January 1st. 37 degrees.
At dawn, I pulled on my husband’s long johns, leashed-up my dog, and drove the 10 miles to the trailhead where I half-walked, half-jogged two loops. Each loop is 1.1 miles.
I always tell myself I’ll just do one loop, one mile, that I’ll see how it goes from there. After the first loop today, I stopped at the car and thought about going home, but instead I got rid of my jacket and gloves, and kept going.
I’m trying something new this year. Setting goals. I don’t mean New Year’s resolutions that I can dread and feel bad about and forget by the end of January. I mean goals. Simple, concrete things I want to have done by the time 2017 comes to a close.
This year, I want to finish writing my book. And I want to run a half-marathon.
I need the goals. I need a written plan. And I need to make some serious changes.
I’m following the lead of the #AmWriting podcast, setting goals I can control, putting them on paper, mapping out the steps I need to take, establishing office hours, and creating deadlines—yes, deadlines—for getting from here to there.
The writers at #AmWriting have a worksheet to help you get started. I was skeptical—I’m always skeptical, but hey, where’s that gotten me?—so I printed out the worksheet and spent about 90 minutes sitting alone in a quiet corner, getting real with myself. I set my goals, but I also had to make some hard admissions.
Sure, I take my dog to the trail almost every morning, but I mostly walk. It’s always too hot or too cold or I’m tired or my hip hurts or blah blah blah. Plus it’s hard to jog, or to even think about jogging, when you’re texting friends and deleting your kind-of-embarrassing Facebook post from last night and scrolling your Twitter feed for the latest breaking, because it’s always breaking anymore, news. You know what I mean.
I write. I write a lot, actually. I even write a political OpEd twice a month for the local paper. But while I take my writing seriously, I don’t take my writing time seriously. I don’t treat writing like a job. I don’t set aside hours. I write when I feel like it. When the mood strikes or when my hair’s on fire. And this election season my hair’s never not been on fire, so writing the OpEd has gotten easy … as long as I don’t read the comments ;).
The hard truth is: you don’t need to disappear into your office to write, to pick up where you left off when you’re not writing anything challenging enough or long enough, like a BOOK, to leave off.
Which brings me to the ridiculously huge distraction of social media.
Only in the morning over coffee? Never right before bed? Turn off notifications during work hours, or altogether? Read but don’t engage? I don’t have a plan yet for how to manage this differently, but I’m working on it.
And last, also from the #AmWriting podcast plan, my word of the year: INWARD.
I’m a natural extrovert, so.
Inward: interior, innermost, private, hidden, veiled, concealed, unexpressed.
In: inside, within, internal, third eye.
Ward: to take care of (myself), protege, charge.
Inwardly: deep down, in one’s own heart of hearts.
It’s time to stop looking for so much outside approval, acceptance, engagement. To spend more time with friends, but a LOT less with acquaintances and social media. To go inward and take the time to dig down for what I really think, before jumping in. To take things in without the need to respond or react or add my two cents.
To leave my phone in the car when I walk (jog! run!) on the trail.
Today at dawn, I pulled on my husband’s long johns.
I wore my husband’s long johns because there are still swimsuits and tank tops and sleeveless dresses hanging on my side of the closet and I have no idea where my long johns, or even my long running pants, are.
The first mile is the hardest. And I have a long way to go. But I am going.