Saturday, January 16, 2016

My Goals & Plans for 2016

Happy 2016, everybody!  It's time to look at what I want to accomplish this year. I always enjoy evaluating my year’s projects and planning new ones for the coming year. My goals usually fall into three main categories, so I’ve grouped them below. I listed smaller targets or subgoals for each main goal, to help me make progress in smaller bites.

Category 1. Science & Nature

Butterflies, butterflies, and more butterflies!
Goal 1.1: Do a Butterfly Bigger Year I had so much fun with my Butterfly Big Year last year that I’m doing it again. I learned a lot so I set a very ambitious goal for the project: 120 species, whereas I only saw 81 last year. My goal for the first Big Year was 100, though, so even though I didn’t achieve it I wanted to have a higher target this year.  My minimum goal though is to at least break 100 species, even while aiming for 120 for the Bigger Year.
·       Target 1:  See 25 Butterfly species by May 8 (Mother’s Day); visit at least 5 sites I didn’t butterfly at during the first Big Year.
·       Target 2: Reach 75 species by June 23; visit 5 more sites I didn’t try last year
·       Target 3: 100 species by August 15; continue expanding my sites list.
·       Target 4: Attend National Association for Interpretation's annual workshop in Texas in November and take a couple side trips for butterflying!
Goal 1.2: Record & report observations A broader goal than the really focused Big Year is to be more diligent about recording and reporting my nature observations. I need to keep better records of what I’m seeing, and also report it to appropriate citizen science projects like eBird, e-Butterfly, budburst, etc.
·       Target 1: identify where to report and what information is needed
·       Target 2: create habits of careful observing & recording—and spend more time with nature than with electronics!
·       Target 3: report at least weekly if not daily
·       Target 4: keep looking for new longterm projects that need data, and participate in them.
Goal 1.3: Participate in more citizen science projects Similarly, I want to participate in more organized citizen science projects. I didn’t end up signing up for FeederWatch this year after all, but there are still additional bird events coming up that I could do: Backyard Bird Watch, Big Sit, and so forth. I’d really like to join a local Butterfly Count in July as well—which would probably help me toward my butterfly goals too! Once again I just need to get past some of the confidence issues.
·       Target 1: pencil dates on planner for things like Big Sit, Backyard Bird Watch, etc.
·       Target 2: attend one interpretive program per month at another park (not mine) for networking possibilities
·       Target 3: look into local parks’ participation in bigger projects (e.g. Christmas Bird Count, NABA Butterfly Count, etc.)
·       Target 4: Participate this year in 3 projects I’m aware of already, and 2 that are new to me this year.
Goal 1.4: Get more professional experience as a naturalist—DONE!! If I hadn’t recently been offered a job as a seasonal naturalist at Locust Grove Nature Center (see here) I had decided this would be the year I would try to earn more experience as a naturalist, whether paid or volunteer. It’s so nice to already be able to check this one off!

Category 2. Connection

I hoped this book display would engage and connect with Brookside Gardens visitors.

 Goal 2.1: Connect more. In general I want to connect more with people this year. I need to reach out more, let myself be vulnerable, and also make sure not to let relationships drop dead for lack of attention. Some connection I want to increase is online, e.g. here, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Also I want to increase my connection with people (eventually friends) in real life as well.
·       Target 1: Actually converse with folks on Twitter & Facebook rather than just lurking. Need to set a goal of comments/week and find ways to not get drawn into a time suck.
·       Target 2: Continue reaching out to people I don’t know but who share interests with me. Eventually aim to invite local online-only friends to meet for real-life activities: birding or butterflying, perhaps?
·       Target 3: Post original content more often on Twitter rather than just retweeting interesting articles. Also make original comments when retweeting to add personal value.
Goal 2.2: Socialize more I want to be more social this year specifically—go to friends’ parties/events more often, go out dancing more, and maybe even host a gathering at my house sometime this year. I tend to be fairly introverted where Victor is very extroverted, so I know this has stressed him out some lately. If I can get over my initial timidity I hope to be a better partner for him, but also make a better life for myself with closer friends whom I trust and frequently talk with.
·       Target 1: Invite friends out for dinners, hiking, etc. at least one time per month
·       Target 2: Find ways to be comfortable at social gatherings. Collect interesting anecdotes, for example. Also try to journal more often to work on remembering interesting experiences. (Other than the anxiety itself, one of my difficulties is coming up with anything to talk about, even with close friends. If I can work on that maybe parties will get a little less stressful.)
·       Target 3: Go out at least twice per week. Dancing, movies with friends, casual type stuff that still gets me (us) out of the house. Hopefully budget-friendly events.
·       Target 4: Invite friends over for a board games night by the end of the year.
Goal 2.3: Comment on blogs more often. I know I need to comment on other people’s blogs more often. I love it so much when folks leave a comment here, I really need to reciprocate in a general sense. Not only the specific commenters’ blogs, but just into the world of blogging as a whole. I hope this will help me with goal 2.1 as well. 
·       Target 1: Organize my blog reading list better (and make sure to keep adding new ones that I find via Twitter connections).
·       Target 2: Set aside specific blog reading time to catch up with posts each week. Start with once per week, maybe increase later.
·       Target 3: Make value-added comments on at least 5 different blog posts each week. Not just “Cool post!” but adding some kind of insight, an additional resource, or showing some kind of active reflection.

Category 3. Making and creating

Making yummy and beautiful things like the apple peel jelly.


Goal 3.1 Blog weekly.  I want to blog at least weekly this year. Last year and previous years I kind of hobbled myself by expecting nearly every post to be fairly long with lots of illustrations. This year I intend to give myself more freedom to post shorter pieces, with a sub-goal of one longish piece per month. So I’m aiming for a minimum of 50 blog posts in total, and 10 long-form posts out of those. (What do you think? Anything you’d like to see more or less of? Let me know in the comments.)
·       Target 1: Create an editorial calendar to make some posts easier. Include monthly topic/theme possibilities.
·       Target 2: Schedule time each week to write and post. Get up earlier a couple mornings to do this? Or find a coffeeshop type locale to visit regularly for writing time.
·       Target 3:  Come up with some repeating topics, e.g. every first Monday post photos of the previous month’s best butterflies and/or other wildlife seen on my walks.
·       Target 4: Create central pages that link to recurring themes or topics, like the Big Year, citizen science, etc., to make the blog friendlier and easier for readers to navigate.
·       Target 5: I could also include posts about my Yearofmaking project. Maybe once per month showing projects I’m working on and their progress or failure. Links and/or instructions would be handy as well. See next goal.
Goal 3.2 Twitter challenge: Year of making. This is a year-long challenge I'm doing on Twitter of making something handmade every day. So far I’ve cut out paper snowflakes, made a short paper chain for the Christmas tree from scraps left over from the snowflakes, made a hollow book to hide secret treasures, made seed tapes for planting in the spring, and done a lot of knitting. I also UNmade on one day, when I had to rip out about 20 rows of the sock I’m working on when I decided a mistake way back was just too bad to ignore. Ugh.                   
·       Target 1: First thing is to get in the habit of low-key crafting in the evenings while watching TV. Knitting straightforward patterns, cutting out paper decorations, etc. Also be on the lookout for other places I could be multitask crafting: knitting while waiting in line at the grocery store, perhaps?
·       Target 2: Try new crafts that look intriguing even if they’re challenging and I’m not sure I will succeed. For example, the secret treasure book which I made for Frances, my grandmother-in-law's roommate at the assisted living home. That was a little difficult but turned out great!
·       Target 3: Organize my craft supplies so I can find and access them more easily. Also make a cleaner, bigger space to craft in (mostly by cleaning stuff off my workspaces when I’m done).
Goal 3.3 knit 3 pairs of socks Last year I learned how to knit in the round (woo-hoo! Double pointed needles were kind of scary but I can do it now), and this year I want to to get much better at knitting socks. I want to finish 3 pairs of socks this year, so six socks in all. That might be a bit of a tall order considering my current glacial pace, but I’m going to try anyway. Sock yarn is so thin, it seems to take forever to make progress. But I did treat myself to lovely batches of handspun and hand-dyed yarn at last year’s Sheep & Wool festival, so I will have awesome socks when I’m done.                 
·       Target 1: finish knitting the relatively simple pattern I started at the end of 2015.
·       Target 2: For the second pair, try a different pattern that might be a little challenging but that will probably teach me something.
·       Target 3: Look into knitting socks on circular needles. Maybe I could go faster if I don’t have the double-pointed needles causing issues.
Goal 3.4: Learn to can I’d also like to learn how to properly can this year, using a hot water bath and everything so that I can make shelf-stable preserved fruits and veggies other than dehydrated ones. I have my grandmother-in-law’s huge canning pot and rack already but haven't had the guts to try using it yet. Canning will be a big step up from where I am now—I mostly have been preserving produce by freezing, dehydrating, or refrigerating the things I make.  It would be really nice to can my own tomatoes and things, though, and not have to take up freezer space for them.
·       Target 1: identify what other equipment I’ll need and figure out how to acquire or borrow it.
·       Target 2: Try canning something I already know how to make, e.g. apple butter or tomato sauce.
·       Target 3: Try making something new specifically to preserve it. Jelly/jam? Pickles? Depends on what’s in season when I get here.

So that's all my goals for 2016. Seems like a lot when I look at it here on the screen. Am I being too ambitions? Maybe, but I certainly won't be bored! I'll have to revisit these goals in a few months to see if I need to change or postpone them.

What are some of your goals this year? Chime in with a comment, I'd love to hear about them!


  1. Wow! Very organized. I didn't know about E butterfly. You might like Firefly Watch. It isn't too late for Feeder Watch. Any data is good... Michelle

  2. Hi, Michelle! E-butterfly doesn't seem as well-established as eBird (yet), but it has a lot of promise so I want to help. I will also check out Firefly Watch, thanks for the suggestion. Also I'm glad for the reminder that I could start mid-season for Feeder Watch. You have a great list of citizen science projects on your site, by the way, it's very helpful. :-)


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