Lately I’ve tried, and failed, to impose a daily routine on myself. This morning, I’ve been pouring over Daily Routines and it’s making me feel a little better. My proposed daily schedule is militaristic compared to Winston Churchill’s:
“Despite all this activity Churchill’s daily routine changed little during these years. He awoke about 7:30 a.m. and remained in bed for a substantial breakfast and reading of mail and all the national newspapers. For the next couple of hours, still in bed, he worked, dictating to his secretaries.
At 11:00 a.m., he arose, bathed, and perhaps took a walk around the garden, and took a weak whisky and soda to his study.
At 1:00 p.m. he joined guests and family for a three-course lunch. Clementine drank claret, Winston champagne, preferable Pol Roger served at a specific temperature, port brandy and cigars. When lunch ended, about 3:30 p.m. he returned to his study to work, or supervised work on his estate, or played cards or backgammon with Clementine.
At 5:00 p.m., after another weak whisky and soda, he went to bed for an hour and a half. He said this siesta, a habit gained in Cuba, allowed him to work 1 1/2 days in every 24 hours. At 6:30 p.m. he awoke, bathed again, and dressed for dinner at 8:00 p.m.
Dinner was the focal-point and highlight of Churchill’s day. Table talk, dominated by Churchill, was as important as the meal. Sometimes, depending on the company, drinks and cigars extended the event well past midnight. The guests retired, Churchill returned to his study for another hour or so of work.”
In conclusion, I need more whiskey sodas in my day. I also need a social secretary, and a wife.
Are you good with routine? Will you marry me?
• Attend a state dinner
• Take breakdancing lessons
• Learn to apply false eyelashes
The best thing about Mighty Summit is reading everyone’s Life Lists. It’s like speed dating for your brain.
Though reading everyone’s posts afterward is a close second:
• Have a sexy marriage
• Own 200 dresses
• Help someone through college
Reading someone’s goals gives me the same thrill I used to get when I first started reading personal websites in the early days of the Internet. You get to know about someone before you dive into knowing them for real. It gives you so many good places to start, so many chances to find their most sympathetic side.
“Each woman at Mighty Summit brought a life list. 100 or so things she wanted to accomplish over her lifetime. And on our last day together we picked five that we want to tackle in the next year. It sounds like it could be a little hippie-dippie woo-woo (and we all know I’m totally hippie-dippie woo-woo) but it was truly powerful.” – Kathleen Shannon of Braid Creative
“There is power in sharing your goals, in being vulnerable, and frankly, in being willing to fail. To really live out our dreams, we need to be prepared for the possibility that we won’t achieve them. It’s easy to make a list of things we can easily do (and there’s a need for that too), but to get to the heart of the matter, we need to dive in, leave fear behind, and say what we really, really want.” – Elizabeth Stark of Brooklyn Supper
• See North Korea
• Own a popcorn machine
• Take up barefoot running
It’s scary speaking your hopes out loud. I used to worry that I’d fail to achieve something I said I wanted. Or oddly, I worried that I would succeed, which means you can no longer define yourself by your struggle for a particular dream. What does it mean once you’ve written the book, had the kid, climbed the mountain? What next?
• Renovate a barn
• Drive a stick shift
• Be a junior member of the Explorer’s Club
Hoping for these things suggests that you deserve them. You never know how the people around you will react to that, or even how you will. I think that’s why so many people disdain this kind of emotional exercise. It’s easier to laugh at the idea of improving yourself, or your lot, than it is to face the terrifying vulnerability of claiming something better for yourself, and then attempting it.
“…as we went around the circle sharing dreams and goals of all scales of magnitude — the redwoods towering over us in an appropriately protective fashion — one by one, deep breaths were taken, souls were bared, vulnerabilities shared, help asked for. And 30 women became stronger by way of dipping their toes (sometimes their whole body) into a pool of vulnerability.” – Christine Koh of Boston Mamas
“The whole retreat was a perfect mix of socialization and thoughtful contemplation.” - Catie Nienaber of Cuffington
Talking about Life Lists is filling for me. It’s an exercise in trust, and an education in possibility.
“I left Might Summit with a better sense of self than I’ve had in quite some time. Goals clearly outlined, plans written down, proposals in the works.” – Kelly Beall of Design Crush
So what are you hoping for yourself? Who can help get you there? And if you had to choose, just five things to knock off your life list this year, what would they be?
Mighty Summit was last weekend, and with Camp Mighty approaching, I’ve been considering what I want from next year. At both events we do a resource lunch where attendees choose five goals for the coming year, and ask for help with one.
My plan was to revamp my Life List because so much has changed. I found a fresh sheet of paper, got all thinky, and! My new goals were so meaty, you guys. “I have leveled up!” I thought, “My personal growth this past year is astounding!”
But, no. Turns out I always go through a process of setting larger goals and then winnowing down to specifics, it just wasn’t conscious before. In fact, over the years I’ve developed a system that works pretty well for me using three different types of goals:
I write all year long — here, in journals, on 750 Words, and I also keep an idea file on my laptop full of information I want to consider when I’m setting course for the year.
As my birthday approaches, I scan all that stuff and look for patterns. This helps me identify umbrella goals. They’re always a slightly different format, and they always seem cheesy when I share them, but the personal stuff always does, right? So here’s last year’s goal list:
And this year’s:
Remember who you love and who loves you.
• Celebrate others
• Help others
• Be strong
• Leave space
• Stand up
These goals help me figure out what I want to cross off my Life List in the coming year. Which brings us to the second type of goal.
These are the kinds of goals you’ll see on my Life List — taking tap lessons, tasting 1,000 fruits, rolling a kayak. Once I’ve set my directional goals for the year, I sort through my list for ideas actions that will move me in the right direction.
Under each directional goal, I add a clarifying sentence and then either fill in a few ideas from my Life List, or add tasks to my Life List based on my umbrella goals. I haven’t done this yet this year, so I’ll make up an example:
• Be strong.
Take care of myself so I have energy for everything else.
-Do a Triathlon.
-Practice the Four Agreements.
-Do something fun every day.
Now I know where I want to be, and also the specifics on how I’ll get there.
I plug away at tasks from birthday to birthday, and then start the process again in Fall, carrying over some longer-term items and deciding on fresh lessons with each pass.
In the meantime, I need reminders to lighten up.
Come New Year when everyone is in resolution frenzy and seasonal-affective disorder is sapping my will to achieve, I write up a list of fun things I want to keep in mind. Last year’s looked like this:
• Eat more doughnuts.
• Carry less crap.
• Light more candles.
• Read real books.
• Organize the little stuff.
• Listen to more music.
These goals aren’t about effort, they’re just reminders of the things that keep life sweet for me.
So aside from daily to do lists, those are my main goal categories. What about you? How do you organize the things you want to accomplish? Do you make more than one list? Do you just keep things in your head? I’m curious because obviously I’m “meticulous” and the same process won’t produce the best results for everyone. Let me know your thoughts in comments.
If I wait to publish the entire list of everything you got done in March, you won’t see it any of it until May. I keep stopping to read everyone’s posts, and get all emotional, and go in search of people to high five. For the purposes of momentum, I’ve decided to post installments:
We’ll start with Elly, who changed her first flat tire.
Daffodil Campbell quit a job she needed because she wasn’t being treated with respect, joined a roller derby team (yes, yes she did), and sent out her first ever query to a magazine. Daffodil Campbell also made me cry. Seriously girl? Nice job.
Almost Kinda Sorta took her newborn baby to see her grandparents home.
JJ is staying offline one day per week, and got a mammogram. She is cancer free. Suck it, cancer!
Sandy wrote down her list for the first time — huge. She saw Kevin Smith live and learned to cook really good steak, signed up for a sushi-making class, and looked into joining the cast of the local Renaissance Faire.
Nancy King finished three chapters in her Head First Guide to Programming, met up with friends from her grade school, and started Bikram yoga.
“I’m working toward one proper pull-up with lots of practice, push ups and other strength training. I’ve made progress but when I get my chin about three quarters of an inch from the bar, my arms turn to concrete. And I simply CANNOT go any further. I’m so insanely frustrated because I can’t imagine how I’m ever going to cross this from my list. ARGH!”
This is on my list too, and I have deep-seated Presidential Fitness test flashbacks whenever I attempt it. You can do it, Dana. Maybe this will help? We’re rooting for you.
Dottie booked a massage for herself.
Suzanne started running trails in the hills above where she lives. She decided to “be happy where I am, while I’m here, while working toward being somewhere else in three months.” She also started on her resume so she can find a new job.
Stephanie made a soufflé, bought a lottery ticket, and was the first to borrow a new book from the library.
That’s it for now, but I’m coming for the rest of you soon. If you didn’t cross anything off in March, go ahead and get started now. This is officially a rolling project, but we’ll do another group push in May.
This project started over here, but you can jump in anytime. If you’ve made a Mighty List and started crossing goals off, please let us know in comments.