My Bold Plan for 2012

Like many, I feel the urge to make resolutions at the start of the new year, but I don’t like resolutions because I never keep them. Therefore, I’m making a Bold Plan instead. A Bold Plan sounds more important, anyway.

The core of the plan is completing an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program on my own. By “on my own,” I mean that I’m fifteen minutes away from the founding clinic of the MBSR program but I’m choosing to do the program as outlined in the book Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn rather than sign up for the classes that begin late January.

I began taking the MBSR classes in Salt Lake City, but we moved halfway through the 8-week program. The jury was still out for me about whether it was helping or not, but I’d like to give it a try again, especially since my vow to go to bed at 9:30 lasted only three nights.

What this means is that I’ve decided to wake up at 4:30 am each day. My husband gets up at that time, and with him on-call for the toddler, this should (should) give me at least one hour during which I can practice the meditation and yoga techniques suggested in the program. At the very least, I think it’s more likely to work than trying to meditate during the dinner-and-bedtime cavalcade in the evening. By the time I’d have a chance to meditate, I would just pass out. Yes, I will likely lose consciousness when I attempt it at 4:30am, too, but I’m hopeful that, in time, I’ll be able to get to bed earlier, get a greater amount of more productive sleep, and be awake and alert at 4:30am.

I am not at all sure that this will work, but I’m going to give it a try.

Along with the waking up at 4:30 plan, I’m instituting a few more guidelines to help me, maybe, minimize the distractions that keep me up until all hours every night.

At a basic level, this is a simplification plan, although I know that life will become more complicated as I implement the plan. I’m prepared for this.

I think.

It’s like when you pull a whole bunch of stuff out of a closet to de-clutter it: It looks much worse before it looks better. I’m hopeful this is the way this Bold Plan will work (although I’d be totally happy if it never looked messy at all and I just slid easily into a mindfulness-induced state of blissful calm).

Here’s the detailed plan:

1. Get up at 4:30 each morning for 8 weeks to meditate and/or practice yoga for an hour. With any luck, after eight weeks of this, I will have a firmly established meditation practice that I will be able to continue indefinitely.

2. Reduce internet use to one hour in the evenings on weekdays (while I’m nursing the toddler to sleep).

3. Plan to blog only once per week. I may well find time to blog during that one hour of daily internet use, but I won’t be planning on that. I’ll journal during the week, though, so it’s possible that, come the weekend, I’ll just go on a blogging spree and post enough to cover the prior week.

4. Read just one book at a time. This to me means one “pleasure” book at a time. I’m planning to read Full Catastrophe Living as I move through the program, and I want to keep working on the Dalai Lama’s How to See Yourself as You Really Are, because I think that with a daily meditation practice, the insights from that book might yield some pretty powerful fruits, but I’ll only read one other book besides those. I find I need fiction to maintain balance.

I am not making “go to bed earlier” part of the plan. I resist a bedtime so much that I fear putting it as a goal will just make me feel contrary and will decrease the likelihood that I’ll go to bed earlier. Instead, Jon Kabat-Zinn recommends coming up with three goals for the 8-week program, which you then set aside and actively not work towards during the program.

My three goals for the program:

1. Reduced anxiety levels (including decreased anxiety around being yelled at/tailgated/flipped the bird while driving in New England and decreased anxiety in social situations and commenting on blogs).

2. More effective sleep. Whether this means more sleep or just better sleep, I don’t really care as long as I feel better rested.

3. Responding in anger less often. I almost immediately translate fear, discomfort, sadness, lack of control, and being overwhelmed into anger. I’m hoping to let each of these things be what they are rather than jumping to the fight-or-flight response.

So, those are my goals, which I will now forget about for eight weeks.

Oh, did I mention that the mindfulness program is based in Buddhist teachings? Yes, well, that’s the reason for the indirect and paradoxical approach to achieving goals. I’m cool with it, though. I’m not great with keeping to my goals, so maybe I can trick myself into accidentally working towards them.

I’m beginning this program on January 1st, although not at 4:30 am since my husband doesn’t have to work that day.

So, there’s the Bold Plan. Let’s see how it goes.

15 comments

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  7. Amy R. · January 3, 2012

    Someday. Not today or tomorrow, but someday, I plan to be a morning person once again. My night-owl husband corrupted me. And then my kids corrupted me even further to the point where I vaguely remember, like a passing shadow, that girl who loved to watch dawn erupt. Yoga and meditation aside, I think being there to welcome the day would feed my soul. Instead, I rely on my present routine: morning light nagging me for a good hour to get up and get going, before I finally drag myself into the wilds of family life, stuffing ground coffee into the filter like a frenzied addict and ordering children around with a froggy morning-voice. It’s ugly. Now, quiet, child-free dawn plus yoga. I think that could quite possibly change my life.

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  8. liveyourbliss · January 3, 2012

    Reading one book at a time…now that’s a REALLY bold plan. I think I’ve got 8 on my bedside table at the moment. Could I part with any of them? Do I have to?

    Can’t even comment on the boldness of the 4:30 a.m. meditation. Wow. Please…updates!

    Like

  9. Dee · January 1, 2012

    I admire your dedication and can’t wait to hear about your journey

    Like

  10. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ · January 1, 2012

    The idea of 4:30am makes me run in terror. I love to sleep too much for this.

    I’m truly impressed by your bold plan and I look forward to following along. Although, blogging once per week? Whoa.

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    • CJ · January 1, 2012

      Given my blogging addiction, I’m not sure how I’m going to comply with that part of the plan. But there are some concrete reasons why I’m trying to keep quiet while trying to be more mindful. I may well blog about that next week.

      Like

  11. ceceliafutch · January 1, 2012

    You’ve laid out a very ambitious plan! More power to you. I hope it works well and that 2012 is all you hope it will be.

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    • CJ · January 1, 2012

      Thanks! I just hope it’s not overly ambitious. I hope I can do the daily meditation for the full eight weeks. If I drop it after that, so be it, I’d just like to have the eight weeks.

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  12. Melanie Meadors · January 1, 2012

    THat’s one of those books on my reading list… i have taken it out of the library three times so far. Maybe I should just buy it. I enjoyed one of Kabat-Zinn’s parenting books very much.

    Today was not a good day to wake up in a new year for me. I feel very very negative about things. I feel like if I set any goals they will just fall to pieces like they always do… Two days ago I was all revved up. I made some plans, I was all excited. We’ll see how I feel after a cup of coffee! But getting up at 4:30… I just can’t imagine doing that. I’ve never even tried, probably because I used to go to BED at 4:30 when it was just Cam and I. But of course, my world has completely changed since then. So maybe it’s possible. Just not today.

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    • CJ · January 1, 2012

      When I finish with the book, I’m happy to pass it along to you. I’ve never read anything of Zinn’s about parenting. I’ll have to check into that.

      I’m sorry yesterday was so difficult. A challenging day can really take the wind out of our sails. Hopefully you’ll be feeling a little less discouraged in a few days (and after some coffee). January 1st is kind of an arbitrary start-date for new projects anyway. I actually think sometimes that starting a new endeavor can be better when you’re not feeling all that enthusiastic rather than when you’re all revved up. I mean, I guess you need a little motivation, but being revved up tends to cause me to set overly-ambitious goals that I just can’t sustain (eg, FlyLady).

      I hope that 4:30 isn’t overly ambitious for me. I kept that wake-up time for about a year when my daughter decided she was a farmer’s daughter rather than the child of a bike-commuting scientist. While she didn’t seek my buy-in before implementing that decision, it proved that I could do it. Having a morning-person husband who’ll wake up with me also helps. And I wouldn’t be looking at a 4:30 wakeup time if it weren’t for the fact that I can’t think of any other time that might actually work for this meditation thing. If 4:30 doesn’t work, I don’t think daily meditation is going to work.

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