If you've ever wondered where the day went, or where the week went, or where the month or year went, slow down. Take notes. Keep a diary, a journal, a blog, or whatever other way you want to keep track of your accomplishments and celebrate the little things.
Notes don't lock you into the past. They let you see where you've come from and remember where you're going. You can store your unfinished thoughts for further reflection. You can figure out what to say and how to say it. You can figure out what you think.
Keeping notes also helps you in other ways. If you write down your accomplishments along the way, yearly performance reviews become a lot easier. If you write down solutions to problems you've encountered--or even the things you've tried along the way--you'll find that your notes will save you time when you need to solve that problem or similar ones. Record other things: what you enjoy, what you don't, what you're curious about, what you've learned.
So get a journal that you're not afraid to write in, or start a blog (more about this later), or write one-line summaries of your day on Twitter. Block time in your schedule so that you can write. Five minutes will do. Fifteen minutes would be even better. It doesn't have to be a perfect record. It doesn't have to be a coherent essay. Don't beat yourself up if you miss a day. Just keep writing. Be kind to yourself when you write. Celebrate.
Come back after you've done that for a month. Now life should've slowed down for you, slowed down enough to enjoy. You can look back and see where you've been, what you've done. And you might've found yourself writing about who you'd like to grow into, what you'd like to do--great!
Now think about some stories you can share with more people. Stories can help you connect with others and build relationships. Through stories, you can teach other people about what you're good at and who you are.
Here's the big step: try telling those stories in a conversation. Or even better: on a blog. You don't have to tell everyone about your new blog, if you don't want to. You can just write. Share your notes. Share how you've solved problems, share what you've learned. Share a couple of stories from your day.
Because you'll learn a lot more along the way. You'll learn in the process of figuring out how to explain things to someone else. You'll learn from your own notes. And you might just learn something from the questions and experiences of other people.
You'll learn a lot from helping other people by sharing your experiences. And people will learn more about you and the value you create.
It's a great habit, and not hard to start. After all, life already happens. The problem you'll find yourself encountering, actually, is that there will be too many great stories to tell.
W- turned to J- and asked, "So, why don't you want to go to summer camp?"
"The first reason is that I want to spend my time more wisely," said the 11-year-old. I cheered.
"The second reason is that it's just like daycare. If I go to daycare during school and camp during summer, then it's the same all year round."
"Variety!" I said, nodding.
"The third reason is that there are all these young kids running around," she continued.
"So you've outgrown camp," said W-.
"Well, if you can take the responsibility for spending that time wisely, sure!" I said.
Kudos to her for knowing what she wants and going for it.
So we're going to build photography experiments into our summer schedule.
We played lacrosse catch in a nearby park, and then we took pictures. J- was delighted with her silhouette experiments and her flower photography. She likes taking macro shots.
As the light faded, we switched to panning shots, catching cyclists and cars. Even when we were walking back home, she'd sometimes run ahead to take a picture of a passing car.
When we got home, she skipped ice cream time to play on the piano instead. She has figured out how to play both hands for "A Whole New World", and she's been learning "Part of Your World" and the introduction of "Fur Elise" almost entirely on her own. She asked me how to play parts of Fur Elise, so I showed her that the notes she wrote down were correct.
"This isn't the real song, is it?" She asked.
I laughed. "Play the demo again, and look at the notes." I traced them with my finger, like the bouncing ball of karaoke lyrics. "See, you haven't been playing with training wheels. You've been learning the real thing."
"Terrific! And what would let you enjoy piano even more?"
"Well... What about the Star Wars music?"
"No, the one at the beginning."
"Oh! Okay, let's go look for that..."
And now she's off teaching herself the Star Wars Theme. =)
I tell this story because it's a wonderful thing to help cultivate enthusiasm. We were watching J- chase cars with her camera, and W- said, "That's the kind of enthusiasm I was thinking about." I smiled and said that it takes only one interest. Once she knows what it's like to be passionate about something, she'll discover other things as well.
Ah, Mondays. =D