My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions were completely different than anything I’ve done before. Usually I either A) Come up with an entire novella, divided into subject areas, where I need massive overhauls or B) I have a single, vague theme for the whole year (“Be happier.”)
This year I shook it up. I’m trying to create momentum and good change in my life with daily practice. I committed to doing three very small things every.single.day. for the entire year:
- Walk every day for 365 days, with a minimum time commitment of 10 minutes.
- Do a language lesson/listen to a different language/read something in another language every day. The bare commitment here is a single Duolingo lesson, which can take as little as 3 minutes.
- Plank daily, starting with 1 second and adding 1 second per day. I had no idea what this was when I added it. Basically you just do a mini push-up and hold it while squeezing your buns. I believe I was drinking champagne when I agreed to this.
It is now January 9th and I have managed to do all three every single day. Already this daily practice has taught me a few things:
- Even small things, when repeated daily, can create a ripple in my life.
- Every task that I want to do daily is better done first thing in the morning.
- If I don’t do my tasks early in the day, they hang over me like clouds of anxiety until checked off the list. Anxiety feels yuck.
- I feel really good when I keep my promises to myself.
- Planking is kind of goofy and way harder than I expected.
What I hoped for when making this resolution was to create positive momentum and good energy in my daily life. Many people say meditation is their solution, but I have tried meditating my whole life long and it still hasn’t stuck. This year I am embracing my true nature and working with what I’ve got right now. Right now I am a person who feels better while taking action. Action feels like energy which feels good to me.
Doing my Duolingo lesson has been easy. I love them, they are fun, and take no time at all. When I drink coffee every morning I fire up the app and practice saying wonderful phrases like mi elefante esta bebiendo leche. I’m sure this will help me tremendously in Spain.
Planking is not time consuming and right now it’s not unbearably hard. The Captain and I also now talk about planking and which muscles to squeeze and all of it is very amusing to me. I’m only at 9 seconds, so, you know, call me in February when I’m at the minute mark and full of complaining.
It’s the walk that’s been an eye-opener.
At first I was able to get a walk in midday because we were still on holiday break and everything starts at noon anyway. Once work started back up, I was surprised at how quickly my schedule came roaring back, and once again I put my work tasks first and the walk became the very last thing on the list.
There’s an insidious and easy habit I’ve established. Here’s what it sounds like: Yes, of course I want to exercise! But I have all these other things to do first. My boss is calling. And I’m late for a meeting. And I’m so tired. I’ll do it later.
And of course later never comes. The day gets away from me and by the end of the evening I am exhausted and the exercise never happens. This year I made a promise, I am determined to keep it, and still I found myself pushing it off until the end of the day! One day I literally timed myself walking up and down the street in front of my house at night just so I could complete the goal.
By late last week I began to recognize the growing stressball I felt from shoving my one (tiny) to-do item to the end of the priority list, where it just hovered around waiting for me all day. Yesterday I did it AGAIN! I had a busy Monday and waited to walk until the evening when it was cold and dark and rainy. We had to sidestep puddles and guess which parts of the road had muddy sinkholes.
Well, friends, it took me eight days but I was finally tired of leaving myself for last. This morning we woke up and went for a walk. It was still rainy but the air was fresh and it was easier to avoid puddles in the daylight and by 8:45 a.m. I had crossed off all three bullet points on my daily task list. I felt such a warm flash of happiness and satisfaction. Taking care of my own needs feels GREAT.
It also frees me now to concentrate on my work. And here is the kicker: I didn’t realize that the undone tasks of my life were draining energy from me until I could feel the contrast of having them checked off. And I have a LOT of in-progress and TBD tasks in my personal life (paperwork, boxes to sort, cabinets of mystery items to purge, closets to clean, taxes to file, bills to pay, on and on). I wonder how much better I would feel if I just got them done? What would life be like without all this TBD stuff hanging out there in the universe sapping my energy?
Taking a daily walk has gotten me out of the house, motivated me to walk to the store, encouraged me to walk to dinner (twice!) and gotten me moving. Most importantly it has forced me to decide to prioritize my goals over someone else’s goals.
This is only Day Nine. I have high hopes for this year.