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Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 |

Dodo Diary August 2016: Self-Improvement Challenge update

systemsSix months ago, I quit trying to improve my life.

I’d tried so hard for a year, setting myself targets, working on all my problems together and aiming to go From Dodo to Dynamite in a Year.

And, to be honest, I’d done OK, but I certainly hadn’t achieved everything I’d hoped.

Which was kind of depressing.

At that point I read some interesting advice from James Clear: forget about setting goals and focus on systems – concentrate on the day-to-day processes you use to work towards the things you want to achieve, and you’ll find you make progress towards your goals.

I’d just set myself a whole load more goals for the next year, but you know what I did? I junked the lot of them and focused on how I was getting through each day.

I didn’t worry about my goals, but concentrated on two things:

  • Was I was spending the day doing things worth doing?
  • Was I ending the day with a sense of achievement or a feeling of having wasted another 24 hours?

So here I am, six months down the line.

Did it work?

I’m going to track my progress against my new set of targets – the ones I didn’t follow – and see how I got on.

Dodo to Dynamite Progress Report

  • Weight: Lose 60lbs. Last year, I focused on my goal and lost 15lbs. In the last six months, concentrating on the process of not being greedy or eating more than I needed, I’ve lost another 45lbs already! I’d like to say this makes me now slim and lithe, but the truth is, I have a lot more weight to shift…
  • Exercise: Take a daily walk and use exercise bike every day. I haven’t done any ‘exercise’ at all. I focused on the ‘system’ of wanting to add more activity to my days, and I’ve spent a lot of time cleaning, moving heavy boxes, redecorating the house etc. Which, let’s face it, is more use than sitting on an exercise bike and going nowhere.
  • Self-Control: Continue to control all my addictions (smoking, sugar and caffeine). I’ve continued to control my sugar addiction by eating sweet foods only late at night, apart from fresh fruit and the occasional icecream on really hot days. I still haven’t found another drink I like to replace diet cola, so I guess I’m stuck with it. Six months ago, I had managed to quit smoking, but I’ve gone back to it, and I’m not going to  give it up again until my weight is at a more reasonable level. This may seem like a stupid decision, but I feel it’s the right one for me at the moment.
  • Organisation: Tidy my home office and work area every week. Ahem! Let’s just say I don’t feel I’ve quite cracked this one yet!
  • Relationships: Improve relationships with partner and family. I’ve been super-busy, so haven’t seen as much of my sons and their families as I’d like, though I’ve developed my contact with one of my sisters, as we now correspond by email. But I’ve certainly improved my relationship with my partner – we’re getting married in October!
  • Income: Earn enough to live on. Due to the boot sales I’ve been doing during the summer, we’ve managed quite well, but I do need to knuckle down and work harder at my Ebay selling.
  • Enrich my life: Have interesting new experiences. I’ve started volunteering at an over-50s club, and they’ve invited me to join the committee and help with fundraising for the club. I’ve already organised a Strawberry Fayre, and I’m now planning a Harvest Hoedown.

And my three new writing targets:

  • Emily the Dodo: Add 3 new posts every month. Oh dear! I’m afraid I’ve been so busy doing everything that I’ve neglected Emily the Dodo. But I’m back now, so more blog posts will follow soon.
  • Blogging: Write 2 posts for other blogs every month. I haven’t had time for guest-blogging lately, as I’ve been trying to organise our wedding. But I’ve just joined a group to help edit and promote a new edition of a very successful ebook, so I’m not completely cut off from other bloggers.
  • Other Writing: Write 2000 words. I’ve refocused my personal blog,, as a writer’s blog with a focus on writing autobiography and family history, and I’ve added several posts. I’m currently involved in a very exciting project, as I have some wonderful antique family letters which my partner and I are going to transcribe and publish.

So systems are working better than goals for me – now I just need to improve my systems so they include tidying my home office!

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