This, my 79th blog post, will be the last addition to the blog in 2017. It’s hard to believe that I started this blog a full YEAR ago, publishing my first 432 words on January 2nd, 2017. As I was re-reading that first post, “The Optimization Operation“, I was struck by how much my simple site has evolved over the past year.
Since its inception, this project of mine has gone from “The Optimization Operation” to simply “Hannah Elizabeth.” I’ve gone from 500 word posts to a standard 1000 words. I have attended the BlogHer conference and gained a lot of interesting and useful knowledge. My struggle for two weekly updates has settled into one. My posts have been viewed as little as 8 times and as much as 165 times. I’ve gained 71 followers. I’ve received numerous compliments on my writing. Most of all, I’ve created something that I’m proud of.
When I first started this blog, I was determined to change my life around at a rapid-fire pace. The idea of “optimization” seemed like something that would be noble to strive for, kicking me into high gear as I raced towards this always-out-of-reach goal of greatness.
However, it has morphed into more of a reflection space, a place where I can sort out what I think about certain things in my life and in the world, and hopefully help other people sort out what they think too.
As I look back on where I started the year, I’m honestly a little bit disappointed at where I ended up. I feel like my projections of grandeur have dissolved into simple, ordinary life with no proof of concept. I reached for the moon, and when I missed, I plummeted past the stars and slammed into Arkansas, and then built a hut and lived there whilst muttering about how the stars don’t shine that brightly anyways.
A bit of an exaggeration to be sure, but after re-reading how fresh and eager I was at the beginning of the year, I can’t help but be a bit disappointed in what little results I feel that I’ve produced.
A couple of days ago, I sat down with my notebook and wrote notes on every aspect of my life—teaching, fitness, dating, personal—and thought about what I have done well and what I have sucked at. What I realized is, that this sort of activity should take place at least once a week because HOLY COW it was incredibly useful.
It’s amazing to me how much we put off creating habits that will benefit us. Hmmm, I have ten minutes to spare…I could think about my day and pre-think through some things, or I can just scroll through Instagram…yeah, I need to catch up on puppy memes. I find myself mindlessly doing shit like that ALL. THE. TIME. And honestly, it’s not even a struggle because the thought of being productive for a spare 10-20 minutes doesn’t even usually cross my mind. Which is completely sad…and completely normal for most people in the world.
Even though I am not religious anymore, as I try to steer myself towards a place of productivity and growth, I can see the benefits of religious practices: finding a daily quiet place for reflection and prayer/meditation, focusing on things of a higher nature both morning and night, living for a higher purpose….all of these things lead to a deep, calming centeredness and sure, steady steps towards the end goal.
With the realization that you cannot keep your engine turbo charged at all times without stopping to clean and rest and rebuild, my focus moving towards 2018 is going to be one of deliberate reflection, renewal, and movement:
- I will meditate for 10 minutes a day.
- I will set aside time every week for reflection on all aspects of my life.
- I will create a mantra for myself that I put on my bathroom mirror and repeat every morning and every night.
- I will take the time to create a vision board.
- I will utilize the Power List created by Andy Frisella (if you don’t listen to his podcast, check it out!)
This list contains only 5 things. But they are ALL new habits. And as easy as bad habits are to form, good habits are like sparks if you don’t have the proper plan: bright for a second and vanishing fast.
And so, I need a plan:
- Meditation: I will set a reminder on my phone at 4pm, the time I usually arrive home from school. I will do my utmost to not allow myself to do anything else until I have meditated.
- Reflection. I will write this into my calendar (which I use on a daily basis). I will also purchase a notebook to be used only for these weekly reflections.
- Mantra: I will put time and thought into creating these words that I will tell myself. They will be put on the mirror where my face usually goes when I open the door.
- Vision Board: I will go to Barnes and Noble and purchase several magazines that contain the message I want to send myself. I will pin them to the bulletin board I already own.
- Power List: Starting January first (basic, I know), I will utilize my reflection notebook for creating my daily power lists. I will also put the first three items from this list onto my power list until they become habits.
If you notice, my plan for action includes things that will ENCOURAGE and make it EASIER for me to complete these daily habits. They are in no way a GUARANTEE of success. What this means is that it all comes down to me. How bad do I want to improve? How much do I want to succeed? How many times am I willing to fail and give it another try tomorrow? How long am I willing to struggle with it until it becomes easy?
There is no one path to success. We are all just trying to figure it out, one messy step at a time. But the armies who have a plan ultimately triumph over fools who grab a torch and run screaming into battle.
Last year, I was the fool. This year, I will be the victor.
What about you?