I’m thinking of working on self-improvement this week. Things just seem to be taking longer to accomplish lately. I don’t know if I’ve gotten lazy doing the same things over and over for the last twenty-odd years or it’s a matter of boredom. Sometimes you have to set a fire underneath your backside to get the urge to move forward.
November was Write a Novel in a Month, month. I never did get started on that because I was still finishing the last novel I started waaay baaack when. But I did finally finish it and I think it’s my best work so far. Not time wise, by any means, but I’m working on that.
You’ve probably heard people use the phrase, “personal best.” I always wondered why they cared. Your personal best? Yippee! No competition there. I can do that. Nobody running against me, nobody raising their child to be a cardiologist while I’m still working on getting my son potty-trained. Nobody bragging about canning 400 jars of apple sauce in their free time while juggling a law career and raising twelve foster children—while I struggle to get out of bed in time to catch Regis and Kelly after preparing a thermos of cold cereal for my child to eat on the bus.
Once upon a time, it mattered what others did because it made me work harder to achieve my goals—or the goals of my friends anyway. I didn’t want them to think I couldn’t run three miles if they could, or lose three dress sizes in a month if they did. I certainly didn’t want them to think my children were as dumb as rocks if theirs could speak Chinese and put their own clothes on.
Maybe I quit worrying so much about what everyone else did and lost that competitive edge. Now when someone says, “I lost ten pounds,” I say, “That’s great!” and go eat a donut. If they say, “My son is majoring in Computer Science, I say, “So’s mine.” Computer Science-Fiction.
So I guess what I’m saying is—I’ve lost that need to succeed, that drive to compete, the pride I felt in a freshly scrubbed toilet, and a reason to get out of bed each day. But I think I’ve found a way to get it all back.
I’m reworking the whole “personal best” thing. Now when I scrub the toilet I’m going to set the timer and crank it up a notch. If I clean the bathroom in five minutes one week, the next week I’m gonna have that long-handled brush moving so fast it’ll be a blur. Personal best takes on a whole new meaning when there’s a stopwatch around.