Facing 2013: the Daily Checklist Project

I tend to shy away from major resolutions at the beginning of a new year. But I do like the opportunity for reflection, and the idea of a fresh start, the prompt to decide how I want to live the next few months of my life.

This time around, I’ve started my New Year’s plan early. I decided to make a daily checklist of things that are important to me, with the goal of accomplishing most of the items on most days. Here it is:

1. Exercise
2. Studies/classwork
3. Creative writing
4. Something to improve the house/keep the household running
5. An act of love for someone else
6. An expression of gratitude

Some of these can overlap. Buying groceries can fall under headings 4 and 5, for instance, especially if I make an effort to find one special item for each member of the family. I have a few more specific thoughts about each goal I listed.

1. Exercise. This is pretty obvious. I need to take care of myself. I walk to work, which helps me meet this goal. However, it’s only on five-minute walk, if I take no detours. Then again, some days I work split shifts, so I make the round trip twice. On those days, that’s 20 minutes of walking. If I can manage to leave the house a few minutes early on workdays, I can add a loop around the park and end up with a fair number of steps. Days I don’t work pose more of a challenge, as unintuitive as that seems. But I find I’m trying to run all of my errands and catch up on other things, so the opportunity for exercise isn’t automatically scheduled in. I’ll have to remind myself to make the effort on those days.

2. Studies/classwork. I’ll write about this in more detail in a future post, but I’m pursuing a course of study that has me taking one on-line class right now. I might bump it up to two at a time after I finish this one, depending on how my schedule is feeling. Nevertheless, it requires the discipline to make myself show up and do the work.

3. Creative writing. I have a theme in mind for poetry for the coming year. I’m thinking in terms of a chapbook, so I don’t want to divulge too much detail at this time. I’m also about 30,000 words into writing a novel.

4. Something to improve the house/keep the household running. There is no end to the number of home improvement projects that need done around here. A couple I plan to tackle that will probably require the use of vacation time. We have a new accessibility ramp, and we can’t put any finish on it yet. Around March or April, though, it’s happening. We also had a new back door put in, and I need to paint the door frame. Same project more or less. My husband and I tentatively plan to repair and repaint the walls in our entry room as well. Beyond that, I need to get a better handle on housework. If I can even just clean a sink on days I’m super busy, that will be better than nothing.

5. An act of love for someone else. The older I get the more I think love is defined by how you act, rather than how you feel. I hope I don’t disappoint myself on this one. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Listening with genuine interest to one of my kids talk about something that excites them, or taking some supplies to my mom, or getting a cup of coffee for my husband. I just want to make sure I’m remembering to be part of the world around me.

6. An expression of gratitude. Another one that can be accomplished in mere seconds, yet I can forget it some days. It can be as brief as noticing that – yay! – our water heater still works. Or  a sincere thanks to a store clerk.

That’s it. Nothing huge. But daily attention to the basics feels about right.

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