A year ago January, I made a commitment to lose 50 lbs. After five months of diligent progress, I successfully achieved a 25 lb. loss and was perfectly on schedule to make my goal, still 25 lbs. away. But here I sit, probably 15 lbs. heavier, thinking about that and other aspects of my life which continually present challenges.
I understand challenge is a relative thing and will say to those quick to respond, I am not comparing my challenges with those beyond a person’s control. I’m referring to my own internal challenges — those I have complete control of and responsibility for.
I’m horrible about maintaining my determination to finish. It’s awful. I think I’ve always had this annoying problem which manifests itself in bits and pieces of unfinished projects: a wall papered room near completion except for the small patch behind the door left waiting for the perfect piece to be cut and applied; the baseboard behind the toilet in the newly remodeled bathroom left propped against the wall for need of a special cut; a package of presents brought home from a trip left sitting and gathering dust. There are so many more examples.
I’m quick to admit this fault of mine which seems to have grown in recent years and make any number of self-deprecating comments to excuse myself. My favorite is that I spent 20 years in a career requiring strict attention to a clock — planning and execution were of the utmost importance. Once free of that lockstep routine, I allowed myself the luxury of avoiding any routine completely. It seemed such a drudge to consider having one.
Keeping myself busy has never been something I’ve struggled with as long as it involves thought, and preferably creativity. Running errands is not the kind of busy I’m interested in, hence the package waiting to be mailed. The newly wall-papered room looks lovely, and no one will notice the unfinished patch behind the door, so why bother? It’s more interesting to leave good enough alone to move on to the next project. That baseboard in the bathroom? It’s not my bathroom, so what does it matter? I can get to that another time.
I have enjoyed doing whatever I want whenever I want for seven years now and know I’ve reached the point where having a routine matters, and not for the sake of having the routine. I learned when I made the goal to lose weight that a routine not only helped me achieve the results I wanted, but it gave me something to look forward to as well. To clarify, I am by nature, an optimist, so I genuinely look forward to each day. But I’ve noticed that each day dwindles as I go about piddling with this and that, and when I look at the clock, it’s past noon and I question what I’ve accomplished. That at the end of his very long day the MoH will arrive home and ask pleasantly, “How was your day?” to which I will always respond, “Fine, but I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted to.”
I have no list. No one would check it if I did. I am the only one accountable for what I accomplish each day. There will be no star on a chart if I complete one or even ten things I say I want to check off. I am curiously unmotivated by extrinsic reward. I make my efforts public. I’ve had buddies for this and that.
In the end, I’m left with my drifty self realizing if I want to accomplish anything, I need a routine. I need a habit. A habit different than arising each day to think happily, “What do I feel like doing?” It sounds lovely — and it is.
To be continued…
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