Resolutely Childfree: Goals to Get There in 2018 (Part 1)

Resolutely Childfree: Goals to Get There in 2018 (Part 1)

Resolutely Childfree: Goals to Get There in 2018

Holy moly. It’s 2018! You may recall that I’m seriously not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’m a statistics person (despite being horrible at math — how’s that work?) and the numbers just don’t support the worthwhileness of resolutions. However, I do set goals. Is there a difference? Many people do use the words interchangeably but they actually hold quite different meanings, which we’ll get into in a moment. I thought I would share with you my thoughts on becoming resolutely childfree: goals to get there in 2018 (Part 1)!

Goals and Resolutions: The Big Difference

Ryan Eidson of ryaneidson.com explains the difference between goals and resolutions in a way that’s incredibly easy to understand:

A resolution is a statement of what you want to change. Examples:

  • I want to lose weight.
  • I want to have more time with my family.
  • I want to save more money.

A goal is a very specific statement of what you want to achieve by a certain date (or have as an ongoing habit). Rephrasing the above resolutions as goals, here are examples:

  • I will lose 10 pounds by March 31, 2017.
  • Every day I will spend x amount of minutes with each family member. Every week I will have an hour of one-on-one time with each member of my household.
  • We will save $1500 by July 15, 2017 to take our family vacation that month.

I personally think of resolutions as vague expressions whereas goals are concrete plans. Also, just because it’s January doesn’t mean you have become a totally new you. This isn’t to say I don’t look to 2018 with a certain sense of optimism about all that I hope to accomplish — because I do, I really do! But, I’m also a realist for better or for worse so I try not to make larger-than-life assertions, or if I do, I back them up with manageable goals.

My Personal Goals

About a year and a half ago I decided that I wanted to be more assertive (If you want to know more about what I’ve learned from this journey, you can read about it here. Yes, #shamelessplug). Saying “I want to be assertive” was quite vague (resolution) so I came up with a plan (goal):

  • Say ‘no’ to social events that would cause me undue anxiety
  • Stop apologizing for things I’m not, and/or have no need to be, sorry about
  • Stop responding to work-related phone calls and text messages after working hours
  • Express my difference of opinion verbally (but also politely) instead of mentally disagreeing

Lisa of Simple Life Experiment beautifully addressed the subject of assertiveness in one of her recent posts, “The Art of Just Saying No.” Lisa learned something important about herself and used one of my favorite words in her post:

I really need to be more intentional about putting myself first.

Intentional. I recently purchased a Day Designer planner and, on the very first page, there is a box to write down a word of the year. What’s mine? Intentional, of course.

Assertiveness and intentionality work well together and, as it so happens, neither one comes naturally to me. However, just scribbling the word “intentional” into my day planner isn’t going to do anything. That is unless I also set reachable goals.

Slow Your Goal

I’d love to share with you all of my goals but the truth is, I haven’t fully crafted them…yet. And I know that until I do, I won’t see markable progress in my journey to intentionality, which is okay with me. January isn’t the be-all-end-all of 2018. And, as I said, I worked on assertiveness for a year and a half and surprise, surprise, I’m still not done!

I received a newsletter from Britt of Tiny Ambitions this morning and I love the challenge she presented to her readers so much that I’d like to urge you to do the same:

My challenge to you is to start your 2018 off in a way different to the norm. Start your 2018 off slowly. Give yourself the space to ease into a new year and any new routines that may come along with that.

Exactly, Britt! Slowing down will also help me become more intentional and I think it will also help you if you’ve been wavering about your decision to be childfree. How?

Slowing down to really think through the major of decision of having or not having children will enable you to make a well-informed decision.

Also, if you’re striving for a more intentional life like yours truly, it’s worth noting that there is a level of intentionality involved in being childfree. And I don’t just mean avoiding getting pregnant, though that helps 😛

Make and Remake Your Decision Continually

When I first started thinking about setting goals to be more intentional, I admit that I didn’t think I had much work to do in the childfree department. But the thing about being childfree is that it’s a decision that needs to be made and remade continually (just as Virginia Woolf would have advised) — at least in my case. There were times in 2017 that I wavered about my decision. I felt quite guilty at first but, after a bit of self-reflection, I cut myself some slack — I’m only human after all.

I also started thinking some more about when I decided not to have children. I can vividly remember the moment when I made the deliberate choice to be childfree. However, in my naivete, I thought the feeling I got from this epiphany would last forever. Of course, that’s just not realistic.

Example: When I’m on an airplane and a little kid is kicking the back of my seat, I’m 100% assured of my choice. When I’m picking out newborn outfits for my pregnant friend, I often feel a twinge of “What if” and my percentage of assurance temporarily dwindles.

To be resolutely childfree, one could think wavering is not an option but I disagree. I think it’s what you do when you have those moments that makes you resolute. I don’t feel guilty for those fleeting/rose-colored-glasses moments any more and neither should you. Eventually, you can even learn to anticipate them. However, when these times of uncertainty come up, take the opportunity to remake your decision to be childfree. This is key! But, how can this be done?

Communicate Your Choice

Childfree author, editor, and blogger Laura Carroll gave three tips to improve acceptance and awareness of the childfree choice.

These tips are meant to be used by childfree people when talking to those who are not childfree but I’ve found using them also helps me reassure myself. I recommend you read the post in full but I do want to share one point in particular:

Be bolder in your communications.

How? Laura writes, “Explain less, question more. Be willing to ask those who are querying, or pressuring why they are asking you what they are asking you, why they are pressuring you. Assert more in the direction of getting them explaining themselves.”

As I stated earlier, I want to become more intentional and, for me, this includes my communication with others. I also believe that no one thinks more thoroughly about the choice to have/not have children than the childfree. We’ve gone through all the pros and cons a million times. We expect people to question us. As Laura suggests, why not question others? Why not open that dialogue with others?

I’ve found talking openly about my choice not to have children makes me more secure in my own decision-making. Also, I like the idea of flipping the script from “Why don’t you have children?” to “Why do you ask?” or even, depending on how close you are to the person questioning you, “Why did you decide to have children?” Hearing others’ reasons for having children may remind you of the reasons why you don’t.

Of course, talking about your choice isn’t the only way you for you to become resolutely childfree. I’d love to hear what you do to stay resolute in your decision to be childfree? Please share below! I plan to use some responses in a follow-up post 🙂

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Comments

  1. Happy New Year, Brittany! I really enjoyed this post and reading about your intentional year ahead. Thanks for the shoutout to my post, too 🙂 I’m so pleased it spoke to you.

    I couldn’t agree more that for most people, being childfree is something that has to be constantly reaffirmed. For my husband, it was a one-off decision and that was that for him; he dislikes babies and children and the decision was made once and for all. For me, though, it’s an ongoing choice and isn’t without its difficult moments. Like you, I have those easy moments (eg. watching a documentary on overpopulation) and hard moments (eg. seeing a baby smile adoringly at one of its parents). I remain resolute in my choice by reminding myself of everything I have to gain from being childfree rather than getting hung up on the ‘what ifs’. When I think of the freedom and independence this choice is affording me, I know it’s the right one. I have so many things going on in my life right now, as well as so many exciting plans for the future, that the momentary babylust always end up being just that – momentary.

    I also love your idea of flipping the script when it comes to those perpetual ‘whys’. Firstly, I can see the value in it helping the questioner appreciate that society holds a bias towards the childfree, and to draw their attention to the fact that their own decision has never been questioned. Secondly, I’m genuinely really interested to understand others’ motivations for having children. Each childfree person has their own unique story, and I know there would be a myriad of stories out there when it comes to choosing to be a parent. Three women I know through work went through many years of IVF with their spouses to have children. In fact, one of them went through no less than 10 years of IVF! (Side note: she now has two teenage boys who cause her ENORMOUS frustration and angst.) I’ve never asked these women why they were so determined to have children and I would actually love to know. Is it because they felt a burning desire to be parents, or did they feel so much pressure from their families/friends/society that they concluded they’d never be ‘complete’ as a couple until they produced offspring?

    Thanks for another inspiring and insightful post!

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa. I had to include part of your comment in my latest post — it was so good! I hope 2018 finds you well 🙂

  2. Reply

    First off, it’s good to know someone is reading my newsletters 😂. Secondly, I’m glad you found it useful! At the beginning of a new year, we can get caught up in the newness of it all. And that’s fine to be excited for new opportunities, but, not if that means getting so caught up you don’t have the chance to really think through any decisions you have to make. I can’t wait to read Laura’s piece. And I also loved Lisa’s piece on saying no. I need to work on being assertive in my own decisions to others, so I might have to try out flipping questions around on them! Happy New Year, Brittany!

    1. Thanks Britt! I hope you’re enjoying 2018 thus far. Excited to keep up with your shopping ban!

    • Marcie
    • January 10, 2018
    Reply

    Being an elementary special education teacher I feel I get two “new years.” August is the beginning of my professional new year which is when I set all of my professional goals for the year. January is more of a personal new year. Brittany, I really liked the quote from Britt of Tiny Ambitions and your thoughts surrounding slowing down. It’s nothing I ever considered but it is so true. Both professionally and personally I feel we start a new year off with gusto and quickly fizzle out. Perhaps if we took the time to really analyze, and as you put it, make intentional, smart goals, we will be more successful throughout the year.

    In terms of being childfree this was a decision I made at a young age and have never wavered on. I have never even thought of needing to stay resolute in my decision. As contrary as it may seem, given my profession, I actually am not fond of children, especially those younger than 5. Every day I am reminded as to why I am childfree and thankful to myself for making that decision. I love going home to a quiet house, having the weekends to do whatever I want and traveling all summer. Although I seem to be fortunate to not have the questions that other childfree and childless women do, I agree with your assertion to question more. By starting a dialogue we take the stigmas away.

    Thanks for thoughts to ponder in 2018!

    1. You’re very welcome and thank you for your comment. I just had to include part of it in my latest post 🙂 Wishing you all the best in 2018!

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