I hardly know what to do with myself. For the first time in two months, I got up today not having a daily writing or blogging challenge to fulfill. In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo. As November was drawing to a close, I discovered #reverb10, so I chose it for December. All of these challenges kept me motivated daily, were a great way to kickstart my writing habit again, and were a great inspiration for self-reflection.
Now I’m sort of hooked, so I was on the lookout for a writing challenge for January. Instead, I found #mindful52: Year of Mindfulness * 52 Weeks of FOCUS. This challenge is with a much smaller group of people and will concentrate on both journaling and blogging around a weekly thought*concept*practice. Focus is exactly what I need this year, and I’m excited about having a continual reminder to work on my mindfulness. I think I’ll still try to blog every day, however I’ll also make sure that I’m writing outside of the blog as well.
This week, #mindful52 encourages us to work with the concept of new beginnings occurring all the time. As you remain hopeful contemplating the year ahead – make lists and think about what you’d like to achieve.
I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions, since I’m naturally adverse to anything that seems cheesy, false, or forced. Normally, I’m resistant to structure and discipline and in favor of winging it and spontaneity. But something is different this year. I’ve begun to realize that some things are never going to change if I don’t make some goals and structure my life so that I’m making daily progress towards small, achievable things.
I have outlined some general goals on this blog over the last month and have privately been crafting and sketching out some more. Here’s my progress so far.
As I outlined in an earlier blogpost prompted by #reverb10, I made a short list of my most important daily commitments (one of the suggestions in The Power of Less, see below).
- Family (hubby and animal family)
- Vegan advocacy
- Reading, writing and other creative pursuits
What do I do each day that doesn’t contribute to one of the above — and can I eliminate it?
- Day Job: No
- Piss around reading various social media threads: Yes
- Worry: Yes, in theory
- Multi-task: Yes
- Stay up too late blogging, sleep in too late the next day: Yes
New habits that I’d like to establish in 2011. (I’d like to think of some great rewards for myself for sticking to these):
- Be 15 minutes early for everything for an entire month. This means leaving 1/2 hour early to anything around town.
- Go to bed by 10 p.m., get up by 6:30 a.m. every weekday for a month. No more late night blogging. This one is a big challenge for me. I’m naturally a night owl and for the most part I make my own consulting schedule. Additionally, I hit my stride mid-afternoon and on into the evening as far as productivity goes. Also, I have a really hard time getting up in the dark during the winter. And yet, there are certain advantages to conforming to a “normal” workday schedule. Also, I’d like to exercise and write on a regular basis before other distractions and commitments take hold, and since these are on my short list, I need to make them a priority. I’m curious to see if I can stick with this for a month. At that point, if I feel that my productivity has taken a hit, I will reconsider. Part of me is really rebelling against this because of all the self-righteous “morning people” who have created this cultural myth that you’re a bad person if you’re not an early riser. But it’s not like I’m trying to get up at 4:30 a.m or anything crazy like that, so it should be doable.
- Write every day for ½ hour, not including blogging.
- Blog early in the day. Not sure how this is going to fit in yet.
- Start over with Flylady’s baby steps to keep my house clean and decluttered.
2011 Goals (I need to break these down into small steps):
- Learn to tell better stories—out loud and through my writing.
- Write a story worthy of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine.
- Learn to make people laugh (besides myself).
- Laugh more daily. Things that make me laugh out loud: Bizarro & Awkward Family Photos.
- Create some art outside of the computer—painting, drawing, more mosaics? (Where do I start?)
- Go birding & hiking again (miss this).
- Expand my front yard gardening knowledge.
- Grow my career in a creative and satisfying way.
- Interview some people who intimidate me.
- Take more photos: of myself (because there are very few), and of my hubby and animal family (because the days are short).
- Open myself up to making new friends. Maintain current friendships.
- Plan and take a road trip with my husband.
- Start a regular yoga practice again.
Things my life doesn’t need in 2001 and how I’ll work on eliminating them:
- Mental clutter—write more, multitask less.
- Things clutter—keep purging, keep flying.
- Fear & worry—write daily, keep choosing to do new scary things, express and explore through writing and art.
- Indecision—write, and hope that things become clear.
- Guilt—don’t set myself up for it.
- Stress—create structure, leave more time between appointments.
- Envy & jealousy—working on 3-6 will help.
- Grief—impossible to eliminate, but here’s hoping for a year without more loss— if grief, then write.
- Pneumonia and/or bronchitis—closely tied to grief: express myself through writing, keep fit, do yoga, meditate, get acupuncture.
- Cynicism (but keep critical thinking).
- Negative people—avoid when possible, counteract with compassion.
- Money issues—closely manage, but let go of 3, 5, 6, & 7.
Ideas for theme months:
- I’d like to have one month where I create something every day (not writing and preferably not on the computer). This could be part of learning to draw or paint or craft, or to pick up mosaics again, etc. If anybody knows of a group of people who are doing this as a challenge, let me know.
- February will be my Light Box month. It’s typically a hard month for me because it’s the month my mom died, and as of 2010, the month my old friend Connecticut died. Usually, I let it sneak up on me and end up getting physically ill. This year I’m determined to face it head on by reading, writing, and blogging about grief, illness, and mortality.
That’s about it for my lists; a work in progress. Please let me know if you have ideas and suggestions for helping me to focus.
Some books & resources that have helped me to start thinking about goals this year:
- The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin
- The Power of Less, by Leo Babauta
- After The Year of Let’er Rip, What’s Next?
- My 5 “Secret Ingredients” for a Healthy, Happy 2011