Year-End Goals

Year-end goals

I’m now in the home stretch in NaNoWriMo. I’ve no doubt I’ll finish. I have 7K words to go and 3 days to finish, so even though it’s going to be a bit of a crank, if I know anything, it’s how to crank.  

Afterwards, I’ll celebrate, then report here on how it went for me this year. 

I’ve decided that’s what this blog is going to be about from now on: me giving a weekly report on my projects.

I like this use of a blog because I can use it as an accountability tool. 

I’m an Obliger. I need to be held accountable.

There’s only a month left in this year. For some reason, this thought shocks me.  

The other day I decided on some year-end goals.

They are:

1. Win NaNoWriMo

2. Compile my classes and spiral-bind them.

3. Learn 2 new Scrivener skills.

4. Learn to make a spreadsheet in Excel.

5. Blog twice a week, until the end of the year. 

6. Put 6 little notes in the mail each week.

Here are the 3 types of projects I like to take on:

Some sort of endurance challenge where I have to complete something hard over time.

Something that gives me a new skill or new knowledge.

Something that makes my life easier by reducing an irritant.

Right now, winning NaNo is my endurance challenge. Learning Scrivener and Excel will up my skills game. Compiling my classes will definitely make my my life tons easier. I’ll finally be able to locate the hundreds of sequences I’ve compiled over the years.

The blogging and the notes projects represent things I resist. I don’t know why, so I’ll need to think about that, get to the bottom of it.

So that’s the plan for this blog going forward.

Now though, I have to crank words. Next post: How I Won NaNoWriMo in 2018.

Giving Up Procrastination For Lent

Drowning man

I was going to do something for Lent, but never got around to deciding what.

I don’t want to “give up” anything; I want to add something.

I want a new challenge, a new activity, a new project.

I did the digital declutter in January and started a book club in February, now I really need something for March.

I could (re)commit to Edna’s O (my new reference book about endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, anandamide, serotonin and oxytocin) and say: FIRST DRAFT: By Easter I’ll have a first draft.

I could do that, but it doesn’t meet one of my Project-Driven Life criteria for a new project. It doesn’t check the “excitement” box.  And it really needs to. Or else I’m not going to be happy.

At the same time, I also realize that happiness isn’t a requirement for a worthwhile and enriching project.

I realize too that happiness requires struggle. (I wholly subscribe to that Stoic tenant. I do.)

But, I also need stim every day, even painful stim, if necessary. I want to feel as amped doing my work, as I will for having done it.

And truthfully?  This research really does excite me —once I’m in hip deep. So why all this sissy toe-dangling at the beginning? All this reluctance to get wet?

Once I’m in I know I’ll be fine, happy as a clam in fact. But it’s the anticipation of that head-hitting-the-water dive into the deep end every day that stops me, that fuels my procrastination. That’s the real struggle, not the actual work.

So I resist. But not for the next 6 weeks. No!  For the next 6 weeks I’m going to slay the resistance monster, make it numero uno on my To-Do List every day.

Might also be a good time to re-read The War of Art, and find an accountability partner.

Any takers?

Do You Need A Digital Declutter?

Hand reach out from laptop screen, isolated on black background

The other day I got an email from Cal Newport. He’s proposing to his email list the idea of doing a “digital declutter” in the month of January. It’s part of a study for his next book.

Here’s how he defines a digital declutter:

…you take a 30-day break from optional technologies in your personal life (social media, web browsing, etc). During this period, you clarify what you really value and experiment with how best to serve these values. At the end of the 30 days, you then add back technologies to your life in an intentional way with the goal of supporting these values.”

I signed up for it.

I don’t know all the fine print yet, but there goes Facebook, Twitter, and  Instagram for sure.

I don’t know about online newspapers, or podcasts yet either, but for sure he’ll paint bright lines around “constant email-checking”.

I am a little terrified of this.

That’s because I am currently under the zombie spell of media. Particularly political stuff.

I read my Twitter feed first thing.

I scroll Instagram.

I’m on Facebook.

I read the online versions of both the New York Times and the The Washington Post daily. I don’t watch Morning Joe, but I listen to the show’s 30-40 minute podcast every day.

 

And what do I get out of this?

Thousands and thousands of micro-hits of dopamine. All. Day. Long.

And I’m totally addicted. Rage and indignation are powerful and exciting drugs. A dark force inside me eats this stuff. And this force is hungry.

So I’m going cold-turkey for a month. The month of January.

It’s gonna be hard.  That kind of “giving up sugar” hard.

But the hope is by month’s end I’ll  have learned how to align my values to my social media habits, and not just use them to distract or enrage me. I want to learn how to be conscious in my use of it, not just get dopamine hits all day long.

I don’t want to get riled up, either good or bad, by media. I want to use it to support, collaborate, or connect with other people– not do whatever it is I’m doing with it now.

It’s very clear I need to take charge of my own eyeballs again. And also full responsibility for how I spend my time. I can’t let Twitter and Facebook, and Morning Joe hijack my attention, which is to say, my life, anymore.

I think this will be a good way to start the new year.

G says she want to do this, too. I’ll  be nice having a fellow sufferer. But even if she doesn’t do it, she understands why I need to, and will be there to root me on.

And this is not just me. From what I’m picking up from the people I talk to in real life, and follow on Facebook (hah), I’m not the only one feeling the need for this.

A lot of people struggle with social media..  If this “digital declutter” in January sounds interesting to you, here’s what you do: just follow this blog, and I’ll pass along any instructions and tips Cal passes on to me. We can do  this together if you want.

We can share stories and struggles in the comments.

(Now I just hope writing and reading blogs is allowed.)

Hm.

Stay tuned.

The Sugar Project

The Sugar Project

Sugar

Yesterday G and I decided to give up sugar for the rest of the month of February.
Good god, WHY???
The answer:
Just to see if we can do it AND,
if we will die doing it AND
how we will do it (rules, etc.).
AND, for me, how it will hack my biology.
Another personal reason  I want to do this is because I’ve been without a project for about 3 months.
Ever since I published my book, The Project-Driven Life I’ve been looking for a new project, but haven’t had any luck. I had hoped I would hit on something long-term and juicy, but nothing has occurred to me yet, so until that big, juicy thing arrives, this short bio-hack will do. It still fits all my “project” criteria:
  1. I’m excited about it. (Actually, I’m more curious
    than excited.)
  2. It has an end date: February 29th.
  3. I know what counts as done: No sugar for 19 days.
 
And, just to keep myself accountable (because I’m an Obliger) I’m going to blog about it every day.
The first thing we did was identify all the sugary stuff we currently eat on a regular basis. Here’s my list:
Honey and maple syrup. I like sweet oatmeal and I like syrup on pancakes and waffles. If I can’t have honey on my oatmeal or syrup on my waffles, I won’t eat those foods.
Mi-del Ginger Snaps. I’m kind of addicted to these at the moment. I like to eat them when I’m watching TV and sipping wine after class.
Ghiradelli Squares. When I want chocolate, these are what I want. I like the Milk and Caramel ones.
Talenti Gelato. Oh god. The Mediterranean Mint is crack. I could eat the whole pint by myself. With a spoon.
If I am craving sweets but want a “healthier” alternative I eat raisins or dates and congratulate myself on my virtue.
G’s list includes:
Her morning mocha, or if she makes coffee at home, her flavored creamer. (She likes sweet coffee.)
Mid-morning or mid-afternoon she goes for some kind of a “bar.” A Kind bar or other granola-y, faux-heathy snack. (She has a big stash of these bars in her office for pre-practice snacking.)
She also likes muffins.
We have identified these as our “Daily Dangers.”
So here’s how we did yesterday:
Neither of us caved. Go us!
I made myself a Bulletproof coffee for breakfast and then fasted until 2Pm when I got a salad to-go from Night and Day and an Americano, which I Bulletproofed when I got home.
I made this 40 Garlic Chicken Recipe for dinner (oh god, so good! Thanks for the recommendation, Em!) and had some before class.
After class, I had a glass of wine, and I did want some Ginger Snaps, but resisted. (win!)
G’s biggest danger is running out of fuel before practice. She had to find something to eat other than a bar.  She really needs a boost around 2PM, so yesterday she tried an apple and cashews. She came home starving though,  and dove into the 40 Garlic Chicken even before changing.
As we sat on the couch at the end of the evening and shared our respective days, she looked kind of sad and stricken.
She had a much harder first day than I did.
Onward.