10 in 2010: Chunking out goals

chopped carrots and a cleaver

As one of my 10 goals in 2010+ is "Get back on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet 100%," I probably should have spent Fat Tuesday whooping it up with all of the sugar, rice, wheat, chocolate, potatoes and etcetera (lots and lots of "etcetera" on the SCD) I won't be able to eat anymore.

Instead, I holed up in a favorite coffee shop with a green tea and, while I waited for my friend from Portland to show up for our visit, I set about breaking out this monstrous, slippery to-do into smaller, hopefully more manageable tasks.

Some goals lend themselves to chunks. As I've mentioned before, my breakthrough moment with "Read a book a week" came when Julien Smith shared his own chunking solution: read 40pp per day. It's obvious in hindsight, but when you're panicking at the thought of how to do something you've never done before (or haven't done since your early 20s), looking at books as roughly 280pp units and then doing some quick division ain't the first solution you try applying.

My new Nei Kung practice shakes out the same way: "Practice Nei Kung every morning" has a built-in chunking mechanism; it's expressed as a chunk. (The morning part I'm facilitating by tying it to a morning routine, which is another pro-tip Julien puts forth in his excellent post. I swear, I'll keep linking to it, so you might as well go read it now.)

Compared to reading and Nei Kung, "Get on SCD 100%" is a slippery mollusk. While being on "100%" is both a clear metric and in keeping with SCD tenets*, it doesn't help me "be" on SCD day to day. I like to-dos; to-dos make for a regular and orderly life.

So I sat down and brainstormed a number of activities I can do to help support my transition back to and then my staying on the SCD. They include:

  • expunge cupboards of all SCD "illegals"
  • cull non-SCD-legal and/or non-"keeper" recipes from recipe binder
  • create running grocery list
  • check running grocery list
  • make SCD-legal baked goods in bulk (e.g. almond-flour cookies, breads, etc.)
  • make SCD-legal freezer-portion foods in bulk (e.g. stews, chilis, pizza sauce, etc.)
  • search new recipes for SCD-legalization possibilities
  • shop farmers' market

Some of the items are daily things I can check off, and very small. Just because you've committed to a big annual goal doesn't mean every ding-dong day has to involve pushing a c*cksucking boulder up a motherf*cking hill. Some days, you just want to look at your running list and check the fridge, freezer or pantry for supplies. Other days you might only have the gumption to spend five minutes surfing epicurious for Paleo recipes you can convert, or even email a chef-y friend for suggestions on how to fabricate legal substitutes for some craved food.**

And there's no law that says you can't find to-dos that kill two goals with one stone. I'm also looking to make more plans with friends this year; who says one of them can't be "Go with so-and-so to farmers' market on Sunday"? Not me. I wouldn't say that.

One final note: to get myself started with the list, I asked myself a couple of "how and why" questions: how does the diet work for me, and why do I want to be on it?

When I initially got on, the answers were clear and obvious: to not die; to get out and stay out of the hospital. As I've moved further away from peril (praise the sweet baby jesus), it's become more difficult to come up with pressing reasons. To get off of meds? Yeah, a worthy goal; these immunosuppressants are hell on your liver, long-term. For me, the reasons are now tied to other things, like having the energy to really apply myself to my other big goals. I do NOT want another repeat of last December, when I viewed my previous year's list of goals and saw six or seven out of ten unaccomplished.

Therefore, since I know that in the moment those BIG goals aren't necessarily enough to keep me on the straight and narrow, I needed to look at some tactical stuff, too: what daily to-dos can I put in place to remove friction? To make it easy to say "no" to Mr. Delicious French fry, or at least, easier?

For me, it's about not letting myself get hungry and not letting myself feel deprived. So some of my to-dos can become:

  • prep travel bags of snacks for on-the-go
  • think up more games to keep myself motivated
  • look at pictures of bloody transverse colon pre-SCD

Kidding on that last one, sort of. Truthfully, "Watch Ignite video" would make a really great to-do for a given day, since it is both a graphic reminder of what I went through to get here (and what I never want to go back to, ever), and a motivator to stay on track with one of my other goals, which is to do more speeches that I feel really make a difference.***

But that is another goal story for another day...


*At least initially, being on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet calls what our beloved Elaine called "fanatical adherence": the smallest cheat nulls the effect, since what you're striving for is a removal of all opportunistic, "bad" bacteria in the gut, and the slightest trace of something juicy will keep the bastards alive. Once you're on and symptom-free for two years, you can consider an indulgence here and there. Although as I seem to be an abstainer rather than a moderator when it comes to things like French fries or Italian bread with a gnarly crust and chewy tooth, I'm just off of it, period.

**I've been dreaming of those greasy sesame sticks you buy by the pound at Trader Joe's, and my friend Wayne said, "Oh, I love figuring out stuff like that." So there you go. Make someone else's day into the bargain.

***And who said you can't kill two goals with one story? Not me. Never me!

Image by Muffet via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.