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Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Morning Check In: The Countdown Begins

This is the last Monday of November. For me this is the signal that the countdown begins. More than any other time of the year, this part of the year presses in on me. I think about all the things I had anticipated in January that I would have done by the end of this December, and I feel the pressure to accomplish even more.
Over at Deep Existence, Stephen Guise's blog about personal development, he wrote last October about a test to evaluate your life. He suggested taking a "picture" of your life as you find it at the beginning of the month. Make a list of where you stand. He calls that point A. Then at the end of the month, perform the same exercise and call that point B. Hopefully, you will see movement. To read this fascinating article, complete with suggestions about becoming active in your life decisions, click here.
I find great value in Guise's monthly exercise, although I generally forget to do it or give myself credit for making any progress. Instead, I find that this last hurrah of the current year gives me the push I need to think about these things. Perhaps it is because the season's activities change. I get a break from some of my teaching activities while I add on more performance activities related to the season, which gives me a little bit of free time to enjoy reflective activities, such as trips to Starbucks, coffee shop writing, and visiting with friends and relatives.
So now is the time when I will think back to where I was last January and where I had wanted to arrive at the end of this December. This is the last month that I will have to make any progress in the direction that I had chosen to walk. In the meantime, I will look back at what I accomplished in November.
I just completed another NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), whose purpose is to spur writers to complete a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. I reached that goal last Friday. I also did NaNoWriMo last November and two other Camp Nanos this past summer. I have done a lot of writing in 2012. I hope to offer some of it to you soon.
One thing that NaNoWriMo and its permutations (Camp Nanos) teach me is that I have two basic choices, and maybe even more. One basic choice is to throw up my hands and lament that "I am so far behind," give up, or do nothing. My other basic choice is to keep moving, keep putting one foot in front of the other (or in my case, write one word after another), and do something. I usually opt to do something, any little thing that moves me forward, because my experience has shown me that these tiny movements add up to a huge movement in the end. Tiny running steps add up to a half marathon at the end of a few hours. 750 words every day add up to over 22,000 words at the end of a month, and 2,000 words a day add up to a novel.
As I look back at where I began in January, my yearly point A, to where I am right now at the end of the year 2012, my point B, I expect that I will see forward progress. I will finish what can be finished on my list in the five remaining Mondays, or 36 days, or five full weeks, depending on how you wish to think of it. I will look ahead to where I want to travel in 2013 and begin the thoughtful decision process that will help me to formulate my goals.
I hope my readers will also join me in this journey of thoughtful reflection.

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