It’s fall once again, that time of year when the in some ways the world appears to be dying in Northern climates. There are things I like about fall: Our wedding anniversary, my parents’ and my in-laws anniversaries, Thanksgiving, winter beers, a break from hot summer temperatures. However, more and more I find myself lacking passion and energy in the fall.
I had a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving, and here on early Sunday morning I’m reflecting on what I could have done the last three days. While I did have a nice dinner with the in-laws and my wife and I completed all of the Christmas shopping for my family on Friday and Saturday, I still feel like I should have or could have done a lot of other things. Fun things, hobbies, or productive things.
I have a book series that I’d like to get re-published, and I just have to type it into the computer and get it formatted for publication. I could have worked on that. I have 400 or so albums to clean and grade for resale, and an equal amount to listen to for personal enjoyment. I could be writing on the blog more. I have another writing idea that I tested and just need to put the work in to making it a reality. I could do more work on some training presentations for my real job. I have 7 more rolls of film to develop. I could have done taken some more pictures. I have thousands of old slides to review, scan, and upload to various sites. I have my grandmother’s recipes to scan for family. I should exercise more. We could have gone hiking in the damp, gray, 43 degree Pittsburgh November weather. Talk about sucking your energy away.
There’s things I used to do, like brewing beer, roasting coffee, fishing, camping. Then there’s church-related things. Since leaving the Presbyterian church, we’ve struggled to find a church home. As we near advent, it’s odd not to be engaged in preparing for the various church activities. Or practicing new songs. In fact, I haven’t even picked up a guitar since Easter. This might have been a good weekend to put on some new strings and noodle around a bit.
I could have baked some bread or soft pretzels. There’s things we normally do in the summer, like taking the dogs on a long walk or playing golf. We could have played board games, cards, or just found some friends to hang out with. But instead, I watched the first three Star Wars movies (numerically, not by release date). I drank more than I should have. I watched an entertaining Pitt football game. I stayed up late.
I’m sure there’s other things too that I’m not thinking of that I could have done. Maybe that’s part of the problem – I’m into too many things. Other than feeding my introverted need to be alone sometimes, these weekend activities didn’t contribute to advancing my health, financial well-being, or my marriage. They didn’t increase my bank of memories and experiences with friends and family. In short, they didn’t bring me joy.
Spending some time thinking about why, a lot of it comes down to the fact that my routine has been disrupted over the last several months. I guess I need a new routine. I’ve kept work notebooks or journals for about a decade, but I’ve been experimenting with Bullet journaling the month of November. It hasn’t worked great, but it hasn’t been horrible either, so I’m going to continue it for a while. For December, I’ll create a habit tracking log in the journal. I need to really think about my routine, or my Leader Standard Work as we call it in Lean.
My habit of writing and exercising in the morning hasn’t worked well with so many early morning meetings lately. But now, I wonder how often I’ll need to be in the office by 6am? I could probably start hitting the gym at lunch a few days a week, and I could most certainly get there after work a few days a week.
It seems like when I put together a plan to get something done, it gets done. So unfortunately, I probably need to plan my evenings and weekends better so I do more and ‘veg’ less. I’m not really an impulsive spur-of-the-moment type of guy, and my wife isn’t either.
Ironically, the busiest weekends often seem the longest and the most refreshing. I like feeling like I got some things accomplished. Like I actually DID something. This weekend, we had very few plans, so we could get most of our things done in 4-6 hours each day, leaving the rest of the day unproductive. I guess this year, my plan for beating the winter blues is to focus on being more productive. I need to identify which “things” should get done first, then move onto the next, and focus on getting them done. It’s the time of year to set goals for the coming year anyway, so I’m going to identify the habits and routine that should lead me to accomplishing my goals. By focusing on the habits, hopefully I’ll rekindle some passion in certain areas of my life.
This post was a bit of a ramble, but sometimes you just have to think through what’s bothering you to come up with a new plan. I hope you personally had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, and perhaps you can use December as a month to put a framework in place to achieve your goals in 2017, too.