Positive mindsets and big dreams … yes, it’s that time of the year again.

I stopped making resolutions years ago, choosing instead to focus on a word and quote each year. I keep an accordion-style notebook to record my wish list … and at the end of each year I reflect on how things turned out.

After the rollercoaster of 2020, I wanted to up the ante. Inspired by Amanda Kendle on Facebook, I made a list of 21 things I wanted to achieve in 2021 and shared it on social media.

And then 2021 happened. More of the same uncertainty, restrictions, lockdowns, fear. Living Western Australia, I was one of the lucky ones, able to enjoy many freedoms so many of my family and friends did not, meaning I ticked several of my goals relatively easily.

Others … not so much.

I can blame border closures for some, but for others, it was all down to me.

In the spirit of staying accountable, here’s how I went. Of the 21 on my list, I ticked 8 + 2 halves = 9. That’s a 43% success rate (of course, if you flip it, it’s a 57% fail rate, bit more on that later).

Let’s focus first on what I achieved:

✅ #1 Pilates workouts five times a week – done, thanks to The Balanced Life

✅ #2 Rewrite WILDFLOWER and start edits – done, and even better, it’s up for pre-order now!

✅ #3 Visit family in Canberra and Sydney – this one is a half (should have split them) because I only made it to Sydney (and promptly got locked down for the weekend, but that’s another story)

✅ #4 Once-a-week dinners with the grown-up kids – done, with only a couple of weeks missed

✅ #5 Try a drama workshop – I stepped out of my comfort zone but loved it!

✅ #8 Present at a writers festival – I had the chance to present at two (Bridgetown and York)

✅ #9 Give an International Women’s Day talk – done and booked for 2022!

✅ #14 Do an art workshop. Does making a flower wreath count? It’s artistic and creative, so yes! And I made a macrame potholder from a kit!

✅ #17 Read 52 novels – I lost count of how many, but easily more than 100!

✅ #19 Resume Sunday Strolls with Aaron – technically, these did not stop, but didn’t happen as often as we’d have liked, so I’m giving that a half.

Here’s what I didn’t achieve:

❌ #6 Make soy candles with my niece Georgia – to be fair, we tried, but could not find the soy wax anywhere the weekend we needed it.

❌ #6 Listen to “Coffee Break German” podcast weekly – once I realised I wasn’t going to Germany in early 2022, I put that on the back-burner. But I did listen to one called “The German Experience” (about expats’ experiences living in Germany) among many other fab podcasts.

❌ #10 Draft second Around the World Supper Club book – I worked on this for a couple of months … but switched my energies to working on Wildflower.

❌ #11 Morning Pages daily – oh, I gave this a good shot. But I was cramming so much into my morning before work, it fell by the wayside.

❌ #12 Switch off social media after 9PM – a prime example of setting oneself up to fail. Don’t even want to talk about it …

❌ #13 Ballroom dancing – sadly, work situations and the timing of classes made this one a “not going to happen” but it’s still something we hope to get back to (one day).

❌ #15 Go somewhere new for a holiday – wasn’t going to happen in 2021. We cancelled two interstate trips and went down to the south coast for a week instead.

❌ #16 Learn to crochet a dishcloth – well, I gave it a good go but after one row of chain stitch that took hours (yes, hours) and a failed attempt (enhanced by curse words, I will admit) at the second row, I ditched the crochet for embroidery. I have been offered a lesson so I may still crack this goal one day.

❌ #18 Get an audio deal for Wherever You Go – still crossing my fingers on that one.

❌ #20 Increase plant-based meals to three a week – we made it to two (so far) but I’m hopeful of getting that third in for 2022.

❌ #21 Stay overnight on Rottnest Island – we tried, but the accommodation was either all booked out or super expensive.

From a superficial point of view, that’s a lot of red crosses. So, did I set the bar too high?

Yes and no.

Yes, the bar was high. And yes, the optimist/perfectionist sides of me had hopes of achieving every goal. But deep down I knew it was unlikely, even as I wrote the list. And as the months passed, “unlikely” changed to “not going to happen” for several of the goals. No, I wasn’t going to see family interstate. No, I wasn’t going to holiday interstate.

But no, the bar wasn’t too high – because I tried something different in 2021.

When I wrote the list, I adopted a different mindset to my usual high achiever one. I told myself not to attach too much to these goals. To do my best, but to push aside negative thoughts of “failure” or not trying hard enough. To accept that there were some things I could not do but many, many more that weren’t even on the list.

Like the fact that I had an essay published in an academic journal and a short story in an Australian fairy tale anthology! And that I was asked to do a one-week residency at a high school (which scares the heck out of me, but looks set to happen in 2022).

I’ve learnt a lot on the way, including:

  • To stop writing something that isn’t working
  • To write what I want to write, not what others want me to write
  • To say no when my body, mind and soul needs me to
  • To take on less and be okay with that

And this…

I don’t want to write a long list of things I want to achieve for 2022.

In 2022 my one word is embrace.

I want to embrace learning and growing and experiencing and connecting.

I want to embrace life.

I don’t need to write a list that tells me how I’m going to do that.

This year, I want to figure it out as I go.



Monique Mulligan

Monique Mulligan

2 Responses

  1. I love this, I was thinking of writing a list this year as a friend posted about it, but I think 22thingsmight be hard to achieve or commit to in the long run.

    I’m glad you wrote what you wanted to write and not what others did, I know you were grappling with that and I’m glad you chose to work on Wildflower.

    I love all the things you want to embrace, I’m tempted by this word too now you’ve fleshed it out. I’m now thinking mine might be love, I want to learn to love me, and love life again. We will see.

    1. Hi Claire,

      Sometimes it’s better to go with the flow.

      Let me know which word you decide on. What feels strongest for you? The idea of learning to love yourself (and life) is worth thinking on. Tell yourself you are worth loving. XX

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