What Does Progress Look Like?

And suddenly we’re in February. I saw many folks on social media this month bemoaning the length of January, but I’ve always thought of February as the longest month. I don’t really know why, maybe because having grown up in the southern tier so I’m ready for spring by mid-February. Regardless, the year is well underway and since this is the first newsletter of the month, it’s time for me to be accountable and share my progress on my to do list for the year.

As an aside, a couple of my friends have told me this list is a bit much for them. It made me stop and think about the different ways we operate in the world. I’m a list person. I’m a J on the Myers-Briggs. The first time I learned about that trait it was in a workshop and the presenter said J’s were list makers, that sometimes we might even add something to the list we had already completed simply for the pleasure of checking it off as done. I was one of the ones smiling and nodding in agreement. I carried a planner when I was in college, long before calendars and planners were recommended to students as a time management tool. Certainly long before we had designer versions and so many configurations to choose from.

I accomplish more in a workday when I have a list of things that need doing each day. It keeps me focused and I do love checking things off as complete. But beyond work, having a list of things I want to do, practices I want to keep, serves as a small push to get up and walk or to stop with the social media and pick up the book I’m reading. And trust me, I’d easily ‘forget’ about memorizing the poems even though I do want to do this. Those of you who aren’t list makers possibly agree with my friends in thinking this is a bit much, but my friends who are list makers will completely understand. Right now, when I’m starting this new phase and being semi-retired, the days already feel more open but I still have commitments, plus there are things I want to do and to learn and lists help me do that.

January was started when I finalized this list so my counts are a bit off, but here’s my progress so far.

1.Lose 20 pounds.
I’ll only report here when I hit a milestone like five pounds down and keep it for a while so nothing to report yet.

2.Move 30 minutes every day. 
27 days out of 31
I’m doing pretty well at this, though not perfectly. I’ve had some travel days and those make it a bit tricky. But 27 days out of 31 in the month is pretty good. Some days I’ve even done a bit more. Movement is either 30 minutes at the local Activity Center, or two 15 minute laps or a bit of dancing around the house.

3. Complete the first draft of the memoir by the end of March.
Not as much as I’d like, but I am getting some writing done.

4. Develop a plan for making a book based on the newsletter.
No progress, but a few thoughts which is enoug for now.

5. Write 48 newsletters.
4 done in 4 weeks. Right on schedule and this will be five for five!

6. Make a decision about a home for this newsletter.
I was thinking about Substack, but there’s a bit of a controversy about some of their policies. Now part of my decision making is to learn more about this before I decide.

7. Play the piano three times a week.
I wasn’t doing very well on this during most of January. But I decided to enroll in an online course. It’s excellent and, for me, having lessons to work on, seeing a progression in what I was learning, is helpful. Since then, I’ve gotten to the piano daily for the past week.

8. Memorize 6 songs.
My goal is one song every two months and I’ve changed which song I’m working on because of my new class. We’ll see where I am in a few weeks.

9. Memorize 6 poems.
Some progress here on the same idea – one poem every two months. I chose a poem I really like but it’s a long one. I’ll share more about it when I’ve reached my goal.

10. Read 25 minutes daily.
I started this one late in the month so only 18 out of 20 days, but I’m on my seventh book. If you know me well, you might think it’s a bit odd that I need this one but some of my routines have changed and I’m as susceptible to wasting time on my electronic devises as anyone. Having this on my list reminds me to take time and pick up the book. Current read is Jan Reid’s biography of Ann Richards.

11. Art weekly.
I’m doing pretty well here. Not quite as much as I imagined doing, but something arty and fun each week.

12. Get out and about every month.
I told you when I set up this list about our outing to the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio. So 1 for 1 here.

So there we are. Hardly perfect, but progress on things that I want to spend time on, which is really all I’m looking for. If nothing else, it gives me a framework to make the transition to full retirement. It also reminds me what progress looks like. The list means my resolutions are more top of mind than they usually are at this point in the year. For those of you who made resolutions, how are you doing? For those of you who didn’t, are you making progress on whatever it is that you want to accomplish this year? What does progress mean for you? Best of luck on whatever it is that you are working on this year!

Take care,


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