I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do like to review my life and think about the things I want to do more often. Whether I call them goals or intentions doesn’t matter. I challenge myself in a way that will help me to do more, and this year, I want that challenge to be about birds.
In 2018, I challenged myself to read more. I chose 38 books from my very long To Be Read list and dove in. It took planning and effort, but it was worth it. While I didn’t read all 38 books, I did read more, so the challenge was a great success.
For 2020, I want to bird more. Due to poor health, I managed very few very few birding walks in 2019, and our only vacation was to a place that isn’t very birdy (although I did have an amazing experience with ravens while I was there). So it should be easy to do more this year.
The whole point of setting a goal is to push myself, so any birding challenge I choose is going to take some effort. At the same time, I have to accept my limitations. Given my health issues, a goal to take a 5-mile birding walk every week is probably too much. I don’t want to set myself up for failure.
The goals that work best are specific. “Bird more” won’t work, because while I can figure out what I might do, I don’t have any way to know if I’ve succeeded.
And what does “bird” mean? Standing on my porch with binoculars? Do I have to leave my neighborhood? Is ten minutes enough or do I have to be out for four hours? What counts?
Before deciding, I made a list of possible birding goals for 2020.
1) Larimer County Big Year (i.e., count all the species I see in the county)
2) Colorado Big Year (same idea, but for the state)
3) See some species I know are in the area but that I haven’t seen yet (like Cassin’s finch)
4) Bird once a week
5) Submit a list to eBird once a week
6) Set a life list goal (pick a specific number I want to reach)
While I am tempted by the counting goals (specifically options 1 and 2), they would apply a constant pressure I don’t want to live with. The finish line is a year away and I would feel like I had to be birding constantly, which isn’t feasible. I need something I can check off regularly that allows me to say “I’m done for now.” The species goals (3 and 6) have a definite finish line, but I have no control over whether or not I succeed. I know from past experience that even when a bird is around, there’s no guarantee you will see it.
So I’ve decide to combine options 4 and 5. I will bird once a week, and then report my sightings to eBird. To count, I must go outside to look at birds for at least ten minutes. That way I will have to get out of the house, but I can stay in the neighborhood and keep it short if I’m having a rough week. With luck, this is a goal I can stick with all year, one that will increase the amount of birding I do and help me to make more time for something I know I enjoy.
Do you set goals or intentions for the year? What are you hoping to do more of in 2020?