Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A New Year's Resolution for Only the First 32 Days

In her most recent post, Leslie refers us to this wonderful piece from The Washington Post. Ann Patchett talks about two conversations she had at the end of last year that shaped this year. She talks about a conversation she had with the bassist Edgar Meyer, who had begun to track how much time he actually spent on working (as opposed to all the things we do to avoid working, like answering e-mails or dusting the house or going to the grocery store). He realized that he actually accomplished more when he focused on work--and by work, he's talking about creative work.

The second conversation she had was with a yoga teacher: "The second important conversation I had that winter was with my friend Bethany, who teaches yoga. She told me that her teacher, a great and wise yogi, believed that whatever a person did with thoughtful consistency for the first 32 days of the year set the course for the entire year."

I'm intrigued by the idea of 32 days (why not 30 or 31?). It seems more manageable than a resolution for an entire year. Patchett says, "As a Catholic, this struck me as a warm-up for Lent, and I am a great fan of Lent. I am a genius at giving things up. Since the conversation with Edgar was still kicking around in my head, I decided that I would work on my then un-started novel, or at least make a concerted effort to work on it, for at least one hour every day for the first 32 days of 2009."

And she's made a lot of progress this past year. She credits that progress to the attention that she devoted to the first 32 days.

I'm glad to have discovered this idea while there is still time to plot for success, should I plan to do this too. These past 2 weeks have been astonishingly hectic due to many reasons: my promotion, the end-of-the-year reports that must be written, the fact that I was travelling a lot during November. And of course, the end of the term and the Christmas season, which always surprises me with its commitments.

The first 32 days of 2010--a new decade too! How do we want to shape the year and the decade? Let's devote the first 32 days to that vision!

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