We're a little crazy, about science!

Day 265: The lazy goals

prototyping a microcontroller on a breadboard. Random bits of wires can be seen around the black table.

A “for fun” prototyping project, I thought would be appropriate cover art for the topic at hand.

It’s the end of the term for me. This will be the end of the second year of my PhD program, we have officially started the big countdown to the end of 365 days with (depending on how you want to count) 100 days left, and despite the pandemic, I am making my lazy goals. Mental health is important and my lazy goals help with that, I’ve mentioned lazy goals before, but let’s talk about it in detail.

Several years ago I had an epiphany, we set goals and it feels good to hit them. Most of the time our goals are oriented to do something we have to do, I WILL clean the house weekly. I WILL go to the gym. I WILL finish that assignment I’ve been putting off. In my case, a lot of my goals over the summer are house related, I WILL do the repairs, install the thing, etc. The epiphany? Why not set a goal that is relaxing?

Instead of forcing myself to do the things I NEED to do, why not set a goal for something I WANT to do. Life is hectic enough and (in the US at least) we are trained (yes trained) that our worth is tied to how productive we are. We place productivity ahead of everything and if you are not productive, you are not worth anything to society… at least that’s what they tell us — and we believe it. We can change that thinking though, we deserve to do the things we want just as much, if not more, than the things we need to do.

Enter my idea for the lazy goal. It goes something like this: I want to do something for fun. Maybe it’s a video game, or read some books that don’t involve stochastic processes. Maybe you want to build a thing, do some art, maybe you want to learn to dance. Whatever your fun thing is, set a goal for it. I like calling it a lazy goal, but if the name is bothering you, you can think of them as personal goals. It’s okay to have a goal of getting 8 hours of sleep a night, who says your wrong to do that? You do the work, you put in the time, who has the right to stop you? No one that’s who.

Summer is the perfect time for my lazy goals, but you can set them whenever you want. I like summer because I’m done with classes and I can better seperate my research life from my home life. That doesn’t mean summer is the only time you can have them, that’s just what works best for me. They can be as big or as small as you want to make them. I typically have two that are the same every year and I try to throw in a few others. Not a lot, I don’t like cramming in a lot of things because I want to take my time and enjoy the goals I’ve set for myself vs. trying to rush and get as many things as I want to do checked off the list. The latter just seems like work to me and these are lazy goals for a reason.

Want some ideas for your goals? Well let’s take a look at what I have planned for the summer. Again, these are just some things I want to do, you don’t have to copy and you don’t have to limit yourself to just the summer. With that disclaimer let’s take a look:

  1. Beat the Mass Effect series. I love the games (even andromeda, I know I’ll get some hate for that, but I think it’s a great game despite the mediocre graphics)  and every year I pull them out and run through them again. This is a yearly goal of mine and I find that the length of time since the last time I played makes them just as fun (and sometimes sad) as the first time. Sub in your own favorite games that are collecting dust if you’re a gamer who lacks the time to enjoy them too.
  2. Read more. Another goal I set every year, this one is vague, but I set it that way on purpose. I love reading the sci fi classics, Frankenstein, Journey to the Center of the Earth, War of the Worlds, Alice in Wonderland, A Picture of Dorian Gray, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Sherlock Holmes, I could go on. Kindle has a ton of free classic books and I download all I can to read in my downtime. Over the summer I like to ramp up my reading a bit and just enjoy the experience. Sometimes during the term my extracurricular reading takes a dive because of stress,time requirements,etc. so I try to make up for it. I have 134 books in my kindle library as of this writing, but only a little over half of them are read.
  3. Make some things. Again, vague, but I recently started taking interest in woodworking. I have some of the basic tools and a few more coming. Unfortunately they are expensive and my budget is non-existent, so I have to choose wisely. I really want to make some stuff this summer, nothing large. The biggest project would be a vanity for my bathroom. But I also want to make some nice floating shelves for my kitchen. I just want a few pieces in the house that have a little bit of me in them. I really do love making things so why not give myself permission to do the things I enjoy?
  4. Lastly, I really want to get my work room set back up. It’s been two years in September since I moved into this house and my tools and things are scattered about the different floors. I am left searching for things more than I would like and I have no place for my larger projects to live while they are being worked on so they find their way to my dining room table, kitchen countertops, or just about any random surface I can set things on. Getting my office/work shop/ whatever you want to call it unpacked and organized will not only make doing these house projects easier, it will mean I can clean some of the house up and that would be really good for my mental health.

That’s it for me. It’s a longer post than I normally make, but this is 4 months worth of goals! As time goes on maybe I can set some for while I’m in classes, or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that no matter what, summer will always be time for me to set up my lazy goals and do that very taboo thing called taking care of myself. Maybe you think it’s silly, but try it out and get back to me. You would be surprised how effective calling the things you want to do goals can be.

But enough about us, what about you?

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