Reviewing one’s progress in the realm of self cultivation

measuring progressThere is something inherently fishy about “evaluating” myself when it comes to a program of personal development. While goal setting is an important activity, and awareness of my strengths and weaknesses is essential to many things, there seems to be some way in which self cultivation stands exempt from my every attempt to measure it. How did January’s Year of Sagely Living goal go for me? Did I reach the benchmarks I laid out for myself? Well, yes and no.

I originally set out to study half an hour a day in each subject I’m studying in school. This turned out to be impossible given my many other responsibilities. But, this was not a failure. It gave me valuable information. It told me where my limits are and why they are there. It gave me an opportunity to evaluate those supposed limits and decide whether I wanted to accept them. It also helped me to be ok with where I am – pushing myself to my limit let me know that what I *am* able to do is *all* I’m able to do. That’s profoundly nourishing.

Falling short of my original mark, I set another one. I decided to study at least two hours in every subject every week. While this may seem laughable to some, for a variety of respects, it seemed about right to me. While I know I shorted a subject or two due to their lower weight in my overall academic scheme of things, I made up for that by studying a bunch more in my favorite class, Formulas. It turned out that two hours a week is just about right. It has been profoundly helpful and I think it has already increased my understanding of the medicine. As such, I plan to adopt it as a constant goal while I’m in school. After school, other scholarly goals will need to be set.

Several folks have joined on in the Year of Sagely Living – and they have had varying degrees of “success” with the program. I will include links to their sites at the end of this article, all definitely worth reading through. In the end, I think they have all discovered what I have. The simple act of focusing on a particular realm of life is transformative. Whether you can objectively evaluate “progress” is up for debate. So what does this mean for the rest of the Year of Sagely Living?

I still feel that the setting of specific goals, or the declaration of commitment to a certain practice or set of practices is very valuable. In that way, discussing whether one was able to fulfill that commitment makes sense. However, the benefit of these activities are more likely to be fractal in nature and difficult to put your finger on.

While I am able to say that I have increased clarity and less stress as a result of my January YSL attempts, the true power is less measurable and more likely to develop over a long period of time. This, really, is the aim of the Year of Sagely Living. Not to set and meet goals. Not to yield some list of optimal practices that everyone could/should follow. Simply to articulate essential features of Chinese medicine and attempt to live by them in contemporary society.

About Eric Grey

Hi - I'm the founder of this site and the primary master of all functions here. When I'm not writing, you can find me reaching out to the Chinese Medicine community across the web and in my own backyard. I currently teach Chinese herbs at my alma mater, the National College of Natural Medicine. Additionally, I'm the founder of Watershed Wellness, a thriving local clinic in Southeast Portland in Oregon. No matter where I'm working, you'll find my focus on the Classical approach to Chinese medicine laced throughout everything I do.

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