This is meant to be a selfie of me hunched over, lamenting the trashing of a Big Year. The photograph didn’t work out as planned but I’ll let it stand as it does convey a little of how wounded I feel. How weird, I hear you say, how weird to worry about odd annual targets that no one else knows anything about. It’s not weird to me at all, I respond.
This Big Year was designed badly. It’s way too complicated. It doesn’t inspire. Its goal is obscure. My second most important focus in 2018 IS NOT WORKING AS IT SHOULD. But there is hope . . .
I began 2018 saying I wanted to be “balanced,” “fresh,” and “energetic.” I set a bewildering array of daily “must dos”: exercise 9 times a week to cycle 90 kms, jog 30 kms, and visit the gym 3 times; AFDs (alcohol free days) on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, cutting average daily alcohol to 2 standard drinks; set alarms to go to sleep and rise; cut out platter cheese and afternoon snacking. You can see what I’m aiming for, a holistic mix of good daily habits. This aim unravelled early.
By March I realised I couldn’t afford the cycling hours and cut that from 90 kms a week to 50. By April I was barely hanging onto curtailed annual goals without any firm weekly habits. A big hiking holiday set back my regular exercise fitness considerably and in September I cut my annual cycling goal to 2,000 kms (only half of my original goal, which makes a mockery of that original notion). My jogging target was cut to 1,000 kms but then a leg injury and a cold reduced me to shuffling 5 kms on each jog instead of the confident 10 km runs I was doing throughout 2016 and 2017. My cycling has almost stopped. Motivation is low.
The complexity of the year was nonsensical, really but right now where am I?
Look, a basic commitment to daily exercise remains strong. After all my travails I have gotten out and exercised 75% of my days. I don’t call that good enough – certainly that’s not a Big Year – but it’s not irredeemable. If I can build my jogging back to 10 kms, I think I can hit 900 kms for the year, substandard but a base for next year. I’ve lost my cycling mojo and hope to get out enough to clear 1,500 kms for the year, a pittance really. And I’ll do well to end up with 70 weights sessions in 2018, not enough to justify the gym membership.
All those other silly little goals? (They’re not silly, they just shouldn’t fit into a Big Year.) I haven’t faithfully stuck to Mondays to Wednesdays alcohol free, but over the first ten months of the year, I have averaged 3 AFDs per week and 2 glasses per day, as desired. (But to be honest, I’ve only done okay because of Dry July, a month off the grog.) No, I no longer eat platter cheese or snack before dinner, but hey, aren’t those trivial?
So . . . if I ever do a fitness/exercise Big Year again (and I certainly don’t plan one for 2019), I’ll make it dead simple and an inspiring impossibility, rather than this “Freshness Big Year.” For now, I’ll push on to the end of the year, seeking to exercise daily and restore my jogging and cycling capabilities. I’m not happy with this but 2018 is what 2018 is.
This Big Year has been and is a flop, and now I need to face reality. Realising this, ten months into the year, shames me and fills me with regret, but I can’t go on with pretending all is okay.
Mostly on this blog I compliment myself: aren’t I clever and courageous in attending to a daily activity that enriches life? Well, not so clever. The 1,000 Big Year, my most important focus for 2018, was a flawed creation. Maybe I can learn from this misstep.
This year has been fantastic from so many angles but my most important goal, to write my nuclear history book, has made spirited leaps but hasn’t accelerated as I deeply desire it to do. The 1,000 Big Year idea was to focus, focus, focus. Make each day a model one: rise before dawn (motto: set that alarm); work only on the book (my motto: no Facebook), plan and monitor every day; and, most importantly, write 1,000 words (4 pages).
Oh, ignominy. Let me scourge myself on all four counts.
Early start: I’ve encouraged good habits by setting an alarm 95% of the time but have only risen smartly two days in every three. Not good enough, Andres!
No Facebook: this is not bad, I’ve been a good boy four days out of five.
Monitoring: I’ve tried to persuade myself that yes, I’m planning and reviewing daily 75% of the time, but the real truth is that very little of the feedback cycle has been meaningful. Why? Read on.
1,000 words: a debacle! I haven’t even kept track. Fairly often I’ve “written lots” but mostly my output has been arduous and halting. THIS DID NOT WORK!
I am therefore now abandoning this Big Year. Tomorrow: lessons for designing future Big Years? The next day: what the friggin’ hell do I aim for over November and December (I can’t exist in a vacuum)?
Is aiming too high crippling? In my experience, it can be. But on some days, it sets my pulse pounding as if I were twenty years old again.
The connections aren’t coming to me. But they will.
Spring sun. An interregnum ends. Ever-present terror fades to a shadow. The crane is a bird of good luck in many cultures. In my culture, the tram signals the future. Onward.