When I was a teenager, I would often come home to my mother exclaiming, " Where were you? I was worried!" Before you empathize with my poor, suffering mom, you should know that this usually followed an outing she knew about, had agreed to, and had set a return time for. She openly admitted that she began to worry before my expected arrival, so, if I was 5 minutes late, she was already in panic mode.
This is to acknowledge that I've been gone from this space and I hope you didn't worry. I doubt you did, but...just in case.
I, however, have been worried, or, rather, distressed about my absence and it seemed like the more anxious I got, the harder it was to sit down and write. Self-employment and the self-direction it requires has lots of positives, but sometimes the complexity of being my own own boss reminds me of this Willie Nelson song where he describes a sordid family tree where he is his own grandfather.
Country music aside, I started thinking about how I motivate myself in general and if I could apply any of those techniques to writing.
For instance, everyday I email myself a to-do list, cleverly titled, " To do today" and I reply to that email throughout the day noting finished items. I leave at least one mundane task incomplete at the end of the work day, such as a bit of fabric ironing or label making. The next morning I use that mindless activity to get myself into work mode. I "reward"myself for less-loved tasks like product photography by giving myself permission to work on a personal sewing project when that job is done (why and how sewing is both my hobby and my work is a topic for another post). Also, like many self-employed folks, I create long term goals that I break into smaller , bird by bird, tasks.
My newest technique for establishing positive habits is monthly challenges which I primarily use to boss myself outside of work. This idea was prompted by a 12-day yoga challenge I did through my yoga studio. It meant going to class everyday for a specified 12-day period, at the end of which I would get a free t-shirt. At a cost of $120 for the 12 classes, that's the priciest free t-shirt I've ever gotten, but, it was well worth it. Along with getting better at standing on my hands and physical me, I learned so much about spiritual me. I was different in both body and mind after that challenge and I started wondering about translating that technique to other aspects of my life. Thus, the monthly challenges.
Sometimes they're basic; drink a glass of water every morning before I do anything else. Other times they focus on bettering eating habits and exercise, staying off social media, volunteering, and reading. Whatever the challenge, it's daily for a month and then reassess.
Today is June 1 and, scary as this is, I'm going to make daily (during the work week) blogging here my monthly challenge. I am super nervous about this because: (A) Writing is HARD. (B) I've never publicly announced one of my challenges before. (C) Did I mention writing is hard?
Like the yoga challenge that started it all, I'm curious to see how the experience will change me. I'll probably be better at writing, more mindful of what in my world merits writing about, and, possibly the beneficiary of unexpected dividends and knowledge.
But, will I get a free t-shirt?