Eight months ago, I was doing the same thing many people do when a new year rolls in. I was casting vision for the new year and creating a number of goals for myself. I had rather grand aspirations. I was going to read one book per week. I was going to shoot (and post to my Tumblr account) one iPhone photo a day. I was going to do more personal projects. I was going to write at least one blog post per week. I was going to learn Spanish. I was going to exercise more.
Then life happened.
Apparently completing work for clients needs to take priority over personal goals. Having a second child just weeks prior to the beginning of the new year takes up a lot of time. Keeping up with a 1 going on 2-year old boy is no easy task (you can ask my wife about that). All that to say, around March I got really busy and most of my goals fell by the side of the road. I've hardly touched a book, aside from a few photography/video related books, since earlier this year. One look at my Tumblr account and my blog will tell you all you need to know about how much I have been shooting with my iPhone and writing. Exercise? Ahem, moving on.
To be honest, I wasn't really frustrated by my failure to maintain my goals. I was thankful for the work I was receiving and felt mostly justified for setting aside my goals for the sake of work and time with my family. However, I came to realize that losing sight of my goals was probably unnecessary. Had I thought through my goals more carefully, and how to balance them with the rest of life, I would like to think I could have maintained them. Instead, I went big and bit off more than I was able to chew. And I paid the price.
A few weeks ago, as things were finally starting to slow down for me, I figured it was time to hit the reset button and rethink my goals. But how to do it without setting myself up for failure? How to set some goals that would challenge me, but also be achievable and sustainable? Thanks to a TED talk, I think I found my solution: try something new for 30 days. Check out the TED video below to find out what I'm talking about, and I'll catch up with you after.
Try something new for 30 days. Makes sense, and seems much more realistic and sustainable than trying to tackle a large set of goals for an entire year. Sure, there is a place for setting goals for an entire year, and I'll probably do it again on a smaller scale when 2012 comes around. But breaking it down into fewer, more manageable goals on a month to month basis, that makes much more sense for me. So, I'm trying something "new" beginning today, September 1 and going through Sept 30. Actually, I am trying two "new" things.
1. Take two, 15-minute breaks during the day. During those two breaks I have to leave the studio and go for a walk, sit outside, or do something that gets me out and moving. I have the tendency to zero in on a task at my desk and not move for hours. Not only is that hard on my body, I'm sure it also diminishes my productivity. After hours of sitting & actually standing now that I have a standup desk & and working, I find I feel like crap. It's time to eliminate that bad habit and start working a bit more healthily. Two 15-minute walks during the day should make a big difference for my overall productivity and health.
2. Write for 20 minutes a day. I really want to write more, but I have to admit it doesn't come easily for me. I have the bad habit of writing a sentence and then editing and re-editing that sentence. In a span of 20 minutes I'm lucky if I get a paragraph written. It's time to break that habit as well. I do want to think and write well, but right now I think I need to simply shoot for more of a stream of consciousness and get my thoughts out there. I can always edit afterward. In fact, today is September 1, and this blog entry was written in about 20 minutes. Off to a great start! (Full disclosure: I did do some editing afterward since I planned to post this to the blog).
So there you have it. The reset button has been hit, and I am writing again and working toward a healthier balance in my work day. And next month, who knows what new things I will try.
Have you ever tried something new for 30 days? If not, I would encourage you to do it. You may just find that you pick up some new habits or eliminate some bad ones. If you have done it or plan to, I would love to hear about it. Share your experiences and tips for success in the comments below.
As a quick aside, the photo attached to this post actually is relevant. It is the view from studio where I spent so much of time this past summer...time spent working on things other than the goals I set at the beginning of the year.
As another quick aside, one byproduct that I hope writing for 20 minutes a day will generate is a blog post here and there. I definitely want to get back to sharing the lessons I am learning as a photographer, videographer, artist, business owner, visionary, etc., and hopefully out of my writing exercises will come some content worth sharing with you. No guarantees, but keep an eye out here for some new posts. Or better yet, subscribe to my RSS feed or subscribe to receive emails (you can do that by scrolling toward the top of this page, right below my Twitter feed) whenever I post a new blog entry. You should also follow me on Twitter or Facebook as I will be regularly posting content there as well.