I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, I’m just going to state that straight off – this isn’t a ‘new year, new me!’ gimmick. That being said; for 2019 I have decided to do something I’ve never done before, and that’s write a blog (which I’ve just googled and discovered is short for ‘weblog’ – every day is a school day people). In the spirit of full disclosure, I have no idea if I’ll be any good at blogging (or indeed if I’ll be good at the thing I’m blogging about), or whether anyone other than my team at work will ever read these posts. But I read somewhere that the first rule of blogging is to find something you genuinely want to write about – and in this instance the thing I’m doing came first, and the decision to blog about it was secondary.
So what’s behind my new found desire to expose myself to literary ridicule? Well – it’s lists. Anyone who knows me knows that I LIVE for lists. I love lists. I write and rewrite lists every day, they bring order to my chaotic life and keep me semi-sane. If I can find a way to incorporate colour coded highlighting as well then I’m on cloud nine. I can’t resist any sort of list, to be fair. Shopping lists, to-do lists, guest lists…. Those awful talking head programmes that count down the top 100 books/movies/fridge freezers that every normal person hates? LOVE THEM! So I also can’t resist taking a look when I come across a link to one of the many online lists that claim to be able to tell us exactly which habits we should be adopting in order to be “SUPER AMAZING, SUCCESSFUL AND FULFILLED HUMAN BEINGS’! You know the ones. There are lots of them out there (this one went viral on Twitter last year), some have even been turned into bestselling books, but whenever I look at them they always seem a bit…. unachievable? Spend two hours meditating every day you say? Learn a new language every year? Run a marathon whilst reciting affirmations and donating half your income to charity? What? All at once? Wow. It always feels a little like the only people who can afford (both in literal and time terms) to do all of these things are those who already own Necker Island.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way dismissive of trying to make positive life changes. I’ve tried things in the past, with varying levels of success (a while ago I read that book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a f***’ and quickly realised that I have more chance of winning Wimbledon next year than I do of ever being able to be that chill). I also understand that there is no ‘one size fits all’, and that the best thing is probably to just find some suggestions that work for me, adjust others to fit, and discard the rest. So in order to try and find out once and for all I’ve decided to road test one of these lists, trying each habit one at a time, and really examine each one in a manageable and doable way, to see at the end of it which have had a positive affect and are worth keeping, and which are not.
So, once the decision was made, my first step was to find a list that I thought would make a good test. As I say, there are LOT out there, and many of them have overlaps. I wanted to find one that wasn’t too generalised (‘be positive’, ‘be more organised’), but wasn’t too specific either (‘go for a run every morning along the Southbank before stopping for a green tea at Coffee-Me-Quick’). I had to be able to realistically integrate each one into my life somehow, and even doing that one at a time ruled out quite a few lists at this point. But I eventually settled on one that has 10 habits as follows:
- Read. A Lot.
- Organise lessons learned for future application.
- Wake up early.
- Get off the couch.
- Train the muse.
- Quiet your monkey brain.
- Minimise distractions by batch checking emails and Social Media.
- Deliberate practice and hard work.
- Don’t break the chain.
I realise that some of those aren’t clear without further explanation, so each month I’ll pick a habit, lay out the premise for it, set some rules for myself, and then keep a record of how effective (or otherwise) each one is.
I could of course have just done this in my own time without banging on here about it, and I will admit that my motives aren’t entirely selfless – I’m self-aware enough to realise that publicly documenting my efforts is a good way of making sure I stick to the experiment. But I also think that this is a topic I would have wanted to read about if I’d come across something similar before now. And I’m sure that there are a lot of people out there who, like me, have incredibly busy and hectic lives that happen to be filled with things that they love doing and have no desire to cut down on, despite struggling to fit it all in. If nothing else then stick around for the comedy value of me trying to resist checking emails every 30 seconds in month 7.
If anyone has any thoughts or comments, or has tried something similar and would like to share their experiences (or indeed if you want to try these out at the same time as me!) then I’d love to hear from you. So here we go. Month/habit 1: Read. A Lot. See you there.