This year, I set myself 22 little goals to pursue throughout the year. I call them the 22 in 22. Each Saturday, I take a few minutes to check my progress on a few of my goals.
#6 Create a dashboard for progress on creative projects
As I said last week, I really like to re-invent the wheel. It’s pathological. I have a terrible time stepping into any project–professional or otherwise–in which there is already a process in place. I like to invent processes. I like to impose order on chaos. Which means by extension, I am always metaphorically biting off more than I can chew and likewise jumping directly into the deep end.
Thus why, whether for the podcast or my novels or this Encyclopedia of Virtue I’ve gotten myself started on, or, as I’m learning, this entire balcony full of wool, it’s really important to have one document to refer back to, so as to write down the important elements of the project as I discover them.
That’s the aforementioned “Dashboard.”
It’s been along time since I’ve been in a position to learn a lot of new stuff. I mean, I’ve been out of school for a long time. I’ve been imposing order on things for a long time too.
But this wool experiment, to my delight, means that I have had to learn lots of new things. Vocabulary like: staple length, loft, batt, rolag. When I have a few minutes here or there, and have, in my “by the seat of my pants” process of working with all this wool, come to a question or a stumbling block, then I google the words I would put on the problem and see what I come up with.
So go figure that I ended up reading a twelve page document from the South African wool producer’s association for the approved process of shearing and baling wool. And from this twelve page document, I was able to glean a few helpful ideas to put order to this monstrous worksite that is my balcony with its at least 8 if not more absurdly gigantic zippered Ikea bags full of wool in various phases of production.
Then I also found a fun article from a woman, who, like me, got her hands on a bunch of random fleeces and methodically worked through them. I gleaned a bunch of ideas there.
And now I’ve got a pretty good idea about how to create a dashboard for this project, too.
#19 Get off the Hedonic Treadmill
I’m remembering with great fondness how I engineered my summer last year–I had a goal of getting my CPW (Cost Per Wear) down to less than 1€ per wear for several dresses, and so for the bulk of the summer, I wore the same four dresses in rotation.
Last year’s Buy No Clothes in 2021 Challenge, and the added summer challenge of only having access to four of my dresses, was an important step in getting off the Hedonic Treadmill.
Not that I haven’t added items to the fold. I mean, I definitely have. But the cycle of wanting and adding then wanting something more…well, that has been broken.
I was working a little on next week’s podcast episode, which is about the theme of Passions in our examination of the Ideal Life circles, and I realized I had taken a little detour to the subject of anhedonia. Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure, and is often a consequence of depression. In the podcast episode, the brief discussion serves to acknowledge that there are times in our lives when talk about “hobbies” or “passions” or “pastimes” is something that we don’t even have space for in our heads, because depression is real and really does rob us of joy.
Long story longer, I also find that, since I’ve gotten off the Hedonic Treadmill, there has been a kind of emptiness that I have yet to figure out how to fill. If the Hedonic Treadmill is about wanting, then the reward for getting what we want is a kind of “temporary joy”. It’s not real joy. it’s a facsimile of joy. But it feels good enough for us to want more of it. The absence of this facsimile of joy can, for a little bit, feel like Anhedonia.
These thoughts, while I recognize that they are just a mish mosh here, have woven together to form my understanding of what I am calling a “Joy Desert”. It’s when you leave behind something that brought pleasure, but that was not real joy, and haven’t yet arrived in the Promised Land of true joy. There’s a little bit of wavering and waffling to go back to the old ways, because at least there were little adrenaline pops here and there, simultaneously knowing that this felt mostly like whiplash on a grand scale.
Getting through a Joy Desert requires a lot of hard work and mindfulness. A lot of “this is a good moment” kind of thinking. And there is no guarantee that we’ll ever get to the “Promised Land”.
Am I getting philosophical? Maybe I am. Maybe this subject deserves its own article.
#14 Mise en Place and weekly planning
In Episode 25 (the most recent episode, as the crow flies), I interviewed my sister Poppy about creating a planner and developing a routine of actually using it.
Well, this week I did the heavy lifting of creating my gigantic six month planner, with monthly pages and weekly pages and pages for goals and weekly to-do lists.
Now comes the work of actually creating a habit of planning–not just writing things down on the planner, but also developing the daily ritual of taking a look at it, considering what has been written down on it and what those things require of me.
More to come on this!