I’m home finally. For the first time today, I crossed the threshold of my apartment after nearly five months. Between January 2nd and today I’ve been to Las Vegas, Portland, Eugene, Oakland, 3 of the Hawaiian Islands, San Francisco, back to Chicago (but not to my house) to swap suitcases, Warsaw, Zurich, Lucerne, Basel, Paris, London, Bristol, Oxford, Glasgow, Zurich, Hamburg, London, Manchester, back to London, Chicago, Portland, and finally home to Chicago. I’ve ridden 19 planes, 14 trains, 4 busses, innumerable city busses subways and taxis, hiked 41 miles and hitchhiked for a spell.
Now the summer stretches before me: 125 days with only one major traveling event booked. The rest of my work is here. So, I look at my life and ask myself what’s to be done with the next 125 days, 17 weeks, four months?
It’s easy to get lost in time, to allow minutes to fade into days and weeks and to look up one morning and discover you’ve done nothing that you’ve set out to do. So, I look at this expanse of time as a challenge. What can I accomplish? What skills can I build and hone, so that I can know that in the Summer of 2013 I learned x, y and z?
Progress is not something that happens in leaps. It happens in tiny increments. As an ex of mine used to say about weight-lifting, “you just chip away at it.” You don’t dead-lift 300lbs on your first try. You work up to it. Right now, I’m halfway there (with the dead-lifts, that is.)
James Clear says that he builds habits, not by focusing on specific goals or actions, but by deciding what kind of person he wants to be. It’s about what kind of person you ARE as opposed to what kind of goals you have. Me? I’m not a wheat eater. I don’t eat beans either. I just don’t. There’s no debate. It makes it easy to turn down cookies and bread, even when people are waving hot cookies under my nose. I take pride in my choice to be grain free, because I know how much better I feel inside. I just reach for the pâté instead.
I say I’m a dancer, but I’m amazed at how many days this season I didn’t dance. So I’m changing that, because it’s time to progress. I’m tracking every minute of dance and being intentional about how I spend my dance time. Whether it’s in solo practice, studying video, reading up on body mechanics or taking classes, it all counts towards my plan for dance. Then it’s easy to say, “I’m a dancer,” because I live and breathe dance.
Another way to think about it, is to be process oriented rather than goal oriented. One of my mentors calls it being outcome independent. You focus on who you are, what you do… not what you want from someone else or from some experience. If you don’t enjoy the process of dancing, learning, writing, reading, or writing code, you’ll struggle towards your goal instead of enjoying the journey.
Yes, I know; it’s a cliché to say, “it’s the journey, not the destination.” Sometimes we know that’s bullshit. I know, you just want to get there. So do I. Trust me, so do I. So, let each day be the destination. Every time I actually sit down to write, set aside time to dance, work-out, or study, I’ve reached my destination. I know I’m doing the right thing in that moment and I’ve reached the place I want to be, by showing up for myself each day.