February 2019 Goals : The Year of 1% Better

books, crossfit, goals, pregnancy, reading, running, year of 1% better

I officially have 364 days left of being in my twenties. Yes, yesterday I turned twenty-nine. I celebrated by taking the day off any dissertation/Rousseau-related/job search work. I read books on the couch, did my first Cindy wod at CrossFit, and Bruno made crab cakes for dinner and homemade brownies for dessert. I was in bed by nine — a great start to my 29th year.

If you’re new here, or if you just need a refresher, I declared 2019 the year of 1% better. You can read January’s goals here and how I did here.

And now we are in the second month. January seemed to go on forever, but we already only have around three weeks of February left. I assume, because it is a big month for, that it will fly by.

Here are the goals/things I want to work on this month:

GET MY PH.D. I defend my dissertation next week Wednesday and give a public lecture on my dissertation research on Thursday evening. I’m not sure if that makes me “officially” a Ph.D. or if I still have to use Ph.D. candidate until I graduate, but one thing is for sure — if all goes well, I will be finished with my requirements for my doctorate. As with last month’s goal to submit my dissertation, this is the most important goal. All else can go to pieces, but this, this is years and years of work about to come to an end.

DIGITAL MINIMALISM. I am reading Cal Newport‘s new book, Digital Minimalism at the moment. I have always had struggles with social media. I’ve never been a Twitter person, but I can find myself sucked down the facebook, instagram, and just web-searching wormhole too frequently than I care to admit. I have failed too often in my battles against the internet, so I’m hoping to use some of the advice from this book to help. For now, the goal is to keep my social media use restricted to Saturdays — so far this has been working. I have not even been on facebook to see my birthday messages. Look ma, no facebook or instagram on my phone!

BIKE 20 MINUTES/WEEK. I know in the grand scheme of things is not very much, but as with running and swimming I am not sure how my hips and pelvis will react to time on the trainer. I’m starting here and if it goes well, next month I will increase. I suspect this also for mental training, because in case you did not know, cycling on a trainer is one of the most boring things you could ever do. It makes running on a treadmill seem like an entertaining time.

WALK (OR RUN) 30 MINUTES 2X WEEK. Like I said, trying to be moderate in my expectations. Some days I feel great, some days I really do not. I would really like to start running again, especially after I defend, but I am just not so sure if it will happen. Walking, at the very least, will get me outside.

PRE-NATAL YOGA 2X WEEK. Jasyoga has a few prenatal videos that I need to be more consistent about cycling through. I am hoping that if I hold myself accountable maybe, just maybe, those ligaments will start to feel better.

CathLIT2019. I am still working through some of the suggestions on Carrots for Michaelmas’s Catholic reading plan. I am currently reading Jesus of Nazareth by Benedict XVI and I love it. The one book a month plan is working out well for me thus far, but we will see what happens when baby gets here.

I think those are goals a-plenty for the month I’m planning on completing my doctoral requirements. What are your goals for February?

 

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January 2019 Goals : How Did it Go?

crossfit, goals, pregnancy, running, swimming, year of 1% better

We’ve reached the end of the first month of the year! I’ll admit, it felt like a long month. Not a bad month, but it just sort of felt like it was January forever. I have a suspicion though that February will fly by — not because it is short, but because it is my dissertation defense month.

Inspired by James Clear’s Atomic Habits, I declared 2019 the year of 1% better. Though I did have some big goals like running one thousand miles, mainly I just wanted to work on little things, little habits. Part of this is because so much of 2019 is up in the air with a baby coming late May/early June and not even knowing where we will live, work, etc. (I’m not stressed, I’m not stressed, I’m not stressed) next year. I did not want to make a grand goal, get attached, and have something out of my hands happen. The other reason is that I am still convinced by Clear’s arguments. Do small things and eventually they will make a big difference.

So how did January’s 1% better goals go? Quick review: I wanted to submit my dissertation, run ninety-one miles, practice double-unders 3x a week, do not go out to eat (unless, of course, someone invites us out), swim 1x a week, read a book on Catholicism, and poach an egg.

I’ll begin with the most important. I submitted my dissertation last week Friday. And yes, I feel as weird about being done as I expected. This was the most important thing I had to get done this month. All else could slide (and as you’ll see did slide), but this was my baby, so to speak. A project I began working on in the spring 2017 is beginning to be over, although I suspect I’ll be stuck with Jean-Jacques Rousseau for awhile. I’m committed, ha!

The goals to run/walk 91 miles and to practice double-unders 3x a week did not happen. I am not one to offer excuses, but this was a little bit out of my control. I’ll offer the excuse of pregnancy. A couple weeks ago I had excruciating pelvic pain. I sat down on the couch and just could not get up. It is significantly better now, although definitely still there. It does seem, though, that running aggravates it. I have a pre-natal appointment today and I plan on talking about it, but it was a real bummer. To add injury to injury, I messed up my left ankle while attempting to do double-unders the other week. Granted, it also is doing much better. It was black and blue and swollen. Now, two weeks later, it is just swollen. Still, I’m calling the double-unders a win. Even with the little bit of extra work I did put into them before ankle-gate, I could tell I was improving. They were not beautiful, but my double-under attempts in work-outs actually began to include actual double-under successes. I feel confident that when things start to get better and I work on them again, I will begin to improve in no time. I cannot do double-unders, but I definitely became 1% better.

I only swam twice this month. I’ll admit, I love swimming, but it is really hard to get motivated. Also, currently, my swimsuit does not fit and when I put it on, I can actually hear, “I am the egg man. Whooo. They are the egg man. Whooo. I am the walrus…” I ordered a new one, a bikini even (giving that belly some room!). And it did not fit. Ok, these are excuses. Still, that is two times more than December and I love being able to swim with a watch.

We only went out to eat by ourselves once this entire month. Our reason was to celebrate me finishing and submitting my dissertation which it seemed required a little more fanfare and getting out of the house. With other people, I think we went out to eat twice. We used to go out to eat about three times a week, whether that was picking up sandwiches or whatever. I am calling this a huge success and I’m hoping to keep it up. As I said, it is not like the food around here is spectacular. It is just sheer laziness that led us to eat out as much as we did. Plus, not eating out has had led to other good habits such as finally starting to meal plan and prep. Successfully.

I’m doing the Carrots for Michaelmas CathoLIT2019 reading challenge, as a sort of over-all goal for the year. I finished my first Catholic read for the year with True Devotion to Mary. I usually read in the mornings, so this has actually been a pretty easy habit to incorporate.

Did I poach an egg? You should know better than to even ask. Those eggs have only been boiled (eaten with some delicious Maldon salt, oh my goodness the best discovery of 2019 so far) or fried over-medium in January. Maybe next month?

How have your 2019 goals been going? Did you have specific January goals?

 

 

 

 

This is the (Very Near) End

dissertation, goals, graduate school, year of 1% better

I am planning on turning my dissertation in early next week — the whole thing. I have been working on the dissertation itself for about two years now. I started researching for the proposal I believe this time 2017 (I took my comps in fall 2016 — but desperately needed a break, so I think I read novels and did nothing for two months straight, ah the luxuries of academic life). It was approved late April, early May (can’t exactly remember) and I turned in my first chapter five days after I got married. I’ve been working on it ever since. The time I’ve been working on the topic, if not the dissertation, becomes even longer if I include that it developed out of a paper I turned in fall 2015. So three and a half years. Me, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, religion, and politics.

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Hanging out at the Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Paris. Also, home of the original Christian Louboutin store. Not pictured, me salivating over those beautiful red-soled shoes.

Even though I still have other requirements to fulfill after I submit — the defense and public presentation, I am starting to feel kind of strange that this is the end. I have no idea what comes after. So much of my life has revolved around this dissertation — anticipation for the dissertation, preparation for the dissertation, talking about the dissertation, researching for the dissertation, and of course, writing the dissertation. No longer having that big “d” word hanging over head feels like both a gain and a loss.

It is a gain for obvious reasons. These are the very final requirements for my doctorate, a process I began in 2013, something I wanted to do for ten years now. My undergraduate professors were (are) rock stars to me, modeling a way of life as much as they taught me about books. I loved what I did. I wanted to continue — well how to do that? Get a Ph.D. Those three letters do not mean that much to me as a credential. Instead, I think of them as representative of ten years of study, conversation, reading, thinking, and writing. Finishing is a gain because it reflects all those years.

I think it obvious why it might be a loss though. A long time ago — back in fourth grade — I told people I wanted to be a librarian, because I was under the impression that all they did all day was read. Cute, right? I know now that is not true, but I have been able to do just that for the last ten years really. I just hang out and read all day. I write about what I read. Last semester I taught what I read. My life revolves around reading, just as I had always wanted it. I get paid to sit around and read, with of course the stipulation that I’ll eventually finish this dissertation. I have no idea what I will do after this, but I can wager a guess that I probably will not be hanging out reading and writing all day.

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At the memorial to Rousseau in the Pantheon (he is buried in the crypts). 

Turning in my dissertation feels loaded. I’m a bit sad about it. But at the same time, I’m happy, proud of myself for finishing and for the work put in. I’m amazed that it is almost done, almost all over, that within a month, maybe a month and half — depending on how long it takes to schedule my defense — I will be completely done.

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy these last few days of sitting at my desk, scrambling to get things done. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the break from it too, but for now, I want to enjoy working on my dissertation for the little time left with it I have.*

*At least — in its form as a dissertation. It could very well be that the end has no end here.

 

 

January 2019 Goals : The Year of 1% Better

crossfit, dissertation, goals, reading, running, year of 1% better

If you missed it, last week I declared 2019 the Year of 1% Better. Because so many things this year are to be determined (motherhood, post-graduate school life, where I will be working to name just a few big ones), I have decided to take things month-by-month and do little things to improve and, well, be better.

As you might have guessed from yesterday’s post, my January goals are already side-tracked. Excruciating pelvic pain at the end of last week has moved me to plan B: do what I can. That said, yesterday I felt pretty much fine, worked out and felt fine, and still feel fine today. So maybe, just maybe, it was an end of the first week of 2019 thing and will not derail my whole January. Fingers crossed!

Ok, ok. So here are the goals for this month:

SUBMIT MY DISSERTATION. This is the goal of all goals — the goal where all goals must be sacrificed to, if need be. This is what I have been working on for the last year and a half. And yes, it is finally happening. I am done with going through editing and formatting three chapters, with two to go. This one will probably be done next week, but it is the most important. I have been a Ph.D. student since 2013. 2019 will be the year I graduate. Six years.

91 Miles. This is one of those goals on Strava that different company’s post. Apparently 91 miles in January is 2x the amount of the average Strava runner in 2019. I do not care if I ran these or walk these (most likely both). I just want to do it while I can.

Do not, do not, DO NOT go out to eat at all for the entire month. We are so bad at this. One of us (ok, it is me. It is always me.) will be like, “I don’t feel like cooking.” Next thing you know, I’m eating a cheeseburger at a restaurant in town. It is not even like this place has a ton of delicious places to eat, so usually I’m eating a meal that is just ok. There are loopholes with this – if someone invites us out to eat and Culver’s custard when we do our grocery shopping on Sundays.

Double-under practice 3x week. Last week, I only did two days. I’m going to try to pick it back up this week. Note I did not say “accomplish double-unders.” I cannot guarantee that, but I’m hoping by putting in a little bit of time, I will get better and manage to do more than one every single time I try to do them.

Swim 1x week. I missed swimming, so I just want to incorporate it back in and do just a little session in the pool every week. So far, so good.

CathLIT2019. I guess this is more of a 2019 goal, but the idea is to read one book on Catholicism a month. The blog Carrots for Michaelmas put together a whole list with categories that I am going to try to follow. I’m trying to do what I think may be more denser, more time-consuming books prior to baby C’s arrival. This month’s category is a book about Mary, so I’m reading Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary (which arrived just yesterday…hooray!).

Poach an egg. Categorize this in random, but seriously, I do not know how to do this. I should know how to do this. I want to know how to do this. I will learn how to do this, even if it takes me more cartons of eggs than I expect. My favorite breakfast in the world is eggs benedict and I’m not gong to be able to do it without going out to eat if I do not figure out how to poach some eggs. This is the year, people.

What are your goals for January? For 2019?

 

 

 

 

 

The Year of 1% Better

books, goals, reading, year of 1% better

2019 is an up-in-the-air kind of year for me. I have a good idea what the next few weeks might look like. In a couple of weeks I will submit my dissertation. I will hopefully defend in February, completing all Ph.D. requirements. And then, I do not know. I do not graduate until May and am fully funded — so that is not a problem. It is the what comes after that is sort of the up-in-the-air part. Questions such as — where will I work? Where will we live? Not to mention that in June comes baby…

So, yes, goals. Considering that the only part of 2019 that I have any clarity about is the month I’m currently in, it has been kind of hard to make plans for the year at large. Like I would love to be able to write that I have plans for a fall marathon, but life post-baby might not allow for that. I do not know. I have no idea and I do not want to assume anything (because you know what they say about the word assume…).

For 2019, then, I plan on focusing month by month instead of for the year-at-large. I finished reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits before the end of 2018. One of the main ideas of the book is to start with small habits, just a little bit every day. Tiny adjustments eventually make a big difference, as opposed to the big, grand declaration of habit change that usually ends up falling through by January 3.

“…improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable–sometimes it isn’t even noticeable–but it can be more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.” 

I like that and when I reflect back on my own life I think it is true. Every time I wanted to start eating healthier, I try to do some grandiose diet-type thing like Whole 30 (ok, Whole 30 people I understand it is not a diet, but you know what I mean). Within a few days I would make exceptions and be going out to eat (hello, my darling bacon cheeseburgers. I missed you). Whenever I wanted to start running again, I would immediately train for a marathon. Then, boom. Injured and discouraged, I would not pick it back up. I would go full Martha Stewart, wanting to keep my house clean. Even with my dissertation, every time I tried to be one of those people who could just pound out words eight hours a day, it would only take a day before I would be burnt out and messing around on Facebook. It never works. Never, ever works.

So this year, something different. Month by month, I’m going to focus on little goals — the 1% goals. I’ll share January’s goals next week, but for now this is the plan, and it seems as good a plan as any.