Half-ass things in 2020

In my last post, I wrote about New Year’s Resolutions and the allure of setting goals for a self-transformation. I concluded that while I wasn’t going to give up on this entirely, I was going to try to change my approach to it. I wanted my goals to be things I enjoyed doing, not things I felt like I should be doing.

So, with that in mind, here are my 6 goals for 2020.

Half-ass things

This is the big one, my manifesto for the year. I am declaring war on my perfectionism.

I have a tendency to hold myself to high standards, and sometimes I find those standards so intimidating that it stops me from actually getting anything done, or appreciating what I have actually achieved. For example:

  • It’s almost dinnertime. I want to cook dinner. I am also tired. But dinner has to be tasty, and nutritious, and incorporate multiple vegetables, and not be something I’ve already made in the last fortnight. I sit on the sofa staring at increasingly complicated recipes until I give up and order a takeaway.
  • I have an idea for a blog post. I plan an ambitious several-thousand-word essay which will educate and persuade the reader while simultaneously incorporating a vulnerable piece of personal history and an appropriate amount of humour. My readers will think they have accidentally subscribed to the New Yorker. I write the first 400 words and get discouraged. This is why I have 11 different posts in a draft state right now.
  • I want to start drawing more often. I set myself a goal to spend 30 minutes drawing every day. I find a list of 365 drawing prompts to follow. I imagine myself opening an Etsy shop and selling prints of my beautiful work. On the first day, I draw something I am happy with. On the second day, I draw a cat that looks more like a potato. On the third day, I forget. On the fourth day, I realise I have failed the challenge I set for myself, and that means I suck at drawing and everything was a waste of time. I don’t draw again for a year.

So this year, I want to get better at half-assing things.

  • Just have pasta for dinner again.
  • Write a mediocre 400-word blog post about whatever point I wanted to make, send it out into the world, and forget about it.
  • Draw whenever I feel like it.

When I find myself starting to stress out about something, usually a thing which I have somehow transformed from a small task or idea into an enormous project, I stop myself and remember: just half-ass it. It might not be as good as the perfect version of it, but it’ll still be better than nothing. And otherwise, nothing is what I’ll get.

Sometimes I will resolve to half-ass things, get going and then actually full-ass them. This is OK, because I have tricked myself into overcoming the paralysis of perfectionism. I have half-assed half-assing things.

If my boss is reading this – no, I am not going to start doing a shitty job at work. This is just a life thing. It’s cool. We’re cool, right?

Read 52 books

That’s an average of one per week, which feels like a manageable number for me. Last year I read 73 books, and it was tempting to insist on one-upping myself, but I don’t want this to be a source of stress. Reading should be fun.

Right now I’m on book #6 for the year – Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames – so we’re on track.

Keep lifting weights

I started lifting again in November last year, and I have really been enjoying it. Exercise focuses my mind – it’s nice to think about only one thing at a time, even if that thing is “oh my god my arms feel like cooked spaghetti”.

Lifting heavier weights each time gives me a satisfying feeling of progress. I’m also starting to see some little baby muscles appearing on my body, which is cool.

Right now I’m following the Stronglifts 5×5 plan. I try to go 3 times a week, although if life interferes and I miss a day, it’s not the end of the world. In the spirit of “half-ass things”, if I feel unmotivated, I try to go to the gym anyway but just do a reduced version of the routine. This is OK. I am not a competitive powerlifter.

While I don’t have any specific goals for amounts I want to lift – I didn’t want to feel like a failure if I got injured or had some other setback in my progress – it would be pretty neat if I could squat my own bodyweight, and I’m hoping to hit that in a few months.

Continue to incorporate yoga and mindfulness into my life

Over the years I’ve gone through several phases of regularly doing yoga or some form of stretching at home. It feels like a positive start to my day, or relaxes me at night and improves my sleep. When I fall out of the habit, I always miss it.

This month I’ve been doing a 30-day yoga challenge with Yoga With Adriene on YouTube, and I’m really enjoying it. The videos are generally less than half an hour long, which means it’s easy to squeeze them in before bed. And there’s always a cute dog in them.

I’ve missed some days, but life happens, and I am trying not to get too hung up on keeping that streak going when I am travelling or just super exhausted. It might be a 30-day challenge, but those 30 days aren’t entirely consecutive. (Half-ass things.)

Mindfulness is a newer thing to me. I haven’t really tried meditation yet, but I am trying to work on being more present. A work friend recently leant me Modern Mindfulness by Rohan Gunatillake, and I am chipping away at that.

Post on the blog at least once a month

I have specifically written “the post does not have to be good”. (Half-ass things.) Honestly, I don’t have too much enthusiasm for blogging at the moment. But I’d like to keep it going, for when that energy returns.

Anyway, it’s almost the end of January. Tick.

Be kind to myself

My friend: “I was meant to go to the gym earlier, but I didn’t.”
Me: “Oh well, I’m sure skipping a day is fine. You can always go tomorrow if you feel up to it.”

Me: “I was meant to go to the gym earlier, but I didn’t.”
Me: “Shameful. Your body is weak, and so is your mind. Once again, you prove that you have no discipline. This is why you will fail at everything.”

Yeah, to hell with that. This year I’m going to try to treat myself with the same kindness and understanding that I would hope to give a loved one in the same situation. I want to get better at pushing myself without beating myself up.

I don’t want to half-ass this one.

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