2023: My Year of Intention

A reflection of my 2023 Word of the Year: Intention.

This article was tagged with: Living Better

There are 1682 words in this article, and it will probably take you less than 9 minutes to read it.

This article was published 2023-12-18 00:00:00 -0500, which makes this post and me old when I published it.


At the beginning of the year I said that the single word encompassing my goals for 2023 would be “intentional”. In general I think that I accomplished my goals, or at the very least, the important ones. At first I was a bit hard on myself for completely failing on some of my goals, but I realized that was instead a result of my limited time and energy this year. Those limitations forced me to focus on a select number of things that bring me the most joy, which in a very meta way means that I had intentional about what I would be intentional about.

The point of this article is twofold: I want to reflect on my goals to see both where I went right and where I went “wrong”. Instead of shaming myself for not accomplishing certain goals, I want to see what happened and how I can prevent it from happening again, or re-evaluate if the goal is still important to me. In thinking about goals I will be analyzing goal failures via the following questions:

  1. Did my valuation of the target state and/or process change?
  2. Was the formulation of my goal inaccurate to my actual desires?
  3. Did I not have enough time?
  4. Did I not have enough energy/motivation?

Reflecting On My Goals

  1. Walk or Metro to get groceries
    • I still do this, and even go out of my way sometimes on Metro for beer and Trader Joe’s in one run. In my new apartment the grocery store is right by the Metro station, so I usually try to stop by for groceries on my way home from work if I need anything.
    • I also wrote “Get produce or bread from local farmers’ markets” which I absolutely did not do but this is fine to me. I realized that I am just not a farmer’s market person, at least in this stage of my life. I do not like talking to people or paying the premium for good, in-season produce when I don’t usually get to appreciate it when I cook anyway.
  2. Cook through the cookbooks I have collected
    • I didn’t do this and honestly didn’t even attempt to do it; I think I was being too aspirational when I wrote this. I was even gifted a new cookbook for my birthday and I haven’t so much as touched it since then. I think that this is a goal that I will pick back again in a couple years’ time when I’m more in love with cooking. I haven’t been cooking as much because I’ve been tired from work but also because I haven’t been loving the process of cooking as much or the end results of my cooking either.
  3. Walk to the library to pick up book holds
    • I moved away from this library halfway into the year, which I didn’t even consider when I was writing this goal. With that being said, I never once went to the library even when I did live there. The reason was partially because I was in a reading slump for most of the year, but also I registered for my library card in person which resulted in me not having an online account. This meant that I couldn’t put in any book holds for things I wanted to read, and I never got around to getting it resolved.
    • This goal was less about the library and more of the idea of increasing my reading while also being able to walk and be in the community more.
  4. Catalog my books and allow friends to “check them out”
    • I built the base for this goal, but stumbled on execution. I cataloged my books first on Libib which was nice, but I feel like it was too isolated of a system and the free tier didn’t add much value compared to Goodreads’s shelf system. This is why I recently moved my catalog onto Goodreads.
    • I was able to check out a few books to people, but I want to be better about it, which is why I’m relaunching this idea in 2024. I’m calling it “Rees’s Library” and this won’t be a formal goal of mine moving forward, but just something that I want to continue doing and being intentional about.
  5. Go into DC to buy books from independent bookstores
    • I didn’t do this in DC particularly, but I have been buying a lot of Bookshop.org, ThriftBooks, or local secondhand shops. In this way, I think I have accomplished the spirit of the goal. Like the library goal, it was more about reading and being in the community.
    • This goal was also about not putting money toward Amazon and instead going into the local community. I don’t think I’ve bought a book on Amazon since I made this goal!
  6. Read more instead of using TikTok
    • I have been using TikTok a lot but I have been reading a lot so I would count this as a success. A lot of people have strong feelings about the amount of time that they spend on TikTok and how it is “wasted time”, but I certainly don’t feel that way. I learn a lot on TikTok and also find a great amount of entertainment from it, I just wanted to focus on long form content like books as a way to re-train my attention span.
  7. Volunteer after work
    • I made steps toward this goal when I was in Arlington by signing up as a volunteer for the Arlington Food Assistance Center, but then I never scheduled any times to go. I think I was too anxious about going alone, so maybe I should try to schedule a volunteering opportunity with a friend. This is definitely something that I still want to do, I just need to find ways to build a system for me to stick with.
  8. Workout in the morning before work or in the evening after work
    • I briefly went to the gym at my office but I was too cheap to pay the $20/month for a gym that I couldn’t go to on the weekends. I got an exercise bike (RIP because the resistance stopped working) as well as a set of adjustable weights that I had been using to work out. Half way into the year I moved into a different place that actually has a community gym that is included in rent, so that’s what I’ve been using instead.
    • This is the goal that I’ve probably stuck to the most, so I’m excited and curious to see just how much of a YoY difference there will be from 2022 to 2023 in my 2023 Wrapped.
  9. Plan people’s gifts ahead of time
    • This is something that I have failed to do, and something that I am trying to course correct the most out of my goals I think.Every time around people’s birthdays and/or Christmas I always am scrambling to get gifts. I usually tend to get decent gifts so the recipients don’t really have anything to worry about, but I don’t like the anxiety of rushing to find something, it’s exhausting. I tend to regift things to people which in moderation or in good taste works, but I think that it can get tiring for recipients.
    • This is something that I have to develop a better system for, and I have been making progress on that front. I am making a spreadsheet with everyone’s birthdays on it so I know when it is and how old they’re turning, but it also serves as a checklist so I can mark off if I’ve gotten them a present or not, so I can plan ahead and be on top of things. I have Pinterest boards for people to remember old gifts, house ideas, and find new gifts for specific people. I also have been making some gifts by hand like beer cap fridge magnets, but I might get into candle making or something else to add to my repertoire.
  10. Decorate my room to make it a space of comfort
    • I have done an excellent job of this in my opinion so I am patting myself on the back. Since I wrote the goal I moved out into my one bedroom apartment and it has been taking up a lot of time and energy to decorate it into a space of comfort and grounding. In doing this, I have found a new passion/interest in interior design, which I am very pleased about.

Summing It All Up

As I said in the beginning of this article, I feel like I did a good job for myself, all things considered. Overall it seems like habits and systems are the way I need to go, which is intentionality in itself, funnily enough. It’s crazy how much I and my goals can change over the course of a year. I was accomplishing most of my goals, but for different reasons or in different ways that I thought I would’ve in the beginning of the year. This is because of shifting priorities, as well as personal growth over time.

I think a potential cause of some of my dissatisfaction with my goal progress was that a lot of them weren’t quantified, so I felt like I could always have done more. While not a formal goal, I wanted to be more intentional with spending time with my friends and family, whether planned or unplanned. I know that I have gotten better at reaching out to people to hang out or just texting people, but I always felt like I wasn’t doing enough. I think that the solution to this is more internal than external; I have to be more charitable to the work that I am doing and not think about what more I could be doing because there is always “more” on the other side.

Other Living Better Articles

A Little is Better Than Nothing

It can be easy to fall into all-or-nothing thinking, but small benefits/progress are still better than nothing.

Finding My Groove in 2024

Setting my new word of year for 2024: Groove.

My 2023 Wrapped

My second ever year wrapped where I analyze my data in a Spotify Wrapped-esque manner.

What Are Hobbies and Interests?

An examination of the essences of hobbies and interests and why that's helpful to you/how to put it into practice.

Living Seasonally

A guide of how to live in tune with the seasons.