and financially) in order to figure out a better plan to get to us there.

So here’s to a year of figuring it all out…one day, one hike, one book, one sunset, one picnic, one family gathering, one camping trip beneath the stars….one amazing moment at a time.