It might help explain why it took a few days to psych myself up for this when I tell you that the to-do list for June is exactly the damn same as the to-do list for May was. I was going to say “I don’t want to go into it”, and then I thought “no, the whole purpose of doing these posts is to make myself go into it, it’s the accountability thing”*, and then I realised that I’m not sure I even have that much to go into. No insane day-job overtime like last year, no illness like last month. May just sort of got by me.
Here’s an interesting thing, though: the two items from the May Proposal that I’ve done best on – steady as she goes on the exercise and the jujutsu training – have been the routine-bound ones that I have to remind myself of regularly through things like having to ensure that exercise gear or my gi are washed at the start of the week and packed the night before. The stuff that I messed up on, mainly the word-count figures, where I underperformed, although not fatally, was the sort of thing where I had it on my mind most of the time and worked on it when I was thinking about having to acquit it, but let slide when I didn’t. (I had sort of counted on crunching hard on the last weekend of the month to get it up to scratch, but ended up sleeping for something like thirty-five of those forty-eight hours. Clearly I needed that rest, so I don’t really regert it or anything, but it shows a flaw in my overall approach that a single off weekend like that could knock my whole plan over.)
The stuff that I absolutely crashed and burned on, the stuff that sat undone on the first and the thirty-first, was the social and connection thing, the collaboration thing, and some miscellaneous stuff like that bookshelf whose dismembered boards still make that whole room barely usable. (They’re very nifty for draping sheets and towels over to dry, though.) And this is telling, because these are things that I don’t and didn’t think of day to day, that I saw when I re-checked the May Proposal with about a week to go and swore very loudly about. And the reason that’s so telling and interesting is because this is the exact reason I started doing this in the first place. I fall into ruts and routines too easily, dropping into the same set of daily motions and then alarming myself because anything that those repetitive daily motions don’t accomplish doesn’t end up getting accomplished.
On the turn of the month I was a little depressed and dismayed by this. Like Magos Ghuul, I couldn’t work it out: it was so clear how the design worked, and I was pumping power into it – why was the mechanism so inert? With a few days’ perspective on it I have some insight and a plan and feel a little better. All it is is that intervals of a month aren’t close enough together to stop objectives from sliding off my radar. I’m not going to start making one-week acquittals or anything, I think that’s just going to make the process into a chore, but rereading the month’s proposal every, say, Saturday and making a brief note on progress seems like a remedy for this. May was the control; June will be the first test of the new principle. Let’s see what difference it makes. Ghuul’s mechanism wasn’t broken, he just had to find that missing component that he didn’t initially know about. Of course, considering what happened to him when he did, perhaps he’s not the best role model I could choose…
As for what I’m actually putting in the June Proposal? Reread the May one. No, I really wasn’t joking.
*It’s interesting to see other people using online acquittal of their goals for exactly the same reason: the way that accountability, even if just to a faceless Internet, is a motivator. I mentioned Dirk Flinthart as one example, and Jay Lake has recently blogged about it too.