I’ve procrastinated writing about my WOTY (word of the year). Honestly… because it just feels like this huge (and hopefully) life-altering THING… and how does one start writing about something like that??
I guess that is why I chose “PROGRESS” as my word in the first place. Even though *CALM* worked wonders for accomplishing amazing and unexpected things last year… there are lots of items on my personal “to do” list that never seem to get smaller… or finished… or sometimes, even started! I tend to be a perfectionist… and for me, that means I also tend to procrastinate… especially when it is something that doesn’t impact anyone other than myself. So, I wanted a word that would drive me in a forward motion… a word that, no matter how small or insignificant the progress felt, could still be defined as a ‘win‘.
For example: I LOVE reading. LOVE it. I have a bookshelf FULL of new books that have gone unread – for YEARS at this point. My favorite way to read a book is to start it in the morning and read until it is finished. That usually means staying up through the night and into the next day. Sometimes, I might take a short nap…. but the moment I wake up I read until the end. You can imagine… after having kids (with sleep being a precious commodity AND not having entire days to myself)… I don’t really get to read that way anymore. I kept hoping I would… but it never worked out. Reading small chunks of books… a chapter here or there… without it being frequent enough to not forget what had happened in the previous chapter…. also didn’t work well for me.
Every year, I’d stare at a bookshelf full of books I WANTED to read… and didn’t want to get rid of… but it felt so overwhelming to even begin… that I just didn’t.
I was stuck.
I’ve gathered a lot of helpful tips over the past couple of years… from friends, advice from family, classes I took on brain development through our former preschool, and even a book or two I WAS able to read. These are the things I’ve been focusing on recently:
1. I need to break up larger goals (like a bookshelf full of books) into “bite size” or manageable chunks.
2. I have an “all or nothing” tendency. If something isn’t perfect I tend to scrap it altogether. Instead, I need to work on saying: “_____ didn’t happen the way I hoped; what is possible now?” (And actually be ok with adjusting my plan/goal.)
3. Small changes… added up over time… can equal LARGE outcomes. (This is paraphrased from the book ‘Atomic Habits’ that I started in December 2020 and am about halfway through at this point… and LOOOOOOVE so far!)
All of that said… and sticking with the book example… In the fall, I made a goal to read 1 new book a month. Starting in August 2020 and finishing in July 2021. I figured a book a month would be easy to manage. I read 1 book in August and 1 book in September… and then didn’t finish another until December.
What I realized?? I did a lot better with reading consistently if I carve out at least 30 minutes a day. And when that time wasn’t part of an already established routine… it didn’t happen. So, sometimes… reading with my afternoon snack/tea time is when that happens. Since the beginning of January, (our kids are back in school full-time) I have utilized the after school pickup/car line (while parked and waiting)… which guarantees 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted reading! (If I don’t get distracted by my phone… ) It’s not a lot, but I’m usually able to complete 1-2 chapters… and that has added up over time.
I have finished reading 3 books this month! With 2 more I plan to finish by the 31st. It has been so WONDERFUL to be reading for fun again!
I don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed by the books waiting for me. If I miss a day here or there (because, #LifeHappens)… it isn’t too big of a deal, because I know I’ll have the time to read again tomorrow.