Here we are, April 4, 2021. It is Pascha or Easter to most native English speakers. For those of us in the Orthodox Churches, it is the Third Sunday of Great Lent. We will celebrate Pascha in four weeks.
Today is also a resolutions review day. It is 61 days since my Groundhog’s Day resolutions post. It is time to reflect on the identities I have chosen to focus on this year.
I am a person who uses a calendar
Calendar usage is the identity I have had the most progress in doing. That does not mean I’m using a calendar to schedule days well. It just reflects that it was so alien that any movement is going to be improved at least in the first few months of this year.
I have found a way of scheduling that is working better. Instead of my daily agenda in Emacs org-mode, for now, I have it back in a paper planner. I am experimenting with this combination bullet journal/agenda page format. Once I have something that works, I may work on an org-mode format which I print out daily. I have dropped down my scheduling window. Instead of scheduling 8-8, I’m starting the day at 9 and ending it as 6 unless I have an appointment outside those regions. That is a product of both my work hours and the number of squares on the smaller TUL paper I am using. Right now I’d say I do about half the things on my schedule as scheduling. Calls to Z and calibration responsibilities at work are the most reliable. The space from 11 until 1, dead between those things, is the second most consistent. The start and end padding, 9 to 10, and either 3 to 6 or 5ish to 6 are less so.
One thing has gone away because of the scheduling. I have let the top three to-do items, my old win, place, and show method, go. First, the calendar usage tracks well with the third principle in Organize Tomorrow Today while the top three are the titular method that opens the book. The authors recommend tackling one at a time until you are hitting it at a 90% level for three months. Only when you hit that metric should you add a second. While I have done the top three in some form for years, originally as a top-five picked up from Zig Ziglar, I have never hit that 90% over three months. In letting it go, I can focus more on the calendar. If the calendar succeeds, I think the ability to schedule the top three in it will lead to more success there. Selk and Barlow assume the top three are scheduled in their discussion which lends credence to my theory.
I am a writer
In March I worked on two aspects of being a writer. I tried to write more regularly. I did read more.
I did two things to write regularly in March. First, I dropped my daily fiction target to 500 words. I got some traction in the first half of the month. I also attempted to blog daily. The first actually held until I visited my family mid-month then took a week’s vacation. I worked while visiting and thus the nights where I would write were spent with them. That was planned, but not getting back on the horse while spending a week’s staycation at home was not. This is a disappointment as I got some real momentum on a short story that I lost.
The daily blogging was just too much. It did not help that it was unstructured. As of today, I will be one day short of tying consecutive days in March. I am confident I will make it at least 10 days. The difference is structure. I am doing this year’s A-Z blogging challenge, which gives me focus Monday through Saturday. This week, the need for the Groundhog Day Resolutions post provides it. Next week, I want to return to Sunday link blogging to add structure.
I have done much better with reading. Again, structure helps. While I only got a couple of full Bradbury reading days in March, I got several partial days where I got one or two of the three items. I also have been working on a novel a week, selecting them to fit the writer’s daily practice recommended in The Story Grid community. One thing structures do is take me out of my default zones. My current novel is The Natural by $AUTHOR, which I doubt I’d have picked up except for the need to read three novels in the competition content genre as part of the daily practice. For shorts, I am working through volume six of The Collected Short Stories of Louis L’amour. This collects his crime and sports stories. The first “Unguarded Moment”, is another one of those “why can’t I write like this” stories that provide a spur to learn my craft.
I invite luck into my life
Unlike the other two identities, this one was flat over March. I missed a huge opportunity with the start of Great Lent for the Orthodox starting mid-month. I have been remiss about fasting in general for several years. I last followed the calendar of Lent in 2017. That is a long time. I feel a pang of odd guilt in starting Lent late or doing only normal fasting. Two years running I have promised myself I would return to the regular calendar with the end of the Pascha feast week. I am afraid to promise myself only to fail a third time. I have continued to add the Jesus Prayer to my day, making the past two months the most prayerful I have ever had, but it is a long journey to continuous prayer. That is the journey not of a year, but of a lifetime. Still, a long journey is the essence of the Christian Faith. It is not a destination you reach and remain in during your life.
I have been okay with taking walks or getting other exercise, defined as mowing one day last week. I actually got a daily walk while on vacation. I let rain stop walks instead of substitution with the treadmill, weights, or pool at the gym. For April, beyond walks, I want to return to the push-up plan I was doing before the heart attack.
Writing ten ideas and making at least one social connection daily have been very hit and miss. Writing the ideas will go in my calendar, starting with tomorrow. That will cover Monday through Friday every week and maybe some weekend days. I need to devote some of those to “10 ideas for making more social connections” to help with the latter.
It might not seem like it, but this is actually my best resolution progress in years. I have made two reflections in a row. This indicates mindfulness and commitment I did not have in 2020 or 2019. That alone is a positive step. I think at this rate the two new identities will be firmly in place by 12/12. The big question is will writing be refreshed and move forward towards my “retire to a final career of writing fiction on 2026/05/10” goal.