We're a little crazy, about science!

The end of summer

It’s officially the start of the new school year. I’ve got a lot of anxiety headed into this year, but not for me, for everyone else. This year will be the first year that I’m completely finished with my degree requirements, now I just need to do my research so there’s no real need for me to be inside a packed classroom with others who may or may not be wearing masks or are vaccinated. So instead of being super depressing, let’s look at some of the highlights from this summer and what is just around the corner.

To be fair I already did a “look back” (here) and a “look forward,” but those were from an academic lens. Instead I want to talk about my lazy goals (these) and some of the non-academic stuff that’s happened in my life. Good and bad, but since I’m having a really rough (see: seriously, and chronically, depressed) I kind of want to focus on the positive stuff. If only for today. So let’s talk about how I keep myself alive through the judicious application of self-care.

A few years ago I realized that in all my list making, all my goal setting, and all my future planning I never included any time for myself. So I invented (or probably invented, I’m probably not the first) the idea of lazy goals. Goals you set and try to accomplish just like any other goal, but they’re goals that help you relax and recover. Maybe the goal is to watch a full season of that show you like, or maybe like me you never have time for games so you want to revisit some. Whatever your goals are, they work just like any other goal you have, you make time to do them even if they don’t “accomplish” the stuff society tells you your goals should accomplish.

The practice has been a lifesaver, literally. I’m not perfect and this summer in particular was a bust. I didn’t get all the stuff I wanted to do done, but I got a good portion and I had some other complications come up that kept me from doing the rest, so it’s somewhat understandable. Every summer I come up with goals I want to get done over the year. I choose summer to mark the start and end because as an academic that is basically the preferred time for me to have time off. So it’s good to set the goals right before summer starts and revise them the following summer.

This summer the goals were basically the same as last summer, which hey whatever works for you! I’m a person of consistency and I am okay with that. Breakfast and lunch rarely change, I have my daily blog routine, and so the act of consistency has comfort in and of itself. That’s the whole point of the “lazy goals” so I don’t mind repeating stuff. I do like to challenge myself to take more time for myself so every year I try to add something new or expand a goal I had the previous year.

For example, this year I increased my goal for reading. Last year I wanted to read at least 20 books by the years end and I managed 26. This year the goal is 30 before the end of the year, which felt insurmountable when I challenged myself to do it. There are still about four months left in the year and I’m already 24 books through that goal so I should hit or exceed that goal (probably exceed). In fact, I’ve been picking particularly long fiction books to read so they’ve taken extra time to read. I am not a fast reader and that is by choice. I like to immerse myself into the world the book is taking me to, I try to give characters their own voice, not just the voice in my head, I try to imagine the world described, things like that. It’s a full experience and I really enjoy it, so much so when I finish a book I sometimes get a little bit of a hangover like I can’t read another story set in a different world right away because I’m still so set on living in the previous one.

Out of all the goals I set, reading has been the most important to me. I’ve always loved reading, even in high school I would gladly read well after the “required” amount. I read a few hours a day and I would read more if I could spare the time, but a few hours is better than no time at all. You don’t need to read to get the same relief though, movies, audio books, or whatever you can really immerse yourself in is just fine. I read ebooks mostly because they are just more convenient. It also makes it easy to track my reading habits and line up the next set of books. Technology is a wonderful thing in that way, I own a lot of books, but the digital versions are usually cheaper (or free!) and being able to pick and choose on my phone makes me more likely to read.

Reading isn’t the only thing that helps, it’s just the one that follows me throughout the year. I also have my yearly gaming binge. Not a binge exactly, but I do love playing games, my favorite is Mass Effect and if you’re a fan you know they recently released the remastered version the legendary edition, so I got to play through all three games very seamlessly this year. Last year and the year before I focused on Andromeda, which I know people hated, but I really enjoyed it and I really loved the fight dynamics they used. I hope that carries over into the new Mass Effect game that’s coming because it was a really enjoyable way to play.

Lastly I finally got my hands dirty last summer and took on a woodworking project! I know, the pandemic hit and everyone took on weird projects, but I did it because I’ve always wanted to. The pandemic just helped me find the time, it’s amazing how much time I saved not having to drive to and from school, so it went into woodworking and I really enjoy it. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and building things so woodworking was a fun way to do that and make something useful. Unfortunately this summer I got zero time to do any of it! Last summer I decided to build a custom vanity for the bathroom. Over the summer and winter I managed to get 98% of it done, I just need to put finish on it, hang the doors, and install it. Literally like a weeks worth of work, I just didn’t get a break long enough this summer to do it.

I plan to finish it sometime soon though. Maybe now that I (hopefully) will be starting this new job and I will be doing research full-time I can actually get some personal time to relax. That’s the hope anyway, I’m told I even get paid time off and all the benefits an actual adult would get! So there’s hope, assuming the job goes through soon enough. I will hopefully have an update on that front tomorrow, but for today it was nice to revisit all the stuff that I did manage to get done and share with you the way I manage to keep myself semi-sane or at least not make whatever my brain is doing worse.

Maybe I’ll revisit my book list and share the stuff I’ve read and enjoyed. I could use some happy posting, it may help my mental health a bit. With all the stuff going on in the world I could use another day of distraction. But then again, maybe I’ll save that idea for a rainy day, who knows. In any case, I hope I’ve given you all motivation to make your own lazy goals! They were definitely the best idea I’ve ever had to manage my mental health.


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