So, Scalzi, What Are Your 2021 Goals?

Honestly? They’re my 2020 goals, but this time, I will totally follow through, I swear.

Or not! Look, I don’t feel bad about falling down on my 2020 goals, because, well, 2020 — one of my goals was to see more friends, for example, and the pandemic made that very difficult to do. It won’t be one of the immediate things I get to do in 2021, either, although I feel optimistic about the second half of the year, and enough people getting vaccinated (and the culture of country changing a bit because the president won’t be a pissy mask-avoider) that actually seeing people might be a thing we start to get to do again. But I’m not going to rush it. I’ve been patient for nine and a half months, I can be patient a while longer. My friends are worth the wait.

The rest of the goals we’ll take as they come. I will say that of the goals I outlined a year ago, the one I made the most progress on, and the one I want to keep progressing on, was playing more music. I did! I even managed to co-write a song, and it’s a song which I think is pretty good. I need to finish this novel I’ve been wrestling with before I do much of anything else, but after that I think I’d like to try to write (or co-write) some more songs.

The thing I think I failed the hardest on — which is no surprise either to me or anyone else, I think — is maintaining structure. Again, I’m not going to beat myself up too much for that one, since 2020 was the focus puller to end all focus pullers, and I’m not the only one who had this problem this year. But not beating myself up about it is not the same as being happy about it. I’m not. The older I get the more I realize that if I want to get things done, I really have to build a schedule and stick to it. Schedules in themselves don’t make me happy — if I were inherently a schedule-oriented person I wouldn’t have this perennial problem — but the results of scheduling (more work done, more time to actually do things) make me happy indeed. So: back at it for 2021.

The one thing I think I’ll add to the goal list for 2021 is prioritize my own contentment, and conversely, to minimize the things that leave me discontented. I like to think this is something I do more or less automatically (I do not live a hugely discontented life in general), but again, 2020 reminds us all that it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of suck. To work on my own contentment I don’t think I will need to hide from the world; I think I might need to better understand and prioritize how to the world affects my daily life and business. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to nail this one down in 2021, but one does have to start somewhere.

So, yes: Goals for 2021, same as for 2020, plus one extra, and hopefully with an at least slightly less explode-y world. I feel optimistic. Let’s see if it’s warranted.

— JS

14 Comments on “So, Scalzi, What Are Your 2021 Goals?”

  1. Our new corporate owners at work are requiring us to state our goals for the coming year.

    I put down mine as “Surviving.”

    My boss thought I was kidding.

  2. I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one who tripped up when it comes to maintaining structure! I did the craziest thing I could possibly do this year–I quit my day job to focus on my editing business. Do you have ANY idea how nervewracking it was to quit my job and throw caution to the wind? Not just because I’ve had a job every day of my life since March 2003, but also because it was (literally) in the middle of a pandemic? I quit the day before my birthday in July, and I’ve been on my own since and it’s been wonderful. BUT I started off really structured and everything, and now I’ve just been slacking so bad because I think everything that’s happened this year has just worn on me some. I took a mini-break recently, and now I’m spending the next few days revamping how I do things to make adjustments so I can be more productive (but not necessarily more busy) to get stuff done so I have more family time. 2020 is also the year my books have picked up in sales and done better than they’ve done in years, so surprisingly, the year has been pretty decent for me!

  3. Cheer, JS, and best wishes for success.

    I’ve been reflecting on my practices today, and I’m going to be trying a new motivation tool. Plus loosening the structure around it so I can get things done even when (not if) life throws knuckleballs.

  4. “Schedules in themselves don’t make me happy — if I were inherently a schedule-oriented person I wouldn’t have this perennial problem — but the results of scheduling (more work done, more time to actually do things) make me happy indeed.”

    I recognise that. I am chaotic by nature and learnt at a young age that I had to impose order on myself. People who did not know me when I was young think I love being ordered/organised, that it comes natural to me.
    I don’t, and it very much doesn’t, but I like what order/structure brings me, in projects finished, time saved, and frustration more or less maintained at an acceptable level.

  5. The talk of schedules reminds me of a quote from Annie Dillard, which I love like crazy but have a very hard time living up to. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living.”

  6. @John Lorentz I left research physics for a few years midway through my career to play the role of a high-paying pharmaceutical engineer (it was certainly high-paying but I don’t have much else to say about it except that I’m happy I was welcomed back into my former life). Anyway, when the company that hired me sold out to an international behemoth, we had to write five short term and five long term goals every quarter. They even had software for it and I found it extremely unproductive to suddenly spend about 10% of my time performing mundane HR work. Bad use of company resources because engineers, chemists and biologists all made a heck of a lot more money than HR staff (no offense to HR folks intended). Note: all my goals concerned ways to no longer have to record goals every quarter and HR did NOT think it very funny. On second though, he’ll yes, all offense to HR staff!

    Aside from all that, I have very little discontent in my life as well. I’ve been retired for seven years so I’ve learned how to relax and mostly each day is the same. It may sound boring to some people but I busted my ass my entire working life and raised a family, so I’m perfectly content with some serious down time. So my 2021 will be much like my 2020 except I hope to no longer wish to murder someone by popping a cap in their snot box now that they’re out of the picture.

  7. Read the last three books of the “Old Man’s War” series. ;) Oh, and read a bunch more books, this year, deviating away from sci-fi a little more than usual. Okay, 50%+ will still be sci-fi, but I think I’ll spice it up with a little non-fiction and maybe some classic. Dostoevsky, I’m lookin’ at you, sir!

    Be a better husband. Be a better dad. Always on the list and mostly I’ve improved at those, but the curve cuts downward every so often. Let’s keep it on an upward trend.

    I wrote two books for a table-top sci-fi RPG company in 2020. The plan is to write five more this year. I get paid shit, but as my screenwriter daughter points out to me: “You’re a working writer, Dad. Don’t knock it.”

    Here’s a thing I won’t be doing as much this year: Paying attention to the news so much. Now that we don’t have a shitnozzle for a president, I can relax and assume we aren’t sliding down a slippery slope towards apocalypse. Okay, it didn’t solve all of our problems, but hey, it’s a big deal to be able to relax a little bit.

    Finally, get vaccinated ASAP. I want to travel with my wife again. Not sure if vaxxing buys us that, but at least we’ll be ready when the world opens up again.

  8. Well, in somewhat of a complete non sequitur (well, maybe not so complete), my goal is to further your understanding of “the burrito” as I view it down here in Texas. My family sometimes accuses me of being able to mix together virtually any assortment of leftovers, and then being able to eat it (so what’s wrong with that), especially in a tortilla (if Mexican-ish cuisine) or a crepe (if Chinese-ish). They, on the other hand, will never let most of these creations pass their lips. Anyways, they seem to ignore the “start-from-scratch” efforts that I sometimes strive make, which are often Nirvanic in their realization. As a case in point, I offer the following, which I tried out this morning, and — while not necessarily rising to the level of “Nirvanic” — I highly urge you to give it a try sometime over the coming 2021. It was quite tasty when rolled up those absolutely fantastic flour tortillas from our local H·E·B (you should read up on those as well).

  9. Though I’m a firm believer in the Never Too Old philosophy of life, there comes a point where a stark reality becomes evident – less time ahead than behind. If there’s ever been a year to drive home the point about mortality, 2020 was it.

    Best of luck to OGH and all Whateverites for fulfilment of aspirations in 2021.

  10. I learned to play the bass guitar a bit this year but other than that, wow, an apocalypse sure makes it hard to focus on anything.

  11. While I too am looking forward to 2021, 2020 will be with us for a long time. I’ve been fortunate to be spared some of the brunt of this horrible year through a stable job and relative health. Like too many, I have lost loved ones along with questioning what exactly I am doing with my life. I’m optimistic at the year ahead but need to remember those that did not make it and that we have a long road ahead of us.

    This Clint Smith poem from a few years ago has really been resonating with me.

    When people say, “we have made it through worse before”

    all I hear is the wind slapping against the gravestones
    of those who did not make it, those who did not
    survive to see the confetti fall from the sky, those who

    did not live to watch the parade roll down the street.
    I have grown accustomed to a lifetime of aphorisms
    meant to assuage my fears, pithy sayings meant to

    convey that everything ends up fine in the end. There is no
    solace in rearranging language to make a different word
    tell the same lie. Sometimes the moral arc of the universe

    does not bend in a direction that will comfort us.
    Sometimes it bends in ways we don’t expect & there are
    people who fall off in the process. Please, dear reader,

    do not say I am hopeless, I believe there is a better future
    to fight for, I simply accept the possibility that I may not
    live to see it. I have grown weary of telling myself lies

    that I might one day begin to believe. We are not all left
    standing after the war has ended. Some of us have
    become ghosts by the time the dust has settled.

  12. My 2021 goals include; not getting COVID now that the vaccine is becoming available, completing certain self-imposed projects at work so that I can retire in 2022 if I feel like it, not thinking too much about why I volunteered to be a conchair again at a certain regional SF convention, and enjoying Discon III.

    As for esteemed host; happy new year and good luck on the health front.

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