I started a ritual last April of monthly habit changes designed around Cal Newport’s strategy for Cultivating a Deep Life. It’s truly made a difference in my daily experience and I’ve been enjoying the process for the past several months of sharing what I want to amplify and what I want to reduce.
It’s time to reflect on June and refresh for July.
A look back at June
I was a bit less successful with June’s goals than I hoped. There were a few surprising exceptions but a long vacation around my birthday, the end of school for the kids, and the ongoing stress of our house renovation made consistency a challenge. As usual, the more specific I can be with a change (how, where and when I’m going to do it), the more likely I am to succeed.
Below is a summary of how I ended the month.
- 🟢 Amplify creative skill: Update logo in Affinity Designer and create 2 designs to use as banners
I did this and also started an AD course on Udemy. Here is an example of something basic. It’s been so cool get more into digital tools and having this habit/goal really helps me push through procrastination.
- 🟢 Reduce distractions during meetings: Close browser, only have Zoom/notes available
This worked surprisingly well. Although I don’t have many meetings, just having this intention really helped.
- 🟡 Amplify my friendships: join an event at coworking space
Kind of a failure. There weren’t many opportunities here to join anything, although I did meet up with some colleagues that I’ve never met so that was adventurous of me right?
- 🟢 Reduce complaining: No complaining or criticizing related to house renovation or otherwise, zero!
This was a big surprise to me as I actually thought about this a lot throughout the month and it helped me to switch gears when I was about to spiral into complaining on many occasions. Going to repeat it again next month.
- 🔴 Amplify strength: Do 100 sit-ups a day
This just didn’t work for me like the 100 push-ups did last month. Not sure why but I found my health habits take a dip in June after a couple of solid months.
- 🟡 Reduce white/processed food: (white rice, white pasta, white bread)
This was kind of a bomb as well. Not being able to control our environment while living with our in-laws made this extra difficult.
- 🟢 Amplify mental health: Read minimum one chapter of Radical Acceptance/related book a week
An awesome experience so far and something that is making a big difference in my reading. You can check out my write ups to see for yourself.
- 🟡 Reduce negative thinking/spinning by taking 2 times outs per day for 2 – 10 mins to pause
This was a repeat but it is so helpful to have the intention. To make this more successful I need to pair it with some sort of specific trigger (like sitting down to work).
My goals for July
This month is going to be tricky with the kids off school the entire month and the ongoing house saga. I’m not going to be too ambitious. Heck, even the smallest of improvements here will make a massive difference.
＋ Amplify creative skill: Complete Affinity Designer course and create a new homepage banner for site
－ Reduce distractions for deep work: close slack and email when not directly doing something
＋ Amplify kindness by saying hi to strangers, “go first” when meeting new people
－ Reduce negativity by not gossiping or saying anything about others that I wouldn’t say to them directly (includes family, friends, neighbors, strangers)
＋ Amplify distance running habit by running over 20 miles a week
－ Reduce unnecessary calories: eat smaller portions, have one large meal a day, drink a glass of water before eating
＋ Amplify self-awareness: take an intentional pause (2-5 mins) before beginning work and ending work.
－ Reduce negativity: Replace urge to complain or make negative comments with “how can I be more kind?” when interacting with my wife and kids
I’ll report back on how it goes at the end of the month!
“Making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse seems insignificant in the moment, but over the span of moments that make up a lifetime these choices determine the difference between who you are and who you could be. Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”James Clear, Atomic Habits