Since the 1st I have had a seemingly simple but actually hard personal goal for 2011 – Do something new every day.
This is a deliberately open-ended goal but just reading a new post from a blogger I have followed for years doesn’t meet my personal criteria for fulfilling it. Reading posts on a site I had never before read would.
My goal and challenge for myself is to observe the routines which I have and to remind myself that often simple changes even to lifelong habits can have a very real and at times dramatic impact.
So while I won’t go into every day of the month so far here are a few of the big and small changes I have already made.
- Changed how I brush my teeth. One of the first changes for the new year is that I have adjusted my bathroom routine and am trying a slightly different technique when I brush my teeth – specifically brushing with a dry toothbrush and relying more on the toothpaste for moisture than I had in the past (where I would out of lifelong habit first moisten my toothbrush before I started to brush). I don’t know which technique is the “right” one but I do know that this small change makes more consciously aware of what has otherwise been a routine part of my morning (and evenings) and so far I’m pleased with the results.
- Made an effort to replace and renew my other bathroom staples – new blade for my razor, new brands of moisturizers etc. Again small changes but the difference even a simple thing like a fresh razor makes on a common task such as shaving is quite dramatic. As a guy it is very easy fall into a routine around what products you use (and to replace them rarely). It has been very good (in part thanks to my girlfriend) to start the new year with new bath products and thus a new and, so far at least, better routine.
- Started actively using GoodReads to track what I have read so far this yearas well as to finally build up a digital record of my library as well as books I want to read and buy. Here the change is mostly one of action but again so far I am enjoying the process and the service.
- Shifting back to a paper to-do list as my “master” to-do list after a year of experimenting with a variety of online options. I still think there must be an online service somewhere which I would enjoy and use actively but for now at least I have pulled out an old favorite grid lined notebook and am keeping my primary to-do list in that book. I am not using a complex system, in fact I’ve stuck with about the simplest possible method – one large master list which I cross items off and add items to (with a date for each new day I add items). Over time as a page gets mostly crossed off and I find fewer and fewer items on that page which I can take real action upon I will likely mark that page as finished and add the few still active items to the end of the then current page. But mostly I’m shifting back to analog for the option of working on my to-do list (as a list not on the items) even while disconnected
- Explore new restaurants and new cafes. In 2010 by the end of the year I had fallen into a routine where I found myself returning again and again to the same fairly small handful of cafes and restaurants. Since the beginning of the year I have tried to vary which cafes I work in and where I eat out more frequently, I’ve revisited neighborhoods I hadn’t been to in a while and found great surprises in new places (or new to me places). Break up your routine, try a new restaurant or work in a new cafe for a while.
- I’ve gone through my closets and drawers and pulled aside to give away (or just recycled) clothes that no longer fit or were worn and I’ve replaced many of them with newer options. Simple to be sure but between the lessened clutter and the increased options these small changes have a very real impact on each day – and even just the new options to consider while I select what to wear (or as I am this week what to pack for a trip) also makes me more conscious about what had become routine parts of my day and my life.
As the year goes on my goal is to keep making small changes to my life and my habits. To observe myself more closely and to commit to being aware of my routines and to try variations upon them.
What is valuable for me is as much the increase in self-awareness as the opportunities I open up for myself.
What are you doing differently in 2011?