Nerdlution was a 50 day challenge that began just after Thanksgiving. It started on Twitter, with lots of teachers and other nerdy folk vowing to do something. I “participated,” and it was actually Nerdlution that got me blogging and writing again (so hooray for that!). I posted my original resolutions here. Like many early participants, I’m back for round 2! I love the idea of challenging myself to do something, and I love the 50 day cap. It breaks the year into manageable chunks, helping me to develop good habits throughout the year instead of resolving to do a million things and caving by March (OK, who are we kidding, February…January).
So, like many other nerdlution bloggers, I’m going to reflect on what I learned from the first round of nerdlution before revealing my Nerdlution 2 goals.
What I learned:
When I set my original goal, I tried to take into account two things: my exceedingly busy schedule and my tendency to let perfection, not progress be my focus. While most people who participated tried to do one or two things every day, I told myself I would be a success if I did one of three things daily: reading, writing, or exercise. I know that when I make a goal to do something every day (or even every week) I shut down as soon as I miss a day or a week. If I skip one day, if I’m not perfect, I might as well give up completely. So in creating my nerdlution goal, I wanted to circumvent that element of my personality. As long as I did ONE of those things, I’d consider myself a success. I basically made it impossible for myself to fail.
And I did one of those things every day for 50 days. Most days I read. Some days I wrote–blogging, journaling, etc. Occasionally I exercised. But mostly I read. And I was glad that I did. I read 60 books last year, and really saw a push at the end of the year, right when I was participating in nerdlution. The daily reading is something I’ve continued. I’ve read 7 books so far this year–not as many as other nerdlution participants but a lot for me. I’m making time for reading, which is great.
But let’s face it: I would have read almost every day anyway. Yes, I’ve been rededicated to reading (as opposed to internet surfing, let’s say), but I didn’t really have to change my life to add that into my routine. I read every night before I go to bed. I read during independent reading with students. I listen to audiobooks in the car. I didn’t have to rearrange my life to incorporate more reading. So did I really challenge myself?
I’m not sure. I certainly don’t feel the same sense of accomplishment I usually feel when I complete a task. When I finished my reading goal for last year, for example (60 books!), I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. I had challenged myself to do something hard (for me) and I’d succeeded. But when I finished nerdlution, I felt…nothing. So I read every day for 50 days. So what?
For my first nerdlution I was too tolerant of my idiosyncratic need to be perfect. I didn’t give myself an opportunity to fail, but I didn’t give myself an opportunity to succeed, either.
So where does that leave me for nerdlution 2?
I’ll still be reading every day. I’m glad it’s a part of my every day life, and I’m going to continue my goal of reading one adult, one teaching, and one YA book at a time. I really like that balance, and it helps me focus on all three areas of my reading life. But I’ve got to challenge myself more this time around. So, here’s what I’ll be hoping to accomplish, besides daily reading:
- Three blog posts a week. I’ve been participating in the It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?, the Slice of LIfe, and the Celebrate This Week posts lately (well…not this week). I’m also hoping to at least once a week blog about my nerdlution work and link it up with Colby’s blog and Michelle’s blog. So that’s at least four. But my goal will be three because I know that some weeks I won’t be able to get to all of that, especially as grad school starts up again this week. I’m taking into account my desire to be perfect and shooting a little under what I think I’m actually going to accomplish, but not so far under that it doesn’t mean anything.
- Actually follow my half marathon training schedule. I’ve run four half marathons and two marathons before. I know that when you’re well trained, running a race of any distance can be an amazing, fun, inspiring experience. If you’re not well trained, it can be a torturous death march. I signed up for the Brooklyn Half on May 17th, and I want to be sure that I am actually trained for this one. I’d love to include more working out, too, but four runs a week will be my minimum. I’m not going to give myself any wiggle room on this one because I can’t quit it if I’m not doing it perfectly. I’ve signed up, so I’m running. And I’m hoping to be well-trained.
- “Do” my hair once a week for school. OK, this seems vain, but hear me out. I have crazy curly hair that I don’t even dry most days before going out the door. I throw some product in and hope for the best. Halfway through the day, it ends up in a pony tail. But I don’t really care what my hair looks like. What I care about is feeling put together. About getting up a little bit earlier. About not being so “last minute” about everything. This is going to be a manifestation of that. I feel better when I “do” my hair, even if that just means putting it in a purposeful ponytail. My One Word for the year was Purpose, and this nerdlution goal is all about that for me.
- Only two hours of internet time a day. This one’s a big one for me. I very regularly find myself mindlessly trolling the internet instead of doing something I’m supposed to do. I’ll read blogs, check facebook, scroll through twitter. And while I get a lot from some of these internet interactions (hello, nerdlution!), I am more often than not just wasting time. I want to devote myself more fully to the world around me, so I’m going to try to wean myself off of the internet. That means no scrolling while I wait online, no checking tweets before I go to bed. Two hours should be plenty of time to get what I need from the internet and move on. This includes email time and weekly chats like #engchat. Obviously if I’m working on something for school or grad school I will extend my time period if needed, but only if I’m really using it, and only if I really need the Internet for whatever it is I’m doing. I’ll be tackling my dissertation this spring/summer/fall/spring/etc, and I really need to be able to focus. That means wasting less time on the Internet and doing more of what really matters to me.
- Keep a school gratitude journal. I read about this somewhere on Twitter (I think?), and it’s such a powerful idea. I have a really tough class this year that I’m just not connecting with the way I usually do. But reminding myself of what’s going well and what I’m thankful for is going to be really helpful. I even have a cute little Peter Pan notebook to do it in.
So that’s it. My big, audacious nerdlution goals. I’m giving myself permission to fail at them, but not to quit them. One of my favorite sayings is, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” I think there’s a lot of power in striving for perfection, but when that ideal gets in the way of progress we have to let it go. This nerdlution I’m hoping to challenge myself, but I’m also hoping to continue to be kind to myself.
Here’s to a great 50 days!