Welcome to Dead Week! I hope you are all binge watching Netflix, avoiding responsibility, and eating all the leftovers you can get away with.
In the spirit of Things That Don’t Count Between Christmas and New Year, I thought I’d update you all on how the 2023 planning is going. But also, since this is Dead Week, this post may not count, and I reserve the right to rescind it later on.
In any case… Because I am trying to be kinder to myself by not overcommitting to things or beating myself up about not finishing or meeting goals, I decided to look at the year a little differently… Back when we were scout leaders, we always ended big events or campouts with a Stop, Start, Continue session–things to stop, things to start, and things to continue. I decided that looking at my plans through this process would help me think about goals in a new way–one that could acknowledge good habits, honestly evaluate negative habits, and identify incremental changes that could help meet goals.
So here is my Stop, Start, Continue for 2023.
The Things I Need to Stop Doing
In thinking through some of my goals and plans for the coming year, I started to think about what interferes with all of these lists. Truthfully? Me. I am my own worst enemy.
So in order to rein in my worst instincts, here are the things I need to stop doing:
- Allowing Fear to Dictate Action: I firmly believe that fear is a feature of the human condition, not a bug. It’s in us for a reason. But too often, I let fear of failure or embarrassment dictate my actions. For 2023, when I find myself procrastinating or avoiding some growth opportunity, I’m going to ask myself–“what’s the worst that could happen?” If the worst is survivable (and it almost always is), then I will grit my teeth and plow ahead.
- Defining Good Things as Time Wasters: I need to stop defining knitting, crocheting, reading, and other good things as “time wasters.” I need those things for my brain/mental health and professional development. Things that are necessary for our health are not time wasters.
- Wasting Time: And speaking of time wasters… I need to seriously scale back the time wasters in my life–doom scrolling, playing dumb games, listening to podcasts when I’m not doing anything else, and watching TV. Those are the big four. I’ll be setting timers to help me rein those in, and in the case of podcasts and TV, I’ll be multi-tasking with the fiber arts.
The Things I Need to Start Doing
Which brings us to the things I need to start doing…
- Making Time For Fiction Every Day: The process of finishing Unquickened this year was very disjointed, and I don’t really care to repeat it. I need to take a steadier approach to my fiction projects–as in, I need to be more intentional about devoting time each day rather than devoting time in fits and starts. That may not always involve producing new words; it may mean editing, setting up social media posts, writing a blog, or doing some other form of promotion. That’s okay. I just need to be sure that I’m spending time on the overall fiction endeavor every day.
- Managing Focused Time: I have been using the Pomodoro method to get work done for quite a while now, and while I know some people have objections to it, I love it. It works for me. But often when I’m in the middle of one of my two-hour bursts of work, something happens to disrupt the flow, and it’s tough to get back into it again. So, I intend to start managing the interruptions better. I have started putting my phone in airplane mode during two-hour bursts, and I’ve started writing the time I’ll be available on my office door so that others know I’m in the middle of focused work. These things have helped immensely. There is almost nothing that can’t wait a couple of hours for me to respond to. Emergencies are a thing, yes, but everyone who might have one of those also has my husband’s number, and his work isn’t quite as dependent on creative energy or flow as mine is.
- Stretching Myself: I mentioned a few weeks ago that I created a list of 23 Hard Things for 2023. Most of those items are stretch goals. There were the things I mentioned in that post, like doctor’s appointments and chopsticks and the family picture wall, but also, I have some more intense stretch goals. I want to train for a half marathon, get proficient at knitting colorwork, and try some recipes that are outside my normal comfort zones.
- Planning Ahead: Once again, every single event, birthday, and holiday snuck up on me in 2022, and I found myself profoundly unprepared for most of them, including Christmas. I am hoping to figure out some ways to avoid that happening again. At this point, I am just sort of thinking about what might work to keep me on top of this stuff, so I’m not sure what it will look like. But the sentiment is there–I need to stop getting caught off-guard by events that come at the same time every year.
- Connecting With Others: In the category of stretch assignments, but also sort of separate because it’s a really big stretch assignment for me, I need to push myself to connect with some people in real life. It’s not just fear that keeps me from this goal; it’s also that I just have a very low need for social interaction, so it’s easy to push this goal to the bottom of my priorities. But yes, even I–hermit though I may be–have some need for connection. I will force myself to engage with others even if it kills me. (It probably won’t kill me, but it might.)
The Things I Need to Continue Doing
Finally, I have a few things that I need to… refresh, maybe. These are things that I’m already doing, but sort of half-assing.
- Tightening the Diet and Exercise Habits: I’ve been quite lazy about my diet and exercise habits for some time, and it’s definitely starting to show. I have no more excuses. Pandemic life is basically behind me, our move is done, and we have no planned major events or changes happening this year. Yes, I’ve still been exercising, but not as regularly as I was, and true, my diet isn’t as awful as it was in 2016, but I have definitely slipped into some bad habits. So… back to basics–weights, running, tracking food, and making good choices.
- Making Daily “To Do” Lists: This might sound silly, but I make a literal “to do” list every morning. I don’t know why it helps me stay on track, but it does. I put everything outside of basic hygiene on it–even things like “pay water bill” or “make dinner.” I find it profoundly satisfying to cross things off the list. I will even write down unexpected things and then cross them off, just so that I can see what I’ve done. The thing I’m going to do in 2023, at least at first, is write down the significant interruptions. For example, if I spend an hour talking to a family member on the phone or end up running to the grocery store for a few things, I’m going to write it down. My hope is that I will start rewiring my brain to see a more holistic picture of my day–sort of like logging food in MyFitnessPal.
- Promoting My Writing/Business: I think I got better at fiction promotion in 2022, but there’s definitely room for improvement. And because I was super busy with freelance work for the last couple of years, I didn’t really focus on promoting or marketing my business at all. I need to get back to it on the commercial side, and I need to up my game on the fiction side. I have some ideas for both, but I’m not going to try to do it all at once. Baby steps… One thing at a time…
And so… onward.
I feel like everyone I know is heading into 2023 holding one big, collective breath that the coming year won’t be a complete disaster. I know I am holding that breath. But I’m also… hopeful, I guess? And I guess if all I manage on this list is just to continue the things I’m already doing, then that’s a win.
I’m learning to manage my expectations.
I hope you all have a satisfying end to 2022. Here’s to 2023!