With the start of a new year, I take the time to set my focus for the coming year. I believe that by being selective about where I direct my energy, I can achieve results that are exponentially greater than if I split that energy across many different goals.
I detailed my 2019 focus here (read that first if you want more context). Here is how I’m progressing.
2019 Theme: Long-Suffering
I have recognized two things about long-suffering this quarter.
One thing is that it is much easier to grit through the difficulty if there is a known finish line. Or at least a check in milestone where I know I’ll have a place to rest. Our minds (mine at least) don’t deal with the notion of infinite very well, so the idea of pushing forever is mentally untenable, but the idea of pushing until a specific milestone seems possible. I’ve found that the rest at that milestone can be a tiny fraction of the time and still serve its purpose – a single day off of work for a quarter or 15 minutes sitting by the side of the trail after 6 hours running.
The second learning is that uncertainty exponentially decreased my ability to long-suffer. When there is lots of certainty about what I need to do and why I want to do it, digging deep is easy enough. When my mind is uncertain, it is difficult to dig that deep. This uncertainly can be related to purpose, why I am doing it, or strategy, whether the steps I am taking will get me there. I found this true when getting lost while running around the Wonderland trail.
In my experience, the effort I can put into enduring something can only be as strong as the conviction under it and my certainty that the work will lead towards the results. So if you require grit to accomplish something, it is best to ensure your convictions are aligned and your confidence in the strategy is high.
2019 Challenge: Fasting in the Wilderness
I had plans to head to the backcountry to fast this past August but ended up deciding to postpone the event. Instead, I took my oldest son on a backpacking trip with one of the backcountry permits and cancelled the other. I’d been away a lot in August and decided another two days of me not being home wasn’t the best thing for the family.
We’ve now gotten into the part of the year where the weather has turned cold enough that being alone in the PNW wilderness with no gear or food isn’t a good idea. Instead I am eyeing doing this in the deserts of souther California this fall/winter.
2019 Habit: Minimizing Digital Entertainment
In Q3 I averaged 53 minutes a week of digital entertainment time. This was mostly in the form of movies and a few bits of video gaming w/ friends. I stayed under the one hour goal in 9 of the 13 weeks and even logged six weeks of zero minutes, something I hadn’t done this year prior to this quarter (who knows how long it has been before that). What is really tricky about the target being one hour, is any feature length movie would push me over the target for the week. As a result, the one movie I saw in a theater, was a guaranteed miss for that week.
Most of the progress I made this quarter was from a) being busy with projects (both for my employer and personal projects) b) being outside frequently (camping, hiking, biking, trail running, etc.) c) spending evenings getting ready for said outside activities (assembling gear, loading the car, etc.). I wouldn’t say I did anything too different than previously, I just had higher priorities that kept me busy. Perhaps that is the secret.
Averaging out the year to date I’m at 2.06 hours per week compared to my goal of 2. That means if I stay under 1.82 hours for the final quarter of the year, I will hit my yearly average target. Based on the success I’ve had so far, I’m going to try and keep it even lower though. I’ve set my target for Q4 at 60 minutes per week, the same as Q3. Although I easily achieved that this time, it will be much harder going into the winter, when being outside is less desirable. This should keep some steady pressure on me to develop other patterns in how I spend my time.
2019 Exemplar: Nelson Mandela
I published my exemplar review for Mandela in July. I didn’t make any additional progress in Q3.
2019 Bucket List Item: Run the Wonderland Trail at Mt. Rainier
Bucket list item complete! I ran around Mt. Rainier on August 13-15th. I’ll write a bigger blog post recapping it soon. As predicted, it was eventful.