Jane said that Lent doesn’t have to be about giving something up; it’s about discipline and submission to God.
FlyLady suggested that for Lent we give up whining, procrastination, stinking thinking, and all those other bad things that prevent us from Flying.
Normally, I wait for the third shoe to drop before hearing a message. I forget the third one, but took up the challenge anyways.
On Jane’s blog, I entered:
For this season I will: work for fifteen minutes a day on one or two of my self-improvement projects: Singing, shorthand, or storytelling. I will not let all the other projects creep into this time.
Singing because I’m paying good money for good lessons, and wasting them if I don’t practice.
Shorthand because I’ve wanted to reach my goal (equivalent to one school credit) for twenty years, and just found a local study buddy. We meet this afternoon. (I’m not actually here. I’m on Ravelry, checking patterns so I know how much yarn I need to buy before meeting her at the downtown library.)
Storytelling because the local guild needs as many polished performances as they can get. Also, next year there will be at least two opportunities to, gasp, get paid, gasp, to tell. Storytelling can include paperwork like archives and permission to tell, as well as practicing.
I started out strong. It took only 10 minutes to print a calendar on which to record my progress, in the style of Seinfield’s Don’t Break the Chain. My morning routine became: Walk with the other moms. Do kitchen and put in load of laundry. Set timer, and do two units of study. Sometimes I went a bit over. Sometimes I did more later in the day.
I made great progress for about a three weeks. Fifteen minutes is enough for a full set of singing warmups and twice through my song, or bring one shorthand exercise up to speed, or nicely format one story for my archives. Now Telling Season is on, it’s just the right time to work on a story without going stale.
Then I hit two very hectic weeks, lost the calendar, had March Break, and caught a cold.
I liked having the self-improvement as a daily priority. Normally, I tell myself I should do my zones or decluttering first, and procrastinate on that, so never get to the studying. This way, it got done. Even better, it got done while I was alert and could get the most out of it. I liked that.
Now that life has cycled back to an emptier calendar, I will pick it up again. (Note I didn’t say, “Life is back to normal.” Normal varies. My ideal schedule uses 18 of the 20 child-free hours I have each week, so when I have an additional 4 appointments, other things have to slide.)
I liked the shortness of the commitment. Yes, they’re long-term goals, but this was a reasonable sized step. Also, when I make a schedule for the long-haul, I put on everything that “should” be there, and over-load myself. This way I can say, “For this short time, I will concentrate on these three things, and make progress. All those other important things can wait 40 days.”
I like that they weren’t tied to my other cycles. I normally start resolutions in September, January and late March (after the school break). My household starts (or restarts) the normal routine then. However, during the lead-up to those dates, I generate reams of tasks labeled “Do once kids are back in school.” The I burn out, and the next natural reboot is a month or two away.
I will definitely do it again.