I am not at all prepared for New Year’s resolution season — or for taking stock of the last year for that matter. This year has been something I’ve survived, and for me, that is enough. The long list of things I thought I was going to do this year got tossed while I adapted to reality.

My focus is on self-care right now — not achievement. I began to think of what reasonable goals I could set for myself in the last month of the year — goals that are doable and don’t set me up for failure. To take better care of myself, I need to do things like firm up my boundaries, not hit a weight loss goal.

With that in mind, I crafted the following list.

  • Say no to something that drains my energetic resources.
  • Say yes to something I want (or want to do).
  • Unfriend toxic people and regret nothing.
  • Begin a new healthy habit, however small.
  • Take a nap.
  • Tell someone I love them.
  • Check on a struggling friend.
  • Do a random act of kindness.
  • Listen without giving advice.
  • Gift someone with my undivided attention.
  • Spend time outside.
  • Listen to a song I love.
  • Buy a gift for myself.
  • Practice self-compassion on my bad days.
  • Hold space for myself while I grieve the myriad losses of the year — including the ones that directly impact the holiday season.

The month is half gone already, but my focus is turned to self-care. As a single parent, I’ve already selected my own gifts for the holidays. At first, I thought — why bother? But then I decided that it matters.

Did I binge on shopping over quarantine? Yes, I did. Do I still deserve a nice Christmas with a few gifts under the tree for me? Yes again. That’s exactly what I did. I bought a few small, comforting items. It might not seem like much, but it’s a reminder to me that what I want matters, too.

Next year, I’ll likely evaluate goals differently. I may make them smaller and much more personal — and far less dependent on outside circumstances. As much as I’d love to travel extensively, I’m also aware that it may need to be a wish list item rather than a fixed plan. Nothing is guaranteed.

This year is coming to an end. As it does, I’m trying to be more mindful and present — even though it’s hard to sit with the heavy sense of grief. I’m making the most of this year, even if that means I take the best care of myself that I can as this year draws to a close.

Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned author. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elephant Journal, Elite Daily, and The Good Men Project. She’s also the author of Left on Main, the first book in the Heart of Madison series. When she’s not writing for Medium and working on her next book, you can find Crystal traveling, paddle boarding, running, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, doing yoga, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with her two wild and wonderful children.


Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.