I’ve become aware recently of how well I’m served by a lack of ambition, or at least a lack of significant ambition. I came to this awareness staring at the scale.
The number staring back at me was daunting and not healthy. It hasn’t been healthy for a while, but if I think of trying to dump all that weight, of foregoing any treats ever again, of having to run five miles a day six days a week, I will go have a couple Hershey’s kisses to fortify myself for the coming ordeal.
My naturopath wants me to walk two miles a day, and this is hardly a significant exertion. I’m resisting that prescription though, mostly because I don’t have the energy for forty minutes (moving at a snail’s pace) of sustained effort. And anybody who attempts to intimate that exercise yields higher energy levels is flirting with a retaliatory rant from me about thyroid disease, Lyme disease, chronic anemia, and a few other choice epithets.
Exercise is just plain torture for me. Your studies and data and personal experience will not change my reality. It hurts my joints, makes me twitchy, tired and cranky–and it has NEVER resulted in any measurable improvement in my health.
Yes, well, so what. Extra weight is deadly. Deadly on this hand, torture on that hand… what’s a sedentary author to do?
I walk in twelve-minute increments, that’s what. Six minutes away from the house, six minutes back. Do this three times a day, and the two miles are fait accompli. Even if I only walk once a day for twelve minutes, I have lit a single candle in place of cursing the darkness. If I try to think of walking twelve miles a week, I’m setting myself up for failure. Twelve minutes, I know I can do.
I don’t have word count goals either. I get out of bed and commit to turning on the computer and reading yesterday’s efforts on the WIP. That’s it. That’s my twelve (or twenty) minute commitment to writing. It generally turns into a couple thousand new words, but I don’t commit to that.
I don’t go on cleaning rampages any more either. I need a break from writing and put on the tea kettle. While the water’s heating, I change one box of kitty litter. Usually in the course of a good writing day, I get them all changed, do a load of wash, sweep the downstairs, change the sheets, and go grocery shopping, but not because any of those un-fun tasks loomed as a goal.
Living like this feels comfortable for me now. It would not have worked as well when I was single-parenting, and I appreciate other people thrive on lists, plans, and goals.
How about you? Where do you fall on the structure and goals continuum, and how do you attack the major challenges in your life?
To one commenter, I’ll give away my first ever signed copy of “Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal.”