I'd be nothing without you. Well, I'd be something, but I would be different than I am today. Each and every person who comes into my life has some influence on me, positive or negative, with behaviors, ideas, and attitudes that I consider, embrace, or reject. As this new year starts, I'm trying to be more aware and appreciative of the things others bring to my life.
The post that my co-pilot Nancy wrote yesterday was so much what I've been thinking and feeling lately, it's as though she took the words right out of my head (and arranged them better than I could have). I wanted to take the time in this post to talk about things that I'm thinking about and working on, and the people who helped me get there.
First, I also hopped on the attitude of gratitude bandwagon and decided to collect meaningful snippets throughout 2013 so that I will be able to look back a year from now and remember all the little things that really made a difference during the year. I'm a bit of a manic recycler, so I didn't have a large glass container with a lid. Normally, that would put me off starting this project. But I decided to use a smaller Mason jar (sans lid) to get going , and I will find the right container later. Later was supposed to be today, but it was only 4F when I woke up this morning, so I made the executive decision that it's more important to stay inside as much as possible today, particularly as it's supposed to be in the 30's for the next few days. My sense of accomplishment at buying just the right container would be overshadowed by the discomfort of running an unnecessary errand in the cold. Here's the stand-in:
I've also decided to be more forgiving about my schedule. I used to be the kind of person who had a list of things to do, and I usually did most of them on the day I planned to do them. My problem lay in my inability to get back on track with my daily list once someone had pushed me too far off of it. I was like a dieter who eats a cookie and then says, what the hell, and finished the entire box of cookies. If I got too far off the schedule, I'd lose focus. That wasn't a problem I'd had in the past, but over the past few years, I've had so many unexpected/unscheduled/unwanted intrusions into my control over my life that I gave up. I found a different way to manage, setting aside one hour blocks to devote to a particular activity, but I never got that to work for me. Then I read Rachael's post about doing that same thing, and it clicked with me. It also fit in nicely with a recent Newsweek article by Oliver Burkeman called The New Year's Resolutions that Won't Fail You. (Link is to Newsweek Pakistan for some odd reason; I read this in the regular USA print version of the magazine, December 24, 2012 issue.) Here's the genius part of this: just do what you wanted to do for an hour. Don't worry if you don't get everything done. You will get something done. And that will motivate you to do more. It's called the process-goal method for those who are looking for more information. Your goal should be to engage in the activity, not to necessarily achieve a particular outcome. Yeah, it's a little Zen. It's a good thing.
Here's an example of the process-goal method in action. I woke up on New Year's Day and told El Esposo that I wanted to start walking the dogs daily and I wanted him to come with us. (Poor Loco's ability to withstand cold has never been good, and he now gets exhausted much earlier than Pepsi does, so it would be nice to have a second walker in case someone needs to bring Loco home.) And El Esposo said it was too cold, let's start tomorrow. Of course, it's gotten even colder, so much so that I don't want to go for a walk. So, there goes my idea of walking the dogs together every day. . . January 3rd and we haven't done it once. If I use the process-goal method, and my and Rachael's hour long blocks idea, I can reframe my goal as this: I will devote one hour per day toward physical activity. That doesn't take care of the dogs, but they got lumped into family time blocks, so they are getting attention. And I've managed to keep my newly reframed goal. Yesterday, when I was trying to get the Wii up and running so I could get some of that exercise indoors, I was stymied by the missing television remote, which wouldn't allow me to change the input from regular tv to Wii. It took me over 20 minutes of looking for the remote before I gave up on it. The old me would have crossed exercise off the list because it was "impossible." The new me reckoned I had 40 more minutes allotted to exercising, so I needed to do something during that time. I figured out how to change the tv input without the remote, got the Wii working, and got my exercise.
This new mindset has been a breath of fresh air, though I'm working to reconcile it with all the fun little ways I set and celebrate reaching goals. I suppose I can use them to celebrate the small successes and keep track of my accomplishments, just as I'm collecting little meaningful moments on scraps of paper in that Mason jar.
Here are some of the ways I'm *trying* to celebrate accomplishments:
MyFitnessPal - I forget how I found this, but I can go about 3-4 weeks before I stop using it. I'm trying to be more consistent with this.
Nike+ - I got a Nike FuelBand this fall, and I wear it 24/7 (except for showers) and it's become a great way to gauge how active I am, relative to how active I usually am. There have definitely been days when I have been dismayed by my low score and done some exercise to increase my FuelPoints. Best of all, this syncs with my phone and computer, so I don't have to remember to enter anything. And I love it when I see this message:
In the words of Thomas A. Edison, "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." I don't know if I will ever be a genius at anything, but I'm working on finding the right balance of inspiration and perspiration for me. Thanks to all who have helped me along the way, and welcome to everyone who wants to join me as we embark on a wonderful 2013.