The Oaks Ignore Their Pleas

Focus and Habits in the New Year

Posted in General by Jeff Graves on February 10, 2014

When I started the year, I decided to take a more formal approach to managing my life, with an eye towards improving my ability to get the important things done, and reduce the amount of time I spend on “timewasting” activities.  I hesitate to call it a New Year’s Resolution, because I think those tend to become devalued, but the entire process is part of an ongoing shift I started a couple of years ago to create more positive habits.

One of the interesting things I’ve discovered, is that habit-building, for me anyhow, is a skill that’s strengthened with use.  I’ve historically been challenged to build new habits – I get rolling for a few weeks, then start to slide, and then before I know it, I’ve abandoned whatever habit I was trying to create in the first place.  Maybe I just chose the wrong habits and I’m better at selecting useful, relevant ones.  But maybe, the act of creating and sticking to one habit, gives you a little bit more strength and willpower to create another.  I started by getting up earlier each day, so I’d have at least an hour or so to focus on some of the things I tend to let slide in the evenings, like reading, managing finances, working out (or folding laundry!).  Once I had successfully managed my wakeup clock, I found myself taking advantage of the extra time, and I was able to make a lot of progress on things I had been letting languish for a very long time.

As I approached 2014, I decided to take a new approach, and set some broad personal objectives for the year, break them down into monthly and then weekly tasks, and measure myself against them.  So far, about 5 weeks into the year, I’m pretty happy with the results.  I haven’t accomplished everything on my task list, but I’m moving through things with more progress that I’ve been able to manage in the past.  As a bonus, I find that I’m better at doing some simple things that I often neglected, like flossing every day, moving around more during the workday, and watching my sugar intake.  I’ve got a long ways to go, as I’ve set some pretty aggressive goals for the year, but I’m liking how this is going so far.

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