The March Slump

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. My password at work at the start of the year was HappyNewYear! Full of positive energy and promise. Packed with power and enthusiasm for the year ahead. A burst of encouragement to get me going when I typed it into my work computer each day. Yeah! 2013! Bring it on!

A couple of months later I had to change it again. I wrote: MarchOnMarchOn.

It was March, of course. But that’s exactly how I felt. Motivation low, progress slow, not as far along as I wanted to be. Nothing really to show for it. The enthusiasm had dwindled and what was left was the drudgery, the effort to keep going.

Tip #17 Find a buddy. Early morning yogas with Helga and Domino
Tip #17 Find a buddy. Early morning yogas with Helga and Domino

I’d reached a plateau.

In January, I wrote about New Year’s resolutions. Sure, they’re daggy, but at the start of the year I genuinely feel fresh and keen. Then something happens. Time happens, life happens, and the goals sort of slip into a big vague pudding. What were they again? Where is that piece of paper I wrote them down on?

I am going to call this the March Slump.

That’s the bit where it gets boring, or hard, or repetitive, you can’t be bothered or you just don’t feel you’ve got it in you. The bit where you’re lying on the couch eating Cheezles in front of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and thinking you’re never going to write your own mystery novel. And this is exactly where you shouldn’t give up! Right? Because reaching goals isn’t just about enthusiasm and reward, it’s also about getting through the bleugh and the blah.

Maybe you’re not “on time and on budget”. (Who ever is, Kevin McCloud?) But you’re probably further along than you think.

If you reach a plateau stop and admire the view.

Recently I re-read The Great Gatsby and was delighted and surprised to read Gatsby’s self-improvement list. It’s fascinating.

Rise from bed … 6.00 A.M.
Dumbbell exercise and wall-scaling … 6.15-6.30
Study electricity, etc … 7.15-8.15
Work … 8.30-4.30 P.M.
Baseball and sports … 4.30-5.00
Practice elocution, poise and how to attain it … 5.00-6.00
Study needed inventions … 7.00-9.00

No wasting time at Shafters or [a name, indecipherable]
No more smoking or chewing
Bath every other day
Read one improving book or magazine per week
Save $5.00 [crossed out] $3.00 per week
Be better to parents

Be better to parents: how adorable! On most things (except for bathing) he’s got me beat. But it shows that 100 years on, human beings are not that different. The Internet is full of motivational sites and self-improvement blogs. We monkeys are always trying to be better monkeys – perhaps that’s why we’re not actually monkeys anymore.

So, where am I? My goals for the year (aside from wearing all the clothes I never wear in my wardrobe. Neverwhere: Neil Gaiman book or Sally’s wardrobe?) were:

– Finish novel by July (the one started in November, thanks to NaNoWriMo)
– Get my webcomic online (this is not LUV, illustrated by the talented Dan Gilmore, but one I’m trying to draw myself – and I left my drawing skills in primary school!)
– Aim to do at least 20 minutes of yoga every day (thanks Arthur and DDP!)

Where is the novel? My characters are looking at their watches and yawning like idle avatars in a computer game. Where is the comic? A bunch of stick figure scratchings in a pile I think I saw my cat sitting on. (Random fur not to be confused with stick figure anatomy – why does this guy have three arms??) Where is my body of steel? Somewhere beneath this protective coating of flab.

So, I’m not as far along as I want to be. Looking back at the past couple of months, I’m roughly where I was before. But, wait a minute, let’s look at that again. In the last two months: I have been working on my comics or my novel every weekend and I have been doing yoga almost every day.

That’s a big tick. Change is incremental. As someone once told me, if you want the ship to move from here to way over there, first you’ve got to turn the rudder. A big change is made up of lots of tiny changes. One small step for man, one billion other tiny steps by men and women behind the scenes that no one really talks about.

So March is all about keeping on keeping on. And in fact, I learned a thing or two about March. It used to be the start of the Roman calendar. It’s named after the God of War. And it was the time when the snows melted and the Roman army would ready their troops to march on. So really, it’s a chance to begin again.

So if you’re in a slump, time to stand up and keep marching. Like a kitten on a warm blanket.

PS For those of you who posted about your New Year’s Resolutions, can you tell me how those are getting along? Recipes made? Tea cozies knitted? Episodes of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries watched? I want to know!

PPS Crap – better change my work password tomorrow. Any suggestions?

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