Why Movie-Watching is the Most Intimidating Goal I've Set for 2021
How many times have I scrolled through Netflix, looking at the myriad of titles served up to me only to find myself watching the same thing that you watched last week? How many times have I watched The Office? I think that I can recite my favorite episodes of The West Wing at this point! Have I sat down to watch that new blu-ray that I got for Christmas yet? If you’re like me, your watch list grows every week as you see new ads, are recommended new titles by friends and family, the list grows and never seems to be consumed. This might be because you’re busy: that’s totally understandable, and probably a good thing! I’ve often found myself too busy to sit down and watch anything, but addressing a hectic schedule is just one of the reasons that I’ve set a concrete goal for the new year that includes watching a new movie every month.
Some people hate “New Years Resolutions”, others love them: I tend to stand somewhere in the middle. I’m drawn to the concept of taking time periodically to take stock of myself, the path I’m on, and any changes that I can make to my habits, routines, and life overall to push me further along the road towards my goals. I don’t think that there is anything special about doing this self-analysis at the start of a new calendar year, but for me it has always felt right (and conveniently I usually have a bit of extra time around the new year to invest in this process). While I am well aware that this kind of introspection can (and should) look different for each individual, I enjoy learning about what others do in their process, stealing bits and pieces in order to improve and further develop my own. For this reason, hoping that it’ll benefit someone, I’ll share how I went about setting up my 2021 goals and why watching movies is one of the more intimidating goalposts that I’ve set for myself in the year to come.
Before I could embark on establishing new goals, I chose to first look back at 2020’s goals and see how I’d done in achieving them. Throughout the past year I’d been consistent with periodically checking in on my progress and recording the steps that I’d taken towards achieving them, so for most goals this didn’t take much time, nor were the conclusions that I drew very surprising. For goals that had numeric measures of success I just needed to determine if I’d met the mark or not (and note any reasons why or why not), for more abstract goals I took a few minutes to write out a bulleted reflection of what went well towards the goal, what obstacles I had to address in working towards the goal, and a rough measure of my success. In doing this look-back I was able to determine which of my 2020 goals I wanted to carry forward into 2021, which I wanted to modify, and which I would be best off dropping entirely. Starting with the 2020 carry-overs I began working to pinpoint what my 2021 goals would be in the same six broad categories that I’ve used in years prior: business, physical fitness, mental growth, spirituality, social engagement, and personal finance. I find it helpful to categorize goals into these different focus areas, although many of the goals that I end up setting will cross over and relate to more than one category.
I find it much easier to identify goals in some of these areas than others. My business goals typically include career development, professional networking, and personal project completion. Physical fitness goals are a dime a dozen, mine are not typically all that creative (this year I’m focused on gaining strength and endurance). Personal finance goals fall along the lines of saving, investing, and learning more about financial systems. This year I believe that my social engagement goals of staying connected to friends and family will be especially important given the ever-shifting social landscape, I’m going to do this by writing physical letters, sending texts, and meeting up with people in a responsible manner when the conditions allow. I’m happy to say that my spirituality goals are really important to me, but also highly personal; I believe that spiritual growth is important for everyone. This year goals in these areas fell into place quickly. After setting up these categories I was left with mental growth: this is the same area that I’ve struggled to find fitting goals in years past.
Mental growth means something different to everyone. To provide an example of what it means to me in 2020 one of my mental goals was to maintain a journal: I did well on this, believe that it benefited me greatly, and plan to continue the habit. (If you’ve never journaled regularly I’d encourage you to try it, see my other post here to learn how I have mine set up). One common mental goal that many set around the new year is to read more, I share this goal in 2021 and have decided to dedicate myself to reading for pleasure at least an hour a week. It’s a low bar for success, but a big improvement over what I’ve been doing lately and follows the principles for habit formation outlined by BJ Fogg in his book Tiny Habits! A third goal that I’ve set for myself is to engage with and explore new hobbies: I want to discover new passions and reengage with activities that I’ve been excited about in the past. All three of these goals are inspired by goals that others have set before me, making them far from unique, it’s my fourth and final mental goal that I’ve never heard of anyone else setting: I’ve made it my goal to watch a movie that I’ve not seen before every month.
My reasoning for setting this goal is multi-faceted and requires explanation:
I want to remain more culturally aware. I found too often in the past that I missed out on opportunities to enjoy discussion and debate with friends on movies because I’d not seen the content in question. I didn’t get to join in on the fun around Game of Thrones, Avengers Endgame, or even The Mandalorian because I’d been late to seeing these excellent shows and movies.
Forcing myself to watch a new movie every month combats a “scarcity mindset” that I feel doesn’t serve me. I don’t expect to ever run out of content that I’m interested in watching; being nervous about such a situation is not founded in reality and doesn’t make me happy.
Far too often I find myself ‘saving’ the viewing of movies (or shows) that I’m really excited for “the perfect moment”. The problem with this habit is that I’ve noticed that the perfect time never comes: I always find a reason that there would be a better time. I seek a time in which I’m less tired, a time when I have just the right snack to pair with my movie, a time when I’d not had such a stressful day at work, the excuses carry on and on. Continuously searching for this perfect time doesn’t ever produce the ideal moment of relaxation that I’m looking for, rather I just deprive myself of seeing the things that I’m excited about in favor of re-watching the same rotation as I delay.
Watching something new takes more effort than re-watching something that I’ve seen before, but is always more rewarding. I learn more and enjoy myself more when I expose myself to new content rather than looking for new meaning in the same few works.
Despite how simple, easy and straightforward this goal is I still find it intimidating. It’s not finding the time that will be a challenge, nor am I really concerned about finding content that I’m interested in. Allowing myself the time, space, and mentally giving myself permission to put my phone down, not “work and watch”, and truly enjoy a new piece of content is a challenge for me and the real source of my trepidation. I know that I struggle to let down, relax, and take time for myself. I hope that this goal will drive me towards making relaxation time a more regular part of my routine, giving myself more down time so that my up time can be all the more productive. If it takes setting a concrete goal around movie watching for me to make progress to a more healthy balance between work, relaxation, and personal progress I’m more than willing to take that step.
I’m excited to track my progress this year towards achieving my goals, I’ve set a calendar reminder every week to at least glance through my goal document and make sure that I’m tracking at pace to achieve my goals, I’ll modify them along the way as needed to make sure that they serve me well and are appropriate for whatever situations I’m presented. In years where there is great uncertainty like this coming one it is important to keep flexible with your goals, bending rather than breaking as the world changes around you. I’d be interested in hearing how my reader’s goals, resolutions, and plans for the year are shaping up, get in touch with me via any of my social media channels and let’s start holding each other accountable to marching forward together.