The Big Decade blog kicked off with my sixtieth birthday, nearly eight years ago. At the time, I was consumed by the impulse to “tackle weighty challenges,” and I decided to structure my life, to the extent that life can ever be “structured,” around a decade of Big Years. Each calendar Big Year involved daily duties, obsessions, Bucket List items, disciplines, or learnings. The key word was DAILY.
The Big Year concept was never fully formed, was always a rough stab at an idea, and some of the original impelling thoughts (for example, a Big Year when I walked the long hikes of the world) never took off. But it possessed a kernel of wisdom that served me well: by attending to something daily, for all 365 days of a year, I achieved more and sizzled inside.
The blog ran full tilt for five years, 2016 to 2020, and invoked fifteen Big Years. Every year had a different version of a “writing Big Year,” stressing this or that discipline or resolve. Four of the five years focused on manically regular exercise, their titles indicating their provenance: Jogging Big Year; Fitness Big Year (adding cycling); Freshness Big Year (adding stretching and emphasizing sleep/energy); and Parkrun (adding a social element). I did a Rebellion Big Year that culminated with being trundled off to jail as part of an Extinction Rebellion street blockade. I spent a Wings Big Year researching a potential writing project centered on birdwatching. I learnt a new word every day (Lexicon Big Year), listened to an album daily (Rock Music Big Year), and meditated (Stillness Big Year).
At age 65, the urge to push a rock up a hill left me. I desired a vision to age 75 that embraced peace with myself rather than endless striving. I ran another short-lived blog around that idea, but, after two years hiatus, came back to this blog in 2023.
Now I’m recasting Big Decade. I need a public notebook in which I scribble about writing, life, and meaning, but I don’t wish to discard the central Big Year idea. Instead, I’ll feel free to write what comes to mind and heart, while also using a daily discipline (reset every January 1 for the next 365 days) to keep sticking my hands into the fire.
Specifically, for the remainder of this calendar year, I’ll run a 2023 Forethought Big Year. I work hard at my writing but, despite all best intentions, cannot seem to apply the kind of project management cycle I used to thrive under in the business world. Specifically, I’m forever overpromising and under-delivering completed book sections. I’m stuck in a cycle of a fuzzy overall plan leading to hazy weekly goals (for example), leading to drifting days. What I need is to mimic the corporate project planning method: break work up into small tasks, plan them minutely, and review them daily. I’ve been trying something like this recently and when I stick with it, this approach works in spades.
So each day for the rest of this year, I’ll set a daily goal (be it accomplishing a specific task, or writing a specified number of words, or just working X hours) and at the end of the day, I’ll honestly appraise my performance. I’ll scale this up to weekly, monthly, and book-level planning cycles. The key is the daily discipline and here, I’ve been remiss. It’s too easy, when there is no manager to pressure me for delivery, to mix and match “good” days and unproductive days.
To set the Forethought Big Year in concrete form, every day I’ll plan in some detail but will blog my day’s goal in ten words or less, followed (at dinner time) with a rating of the day’s success and broad overview (again in ten words or less).
But alongside this very geeky daily post of around 25 words, Big Decade will now contain all manner of thoughts, news, and ideas. I’ve always found blogging to be a wonderful way to journal to myself, and to this aim, I dedicate this blog. May it be of some interest to you.