Nov 152008

Two weeks ago I wrote about some fancy new goals that I had set for myself. I thought I’d try this “public accountability” everybody is talking about these days. Of course I thought I’d be back to report a week later but I wasn’t. Mostly because I had this really annoying persistent cough that made me want to do nothing but stay in bed all day. My goals were:

  1. only eat at mealtimes. That is: breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner.
  2. exercise at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes. Walking while doing errands doesn’t count.
  3. play guitar or piano for at least ten minutes a day.
  4. post on my blog 3 times a week.
  5. write at least 100 words of fiction every day.
  6. meditate every day for at least 10 minutes, and write morning pages.

I did quite well for about five days by the way. I went walking almost every day, I played guitar and piano, I wrote my words, and I was quite consistent with the meditation and morning pages. Meditation and morning pages has been something I have been doing for years, and so it wasn’t that hard to get back into that. Playing music and writing fiction was a bit harder because I found I never got around to it until late in the evening, and so I really only played for ten minutes, and I stopped writing after 120 words or so. But even when I felt like I was much too tired for writing or playing I enjoyed it nonetheless. And a 100 words isn’t much. It takes me less than 10 minutes. Also I never got the feeling that the story was making much progress at that rate. But then I wrote about 700 words on it in five days.

And then I felt terrible because of the coughing, and then, and then, and so I let everything slide. I’m still doing quite well with points 2 and 6. You can see for yourselves that the blog-posting three times a week did not happen. I may have to resign myself to the fact that these days it’s more about twice a week if that.

You might have noticed that I didn’t write about the first goal on my list. Ahem. This is the goal that I didn’t reach once in the past two weeks. Not once. I definitely won’t be making any rules around food and eating for the moment. I don’t stick to them anyway. Which is extremely frustrating. But it doesn’t help if I pretend that it’s different.

So, I’m suspending the setting of goals again. What I did find out about myself was that I can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Before setting my new goals I was on the way to get a better grip on housework again, but the minute I concentrated on my new list, I got lax about housework again.

And then I got sick, and then I started knitting a sweater that I want to have right this minute, and that meant I have been doing nothing but knitting for the past week. I started it last Sunday, and if I can go on like I did last week it will be finished by next weekend. And while I really would like to accomplish other things too, there is something very, very nice about sitting around and knitting a warm ruby-red sweater while reading Miss Marple novels. So I’ll just do that for the rest of the weekend.

So for me, obviously, public accountability doesn’t work.

In response to my post about goals PiaPessoa said she wanted to work on exercising two times a week. I’d like to hear how that went. And Anne said that I should strive to reach the point where a new habit is like brushing your teeth. She is totally right with this, of course, and when I strive to form new habits it always helps me to remember how long it took me to brush my teeth twice a day without fail. You know, as a child I was taught to brush my teeth in the mornings only. And I did so for years. Then it occurred to me that brushing them in the mornings and evenings might be a good course of action. I think I tried to bring myself to brush my teeth in the evenings too when I was about eight years old. I never succeeded until I was about twenty. And then I lost the habit again, and had to re-install it when I was about ten years older. These days I never would go to bed without brushing my teeth first. So I finally reached that stage of forming a new habit where I do it every day without fail. But it took me about 22 years to reach that stage. 22 years!

There must be a way to speed that up. Really.

  4 Responses to “How I did with my goals”

  1. Good for you! Progress despite adversity.
    Perhaps this sounds silly, but you might try giving yourself a positive response each time you take a step toward your goal–something along the lines of telling yourself, “Good job, Suzanne! That’s 100 words you didn’t have before!” Maybe even put a star in the margin. The reason that it might not be silly is that there probably isn’t anybody else who’s likely to automatically praise you for these individual daily steps, and it can’t hurt to give yourself that accolade.
    Second suggestion–recognize that there are reasons you don’t want to do some particular thing, maybe even resent it, and then praise yourself for doing it anyway. Your toothbrushing example really resonated with me because I still resent–over 22 years of resentment!–having to floss; I grew up before it was common practice, and it still seems to me that I really shouldn’t have to.

  2. I think two goals out of six is a very good result. Congratulations!

    I´m quite content with my exercises too, even if I have done them not really two times a week, but one time. There were so many other things (theater, concert, rehearsals) this weeks. But I started and I will hold on! At least one time a week.

    And for the teeth: For years my dentist says I should use Zahnseide – and for years I don´t want to get used to it, because I´m tired in the evening and because its soo complicated and because… and because… Well, maybe that´s the next little improvement. And I dont know how to speed these things up.

    Why do you write, you give up setting goals if you say, you are going to get a better grip on your housework? Thats a goal too! And you managed it quite well!

    Best wishes,

  3. Go you for making goals and working toward them, period!

  4. I had to go for an MRI this morning, which required me to lie still with my eyes closed for 25 minutes listening to music. It was awesome. (My good mood was spoiled by going into the waiting room and waiting fruitlessly for my films and being spoken to freshly by one of the staff, but I said the hell with it and left to get on with my day.)

    Upon arriving home, I gave myself permission to do something fun instead of cleaning, but I think I actually have time for both.

    Hope you are feeling better. Your hat looks lovely, and reminds me I must call back the woman who offered to teach me to knit. I may take her up on it after all.

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