Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lessons from One Goal

I was looking over my list of January resolutions and was pleasantly surprised. Per usual, there are goals that have been pushed to the back-burner and goals that I'm proceeding towards more slowly than expected. But one goal stood out, 

At the beginning of January, I determined to read for 15 minutes every morning. Every. Morning.

 Creative Commons License: Sunrise in San Diego by Timm Williams on Flickr

This meant that I had to make some changes:
  • I had to get up early enough to allow 15 minutes of extra time in my morning schedule. This wasn't hugely difficult since I normally get up fairly early, but for last-minute risers this might present a hurdle.
  • I had to go to bed early enough to make rising 15 minutes earlier a viable possibility.
  • I had to put a stop to my habit of checking my Facebook and e-mail accounts right away in the morning. This was a good change that needed to happen, but a difficult habit to stop at first. 
Some mornings, it's romantic. I hop energetically out of bed, grab my book, and read for 15 blissful minutes as I leisurely sip my coffee. Most mornings, though, I frantically fight to keep my eyelids open, mournfully wondering what possessed me to try this sick experiment.

Commitment to this goal taught me a few things:

1. Everyone has 15 minutes in their day, somewhere, that they can recapture. Maybe your 15 minutes is during lunch break or in the late afternoon or late at night. But that block of time is hiding somewhere, just waiting to be used. 

2. 15 minutes may not seem like much time, but committing to doing something every day for 15 minutes was much harder than I thought it would be. Distractions and hurdles will appear en masse. The universe will conspire against that 15 minutes.

3. 15 minutes every day produces real results. I finally read John Piper's Desiring God, a book that has been on my to-read list for ages. Tomorrow I am finishing Chesteron's Orthodoxy. Instead of staring at my "to-read" pile, I am finally seeing results.

What could you do in 15 minutes a day? Practice an instrument? Read through a book list? Learn to cook? 


Monica Jacobson said...

Wow, congratulations to you. You have no idea how much of a victory this is. I say that, because ever since Jack was born, I haven't heard my alarm ONCE. Seriously. I don't know why, but I can't seem to wake up anymore. I used to be the person who got Marty up on time, and now we just never get up on time at all. It's SO BAD. And I like getting up early! We sleep through our phones blaring at us for a whole hour, and only get up in the end because Jack wakes up. And the boys are so nice to us that they just let us sleep and play in their room. Anyway, bad.

However, I have been instituting your philosophy -- I've started trying to learn Marty's violin, and I've been working on it steadily for a few months. Not that it's a great achievement or a great act of will, because I've always wanted to learn the violin. But anyway, aside from it sounding like a chorus of people dying horrible deaths, I'm having a lot of fun, and I definitely feel like I'm accomplishing.... something, anyway. ;-)

Actually, the real force of will came in picking it up at all, because I've literally, for the last six years, been too intimidated by Marty's ability to play well to even try. Which is a ridiculous reason, of course. However, the reasons we choose to not do things are usually ridiculous. ;-)

Monica Jacobson said...

Excuse my grammatical problems -- I see them, and that's enough for me. ;-)

Emily said...

You're hilarious, Monica!;-) Well, rest is important too. I can't imagine how much more difficult it is to get things done with three little ones running around.

But good for you for setting out to learn the violin. That is quite a commendable goal. I can't even muster up the energy to practice my piano, much less take up a new instrument!!

Ah well....one baby step at a time.;-)

Monica Jacobson said...

Ah, but I can't get up the willpower to practice piano either. That's the thing. You see, at least to me, it's a lot more exciting and fun learning a new instrument than trying to learn a song on the piano. You should try it! Actually, it was pretty cool. I had Marty make a mandolin for me before we were married, and I've been slowly learning it. It's not as hard as the guitar, and you can get to playing pleasant tunes pretty easily without a teacher. And, as it turns out, the tuning and everything is the same as the violin, which means that I already have part of the violin learned, which made it less discouraging. Anyway. It's fun. I got the idea of playing several instruments not very well (heh heh) for your own fun, rather than becoming amazing on one instrument (which, face it, some people never will be) from Marty. He plays violin quite well, pinks on the piano, can play a few tunes on the recorder, can play a few tunes on the harmonica (as can I, now), plays the mandolin, and the guitar. It gives you more of an opportunity to have fun, rather than feel like you have to go practice.