1,000 Big Year: The final reckoning

1,000 Big Year

My last drafting words for the year. I abandoned my 1,000 Big Year back in November. Let me now sum up what I achieved over the year, and you’ll see why I call this Big Year a failure.

The year slumped and then died because it was too ornate, insufficiently focused. As can example, its essence, its foundation, was to draft 1,000 words every day (“each and every day” as I’m wont to repeat ad nauseum). Well, you know what? I didn’t even keep track of word count, other than for a few isolated periods. Word count can be tough to enumerate, because of editing, but clearly I didn’t put the basic machinery in place.

I can tell you I worked 1,900 hours over maybe 40 active weeks, or 48 hours a week. I wasn’t slacking. But the driver for the Big Year, to get the damned book finished, was word count. And I failed.

I did try to track if I honored another commitment, to resist the devilish allures of Facebook and email before lunchtime. Probably I did that for 75% of the time. I woke up early half my days. I did some kind of daily planning and monitoring maybe half the time. Complexities, complications… none of which ensured I meet my main aim of 1,000 words on the page.

Again, as with the Freshness Big Year, I shouldn’t castigate myself too much. I made huge strides with the book. I put in place better habits. This “failed” Big Year took me a step further towards my goals. But hey, I needed to define and execute better.

2018 Roundup: The Stillness Big Year

Stillness Big Year

Ten minutes each and every day of 2018. Ten minutes with blue headphones on, listening to Andy Puddicombe with a Headspace meditation. This is one obsession that succeeded at many levels…

I did it. Achievement spurs pride.

I’ve learnt the basics of meditation. Ten minutes is puny by “proper” meditation standards, but it’s a start.

I can find peace each day, no matter the nature of the day.

Some of the specialized Headspace notions are teaching me how to better focus, concentrate, reflect, etc., etc., etc. I can’t pretend I’m a dramatically “different” person after 2018’s mini sessions, but I’m not the same as I was a year ago.

A new Andres Kabel beckons.

Freshness Big Year: The final reckoning

Freshness Big Year

My last cycle for the year. I abandoned my exercising Big Year back in November. Let me now sum up what I achieved over the year, and you’ll see why I call this Big Year a failure.

I began cycling in 2017 and, as part of a Big Year, clocked up just over 4,000 kms. This year I aimed for 2,000 kms. My final reckoning? Only 1,480 kms.

In 2016 I jogged 1,700 kms. I remember I used to castigate myself for this because it didn’t seem like enough. Well, last year I came back to 1,200 kms, and this year I aimed to match that goal. My final reckoning? I still have a couple of jogs left, but I reckon it will be only 830 kms.

Last year I visited the gym 100 times (call it twice a week), and this year I aimed for the same. My final reckoning? Only about 70 visits.

All up, I can sensibly apply the label of “failure.” Excuses abound, such as an injury, a lingering cold, but the main issue was psychological.

But can I cut myself some slack? I set some minor goals to do with diet and habit, and they worked out well. I’ve nearly eliminated platter cheese from my diet and I rarely snack in the afternoons any more. I had nearly 3 Alcohol Free Days per week over the year, and averaged two glasses of wine per day, which was the goal. All good.

And the best result of all? I kept straining to exercise, right through the year, even when it wasn’t going well and despair seemed round the corner. Let’s see how well 2019 goes, without any “Big Year stimulus.”

Freshness Big Year: Jog with headphones?

Freshness Big Year

I’ve never run with headphones. Terrified that I’m careless and clumsy as I am, let alone without any sound input from the outside world. Author Peter Sagal, in this delightfully written NYT article, “The case against running with headphones,” recalls a friend who uses headphones because he “can’t spend that much time alone in my head.” It occurs to me that one reason I might use sports earbuds is because my inner dialogue while running is all fretting about making the end distance. No amount of Headspace this year has fixed up that issue. If I distracted myself with music, would I improve?

Stillness Big Year: Where were you, Headspace, when I needed you?

Stillness Big Year

A tough, sometimes anxious weekend up in snow . . . I don’t like snow, my body doesn’t like cold . . . not wishing to exaggerate but those eighteen hours above the snow line troubled me. At the same time, the scenery was spectacular and an enormous beauty paraded before me.

In both those circumstances – a testing time or a wondrous time – what could be more natural than being “mindful,” using the lessons of all those Headspace sessions to ease my chattering mind and “be in the moment”? Well, it turned out that I never gave a moment’s thought to any of my sitting-in-a-chair meditations. Headspace, you failed me.

Of course, the rational mind opines afterwards, the real lesson is, Andres, that you have a long way to go with Headspace and meditation. Your education is only just beginning.

The 2017 Rock Music Big Year finally bears fruit

Rock Music Big Year

Last year I listened to an album each and every day. Every 3 days, I stopped and jotted down some notes and a rating (archived on  a Pinterest board). At the end of the year, and into the early part of this year, I bemoaned the fact that, while pleasant, that intense effort didn’t restore my love of music. I was listening no more frequently than back in 2016! Well, the strangest things happen . . . suddenly, nearly a year later, my rock mojo is back. At home, on the street, at work in a café, gorgeous modern music plays. It’s a tonic and an inspiration!