31 Days

I’m not particularly good at forming habits. Recent research suggests the “it takes three weeks” rule I remember hearing in childhood is wrong, and it takes the better part of two months to actually change your behavioral patterns in lasting ways. Which makes me feel a bit better, but doesn’t change the fact that when it comes to standardizing my behavior, for good or ill, I’m lousy at it, preferring to remain a creature of impulse, dedicated to the cause of instant gratification. Many times over the course of a day I run an internal check: “What do I want now? How soon can I get it?”

Nevertheless, 2014 has arrived, and like many others I started off with great big plans for a shiny new year. This even though September has always felt like a better fresh start; the new school year is usually more important to me than the turnover celebrated by those who don’t view everything with an unfortunate case of academic myopia. Still, I found myself craving structure. So I made resolutions for January, a full thirty-one days of effort in which I would each day attempt to:

  1. work on my dissertation
  2. drink tea
  3. pamper my legs and feet
  4. take an interesting photograph

I’m happy to report that not only did these thirty-one days result in some productive research and the replacement of my diet soda habit with a new beverage of choice, they netted 78 photographs. Not all of them are genius work, and my present lack of travel funds means there are no great new vistas contained in the set below. (In fact, nearly 10% of these are photos of my cat.) It was still a good practice, and I’m proud of the results.

I don’t seem to need the same organizational habit, now that February is upon us. I’m teaching a brand-new course that has my brain working overtime, and I’m feeling a lot of external pressure to make dissertation progress, so I don’t need my own perfectionism adding to that burden. And the light is staying longer each day, a change that feels quietly positive, all on its own. So I’ll continue bumbling along, a little boat in a very big ocean.