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July 31, 2010

End-of-July check in

Over half the year has passed already and finally I'm making some progress. I'm glad I started the year with my two goals -- get healthy and get happy -- and decided to keep myself accountable with these monthly check-ins. I was not cheering the concept of public accountability back in April and May but things have evened out. So, here it is:

1) Goal: Get Healthy

With more time at home I no longer have to worry about cooking ahead for a whole workweek. It's AWESOME. Just eat what you want when you want. It took me a while to get into a rhythm with it, but now I am so there. If it's 8 a.m. and I just had a long walk and want chicken and rice for breakfast that's what I cook.

My physical fitness goal for July was the same as it has been all year -- walk every day for the whole month. In July I got close to my goal. I walked 21 days out of 31. And these weren't your quickie 15-minute strolls, on 19 days I walked over 3 miles each time.

Just a word here about my walk-every-day-in-a-month goal. Over the past few months as I have continued to make and re-make this goal (and continued to not meet it) I have gotten hundreds of comments and emails and suggestions from folks online. "Just shoot for three days out of every five." "Five days out of seven..." "Every other day." "Aim for 10,00 steps a day, and buy a pedometer!" "8,000 steps..." "5,000 steps!" "Take the stairs!" "Just park far away and walk and count that..." "Go for mileage not days!" "Speed not mileage..." "Instead of walking try yoga!" "...swimming." "... biking."

Now this stuff is always interesting and funny to me. I love trying to see what clicks with people or makes them tick. But sometimes I can be kind of slow on the uptake! So I didn't at first understand why so many strangers had an interest in modifying my personal goal. It took all this time for it to finally sink in. People look at goals differently and for some folks, watching me miss my goal month after month must be like Chinese water torture, slow and painful. They simply wanted to give me tips to help me move along already.

The whole purpose of goal-setting for many folks is to achieve it as quickly as possible, check it off and declare victory so they can move on to the next goal. That does make sense now that I think on it. Continual plodding failure must feel like, well, failure. And failure becomes a problem to solve. So it came out as, "Here, just do this and then you won't fail!"

It's very sensible. But my brain works differently. Sure, I have to-do lists of little items that need checking off quickly: go to the post office, buy milk and cat litter, drop off this bag of stuff at the goodwill, mop. But my personal goals are very different from to-do list items. They are my landmarks along a path, my hopes, my optimism for what I want to be like in the future. For me, the real success in a goal comes from working toward it each day. For example, one of my goals is to declutter my home. The success isn't achieved on the one day I wake up and look around and think, "There! I've done it! Check! Now what do I do next?" The achievement in my mind is spending ten minutes every day or so to declutter a drawer or sort through old paperwork. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Anyway, my goal of walking each day in a calendar month isn't a particularly difficult goal. It's not very physically demanding ("walk" is loosely defined, no set time or mileage) and it's certainly not financially unachievable. It's a good, do-able goal. The actual victory of knocking this goal off a list will pale in comparison to the days spent working toward it. Let's be honest, nothing dramatic is going to change in my life just because I walk 30 or 31 days in a row. The real success is derived from working toward it and getting incrementally better.

There is no way I would change the goal and dial it downward to meet me halfway. The whole point of my personal goal setting is to rise up and meet the challenge. Tomato, tomahto.

Don't get me wrong -- this isn't to say my way of looking at goals is better or worse than any other way. It's just different. Thank God we're all different, yes? My way would drive some people insane, but to my little brain it's simply another whole month stretching ahead of days that I can possibly achieve a goal. The goal is arbitrary. The exercise is the point. The only reason I am yammering on and on about this is that I think it's fascinating we're all so different! I personally love it. And if it weren't for my future husband Al inventing this innernets I would never have had you all share this with me. Thank goodness for Al.

So of course in August my ideal is to go on a walk each day in the month. One day I'll get there. See, it's like a mystery. Gives you something to look forward to!

2) Goal: Get Happy
Another vaguely defined goal, but you get the idea. And things are good. I've been able to spend time with my family and the cutest dog ever, it's great having them on the west coast and especially now when I can actually visit with them. The rest of the time is my own. I'm well-suited to being alone most of the days and I keep myself busy and industrious. My stress level now is so different I can't even explain it without adding in some effusively bad 1980s breakdancing.

I definitely miss the office environment, having friends and coworkers nearby. But I'm loving the work I'm doing and the change is good for me.

No matter what happens in the future, I want to keep this calm feeling of not always being in a rush. I have my moments of panic about money and finances but it passes. Everything will work out. Somehow. I truly believe this down in my cells.

- - -

So that was July. In August my goals are to walk (for the whole month!), write more (which will make me happier and keep me feeling productive), and cook a few new recipes. I want to try some new stir-fry meals and maybe make something with Indian spices. I am actually even starting August by inviting a friend over for dinner next Friday (I don't entertain much, so this is a nice little change for me.)

It seems to be working so far.

Posted by laurie at July 31, 2010 6:36 PM