I was sitting in my bed, one eye on the gruesome fight scene in the second-to-last episode of the Marvel/Netflix series “The Punisher,” the other on a pair of Moleskine notebooks sitting in my lap. My stomach turned a little bit as Frank Castle, spitting blood and screaming, poked his enemy’s eyes out. It also turned a little bit as I scanned through my 2017 bullet journal and realized just how many things I started this year that I have not finished.
It started on Jan. 1, where there is a note to set the clock radio next to my bed. This was part of my 2017 plan to cure my insomnia. I would no longer sleep with my phone in my bed or on my nightstand, with the excuse of using it as an alarm clock. I knew the steps I needed to take to get more sleep and leaving electronics out of the bedroom was step one.
Last night I feel asleep with the television on, my iPhone tucked under my pillow and my computer lying next to me.
That was a failed project.
I flipped ahead a few pages and saw a list of daily goals I set for my 18 weeks of preparation to prepare for the Sugarloaf Marathon. You can see in the pages that follow, I was taking those steps. Every day to the right of my to-do lists and notes, I would write down how many pushups, air squats, planks and crunches I did that day. It was all in an effort to get stronger and be better prepared to run a good race.
Flipping through my bullet journal last night, I saw that I started to slack off on that routine in February, gained a little momentum in March, then was in and out of it through May 27, when I struggled mightily at Sugarloaf.
After failing to meet my goal for Sugarloaf, I took a bit of a break from running, then decided to really dedicate myself to my fitness. On page 66 of my bullet journal, under the Monday, June 4 entry there is a note: Start “Rebuild. Redesign. Reclaim.” (I’m a little annoyed I messed that up, it’s supposed to read, “Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim.”) My plan was to completely revamp my diet and my exercise routine to build myself into a fitter, stronger runner.
You guessed it: This didn’t last either.
There are a few notes on creative projects on the pages of that bullet journal as well. On Jan. 2 I asked myself if I should start a 365 photo project (I didn’t). On March 22 I took some notes about “photo assignments” a photography project on YouTube, that I thought would be fun project to try. I didn’t start that one, either.
In that same line of thinking though, I did start a photo sketchbook on April 30.
That lasted a couple of weeks. I don’t even have those photo prints any more. I tossed them somewhere along the road.
One more unfinished project stood out as I flipped through that bullet journal. At the start of November I saw a post on Twitter from writer/musician Mishka Shubaly about a writing challenge for November.
— Mishka Shubaly (@MishkaShubaly) November 1, 2017
There is a folder on my hard drive of all the things I wrote in November. It’s a hodge podge of memoir, running blog posts, and a little bit of fiction.
I made it through 16 days before I ran out of steam and gave up.
Don’t worry, I’m not sitting here beating myself up for being a failure. Flipping through my bullet journal last night was an opportunity to explore my successes (there were plenty) and failures (plenty of those, too) in 2017.
It also gave me the opportunity to think about and try to figure out why I start so many things and don’t finish them. Spoiler alert: I don’t have the answers.
Obviously, with this website and this goal of making something every day for a year, I have started a pretty big project for myself. In the grand scheme of things, this is not important and if it fails, no harm done. Like I said, this is something I’m doing for fun.
But it is important. It is important to me for so many reasons, maybe most importantly to prove to myself that I have it in me to follow through on a goal and to finish a project. I want to know that I have the willpower and the dedication to find a way to get things done.
As I write this, I’m listening to Rich Roll interview ultra-athlete David Goggins. They are talking about Goggins beliefs on how to be successful and how to be better. This quote stood out to me and I think it is a perfectly good way to approach all my goals – creative goals, fitness goals, life goals – in 2018.
“If you want it you will find time in your life to do it. If you don’t want it you will continue to do what you are doing right now which is give me excuses … if you want it bad enough, you will figure out a way to make this shit happen.” — David Goggins
When the end of 2018 rolls around and I’m flipping through my bullet journal, I want to know I found time and didn’t make excuse. The ultimate goal in 2018 is to “make this shit happen.”