Friday, September 21, 2012

Reflections on 52 Things

My 53rd year is coming to a close and my 53rd birthday will arrive in October. As I hit the 52nd birthday I made a list of 52 things to accomplish at 52. I knew that I would most likely not finish all of them because life tends to get in the way sometimes with the best laid plans.....but.....I wanted to challenge myself to have a plan...something to be focused on the year rather than watching it rush by like many others and wondering what I did. I decided to start the challenge on October 1 of 2011 and go until my birthday in October of 2012 so I've almost hit the full year mark.

I started with a journal that I recorded all the items that had "52" in them and did a page for each numbering the pages to 52. Some of them I recorded faithfully like the books I was reading and others I quit writing down. This was partly due to the fact that as I started writing them, it felt like I was forcing them more just to write them down such as "do 52 things to show love to Russ and the kids".  Some of them were such random things which in my mind counted but looked rather contrived when recorded. So I quit recording those. Others like "watch 52 sunrises" were hit and miss because I wouldn't always write down every time I saw a sunrise or sunset. So in looking at my journal it may seem empty on some pages where I actually did a lot. It was quite fun though on the ones that I have been recording to see the pages fill up. I've completely finished reading the 52 books and writing the 52 journal entries. I'm almost done with 52 new recipes. It was motivating to see those lists fill up.

What have I learned? For one thing, having goals keeps me moving forward. There were times when I could have very easily last days of mindlessness on the computer but I would tell myself that I needed to finish my book so I didn't get behind.  Another thing I learned was that new habits can be formed by setting goals. I started the challenge with the goal to read 52 books. I made a rule along with that goal that 52 chapters in the bible would count as 1 book. I wanted to be reading my bible more and I knew that with a goal of 52 books I would end up putting casual reading over my bible reading. I decided that every morning with my breakfast, I would read my bible with a goal to read it entirely all the way through. I kept a pen with me while reading to find verses to underline that stood out to me in the chapters. I was amazed at how fast I was making my way through the bible. I would sometimes sit and read 10 chapters at a time. I gradually started seeing a habit forming to where I wanted to make sure I had my bible on trips with me so I wouldn't miss any days of reading. Now, I feel incomplete if I start my day without reading.

I've gone for an entire year without a cola and I really haven't missed them at all. I will probably allow myself to have them occasionally after my birthday but I think I will be fine without them. I went rock climbing with the kids and had a great time doing it. I hosted a Japanese dinner, visited two new states, and found many new recipes that will be family favorites for many years ahead.  I've written more letters, blogged more, journaled more and took more pictures. All have been items on which I needed to put more focus. I concentrated on learning new things and trying new things and forming good habits for things I really want to do more of.

I'm not sure yet what I will do for my 54th year. I'm leaning towards just a life at 53 smashbook in which I will post pictures, ticket stubs and record all the little things in life. I may set a small list of goals and continue pursuing the goals I accomplished this year with more writing, reading and focus on others. I'd highly recommend giving yourself a birthday goal once in awhile and see what you can accomplish. Who knows, I might just try again at 62.

You can see the "52" lists and blog I kept to record the year here

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