As I mentioned over a month ago, I think it’s valuable to consciously mark time as a way to make gradual changes to one’s behavior. The usual case is the New Year’s Resolution, but it comes only once per year and almost nobody sticks with it for that long. As a substitute, I proposed the idea of a New Month Resolution, the basic principle of which is to choose some habit or activity I want to cultivate, and do it every day of that month. The task should be (a) big enough that it takes a focused effort to get it done (showering doesn’t count), and (b) small enough that one can expect to make real progress in 15-30 mins each day over the course of a month.
Play along from home, if you want. 🙂 (If you do, I’d love to hear about your experience!)
Update from Last Month
(I think I’ll start doing a short life-update along with these posts; monthly seems about right for that too.)
As I write this, I’m in Sydney Australia! G’day, mate! (I still haven’t heard anyone say those words…)
After two back-to-back 9-hour flights, I slept pretty well and was alive enough to walk around the city the next morning. I’m staying near Chinatown, and on my first day I walked through the Botanical Gardens towards the Sydney Opera House.
I’m here for the TeV Particle Astrophysics (TeVPA 2019) conference being held at the University of Sydney next week (I’m giving a research talk on Thursday Dec 5). Last year’s conference was in Berlin and was very well-organized, so I’m looking forward to this. I’ll likely know a few people from other events / visits / seminars.
Next weekend I’m flying to Cairns, the “Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef”, and have booked an all-day cruise and diving expedition to see it. I’m very excited to see the Reef, particularly since we don’t know if it’ll be around in 10-20 years! Someday I might tell my kids about this cool Reef and they won’t know what I’m talking about.
Other interesting events from November: I visited University of Hannover (in Germany) to interview for a job, and submitted many applications for other jobs; honestly the idea of moving again, likely in September 2020, has occupied most of my waking brainpower over the last few months. Once applications are done (soon!), my goal is to forget about it and simply enjoy my time left in Israel. Fingers crossed that I get a good offer! I’ll likely know by the end of January (if things work well, hopefully a little sooner.)
Last Month’s Resolution
Last month, I resolved to begin a daily piano practice:
Starting November 1, until (at least) the end of the month, I will practice piano for 15-30 minutes each day.
Overall, it went great! I mostly practiced in the morning before work, focusing on some repetitive drills for ~half the time and working on a specific song for the other ~half. I set a timer for 20 mins and typically continued after it went off. Over the course of the month I have gotten most of the way through this song, something I’ve wanted to be able to play for years because it’s one of my favorite Christmas songs yet is not overly complex to play. I’m pretty hopeful about continuing to practice to get the song mostly down before Christmas, about 3-4 weeks from now.
Did I do it every day? Not quite:
- Excused absences: 6/30 days
- Unexcused absences: 2/30 days
I knew I would be out of town during November 11-13 (the aforementioned job interview in Germany), but I also was out of town on my way to Sydney during November 28-30; I count both of these as excused absences. Besides that I had 2 unexcused absences, failures to practice for no particular reason.
I think ratings out of 5, rather than out of 10, are less arbitrary.
- Commitment: 4/5
- Difficulty (spending the time): 1/5
- Difficulty (focusing on the task): 0/5
- Likelihood to do it again the following month: 5/5
I want to do something this month to improve my physical health / fitness. It’s difficult though, because I’m in Sydney from now until the 10th, staying at various hostels and hotels where I may not have facilities (or space) to do to a daily workout. Tonight for example, I’m staying in a shared dorm-style room with strangers, and would feel pretty awkward to start doing yoga or something in the middle of our small room.
So this month, I’m going to do a couple of more passive resolutions. The first is diet-related. I’ve been doing something called intermittent fasting off-and-on (I guess you could say that I’m intermittently intermittently fasting!), where 8 consecutive hours each day I can eat but I fast the other 16. This month, I’ll commit to doing it each day.
The second is related to my background level of physical activity. I can’t promise to go to the gym or do yoga yet, given my schedule, but wherever I am I can walk. I bought a FitBit last month and it tracks my steps, making is easy to also resolve to do the FitBit-recommended 10,000 steps per day each day this month.
These are both things I’ve been trying to do anyway, with mixed results.
In the spirit of NMR, I’m upping the commitment for the month.
Starting December 1, each day until (at least) the end of the month, I will (1) do a 16-8 intermittent fast, and (2) walk at least 10,000 steps.
Known impediment: I will be in Australia from December 1-10, and because of e.g. a conference schedule which is out of my control, I may not succeed to fast every single day. I allow myself 2 excused absences during this time. (No excuses for steps.)
Results and new Resolution will be given on or around January 1, 2020.