Sunday, March 20, 2022

Life Lately: On Restarting

Reflecting on beauty last week, instead of writing 🥲

It’s so long since my last post that I don’t even know where to start. What began as a one-week break while I figured out how to incorporate writing into my post-lockdown schedule became a six-week hiatus. I must say it’s good to be writing again, and I have missed the opportunity for reflection that these weekly posts afforded me.

I also thank everyone who got in touch to ask why I stopped posting to the blog. Given my style and that the topics I cover generally don’t invite a lot of commentary, it was nice to have people reach out saying they found the content useful.

I have to answer the “where did you go” question though. Afterall, only a few months ago, I wrote about how consistency beats intensity. The key to writing consistently for all those weeks was having a fixed block of time dedicated to writing. Sunday morning was writing time. Because I started this during lockdown, with church services streamed online, I had flexibility to finish writing and then start the church service on-demand. As things re-opened, church also re-opened for physical services. It became more difficult to complete a post on Sunday morning and still make it to church on time. Finding a new “writing time” was not as easy as it sounds, given most other days were already spoken for. I’m now trying out a new timeslot and I’m hoping it works out well.

Lots have happened in the past few weeks that I’d ordinarily have written about. Russia’s misadventure in Ukraine and the West’s response to it. The ongoing fuel scarcity in Nigeria, which sounds like the longest-running one in my lifetime. Performance appraisal season at work and thoughts on doing good work. My ongoing work to develop a mental model for assessing new career opportunities. Our fifth wedding anniversary. But, oh well, I didn’t write. And today, I’d instead like to comment briefly on “restarting”.

Like I have with these posts, we’ve all stopped doing something we intended to continue at some point. Sometimes we’ve set out with great intentions: to read every day, to exercise three times a week, to eat healthy. Then something happens – we miss one day and it becomes twelve months. We stop reading. Our muscles lose their tone. The pot belly returns. These hiccups are very human. All the (auto)biographies I’ve read indicate the most successful people slip up on their habits too. They’re just better at getting back on track than everyone else.

So, what are my top two tips for restarting? First, schedule (or re-schedule) the habit into your life. If you’ve read James Clear’s Atomic Habits, this won’t be new to you. This can either be by putting it on your calendar, for example – I’ll read for 30 minutes every Saturday morning, or by tying it to an existing habit, for example – I’ll read for 30 minutes while eating my Saturday morning croissant.

Second, start small. If you’ve not been back in the gym for a year and plan to restart, it’s not realistic to expect you can return at the same level of intensity. In fact, thinking about where you stopped can increase the inertia you feel to restart. Perhaps you want to restart reading by going for just ten minutes without reaching for your phone. Start small and build up towards your desired intensity levels.

I’m starting small too – so that’s it! See you again next week. 😎


What I’m Currently Reading: The best book I’ve read recently is The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. The first thing I’d like to say is Mr. Towles worked in investment banking until he published his first novel at 48. FOURTY EIGHT. Who said anything about it being too late to thrive in a second career? Guys – the Lincoln Highway is good. I’ve-got-to-buy-this-in-hard-copy-so-one-day-my-kids-can-discover-it-in-my-bookshelf-like-I-discovered-books-in-my-dads-bookshelf-good. His use of English is so beautiful – he strings words together in a way that makes my heart dance. Unfortunately, books can be very personal and I cannot guarantee that you’ll feel the same way about it – but if you read one novel this year, it should be The Lincoln Highway.

There’s also lots of warmth and wisdom in the book, like this gem, addressed to a character who unintentionally killed someone in a fight:

As a civilized society, we ask that even those who have had an unintended hand in the misfortune of others pay some retribution. Of course, the payment of the retribution is in part to satisfy those who've suffered the brunt of the misfortune--like this boy's family. But we also require that it be paid for the benefit of the young man who was the agent of misfortune. So that by having the opportunity to pay his debt, he too can find some solace, some sense of atonement, and thus begin the process of renewal.

What I’m Currently Listening To: I’m currently teaching myself to DJ, because I have this weird notion that it would be nice to mash up Hillsong Worship’s I Surrender, which I have had on repeat for several weeks, with Natalie Taylor’s Surrender. Of course, this is a really weird notion. The songs are very different and mean very different things. I’d still like to see what they sound like next to each other. If it sounds good, maybe I’ll share it with you? Maybe not.


Have a nice week! ❤️

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