Wednesday, December 30, 2020

One post, two directions

When it comes to writing novels (and sometimes life), I'm a pantser. What that means is that I have an idea of where my stories are going, but I don't plot them in detail. So, when I come to a crossroads, the story could go in multiple directions. While this is also true for plotters, they resolve their crossroads decisions before they sit down to write.

I think this is much less fun.

A similar situation arose yesterday when I sat down to flesh out the blog posts I had in mind for today. Wednesdays are two-post days (here and at Organizing by STYLE) and the idea I had in mind could work for either blog site. 

As I wrote, I came to a crossroads. And I thought, why not do both?

The first three paragraphs of the post below are identical to today's post over at Organizing by STYLE. From there, I took the post in one direction here and another direction there.

It was a kind of fun experiment -- a different sort of Wednesday Crossover post. If you're curious about how a writer's mind (or this writer's mind, anyway) works, I invite you to read both.

Rachel DeMasi for The Porch Swing Chronicles

Last January, I decided to come up with 20 things I wanted to improve upon in 2020. They ranged from being more mindful and optimistic to decluttering and using less plastic. Then, each month, when I sat down to review and set monthly goals, I'd take a look at the list to see which three I'd done a particularly good job with that month and which ones I wanted to focus on in the month to come. This helped me to keep my list in mind in a low-key sort of way. I could have posted the list prominently, on the bathroom mirror, perhaps (I do have an I need to see it personal style, after all), but I preferred to let it whir away in the back of my mind instead. The idea was that the items were things to improve upon over time, not benchmarks to hit by a certain date. While this flies in the face of SMART goals, it worked for me, allowing me to make progress on a variety of ideas that mattered to me, rather than striving toward measurable, time-based goals.

How'd I do? Pretty well, overall. I made solid improvement on 17 or 18 of the twenty. I deemed one unrealistic (or at least in need of reworking). And the 20th item? I failed miserably. Oddly enough, that one (set a screen time curfew) seemed fairly straightforward pre-COVID but, somewhere between April and October, I stopped caring about doing it. No motivation, no progress.

As I move forward into 2021, I definitely want to do this again. Some of the items will stay on the list because, although I got better, there's still room for improvement. As I write this, I'm tinkering with the number, though, and leaning toward sticking with 20. While 21 things in 2021 doesn't sound too daunting, I'm hoping to be around for 2035 and 35 things in 2035 sounds a bit overwhelming. More important, the goal is baby steps, and making the list longer and longer doesn't seem to be in keeping with the theme. 

I'm a little ahead of last year's schedule, actually making this list in December and, who knows? I might end up with 21 items by the time I'm finished. But, as of December 30, 2020, here are my 20 for 2021, many carried over from last year, some new, and some revamped. Why keep last year's items? Because I am, indeed, a work in progress and there are quite a few things I want to keep working on. Some that fell off the list have become ingrained in my everyday thinking and practice to my satisfaction. Others were reworked to reflect a sharper focus more in keeping with the original intent.

1. Move more (a definite response to all the sitting in 2020).

2. Be mindful.

3. Don't judge downtime, but don't waste it either.

4. Declutter.

5. Create spaces I want to spend time in.

6. Read for fun, not just for work.

7. Prize my time and my right to say "maybe," "I can't right now," and even "no."

8. Give people space to do things for themselves.

9. Speak my mind, but don't forget to be kind.

10. Use less plastic and paper.

11. Find the balance between routine and flexibility.

12. Be grateful often.

13. Meditate more.

14. Define my (professional) brand and stay true to it.

15. Live on the plateau sometimes.

16. Be optimistic. 

17. Recognize effort and say thank you.

18. Make time for creative pursuits beyond my writing.

19. Keep up with Duolingo.

20. Stop caring what other people think. They're probably not watching anyway.

What are your 20 (or 21) for 2021?

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