“Damn, we’re already four months into this year.”
Sunday was a beautiful day. I woke up late in the morning after a long night of birthday craziness and hopped on the Yamanote. The hour-long trek back to Ibaraki. Each stop I passed was more beautiful than the next; the sakura were in full bloom. When I finally arrived at my transfer stop in Ueno, a swarm of people were getting off the Joban line. A good 1,000 people from my prefecture and beyond had come into Tokyo to enjoy the day. And I was one of the 50 or so people getting on to go back. Something wasn’t right. I hopped off the train before it pulled out of the station; determined to enjoy my beautiful birthday.
I walked and walked. From Ueno Park to the zoo, down to Electric City to relive my childhood in the arcades. Then deeper into Chiyoda. I stopped for a bite to eat and walked some more. All the while the needle never left the vinyl record called Consciousness. I thought and walked and reflected on things that have happened since April 6 of last year. In particular, the last four months. Was I keeping up with the plans I set for myself in 2014? Was I making progress? Here’s the story so far, for the record.
Around the beginning of the year I wrote a few posts related to things I learned in 2013, and the plans I would implement to achieve more goals in 2014. I wrote out an Impossible List to document my journey. I have also tried to the best of my ability to incorporate the things I learned last year into everyday living. Monthly habits, simplicity, and smiling. As for smiling, so far so good. I’ve gotten into an awesome habit of just smiling whenever I fall into a continuous streak of negative thinking. I make it a point to smile often daily, and have just been surrounding myself with more comedy in general. Anything to get those endorphins up.
Simplicity. This one has been a little bit more difficult. I started out with simplifying my living space. I was tired of coming home to a house in disarray. Of course I knew where everything was at, but that didn’t mean it had to be all unorganized. Honestly, this is something I’m still working on. My apartment definitely looks much better than it did in January. I’m realizing it all comes down to doing small things daily. Instead of throwing mail in a pile for later reading, I read it all as soon as I step in the door. Bills go one place, work stuff in another folder and junk in the trash. That’s one pile that will never form on my desk again.
Simplistic thinking and decision-making has been a whole different monster. One of the main reasons why is because I tie the decisions I make into the very fabric of my identity. If I decide to cook dinner one night and then eat out instead, I feel like I’m committing some grave sin. Then I spend a half-hour bullying myself over a choice that would never seriously impact my future.
I also have a very active double consciousness. Always wondering what people are thinking about when they interact with me. At this moment, I’m still wondering if my tone with a waiter was disrespectful. A waiter at a restaurant that I went to over two weeks ago. I rethink conversations I had with friends and coworkers, wondering if I said the right things. If I came correct.
I don’t think this type of dwelling really ever goes away. But one thing I did improve is recognizing when it happens. The better I get at recognizing these time wasting activities, the less they come back. How did I get better at doing this? Thoughts physically exist before we are consciously aware of them. How could I possibly build awareness in the realm of unconsciousness? Well, I started writing, “Simplicity” at the top of my to-do list. Everyday.
This small act serves as a reminder to be mindful of my thoughts. By doing this daily, I am literally programming code into my brain. Creating a neural pathway through which commands can be rerouted. Over time, this code will influence my very own thought processes. Provided that I also make efforts in the external world to change my ways.
In thirty days it’s mine. Something I learned from Scott Dismore and the Live Your Legend community. This mantra (which I also write in my to-do list daily) lets me know that if I do something everyday for a month, it will become a habit. Thank (insert your Supreme Entity of choice) for neuroplasticity. The first habit I built was dishwashing. Since I’ve been living alone, I got into this habit of letting dishes sit overnight until I got home from work the next day. I got tired of coming home to that stuff, even if it was just one plate with bread crumbs. Now, I can’t get to sleep if there’s a butter knife in the sink. I rewrote my cleanliness program.
The next month I tried eating fruits daily. This started out well. I’d pick one fruit, like bananas, and eat it everyday. But it got kind of expensive. Yeah, it’s an excuse. I know. Right now I switched to yogurt with fruit chunks in it, which is surprisingly much cheaper than the actual stuff. I eat that everyday. I’m working on changing my diet, while keeping within the budget I set for myself. Baby steps; better than no steps.
For March, the next habit was journaling. I was already writing sporadically a few days a week. But I wanted to solidify this as a daily habit, because of how much it helps me. Besides missing a day or two here and there, I’ve been going strong since. In addition, I’m writing more; averaging 600-1000 words a day. (Most of my posts are around 1,100 words, but of course these take longer to do because of the structure involved.) The next habit to branch off of this will be daily structured writing of about 500 words a day.
As you might notice, most of the habits I am building every month do not take a whole lot of time to do everyday. In addition, they are not intensely difficult. So I never lose my motivation to do these tasks. Also, the more I do these activities, the better I get at them. So I can build off of them without necessarily spending more time. I hate to drop an overused saying here, but I finally appreciate its meaning. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither were the rest of us.
As for my Impossible List, I made some modifications and updates to it. You can see it in its entirety in the About section. Pretty much, beneath the huge goals I have started, I have documented the mini-achievements I have gained along the way. If you’re interested in building a new habit or creating an Impossible List, please talk to me! I’d be happy to help. Besides, I need an accountability partner (lol). I look forward to hearing about your Journeys!