Habits – January, 2020 Update

Each month I plan to share monthly updates on how my progress is going – wins and losses – as well as my thoughts and reactions to my journey.

How are you doing with your New Year’s Resolutions?

164 million Americans set them in 2020, so I know most of you have at least one.

Online statistics are hard to verify on this subject, but I found anywhere between 60-80% of resolutions don’t make it six months. One website said most of them fail by mid-February. Another said that January 17 was the most likely day for people to quit.I’d like to know how they settled on January 17, but didn’t have time to research.So whether you quit on January 17, are about to give up, or are plowing full steam ahead, you can celebrate that you made a resolution because one website said people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to change than those who don’t. Now doesn’t that make you feel better?

No, me either. Making resolutions can be exciting and empowering. Following through is a lot of work.

I’ve had some successful years and many more that have failed. Yet, I keep making resolutions. But I’ve also done it long enough I’ve learned from my mistakes and now I’m much more successful when I set goals, whether they’re at the beginning of the new year or at any another time.

So far in 2020 I have been successful. In no small part to the fact that I’ve failed often in the past.

I wanted to have a quiet time in the mornings before I did anything else. To accomplish this I’ve been getting up ten minutes earlier than I had been. I have only missed two mornings, and both times I had my quiet time in the evening.

For February I’ve adding reading a list of declarations, truths about myself. I wrote these last fall while studying a sermon series called MasterMind by Craig Groeschel. I read them periodically, but faltered for much of the last couple of months of 2019. I want to read them until I believe them. I have days or moments I believe, but I certainly do not most of the time.

I had decided in 2020 I would give up one thing each month. In January I didn’t watch any Netflix and any other form of entertainment while by myself. I wanted to put those distractions far away so I could focus on writing, reading, and studying. I successfully made that challenge and honestly it was easy. I had one of my most productive writings months ever. Plus I read 7 books in January.

In February I am giving up soda. This won’t be too difficult for me as I only drink one or two a week. Still, I don’t need it and I need a food challenge where I can succeed because next month I want to up the stakes and give up chocolate. Maybe I’ll even do sweets altogether. This is something I need for both my health and for my daily energy. I think sometimes it’s hard for me to write because I haven’t fueled my body properly.

I want to write a lot of new words in 2020 so I decided to try a ten minute timer (TMT), where I set my phone’s timer for ten minutes and write with no distractions. I had never tried this method and didn’t know what to expect.

The results have been amazing! The TMT helped my focus and my productivity. And somehow it even helps my creativity as I spend much less time staring at my computer, wondering what I should write. I can’t explain it, but knowing I have a timer helps my brain come up with what I need to write next.

I managed to do at least one TMT every day, and had a total of 124 in January. I haven’t been counting my new words, but that’s 27.5 hours of focused writing. And the time I spend working on revision, editing, and plotting stories is much more than that, but I haven’t tracked it.

For my fiction writing, what I had planned to write in January will take me 1-2 weeks longer than anticipated. It isn’t because I didn’t work hard, because I did, and I accomplished a lot. I’m short because I miscalculated how quickly I could get it done and underestimated how much work I faced. That’s okay because I will continue to work hard, be productive, and with a little help from God maybe I’ll get myself back on schedule.

I don’t know if I can keep up this pace (I really want to), but even if I don’t, I hope that I am developing some good habits that I can carry forward in the months and years to come.

If you’ve failed at making a needed or wanted change in your life, try again. Maybe next time what you learned from your failures will spur you on to success.

Parents don’t count how many times a baby falls down before he/she learns to walk, and they don’t get discouraged when the baby falls. Parents cheer because they know each tumble brings the child closer to that successful first step.

Maybe it’s time to get off your butt, stand up, and try another first step.

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