I want to drink more wine. I want to de-clog my friends’ timelines of my incessant updates. I want to check email for just thirty minutes a day. These are the sorts of goals I’m setting myself on my self-imposed self-improvement plan. According to the framework I just cobbled together, I’ve grouped the habits I want to change into three strengths that I am going to work on each day. I’m also going to do stuff with the other six strengths, but let’s save that for another post.
Here’s how I figured out what the daily three would be .
First clump of habits:
- I rely too much on meat. I can’t ever imagine never eating steak again, but I think it would be interesting to try going veggie for a bit. Although, confession: I am such a meat-head, this would not have ever occurred to me had it not been for my husband and his intellectual forays into the psycho-biology of animals.
- I eat well in the day and then snack like a crazy snack monster at night. I need to quit that. So I’m going to quit eating anything past 9pm. Well, my secret goal is past 8pm, but that makes me sound 90, because then I have to confess to eating supper at around 6:30 most nights.
- As far as empty calories go, I spend most of mine on chocolate. These days I barely drink, but I like drinking (within moderation, blah blah) and I should drink more. I mean, I barely drink. I haven’t had a full glass of wine in months. I appreciate this is not the sort of goal many people would have. It might even be morally dubious. But I’m into it.
This lot is obviously all about food and nutrition. But how to tie it back to one of the nine strengths? Well it’s going to take a will of steel to stick to this stuff, so I’m plumping for mettle as the first of my daily three.
Second up… lots of stuff around spending better quality time with people, especially family and friends who have gotten real short shrift from me recently. As in, hardly a word, most of the time my face in one or more screens, looking Important.
- I need to do more offline interacting. As in, maybe talking to my kid and playing with him a bit instead of him knowing the Cbeebies schedule off by heart. As in, having supper with people without checking my phone to see whose avatar is saying what to me. So the rule: no screens when there are other humans in the room. Exception to the rule: reading the newspaper on the iPad on the train or using laptop etc in other public places. Also, no screens at all before 9am or after 6pm. None. Need to work more? Hello pen, hello paper.
- I also need to speak more. Both in person and on the phone. A disproportionate amount of my communication is done though my fingertips. That is crazy *typed with extra vigour* emoticon crazy face hashtag I’m for real. I am really good at not answering my phone. So I am now going to answer my phone every time. EVERY time. No exceptions, except when I am actually speaking to someone in the offline world, face to face. That’s the hierarchy: real life talking, then phone talking, then screen talking. Boom.
- Social media is great! I am all OVER it. But I need to cut back the social side of social and socialise with people I love in the real world (see the theme? There’s a theme). That means: no more than five mins of Facebook scanning in a day, and only updates that are of professional value. Ditto Twitter, except I’m allowed to scan it more. As in, an hour total.
So those three are easy to attribute to the positive relationships strength.
Finally, there was a cluster of habits around general day-to-day functioning. I would use the word efficiency, but that might be a stretch, even after these 40 days.
- First up, I need to track where my money goes. I just found £40 lying around this evening that I had no idea I had. Quesadillas on me, folks. Which makes me wonder how much money I have spent in the last week that I have no idea about. I want to be able to account for every penny over the next six weeks. So I maybe need to buy an app for that.
- About once every five months I have an admin bonanza. I become the most efficient, well-organised human and I remain smug about it for the next twenty weeks, while my inbox piles high with pizza delivery adverts and unbelievably rubbish toddler art and I keep shoving things into my Drawer of Shame. Instead, every day for the next 40 days, I am going to have an admin hour. A whole hour. All the “must dos” and “been meaning to dos” are gonna get done. Included within that is correspondence time. That means email gets, at most, thirty minutes. This is revolutionary for little miss email junky me. But phonecalls are not included here. These are to be encouraged and elongated.
- I’m much better at having really big ideas and thoughts. But I’m not very good at capturing them and following them through. So to counter the tedium of admin hour, I’m going to instigate a What’s the Big Idea hour, when I get to have big thoughts. But I have to write them down and follow them up. Otherwise I lose.
These things are all so basic, and so much a part of what being a grown up is all about. This stuff and learning not to have tantrums. I equate this all with a sense of agency or self-determination: the ability to have control over my life, both now and in the future.
So thats the daily three: mettle, positive relationships and agency. The aim is to have a Clean Sheet, each week, over the next six weeks. The rule is that I note down any time I fail any one of these any day. Right now I am thirty minutes off the start of day one, and I’m on a screen, so I’m outta here.
|Mettle||Eat all veggie, no meat|
|No food past 9pm rule|
|Let wine win over chocolate|
|Positive relationships||No screens near humans, pre 9am, post 6pm|
|Answer every phonecall|
|Soc media social crackdown|
|Agency||Track all money spent|
|Correspondence & admin hour|
|What’s the big idea hour|