Are you a joiner type of person? Or do you prefer to work solo?
Do you find safety in numbers, or do you feel alone in a crowd?
I’ve always tended to be in the latter category. Although I’m considered by others to be “outgoing,” I’m actually a classic introvert. I recharge my batteries by being alone and exhibit virtually every characteristic in this 23 Signs You’re an Introvert article. I bust every one of these 10 Myths About Introverts.
But as I was setting my goals for 2014 this week, I realized that support systems have been key to meeting my objectives, especially as I get older. Whether it’s through my bootcamp group, cardio dance classes, training buddies for races, or the blog, the encouragement and energy I’ve gotten from other people is what has kept me moving forward.
So, in preparation for 2014, I’ve spent the last few days joining communities of people who share my passions and have similar goals…
First, I joined the 365 Project (www.365project.org)
The 365 Project is a free photo journaling exercise that entails posting a photo a day every day of the year. I was inspired by a friend’s 365 Project, which he shared on Facebook every day last year. His photos–sometimes edgy, sometimes funny, sometimes nostalgic, but always beautiful and insightful–highlighted for me the strong link between photography and mindfulness.
Capturing the right lighting, angles, detail, and point of view requires the photographer to be fully present in the moment. The end product, if effectively composed, enhances the viewer’s awareness of the world. We find beauty in a detail that is normally overlooked. We become more awake to the magic of the Universe.
I’ve always loved photographing nature, but I’ve never used anything other than automatic settings on my camera. I decided that making a public commitment to post a photo a day would push me to finally make the effort to learn more.
Two days ago I went to the library and checked out an armload of photography books. Yesterday I experimented with depth of field, setting my own f-stop for the first time. I’m still a little fuzzy with the terminology and interplay of f-stop, shutter speed and ISO, but I’m excited to finally make some progress after thinking about it for decades.
Second, I took the “Think Clearly Pledge”
My friend Brian turned me on to a post by Bruce Kasanoff over on LinkedIn. Much like Andy Puddicombe did in his January 2013 TED Talk (which Brian also turned me on to — click here to read my post about it), Kasanoff challenges us to commit to 10 minutes of head-clearing do-nothingness a day. I’m sort of cheating on this pledge, since I’ve already made meditation a daily habit.
Just to be clear, though, formal sitting meditation isn’t required. The pledge is simply:
“Every day in 2014, I’m going to take at least 10 minutes to stop, empty my mind, and do nothing at all.”
Kasanoff’s challenge clearly resonated. More than 500 people took the “Think Clearly Pledge” the day the post went live on January 3rd. Hundreds more have signed on in the last two days. And this is on LinkedIn — the business-oriented social media site that you (or at least I) wouldn’t necessarily associate with meditation or mindfulness enthusiasts. The conversations going on in the Think Clearly community illustrate peoples’ thirst for more calm and clarity in our lives.
Although I earned my Master Gardener certification ten years ago, I haven’t been a member in good standing for several years, first because we were overseas, then because my kids’ schedules (and that messy cancer year) made it tough for me to fulfill the heavy volunteer requirement.
I’m looking forward to being back in the classroom once a week for 10 weeks starting in a few days, volunteering again at plant clinics at our local farmers markets beginning this spring, and reconnecting with fellow gardeners more generally. I’ve simply never met a gardener I didn’t like.
Fourth, I signed up for the “500 Words a Day Challenge”
This was the scariest challenge for me. Jeff Goins put this out on January 1 as a 31-day challenge for writers. It’s taken me a few days to drum up the courage to sign on. Although I write most days of the week in some respect or another, 500 words a day is a pretty big commitment for me.
But since my biggest goal in 2014 overall is to have a book draft finished by the end of the year (there — I said it), I need the accountability that a challenge like Jeff’s can help with. My writing group also helps with accountability, but we only meet once a month. Even stating the writing goal publicly here is a huge motivator. In any event, it’s time to get serious.
And let’s not forget the non-negotiables…
Last year was all about incorporating a regular fitness program and daily meditation into my routine. Those habits are ingrained now and provide such obvious benefits to my well-being that it’s no longer an effort to maintain them.
I’m not saying that I don’t miss a work-out here or there. I’ve learned, though, that as long as I don’t let more than two or three days go by between sweat sessions, my fitness holds up. Most importantly, I’ve learned to not waste energy judging myself. If my body tells me it needs a break, I take a break.
This year’s objectives will challenge my introvert tendencies a bit more, but the time feels right for that.
The pledges I’ve made have already nudged me to step up my game. My friend Amy also signed up for the 365 Project, for example, and her awesome close-up of a tiny frog in Florida is what spurred me to check out photography books from the library. Amy is also the friend who beat me in a 5K race last year while she had a hangover — hard to keep up with that one in every respect.
And what about you? What goals have you set for yourself for 2014 and what’s your strategy to achieve them? I’d love to hear from you!