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January 2019 One Month Project Halfway Point

January 2019 One Month Project Halfway Point

Man with long brown hair in turquoise printed dress with a sun hat in front of the ocean

My trip is officially half over, which makes this halfway point kind of sad.

It’s the exact adventure that I was craving. I’ve been all the way from Tampa to Key West, Sanibel Island to Miami, coming face-to-face with beautiful locations, uncomfortable Airbnb situations, intense introspective realizations, and interesting hostel incidents. I’ve walked so much that my shoes are literally falling apart, and took so many pictures that I had to upgrade to the “family” version of the iCloud storage plan. [1]

My one month project for January 2019 was to publish a blog post every day about my travels. I knew I’d run into some logistical issues, so I allowed myself five skip days. So far, I’ve only skipped two days — one on January 8 and one on January 15.

Just like I predicted, I’ve written from my car, my hostel bed, cafes, libraries, other people’s houses, even from a cafe next to a Miami nightclub. [2] This project has given me the opportunity to try so many things — and boy, have they changed me for the better! Here are a few things I’ve done thanks to January 2019’s one month project.

Written more about day-to-day occurrences

Prior to this project, a lot of my posts were “evergreen” — that is, not tied to specific dates or times, existing separately from my everyday life. I suppose I have a bias against writing that is easily dated; even when I wrote fiction as a kid, I would make sure to take out any references that would make the work obscure in a few years.

Travel writing inherently revolves around specific situations that happened during a specific time — say, my first morning in Key West, where I accidentally dropped an entire cookie cake face-down on my bunkmate’s bed. It was so cool to recount experiences and preserve them forever, rather than just let them go by, unprocessed. An additional positive side effect is that I no longer have to recount my experiences to all the people in my life — they usually read it from the blog and we’re able to jump into interesting conversations about them right away.

Gained tons of appreciation for art, beauty, and excellence

A very special trip I took recently made me re-discover my inner artist. Since then, I’ve not only been able to take better photos, but I’ve also begun to truly appreciate others’ art. Everywhere I go, see how much effort and care was put into the things around me, from street vendors’ food trucks to exquisitely manicured hotel lawns to the works hanging in museums. It’s really moving to see what human effort can produce, and I’m so glad that I gained this new way of experiencing life.

Practiced letting go of my perfectionism, over and over again

I talked at length about coming up against my perfectionistic tendencies in December 2018’s one month project. They show up everywhere in my life, and blogging is no exception. Prior to this project, I’d get hung up a lot on whether my Instagram feed was aesthetically pleasing, whether the words in my articles flowed perfectly, and how much engagement I got when I shared each post.

Perfectionistic tendencies in and of themselves aren’t bad; it’s only detrimental when they start to affect your productivity and your overall enjoyment of life. Since I was writing and publishing every day, and only using photos I’d taken during the event itself, I was essentially forced to confront and ultimately let go of my perfectionism every single time it came up.

I made myself write even when I wasn’t in “the Zone”, and said “fuck it” when my Instagram feed composition wasn’t perfect. During photoshoots, I didn’t insist on a retake if the angles were slightly crooked, or if my head wasn’t tilted the right way. I told myself that this was a temporary experiment and that I could go back to the way I used to do things if they didn’t work out.

Surprisingly, when I go back to look at the work I’ve produced this month with a critical eye, I actually like what I see! Nothing looks like I’ve put it together while half-asleep, though that did happen more times than I’d have liked.

Truly “got” what it meant to be committed to something

One of my mentors defined commitment as “following through on your word and taking action, regardless of how you feel in the moment.” In the past, when I’ve said I was “committed” to something, I hadn’t been. Not really. I made excuses of tiredness and not being able to get things done, when in reality that was just my perfectionism talking — I simply didn’t want to do work in a certain state, because I knew it wouldn’t be as good.

I wanted to use this one month project to really experience what it meant to be committed to something. In order to actually get an article out every day, I had to be in the mindset of “done is better than perfect”. I spent many a night staying up late or waking up early to make sure I hit my daily goal. And this new mindset has gone a long way in cultivating better habits — when I next have a project or a thing I’m taking on, I’ll have known what it was to be truly committed to something, and will follow through on my word.

Learned that sometimes realism is the best policy

I feel like this is one of the few times I’ve actually began to really follow through on my blogging promises — and this was because I set realistic goals. I knew I’d get pulled into late-night conversations and impromptu adventures, so I intentionally ignored my usual 5 AM sleep schedule and gave myself room to enjoy my trip without worrying about blog content.

Conclusion

I am continually learning more about myself and how I approach success/achievement. This project showed me that there are times where you should set “reach” goals and do your best to, well, reach them … but there are times where you should utilize how well you know yourself and set goals that you know you can reach.

I’m so happy when I look back at the consistent posts I’ve been able to write this month. There’s a whole other half of adventures waiting, and thanks to the things I learned, I’ll be able to continue documenting them. ♚

Note: This article is part of my January 2019 One Month Project, where I will be traveling around coastal Florida and publishing an essay a day about my experiences there. I’m excited to bring you along on this adventure!

Notes

[1] I really, really have to clean out my photo library. As of the time of writing, I have 28,655 photos and 32 videos. ?

[2] You should have seen me walking up South Beach in my pajamas, wearing my weathered North Face backpack and carrying my fuzzy blanket, while everyone else around me was in full party attire. I should’ve gotten a picture!

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© 2019 by Marty Noel Chenyao. All rights reserved.

@fake.and.basic | marty@fakeandbasic.com

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