After some analysis, I have identified about two dozen species of birds I have never seen before that I have a reasonable chance of seeing where we now live. I am starting to collect information about their habitats and when they are normally present near the Puget Sound. This is an interesting exercise in itself as it allows me to learn more about these birds. It also should increase my chances of actually observing them in the wild.
Different birds prefer different habitats. They are not likely to come to me, so in order to see them, I will have to venture into their habitats. I could stare out my front window for the rest of my life and probably never see any waterfowl, but within a few miles I have both salt and freshwater bays and lakes. As I collect my information, I should have an idea of when I need to visit each habitat over the next year.
I have been doing some other goal-setting of late as well. I have slipped into the habit of drifting off to sleep when I sit down to read. It seems I can only endure about twenty to thirty minutes before the sleep monster envelopes me in its clutches and drags me off to its lair. There are times, like rainy Sunday afternoons, where a nap with a book is a fine and pleasant thing, but to succumb to slumber every time I try to get through a chapter of a book is becoming frustrating.
So I set a goal: I want to read for an hour straight each day. So far I have found the first 30 minutes fairly easy, but the second half to be more of a struggle, resulting in me having to move, sit on the floor, and otherwise exert effort to stay awake. Being able to focus my attention while reading is a skill I cherish, so it is worth fighting to retain.
Both of these actions result from asking the question, “What do I want?” which is just a variation on, “Where do I want to go?” that we discussed earlier. I used these questions to identify some targets: birds I want to see and an ability to regain for myself.
Obviously, setting goals is important and the internet has no shortage of articles extolling the necessity and utility of this practice. But setting goals that will lead us to where we want to be is more important. There is no shortage of “good things” to strive toward. It would be fun to be a renaissance man, conversant in multiple languages, able to play multiple instruments, and well-read on dozens of topics. We have our limits, however. Time, talent, and interest all narrow what goals we are likely to attain.
Focus is also important. I have found one or two goals at a time is all I can really focus on while trying to maintain other areas of discipline in my life. So for now it is birds (which can be set aside, because it is just a hobby) and rebuilding my reading capacity.