The Year is Half Over

Today is July 1st, a very special day. Most importantly, it’s Canada Day, a national holiday.  That’s always nice.  Of secondary importance, it’s the beginning of the NHL free agency period, one of the busiest days in terms of player movement.  There may be no better day for a Canadian hockey fan than July 1.

More than that, though, today is the beginning of July, the seventh month.  The year is officially half over.  Six months have gone, six months remain.  It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming in 2016, and now it’s half over and soon it will be done.  That’s … quite sobering, really.

Most people have long since abandoned their new year’s resolutions, but not me.  I’m constantly thinking about how I can improve, where I need to improve and what I need to do to get there.  I set some pretty lofty goals back at the beginning of the year, and now is the perfect time to make sure I’m still trending in the right direction or if I need to change something.

Physical Goals

I started this year with the same goal as last year and the year before that: get the splits.  I really, really want this, and it still remains out of reach.  It isn’t for a lack of trying, though.  I haven’t missed a stretching session, even when sick.  I’m inching closer, inch by tantalizing inch, but it’s nowhere near as fast as I’d like.

Of course, I guess that’s to be expected.  Flexibility comes much more easily to children than adults.  Very few people develop the splits as adults, and most who do could already do it as a child.  This is extremely rare territory, and when I get it, I will join a very select group.

And make no mistake, I will get it.

My other physical goals included completing the GymnasticBodies F1 course, dialing in my nutrition and getting a 10sec handstand.  In terms of F1, I’m about where I expected: the parts I thought I’d get I’ve gotten, and the areas I knew I’d struggle with I’ve struggled with.  Still, I’m about on pace to get it done by 2017, so I can’t complain.

In terms of handstands, I’ve practiced this off and on, more off than on, and my best time is 5sec.  My average time is about one second, where I will get in position, hold for the briefest of moments and then immediately come down.  I’m not really on pace to get this, but also, I realized I don’t really care, either.  This is a nice to have.  If the rest of my goals come along fast and easy, maybe I’ll devote some extra time here.  As is, no worries.

Nutrition, though, may be my greatest improvement.  Since my birthday, I have eaten exceptionally well.  My meals have consistently been of a high standard, with a good mix of macro and micro nutrients, and I’ve been snacking on junk food less and less.  The last three weeks in particular have been excellent, and I can’t ask much more.

In general, then, my fitness goals are going well.  I don’t see how I can make any real improvements here, so let’s keep going and hope it all pays off 180 days from now.

Chess

Chess has been a mini-roller coaster for me.  I started the year at 1970 rating, and I so desperately wanted to get over 2000.  That was my big goal, and not just that, I needed to stay over there, preferably by beating some 2000+ players.

I succeeded here in a big way.  My current rating is somehow over 2100 (!), and I’ve beaten multiple people over 2000 rating, including one over 2100.  You can’t fault that performance … except I lost a terrible game, which put me in a rut for about two months before I managed to shake it off.

I’ve thus accomplished my main chess goal, but the other ones, arguably the most important ones, have lagged behind.  I wanted to complete 100 games this year.  So far I’m at 31, well short of halfway (though, on the flipside, I only managed 45 games all of last year, so that looks quite good in comparison).

Worse, I haven’t really been studying.  After the loss I linked above, I could barely force myself to play my games, let alone study positions and tactics in depth.  That’s changed slightly over the last month, and especially over the last two weeks, but it’s hard to be confident when my chess enthusiasm has wavered so much from month to month.

I’ve got a simple goal, then: study every day.  Maybe it’s just five minutes going over some simple tactics, or maybe it’s a full hour going over a master-level game.  Whatever it is, build that habit. Study.  Do a little bit every day.  It worked wonders for my writing, and I’m sure it will do the same for my chess.  Speaking of which …

Writing

I can’t think of anything I’ve done over the last few years that’s been a bigger success than this.  I’ve gone a full year of writing every single day.  Yesterday was my 400th straight day of publishing a full article.  I’ve written over 600,000 words and going strong.  The more I look at what I’ve done, the more blown away I am.

And really, I haven’t done anything special.  I just committed to doing something daily, and like drops in a bucket it adds up.  Lately I’ve been doing more than just drops, but rather gushing out content.  I started blogging about my videogame experiences, on top of my regular posts, and that has skyrocketed both my word count and my enjoyment.  Writing about your passions is fun, almost beyond belief, and I now have four straight months of writing at least 50,000 words.  Amazing.

And along the way, something magical has started to happen.  My blog numbers have increased.  I’ve nearly doubled the amount of visitors from last year, and in half the time.  More than that, though, people have started to leave comments.  I’ve had a few random comments, just thanking me, and I’ve had a few people respond to my chess articles.  One has even reached out to me on chess.com and we’re communicating on that forum as well!

Seriously, thank you everyone, both the anonymous visitors and the ones that have left feedback.  It really means a lot.  Thank you so much.

Skills

When I started the year, I said I wanted to learn how to speedcube and how to code computers.  Those never got off the ground, and barring a miracle they never will.

That leaves poi.  Much like chess, this has had ups and downs.  The ups: I went about 100 days in a row practicing every day.  The downs: I then went most of the next three months not practicing much at all, which is strange as I legitimately love this art and often wish I could do it more.

I’d be at work or eating lunch and think, “Gosh, I wish I could spin my poi,” and I’d really want to … and then later I just wouldn’t.  Or I’d go a week without touching it, then start spinning and think, “Man, this is fun, I’ve got to do it more often,” and then go another week without touching it.  I have no idea why.

Maybe there’s a motivation issue here.  Maybe it’s subconscious.  I don’t really know.  I just need to do it.  Now is the best time, because it’s the summer.  Come winter, I won’t be able to go outside, and I’ll be stuck with my low ceilings messing everything up.

Actually, now that I think about it, part of the problem might be dabbling in other areas of juggling.  In addition to poi, I have juggling balls, devil sticks, meteor, staff and nunchuku.  I sometimes grab one of these props instead, or more likely, I use the martial arts equivalent at work, scratch that flow art itch and then feel no need to practice at home.

I’m not completely sure what I do here.  I don’t want to force myself to do something I love, because that sounds weird, but I have greatly encouraged myself to practice everyday.  Sometimes five minutes, sometimes two hours.  Just keep practicing.  Have fun.  Everything will follow if you start from fun.

Conclusions

In two of these areas, I’d say I’m right on track.  In terms of writing, I’m more than on track.  I’m crushing it.  In the other two areas, it’s more of a wash.  Oddly, I’d call both chess and poi my passions, something I like to do over most anything else, and yet they are holding me back.  Hmm.

It’s pretty simple, then.  For the rest of the year, these final six months, don’t change a thing when it comes to fitness or writing.  Make some tweaks to chess and poi.  That’s it.  That’s what I’m going to do.  Now to finish the year on a tear and conquer all these goals.

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