March Goals: Do More Things Small

Another turn of the calendar page is upon us; can you believe it?

This one feels a bit monumental. Not only does it mark 6 months since we moved, this month makes a full year since Covid Time began. I’m not sure of the appropriate way to mark that unpleasant anniversary. Our family has been fortunate, and, as I’ve written before, in some ways our move has made this isolated time easier (easier to do, if not easier to bear). But I do feel like, lately, the weight of it has been creeping up on us. Even my almost-13-year-old notices it; the other day he observed that for him, the build-up of emotions comes out as angry.

For me, it comes out as sad.

And I think for all of us it comes out as listless, low-energy, lack of motivation, and disinterest in doing things—especially the “must do” things on our lists.

Pressure-prompted.

As we turn to March, I am woefully underprepared to meet a deadline in 26 days. Twenty years ago I learned (thanks to the “next level” Myers-Briggs test we had to do in seminary) that I’m not just a procrastinator, I am “pressure-prompted.” This is a perfect description of my experience. I don’t aimlessly put things off… I plan, I study, I ponder, I let things percolate, then at the near-last minute my completer energy kicks in and I get the job done.

I’m not sorry to function this way, but I also know it’s not always ideal. Writing five sessions of multi-part Sunday School curriculum is a huge job and can’t be done in a mad rush of energy at the end. This is the fifth time I’ve written curriculum, but the first time I’ve ever felt concerned about finishing. I was not at all prepared for the weight of Life These Days to be so heavy.

I know it’ll get done.

But I feel like everything I try to do takes optimum effort… it all feels like slogging through mud. So I know I need a new approach in these last 26 deadline-facing days.

Doing things small.

I need to dedicate myself to the work, yes. I need to commit to the BIC principle of writing—Butt In Chair.

But I’ve realized that what I also need—perhaps even more—is to generate some wellbeing to support the work. To support myself in the work.

During the month of February, for the first time in multiple attempts over multiple years, I completed every one of the 28 days of Sharon Salzberg’s Real Happiness meditation challenge.

Entering March, I am taking the meditation challenge as a model. I experienced real, noticeable change from meditation practice… and (spoiler) each daily meditation only lasted between 5-10 minutes.

That’s right. (Talking to myself now.) It’s possible I don’t need an hour of meditation, or of movement, or of music to feel a difference. I tend to think if I’m going to get out the mat and blocks, if I’m going to rosin the bow and check my tuning, then to be “worth it” I need to practice yoga or violin for a half hour, 45 minutes, whatever. And with a deadline looming, I tell myself I can’t afford to take that much time.

But maybe even 5-10 minutes would shift my energy. Maybe in those 5-10 minutes I might even see improvement in my flexibility and my “Minuet No. 1,” just like I see my mindset change with even very short meditations. But most importantly, maybe doing things small, in just 5-10 minutes a few times a day, would reset my brain, my body, and my BIC.

Drink more water.

This is my other small March goal. It would have been smart for me to start this one over the winter, before my skin and hair got like Spongebob on dry land.

I am not interested in a big diet/lifestyle overhaul; I’ve done plenty of those over the years only to end up just where I started, and even more frustrated. But I suspect some things that seem “small” (like water!) might have the same big impacts as those small 5-10 minute practices of breathing, bending, and 🎻 bowing. As the season changes outside my window, and as I complete this work and look toward the next season of writing projects, I’ll be trying to do small things so maybe I can feel, and be, just a small bit better.

As we all look toward a post-Covid season of life (may it come soon), I’m wishing you small things—and big things, done small—that make a difference for you and in your world.

Stay well, friends. 🙏🏻

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