2017’s beady eyes are peering over the horizon, and it’s the first time that I’ve bothered to look back in earnest at promises made in the haze of New Year enthusiasm.
Sounds like progress, right? Right.
So let’s see how those puzzle pieces are lining up:
1. Self-Awareness – If you’ve read my recent posts, you know that I’m staying aware (ha!) of self-awareness. One of my experiments over the past year had me exploring mindful meditation (If you’re interested, I recommend starting here and here). I stopped after a couple of months, but I know that I should pick it up again. The practice really helped me be more aware of myself in two ways:
a. Understanding that “pain is unavoidable, but suffering is optional.” I came to recognize that thoughts are benign. It’s the meaning we apply to them that affects how we feel, but the lines are so blurred inside most of us, we end up letting our feelings control us. Mindfulness is essentially the practice of recognizing those thoughts (not ignoring them) and seeing them for what they are.
b. Improving concentration. I am like a toddler times ten. Focus is something I desperately want to improve because I feel like I could accomplish so much more with writing and reading. Meditation practice helps here because the novice is instructed to draw focus to their breath whenever the mind tries to stray. If you’ve ever tried focusing only on your breath for ten minutes, you know just how much of a struggle this can be.
2. Discipline – Inspired by Jocko Willink and his #DisciplineEqualsFreedom mantra, I’ve tried some interesting things here. In addition to what I outlined in January, I’ve also taken cold showers for thirty days straight, attempted and completed the Wim Hof 10-week course, and lost thirty pounds.
a. Waking up at 5:15 AM six out of seven days.
5:15 AM wound its way back into 4:30 AM. It’s still difficult at times, but I think a large part of my brain and body has resigned itself to the new reality. Slow afternoons and comfortable seating are the enemies now. That’s okay. Those are just more reasons to stay busy.
b. Exercising six days a week.
This is going well. I’m lifting weights for four of those days and running around the neighborhood the other two (I’m finally able to run three miles at a comfortable pace). My rest day is usually composed of “active rest” (i.e. still up and about, but not pushing myself).
Combined with an overactive two-year-old, I won’t hesitate to say I’m probably in the best shape of my life right now. It feels good.
c. Learning Spanish.
I’ve surprised myself on this one. I’m about to hit a full year without missing one day of lessons on my Duolingo app. No soy todavía un maestro, pero estoy mejorando.
I’m far from fluent, but every day of practice reinforces my learning a little bit more. I’ll occasionally put on a Spanish-language radio station in the car and smile when I realize I understand what’s being said.
d. Reading every day with Angus.
I’ve not kept up with this one as well as I should and a couple of months ago, realized I’d been slacking. Luckily, I’ve found him bringing me books almost every day, so we still getting the reading in, I’m just not as intentional about it as I should be.
Still, we’ve been doing a lot of other creative activities like puzzles, drawing, Play-Doh, kinetic sand (amazing), flashcards, and a little magnet board with letters, numbers, and shapes.
e. Thanking someone every day.
Major failure here. Again, it may happen, but not intentionally. I’m going to put this as a recurring task in my Todoist.
3. Ownership – This has been another tough one. Realizing this, I just printed the following Jocko quote and pinned it to my cube:
You must own everything in your world. There is no one else to blame.
Ownership has to be intentionally practiced. It’s so anathema to us. No one wants to be the reason why something is screwed up, yet I’ve seen some magical things happen when the ego is sedated. Either people come together and share responsibility, or we realize that the fault is indeed ours and we need to learn a valuable lesson.
4. Charisma – Another uneven experiment. I haven’t resigned myself to the INTJ box. I’ve made some good acquaintances and professional contacts this year as I’ve reached out, but there are still times when I’m overcome with shyness and have regretted it.
If I had to describe my Rubik’s Cube of promises and declarations, I’d say I have a game plan of which color will be on which side, maybe even a few blues and reds lined up next to each other. Yet I have a long way to go before I can declare this conundrum solved.
I’ll be spending time over the next couple of months thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2017 and how I can position myself to line up more colors. I encourage anyone reading this to do the same. Be flexible, though, and take some time to check in with yourself every few months.
If you’ve already done some review and/or have started thinking about next year…mind sharing?