January 7th, 2019

Winter Sunlight

Kismet and habits and stuff

Well, I now know exactly how long it takes me these days to color a Kismet page (of medium complexity) because I put on Thor: Ragnarok at the beginning of the process and was just wrapping up at the end. 2 hours and 20 minutes, it seems.

(I still love that movie so much. This is my first complete rewatch since seeing it in the theater over a year ago. LITTLE BLUE BABY ICICLE!)

I have had a wildly productive week, creativity-wise. I love this feeling, with a dozen story threads all going at once in my brain.

Oh hey, I think I might've talked about this before, but with New Year's resolutions kicking off, I think it's worth mentioning my New Year's system again. Just ignore this if you don't like New Year's resolutions, don't do them, or otherwise feel that this would not work for you. That's fine.

But what I do is ... forget about the new year. Do it by the month. Pick just one thing each month, make a plan, and see if you can make a habit out of it in a month. (I started doing this because supposedly 30 days is how long it takes to form a new habit.)

What I like about this is that it's a good way to test out new things. With some of them, it becomes obvious that it's not going to work long-term after just a few days, and then you can forget about it and start over on a new month. Some of them might be planned to last for just a month - like "this month I will lose 5 lbs" and then next month you won't worry about that thing anymore. But it's a lot less intimidating to think about jogging twice a week for a month than to make long-term plans for a whole year.

Part of the work is planning a successful habit. The ones that seem most likely to "take" for me:

• Are concrete (i.e. "I will get up at 9 a.m. every day this month" as opposed to "I'll get up earlier")
• Don't interfere with any other habits I already have (the month I was going to try to exercise before breakfast didn't work because I like to eat breakfast first thing while catching up on emails & stuff, and then start my day)
• Are something you can do regularly - every day, on specific days of the week, or on a certain trigger condition, e.g. "I will do the dishes as soon as [dishes piled in the sink] becomes true." The more vague my scheduling plans for a habit are, the less likely I am to actually do it. (You might have different results.)
• Are very forgiving/easy compared to what I'm technically capable of. I could try to get up at 6 every day instead of 9, or write 5000 words a day, and I know I could do that for a few days, but given my own limitations and habits, I'm much likely to make it the entire month than if I choose something more reasonable.

I also find that giving myself some kind of forgiveness/nope-out condition is helpful, e.g. you get 2 days a week when you don't have to do the thing, or you can not do the thing on days when [other thing that is likely to happen to you a few times during the month]. And that's not cheating or failure because it's built in.

Very few of these have actually managed to "take" as a long-term habit. But I don't regret doing any of them. The month that I decided I was going to do a painting every day only lasted half a month, but I have half a month's worth of paintings. Several different months' experiments with a regular writing schedule resulted in the one I currently have, which works GREAT for me. I still haven't managed to find an exercise schedule that works, but different months' experiments with it have resulted in me finding various things that don't work and getting into better shape. It gives you a lot of freedom to experiment and learn about what works for you, especially if you give yourself permission to nope out completely at whatever point in the month that it becomes apparent that this month's experiment is Just Not Working, and then take the rest of the month "off" and start again next month.

And you can always skip a month or two if you know you're going to be busy/traveling, or don't have any ideas for it, or just feel like you need a month to let last month's habit "set" rather than introducing something new.

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