February 04, 2007

SELF-IMPROVEMENT

Book_ThisYearIWill.gif

I'm overdue for writing about 2007 New Year's resolutions. But you know me, I'm all over 'em. Every January I have the habit of reading a book about goal-setting, or getting organized, or time management. Some of these have been very abstract and philosophical and lacked nitty-gritty advice; others have offered simplistic answers and lacked depth.

This Year I Will..., though, is the best one I have read in a long time. (I liked it so well that I'm re-reading it this month, every morning while I walk my 10,000 steps on the treadmill.) And you gotta love a book with the rhythmic, nearly iambic, subtitle: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True. There's enough big-picture material here: The author says, wisely, that you're not really working on creating a new habit so much as building character. There's information about brain research that satisfies the part of me that loved taking classes in Educational Psychology. And this book is loaded with solid, practical advice.

As just one example of practical advice out of the dozen offered in this book: Set up some kind of a system so that you can keep track of the work you're doing on your goal, even if that system is just a check-mark on the calendar. "You can also keep a diary -- journal keepers, say researchers, achieve their goals faster than others."

This reminded me that I recently came across the knitting journal that I had started as my New Year's Resolution in January of 2006. The purpose of it was to keep me focused on projects so that I could get them completed. I saw that the last entry I'd made was in May of 2006; I'd felt too discouraged to continue with it because of the hours spent knitting on the first version of my Level 2 vest only to have that vest become a prototype; in general, I seemed to be doing more ripping than knitting in those first five months of 2006. If I was recording anything, it seemed, I was recording negative progress, over and over again.

At a Feral Knitters meeting last month I mentioned to June that I'd come across this knitting journal of mine, abandoned in May. And she said that she'd kept hers, faithfully, all year, writing in it every evening. She finished a whopping total of 60 projects in 2006 -- and she said that keeping track with a journal had really helped. 60 projects!

Do any of us need any more inspiration than that to sharpen our pencils and grab the nearest spiral notebook?

Posted by Karen at February 4, 2007 08:45 AM
Comments

Thanks for letting us know about what sounds like an excellent book! I had the pleasure of hosting author M.J. Ryan when she spoke at East West Bookshop in Seattle a few years back.

Posted by: Diana at February 5, 2007 09:20 AM

Thanks for the tip about the book, I've got it on order (I especially appreciated your comparisons to the other two - made me feel like an informed customer).

Posted by: Susanna in Seattle at February 7, 2007 10:54 AM

I happened on this book this weekend. I was surprised it is so small! I imagined it bigger but maybe it is because I suspect the ideas are big! I am looking forward to reading it and exchanging ideas with you.

Posted by: Naomi at February 18, 2007 08:07 PM