January: Goals Round-up

It’s the end of the month (you may have noticed). I thought I would do a round-up of my goals for the month and just talk my way through what I accomplished and what I didn’t. Let’s take it point by point:

  • Cut back to three sodas per week.
  • Walk four laps at the mall twice per week. Even with work.
  • Stop buying microwave lunches. Get Subway instead, but no chips or drink.

These three were my “healthy living” goals for the month. I can’t say that I did great on them, the soda in particular being difficult for me, but I did improve in small ways. I am trying to cut back on my soda consumption and I did a fair-ish job at it this month. Going to California halfway through the month put a little kink in that plan, but I think I managed to get back on track after we returned home. Exercise was another sore point. I only managed to hit my goal activity level last week, unfortunately, but hopefully that’s a signal of things improving more as we move into February. As for eating less microwave food, I did a fair job, I think, only buying those types of lunches four or five times for the whole month.

  • Write 1k for the month. Possibly on The Outpost.
  • Finish flash fics if they’re not already done.

Writing progress: I wrote 1200 words for the month, all of it on The Outpost, my TRON fanfic. I did not work on the flash fics even a little bit. My enthusiasm for that little project kind of waned when I hit a roadblock on it back in December. I’m going to attempt the course again next month, so we’ll see what happens with that.

  • Read two books, at least one of them new.
  • Watch eight movies, at least two of them new.
  • Write one movie review for the blog.

I didn’t even get through one book, but in fairness, the book in question is Pat Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, which is 700ish pages long. I’m hoping to finish it early next month and move on to some easier to get through books. (That’s not a knock against NotW, btw. I think it’s brilliant. It’s just… very long.) I also failed spectacularly at reaching my movie goal, except for the part where I did see two new movies– Hidden Figures and La La Land. Now if only I had written a review of one of them for the blog… though I suppose my five-review round-up early this month counts as a movie review.

  • Try to visit my brother and SIL once.
  • Baking: bake macarons again, this time a flavor from the Hermé book. Bake cookies.
  • Practice ukulele twice a week. Learn two nursery songs.
  • Work on the Disney puzzle.
  • Start the new blog (Scribe the Sky). Post at least once a week.
  • Watch four episodes of every show I’m behind on. Keep up with others.
  • Beat Pokémon Sun. Play more Story of Seasons.
  • Clean and dust room. Decorate like you’ve been meaning to forever.

Okay, a lot to cover here, except not because I didn’t do more than half of it. I visited my brother and sister-in-law this past weekend, check. I didn’t accomplish any baking this month, but in fairness, I have been working six days a week, and things like macarons take some planning and forethought. That I don’t have time for.

Ukulele practice just did not happen. Neither did working on the puzzle. New blog? Happened! I even posted once a week! Go me! I unfortunately did not start catching up on the shows I was behind on, and I barely kept up with the ones I wasn’t behind on. Whoops. Also whoops: instead of playing Pokémon or Story of Seasons, I bought a new copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and started a new town. Go me?

I kind of cleaned my room, which is to say I cleared away boxes and stuff, but didn’t really deep cleanse. I also started decorating my walls, after living here for only three years. [showing here]

  • Figure out payments for student loans.
  • Save $400 if still employed. $50 if not.

I have not really done the first. I looked at it today and I think I need grown-up help. I also kind of did the second? I saved $300, but did not save that last hundred because I had a short paycheck the last week of the month, thanks to going to California and then getting spectacularly sick.

All in all, I had a fairly productive month, I think. No, I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do, but I’m learning to be Okay with that. It doesn’t really matter in the long run. I still got some things done, and that’s better than nothing.

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Today’s Monster: Perfectionism

I read something somewhere (probably on Tumblr) about perfectionism, or maybe impostor syndrome. It said that perfectionism came about when you told kids that their talents were innate rather than because of their hard work. This makes them believe that everything (or certain things, or whatever) should come easily to them, and if it didn’t, that meant there was something wrong with them personally. Failure was a fatal flaw, not just a result of not working hard enough. …And come to think of it, this is probably more about impostor syndrome than perfectionism. Damn.

Still, the point stands that perfectionists often tie their self-worth to their successes and failures. I’m a perfectionist  myself, I should know. I don’t remember if I was often told how smart I was when I was young, but I remember always wanting things just so. Usually arts and crafts type stuff, but it didn’t take much to extend that to academic performance as well. I was a straight-A student all the way from elementary to high school, and I was always devastated when I didn’t understand something right away, or when I didn’t poorly on a test or a paper. If I couldn’t do well in school, what good was I?

In college I learned not to put quite so much stock in my grades (and yet still graduated summa cum laude?), but now that I’m out in the world I have another perfectionism bugbear: productivity. Especially before I got a job, I tended to measure each day by how much work I got done, whether it was writing or reading or some other arbitrary activity. Even now that I’m working for pay, I still think the success/fail of a day is measured by what I did with my free time. It’s like I’m not allowed to relax or have fun anymore, and as a result I’m as stressed out as I’ve ever been.

I have a multitude of other problems on top of this. I’m a pessimist with (occasional) double depression. I have anxiety that often keeps me from trying things outside my comfort zone. I don’t believe in myself, or have any hopes about my future that I haven’t already dismissed as far-fetched (see the pessimist thing above). I don’t know what to do with my life, because I feel like I’ve already messed it up beyond repair.

This is perhaps information best shared with my therapist. But what is the internet for if not oversharing? (And hey, if this makes one person feel less alone, maybe it’ll be worth it?)

The fact of the matter is, I don’t know how to fix myself. (See again therapist, need to talk to.) I don’t know how to be okay with myself, and okay with how little or how much I accomplish. I really don’t know how to be okay with failure, because that has always been The End for me as far as a lot of things are concerned. I need to be able to work through things in therapy. Maybe I need a mantra or something.

It’s Okay to not do All the Things.
It’s Okay to fail.
Failing does not make you The Worst.

It’s Okay.
It’s Okay.
It’s Okay.

On the Road

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had to go to California this past weekend for a funeral. Since I live in Kentucky, this involved a very long ride in a car with my family. (We might have flown, but alas, unlike some people, we are not made of enough money to buy plane tickets for four adults and two children at what is relatively the last minute.) My dad makes the drive in pretty good time – about 48 hours when one includes a stop for one night – but it is in many respects interminable and a little boring.

These are the kinds of road trips I’ve been on. I haven’t really been on that idealized, spur-of-the-moment cross-country trek with college friends. (I didn’t have many college friends, for a start.) My cross-country trips have only been with family, and these days we don’t have a lot of time for sight-seeing on the way there or back again, though sometimes we fit in a stop at a national park or two. A couple years back we stopped at the Grand Canyon, and this summer past we hit up Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

I should make clear that these trips have a singular destination – Los Angeles, California. Most of my extended family lives out there, in particular my elderly grandfather. The trips are mostly to see him,  but we fit in other fun stuff as well, like trips to Disneyland. When I was younger and my parents had more vacation time (or rather, the ability to take consecutive weeks of vacation), we went to other places, like Yellowstone National Park and Boston and Niagara Falls. But I’m okay with only going to L.A., because at least then I get to see my family, whom I don’t see often at all.  (Also Disneyland. I love Disneyland.)

But enough about destinations; this is about the journey. Sitting in a car is not the most exciting way to spend most of two days, but that’s how we do it. The latter half of the trip out is usually the most interesting, because the landscapes become breathtaking in New Mexico and Arizona. The first half… not so much. It’s mostly forests, farmland, and prarie, which is nothing to really write home about. Still, sometimes the sky gets big and beautiful, and I enjoy looking at it al the same.

I mentioned how boring sitting in a car can be. I manage to keep myself entertained, usually with books or else writing and video games. I’ve only recently acquired a tablet with which to watch movies, but I’m sure that’ll become a staple of my travel time soon enough. This most recent trip, though, I’ve found I’ve been sleeping a lot, which I don’t know whether to be happy or miffed about. I’m miffed because I could have been using that sleeping time to write or read or even, yes, watch movies. I’m happy, though, because I more usually have enormous trouble sleeping on these trips, so any shut-eye is fine with me.

All in all, I enjoy our yearly trips out to California. As boring as it is to be on the road for two days, there are perks. I get to see beautiful parts of these United States, parts I would probably never venture out to on my own. I spend some time mostly unplugged, able to do “offline” things I don’t always manage in my day-to-day life. It’s not a “traditional” road trip by any means, but it’s still a road trip to me.

January: Mid-Month Progress Report

It’s just about halfway through the month, so I thought I would do a quick progress post for my January goals. I’m not gonna say I’ve made great progress, but some things have been happening, which is better than nothing at all.

My healthy living goals have kind of been happening. I’ve cut back on soda like I wanted, and I haven’t been eating out as often. The exercise… has not been as much of a thing. I counted some extra walking and standing at work the first week, but my second week has been rather lacking. It hasn’t helped that this weekend is being taken up by a trip to California for a relative’s funeral. Can’t exactly do a lot of exercise when you’re crammed in a car for 48 straight hours. I’m hoping to improve when we get back, though.

Writing wise, I’m doing okay. I’ve been working piecemeal on The Outpost while at work, which is better than absolutely no writing at all. I haven’t touched my flash fiction stories since early December. To be frank, I don’t really feel inspired by my ideas anymore. I may start the course over, or at least try to finish the ideas that I do like. For now, I’m content to keep working on The Outpost, and glean my progress to 1000 words from there.

As for all the other stuff… I wonder sometimes if I’m too ambitious when I set goals like these. I want to do too much, then get overwhelmed and end up doing none of it. I haven’t practiced ukulele at all, or worked on that puzzle. While I’m in the middle of one book, and I’ve seen one movie, I’m not sure I’ll be able to meet my goals this month. You’d think I’d be proud of the progress I have made, and would have confidence because of it, but all I seem to get out of it is more stress. Stress that I’m not doing well enough, that I’m a failure if I don’t do everything I said I’d do. But the only one judging me is me. I highly doubt any of you lovely people are going to think I’m The Worst if I don’t meet some goals.

And this turned into a discussion of the philosophy of goal setting rather than a discussion of progress. Whoops. I haven’t been catching up on my shows, but I have been keeping up with the new episodes of Sherlock. Rather than play games I already have, I went and bought a new copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and have been entertaining myself with that. My room remains unclean and undecorated. I’m saving money, at least, but I still need to sort out of my imminent student loan payments. I haven’t done any baking or visiting. I still feel like I’m trying to get by with my work schedule and life schedule, and now all this stuff is on top of it.

So this progress update is mostly just to say that I haven’t made much progress. And if I add “yet” to the end of that sentence, I might just be able to believe I can get it all done.

Five Quick Movie Reviews

Before Christmas, I rented a bunch of movies. I didn’t quite manage to watch all of them, but I did watch all the ones I hadn’t seen before, so I thought I’d write some quickie reviews of them for the blog.

Don’t Breathe (2016)

A taut horror film with great sound. Three teenage thieves break into the home of a blind man who’s not as harmless as he seems. The film takes a couple unexpected turns that serve it well, though I really could have done without one element that seemed to be there for its own disturbing sake. 4/5

Mr. Holmes (2015)

An elderly Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) struggles with his failing memory as he tries to remember the details of his last case. McKellen is nothing short of amazing in the title role, and the young boy Holmes befriends is thankfully not insufferable. A great film about coming to terms with getting older. McKellen should have gotten an Oscar nod, though. 5/5

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

A young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is in a car accident, and wakes up in a bunker where John Goodman tells her the world has basically ended. A great thriller, Goodman and Winstead are amazing in their roles. The film isn’t obsessed with explaining everything, and ends without solving some mysteries, which suits me just fine. 5/5

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Another comedy from the Coen brothers, this film follows a day in the life of a studio supervisor (Josh Brolin) in the Golden Age of Hollywood, and the events surrounding the kidnapping of the studio’s biggest start (George Clooney). It’s goofy fun, and funny as hell, with delightful performances from a whole host of stars, from Tilda Swinton to Scarlett Johansson. 4/5

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

I’d been meaning to see this one for a while. A young British man is recruited into an independent spy agency by Colin Firth, while Samuel L. Jackson plots something with the world’s rich and powerful. the action here is great, and the film manages to be both funny and serious in the right turns. Still not over the epic church fight. Or what happens to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” (I’d be cruel to spoil it). 4/5

January 2017 Goals

In addition to making some sweeping goals for the year, I like to make goals for each individual month, so I can track my progress on my yearly goals a little more closely. My January 2017 goals are as follows:

  1. Cut back to three sodas per week.
  2. Walk four laps at the mall twice per week. Even with work.
  3. Stop buying microwave lunches. Get Subway instead, but no chips or drink.
  4. Write 1k for the month. Possibly on The Outpost.
  5. Finish flash fics if they’re not already done.
  6. Read two books, at least one of them new.
  7. Watch eight movies, at least two of them new.
  8. Write one movie review for the blog.
  9. Try to visit my brother and SIL once.
  10. Baking: bake macarons again, this time a flavor from the Hermé book. Bake cookies.
  11. Practice ukulele twice a week. Learn two nursery songs.
  12. Work on the Disney puzzle.
  13. Start the new blog (Scribe the Sky). Post at least once a week.
  14. Watch four episodes of every show I’m behind on. Keep up with others.
  15. Beat Pokémon Sun. Play more Story of Seasons.
  16. Clean and dust room. Decorate like you’ve been meaning to forever.
  17. Figure out payments for student loans.
  18. Save $400 if still employed. $50 if not.

As you can see, there’s a lot I want to get done this month. I’m not sure how I’ll do on some of it (like the video games goal; I don’t feel like I’ve got the time for games these days, but I’m going to try anyway). Nevertheless, I have my hopes set high. It’s a new week, a new month, and a new year. Anything can happen, and I can make it happen however I want.

What are some things you want to get done this month?