Setting Pace

My dogs know two speeds.

Speed Number One: Single-track minds, noses to the ground, can’t possibly go fast enough and excited about every single scent that crosses their path. Rabbit! Fox! Groundhog! Other animal’s poop! I struggle to keep up, my two legs against eight of theirs. It’s an unfair race, and I’m stumbling along behind, trying not to face plant into the asphalt.

(I am not always successful.)

Speed Number Two: A leisurely stroll. A lethargic shuffle. A pace so slow we sometimes don’t move at all. Noses in the ground, butts high in the air, concentrating on whatever it is that has burrowed itself deep into the dirt. No amount of tugging or pulling or promises of treats can make them move any faster. They are stubborn and passive-aggressive, and it’s at that point when I start calling them bad names.

During these walks I’ve realized something: I’m a lot like my dogs.

Sometimes I’m moving at lightning speed, overly excited about life in general, tackling projects left and right, throwing myself into everything at 110%, accomplishing more in one day than some people do all week. (This is nothing to brag about, I promise.) Reorganize all the things! Clean all the corners! Do all the projects! Be everywhere all the time! Then I get exhausted and cranky and spiral into…

…the flip side. The lazy side. The slow moving, not going to leave this couch side. The side that ignores dusty corners and to-do lists and people and responsibilities and burrows into jars of Nutella and Netflix for weeks at a time. Not a weekend, people. Weeks. Days. Multiple days. Then I become a different type of exhausted and cranky. I snap out of it, look around at the frat-boy existence I’ve succumbed to, then return to that high-speed task-list chase.

This is no way to live, my friends.

Either way, I end up feeling like a terrible human being. Like a person who doesn’t have the time or energy for anyone or anything outside my own little universe. My frantic, lazy, paradoxical universe.

I’ve decided I need to set a more balanced, long-term pace or one day I’m going to end up Brittney, circa 2007. Or Amanda Bynes, circa 2010.

My first step toward sanity begins with Jon Acuff’s Summer of Finish Challenge. It started on July 12th, but I’m always late to the party. I may redub it “Finish in the Fall.” (Side note: If you aren’t following Jon on Facebook or Twitter, you need to go stand in the corner and think about your life choices.)

The Summer of Finish is basically a guide to help you complete a goal or project. Each week he sends a new assignment, and for every day that you spend some time working toward your goal, you get to check off a box on this handy chart he created. It’s really quite simple. In his own words “If you’re looking for complicated tasks and challenges, you are going to hate the Summer of Finish.”

This is hard for me because I LOVE to over-complicate things.

He’s pretty explicit about choosing just one goal – which is bad enough. But then he gives an ENORMOUS list of suggestions to choose from, making it that much harder to determine which area of my life needs the most help. (Answer: All of the above.)

I’ve literally spent the last few days in an argument with myself, part of me desperately wanting to pick five or six goals, the other part urging me to follow directions for once.

I’m (sort of) glad to say my (sort of) rational side won this round and I’ve decided to compromise with just three goals. And one of them is to publish a blog post 1x a week. (Remember that time I thought I would blog every day? See, I’m already making progress.) 

So, I’ve printed out the charts (one for each goal), stuck them on my refrigerator (where I seem to find myself most often), and it’s got me feeling all accomplished and zen-like already. I so do like things to be written out and official.

And now the trick is not to overcomplicate. To not run full steam ahead and burn myself out within the first three days. To set a comfortable pace between Speed Number One and Speed Number Two so that I can actually accomplish these goals instead of leaving a carved out imprint of my body in the fetal position on the couch, clinging to a jar of Nutella and watching Seinfeld reruns as I’m wont to do when I have no get-up-and-go.

They say a dog imitates the mannerisms of its owner. Maybe if I get my act together, there’s hope for more enjoyable daily walks in the future. Here’s hoping. 



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