Ah yes, the start of another month, and the end of the first quarter of 2016. Time flies, so on and so forth.
This year, I’m learning to break things down to smaller goals. One method is monthly reflections. So before I get lost in April, here’s an evaluation of March.
March turned out to be a month of realignment. It started from a need to do a juice cleanse. I was feeling sluggish, and pimples were breaking out – sure signs that my body was not at its optimum health. So a detox was needed.
From there, I noted other parts of my life that possibly needed a detox. There was a sense of confusion mentally. I was trying to figure out my next career steps, and had to deal with the unsettledness that comes with a nomadic lifestyle. So I needed to take stock of things, cut out the noise, and refocus.
March didn’t turn out to be a month of glorious achievements. It was instead a month of little mindset changes that determined my actions and choices. I could describe what kind of actions I took, but perhaps it’s better to share on their whys first.
Focus on the priorities
I read an article in late February that dished out advice to young journalists. It was a good piece, with the writer Ezra Klein pointing to one guiding principle:
“Insofar as you’re building skills, you want to be building skills you actually intend to use.” – Ezra Klein
That was a lightbulb moment. Now that I’m seriously pursuing a freelance career, I’ve been doing it haphazardly, bookmarking jobs that had the littlest inkling of something I could do, but not necessarily what I wanted.
That article nudged me back to the right approach to work. I think it takes from the oft-quoted phrase, “Do what you love.” But Klein words it better, because his has a practical spin on a lofty goal, and shows that hard work is required, even when you’re pursuing what you love.
Conduct a life check-up
I read a lot about time and life management. Almost all emphasize the importance of listing one’s priorities down. But listing priorities is not difficult. The hard part is turning priorities into action.
Thanks to a newsletter subscription, I came across a goal-setting workbook by Ruth Soukup of Living Well, Spending Less. The workbook helps turn priorities into practical steps. In the first step, it first gets us to write down our priorities. Then we have to record all the activities that take up our time. Finally, we have to identify if our activities match our priorities.
That first step alone caught me. Seeing on paper that little of my day actually match my priorities was eye-opening. Looking at that list forced me to admit – if I truly value the things I say are important to me, something’s gotta give.
Just do it
Now it comes to actually making those life changes. Honestly, I’m an expert procrastinator. I use perfection as the excuse, preferring to act only when the planets align.
I don’t know if it comes with age, but I understand now the urgency of time. If I’m not going to make the change now, then when? How will my inaction today affect the future?
So now I get up, grit my teeth and get to it. I’ve been doing it for different things – in submitting pitches, in reading, in exercising, in cleaning house, in taking health supplements.
It really shows how lazy I am, when I can’t even finish my supplements.
Take one day at a time
And then I don’t fret over it. I do what I can, let go when the time is up, and try not to worry about tomorrow.
Taking one day at a time also means that I have to be honest with what I can cope with in 24 hours. When I do get productive, I ambitiously pile 7 important tasks into a day. By the end, I only tick off three and get terribly discouraged.
But what March has taught me is that it’s okay to be human. The world won’t end. Three tasks are better than none.
So those are the lessons from March. It’s not automatic. Every morning, I have to be reminded of them. Like two days ago, there was an exhibition that I had a choice to attend. Usually, I’m game. But the expo’s on tech, a field I’m in no way familiar. So I spent the first half of the day debating reasons to avoid it.
Then I remembered this post-in-progress! What am I doing not following my own writing? So I went. Yes, it was an awkward situation. I looked like a seal pretending to fit in a dolphin pod. But I went, I saw, and I came home alive.
That’s March for you. Let’s see what other lifestyle and mindset changes April will bring.