September 2, 2010

Making progress

I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I finish a task I have set for myself, so I am a huge fan of to-do lists. I like physically checking off things that are done - it's an oddly exciting experience.

Last year on my birthday, I sat down and wrote a list of five things I wanted to get accomplished in the next three hundred sixty-five days. Now, with less than three months to go, I thought I would share my list and what progress I have made so far. Some things I have succeeded at, others I will be racing to finish before the end of November.

some art I made back in college

Things to do before turning 24

"When we know better, we ought to do better." (Maya Angelou)
Weigh myself on my 23rd birthday. From there, I have 365 days to lose some of it - and keep it off this time. Even if it’s only a fraction of the weight I need to lose, I want to lose something - and maintain the loss. Continue to reevaluate eating habits and exercise patterns; set reasonable goals.

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." (Mark Twain)
Read the following books/plays I somehow missed during high school/college: (1) William Shakespeare, "Hamlet" (2) Harper Lee, "To Kill a Mockingbird" (3) Oscar Wilde, "The Picture of Dorian Grey" (4) Emily Bronte, "Wuthering Heights" (5) Leo Tolstoy, "Anna Karenina” (6) Anne Frank, "The Diary of Anne Frank" (7) John Steinbeck, "The Grapes of Wrath" (8) Homer, "The Odyssey" (9) Jack Kerouac, "On The Road" (10) Kurt Vonnegut, "Slaughterhouse Five"

"A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop." (Ovid)
Stress adequately. The MA exams, grad school applications … it will all work out eventually. There’s no need to get sick over any of it. Asking for perfection in this is impossible, as I am a worrier and perfectionist by nature. There will be nail-biting and difficulty falling asleep. I want to keep the “bigger picture” in the front of my mind – if I don’t pass the exams the first time, or if I don’t get into my #1 choice grad school (or any schools at all, for that matter), is it fatal? No. Life will carry on. Everything that happens does so for a reason – and I am destined to do great things. Have faith in the plan God has made for me.

[[ I have omitted number four. It's pretty personal, and I'd rather save that part for an entry all it's own someday. For now, just know it is unhealthy for both heart and head. ]]

"There is a sort of gratification in doing good which makes us rejoice in ourselves." (Montaigne)
Do wonderful things for other people as often as possible. Hold doors. Smile at children. Thank bus drivers. Leave change in tip jars. Help people whenever I can.

some art I made back in college

My progress? So far, so good. The year's not over yet! #2 and #4 are areas I have not done basically anything for yet, and that's upsetting, especially for #2, which should be fun! I love reading, and since I've been in grad school I really haven't had the time to read for fun. So I have two and 3/4 months to read ten books. It'll be tough, but it will happen!

For #1, I started a few times but have only seen real success as of lately. The task doesn't say specifically to try once, twice, or three times, though - so as long as I'm lower than where I was last year, I've succeeded. I've also done well with #3 - MA exams are already almost six months removed from now! So weird to think how much of my life was consumed by them nearly a year ago. I didn't panic over not getting into PhD schools - in fact, I never even applied to any. I made a mature decision and am taking a year off to get physically and mentally healthy, and I have absolutely no regrets.

I'm very proud that #5 has also been a success so far. I say thank you to every person who helps me, whether it's a bus driver or a co-worker. I hold doors for those behind me or people I see coming with their hands full. I leave change whenever I can - lately it's the three cents from paying with a quarter for my morning cup of ice, but it's something! And I'm kind to every person I come across, because it's what I would like in return. It's been the easiest goal, and also one of the most rewarding.


Jessica said...

Do you make the pictures on your blog? I love them!

Mary said...

I do! I used to make collages like this all the time when I was an undergrad, and I loved it! I love doing crafty things.

Ann (-50 lbs in -60 lb challenge) said...

Well done, so far, I'd say! Keep up the good work. I like your chosen list of books. Goodness, I hadn't thought about Dorian Grey in YEARS, but that story does bring to mind a bit of our struggle with weight loss - in an indirect sort of way. I can't explain more, and not give away the story for you, but I appreciated the reference. (I liked "The Picture of Dorian Grey" and it was a quick read for me. Clever guy, Wilde.)