Just like that we’re already halfway through 2014. It seems as if I’ve been writing in the same notebook since January. I look onto my apartment floor and see a short pile of the same black notebooks with the Mnemosyne insignia on the front. I’m surprised I haven’t contracted carpal tunnel yet from all the daily writing and typing.
When we were about a third of the way through the year, I gave you all an update on my goals. You can check it out here. Now that we’re two thirds through 2014, it seemed only right that I hold myself accountable for the subsequent progress I have been making, the obstacles I’ve encountered, and anything else worth mentioning in this Journey. I have three overarching ideas which serve as a compass for my specific goals. They are: Simplicity, 30 Days and It’s Mine, and Just Smile. So here it is, for the record. (part 2).
As of four months ago, this is still a work in progress. My mind can think a mile a minute (sometimes it’s more entertaining than watching TV, lol). I still have a tendency to analyze everything. Daily freewriting and occasional freestyling has helped with this though. It allows me to express my thoughts without judgement. Without judging myself.
Although my thinking is sometimes all over the place, my lifestyle has actually become simplified. This is due to the rituals that have now become an inseparable part of my daily routine. Every morning, seven days a week, I write out a schedule for the day. Even on days off there’s always something I could be doing. I have found that time-specific scheduling keeps my brain on track. It’s rare, but if I do forget to write out this schedule, I would find myself waking from an Internet coma around 7:00pm. The entire day gone, just like that. In addition to scheduling things, I only work within the time period given for the activity. So if I schedule in an hour of Japanese study, I set my timer for an hour and do nothing else but Japanese. Soon as that alarm goes off I’m on to the next thing. I’ve never been more focused than I am with a timer. If your mind wanders often like mine, I’d suggest trying it.
Lastly, since last weekend I’ve been trying a technique I read about on James Clear. Do the most important thing first. Before, I would try to fit in my top priority, finishing The Enlightenment, wherever I had the time. It wasn’t a ritual, it was something I did at any time of the day. I noticed that writing out my daily schedule became something I did without thinking, because I did it at the same time every morning. While reading this article, it made perfect sense that my most treasured activity needed a specific time in the day for it to be done. Now every morning, as soon as I wake up, I reach over the side of the bed for my notebook and begin writing. Before the day starts, before I have to deal with the immediate and unimportant (in the grand scheme of things) concerns of work and life, before I even brush my teeth…the most important goal of the day is completed. How’s that for a confidence booster?
30 Days and It’s Mine
Building small and beneficial habits seemed pretty easy in the early part of the year. The formula was working. I did one thing for about 30 days and it became a part of my routine. The last few months have been a bit more challenging though. It might be because I’m taking on more than I can handle. Regardless, I have taken the formula and focused it on the things I hold most important. Four months ago I mentioned taking my daily journaling habit into more structured daily writing. Now in addition to journaling, I spend time working on The Enlightenment or Tales of a Ronin. This habit took a lot longer than expected to build. It wasn’t a small activity that only took ten minutes of my day. The combination of journaling and structured writing could take up anywhere from 1 to 2+ hours a day. I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten this down perfectly like I am with just journaling (been at it for the last 150 days, minus a few weekends here and there). Some days the job is just busy and I have no time to do personal stuff. Still, I am much more consistent than I was in April.
Interestingly enough, I’ve developed some unintentional, but welcomed, habits as a result of my more structured and simpler lifestyle. I wake up at the same time every morning; without an alarm clock. At first this scared the hell out of me. I thought my phone was broken. In reality, I was just falling asleep before setting my alarm. And I kept doing this by accident, for weeks. But never once did I oversleep! I couldn’t explain it. What I think was going on is that my body had understood my routine: the things I do leading up to bed. Once a certain time hit, I was out. Even if I wanted to stay up longer. Nowadays I still use my alarm as a safety. Yet I always wake up before it.
Similar to my idea of Simplicity, “Just Smile” is sort of an idea I keep in mind to monitor my overall state of being. Being positive, looking up and not down, staying stress-free, and going with the flow. While it’s somewhat hard to measure something like this mathematically, I would say that I’m making progress on it. I don’t feel stressed. I don’t get caught up in the small things. I’m smiling.
Lastly, is the Impossible List. I didn’t look at it at all until I started writing this post. Before then, I had a feeling that I didn’t make much progress in the last four months. I was happy to find that I made a lot more progress than expected. They’re small baby steps, but I’m getting there. The list is posted on the About page. Finally, I’ll leave you all with this:
“Focus on your work and squint at success, but every once in a while look over your shoulders to see how far you’ve come.” –Pharrell Williams