I was just re-reading my post from April’s challenges. April was kind of a month of everything – lots of running around. May was not that. May got simple. I’m set up here in Vancouver and have my own space (a first in four years) and am coming to enjoy the simpler things — having a morning coffee outside, listening to music, watching a baseball game, exploring my new neighborhood. Got to say, too, that Van sure makes it easy. One month in, I’m convinced this is the most beautiful city I’ve been through (naturally). That certainly helps keep the mood too.
May really gave me some time to focus on my goals and start to put some habits together on achieving them. Overall I did pretty well I’d say. Let’s have a look!
Keep A Tidy House [Lifestyle Goal]
Goal: No dishes in the sink at the end of the night. No clothes on the floor either.
Result: 29/31 nights.
Count was kept on a sheet with a calendar of May crudely drawn on it. An “X” was added the next morning if I woke up to no dishes or clothes on the floor. I managed well on the clothes (which is actually probably a more common bad habit on my part). The dishes were the two times I missed this.
I hate dishes. Still do. This didn’t make it any easier. But I find a few methods that worked.
One was something I figured out early on. See what I was doing was using the sink as a kind of sitting place for the dishes. So instead of dumping a dish in there, I left it in a stranger spot — on top of the counter that is in my living room, for instance. That worked until I got lazy and started having flies all around the apartment (it’s nice enough in Van to leave my balcony door open all the time, so I like the take advantage of the fresh air.
Next, I left the light on over my stove — meaning I had to fully walk into the kitchen to turn the light off. That worked for about a week and then I started getting lazy. Almost missed a day as I was going to bed. Had to convince myself to get out and do the dishes.
Later, a friend revealed a trick he used —simply just counting the seconds it takes to finish the task/chore. It works especially well for dishes. This has two (2) effects: (1) you realize how quickly you can really do dishes (most of my times were 2-3 minutes), and (2) you get to race yourself. I could guess how long it would take me and then either (a) try to get near that time or (b) beat it. Fun helps form habits.
Write Book Reviews [Writing Goal]
Goal: 3 published reviews
Result: Done. My reviews for Travels with Charley (Steinbeck), One Summer (Bryson), and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Eggers).
This was fun. It, of course, forced me to read these books which was enjoyable in itself. It also made think while reading, “what’s really going on with my experience here?” And gave a new edge to reading.
I don’t read a lot of book reviews, but I wrote in a style I’m comfortable with and thought hard about what the books and authors left me with. Finished this one on the last day of May!
Pull-Ups [Health Goal]
Goal: 10 consecutive pull-ups
Result: 10 pull-ups over bar, 5 strict pull-ups.
I didn’t specify my goal here, so it’s hard to give a pass/fail on this one. In the past, the ten pull-ups (head below bar, head above, etc..) probably would have counted just fine. The “strict” pull-up — all the way down — is of course much harder.
The positive here is improvement. I tested my pull-ups on the first day of May and got to 4 pull-ups, and about 2.5 strict. That’s more than a 2x improvement on these, so I’ll take that as a positive sign. It was certainly an improvement.
To accomplish this improvement, I set out to practice the pull-up multiple times per day. AT least once in the morning and once at night I got myself to do pull-ups, and then experimented with doing negatives (starting near the top and slowly lowering myself down). These all helped build up my pull-up count.
May was a good month to sit back and assess some of my challenges and what I’m accomplishing. I had more time to devote to them (I don’t think I could have finished three books in any other month this year). As life as slowed down for me due to staying put for a bit, I found some room to dive deeper into my 2015 project. I’ve made notes on self-systemization that I think will carry me in my future endeavors, but still nothing quite complete as a full framework or system. Closer, but not close yet.
As the month progressed, I found new tricks for habit-forming (see the lifestyle goal) — one’s that I’m still using past the month’s end. I also found success in blocking time off in my calendar to make sure I attended to my goals. I stuck with one old lesson as well — performing something before doing something I would do anyway. (In this case, it was doing pull-ups before I had my all-important morning coffee).
I’m still looking for greater assurances of success but I feel myself getting more used to my discipline cycles and finding ways to either overcome any lack thereof, or motivate myself in other ways. What I’m looking for is a larger sea-change in myself (or a trigger that can cause that), but the monthly goals are short and don’t always allow for that exploration.
What i’ve set forward, then, is a June full of my most ambitious goals yet. These will not be easy (see my Home page for a listing of those). I’ll need to be disciplined, dedicated, and focused — all while trying to tinker with a system that aids these paradigms. So we’ll see.
July, then, is an “off” month. It’s a reassessment time. What’s worked? What hasn’t? It’ll be time, then, to put forward the first go at a system and see if it makes or breaks. More on that later, of course.
For now, June is already begun and I have goals to attend to!