On falling off-track…

Just some thoughts.

Before July 4th, I felt on and present and motivated. Then, the holiday and beachy time away that followed created a [fun] disruption in my routine, as did my [awesome] bridal shower this past weekend.

I like to reflect on instances like this because maybe then I can prevent Future Me from falling off-track again. So, the question is…. why do I seem to fall off-track even when the circumstances and my state of mind are positive?

The answer is… I give myself permission to. A switch seems to get flipped in my head sometimes when out-of-the-ordinary things are coming down the pike.

Oh, my bridal shower is coming up this weekend? I must think of nothing but that for the next few days so that I can mentally and physically prepare myself for it! Laundry needs doing? Nah– I will get it done after the shower.

Oh, we are going away this weekend? Welp, no point in cleaning the apartment now. And no point in following my usual routine if I’m in a different environment! That can all wait ’til I come back!

(EYE ROLL)

I’m all for allowing myself to chill and take a step back sometimes from routine, but I need to quit giving myself permission to do it at the drop of a hat. I sell myself short, really. I allow this weird self-talk to enter and convince myself that there’s not enough brain power in there to handle all of these situations all at once.

I know I’m better than that. There is no need for me to allow these disruptions in my routine. I can handle plenty. I have handled plenty.

Onward!

=)

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Not getting ahead of myself!

Lately, I’ve really been enjoying NOT sharing my goals with my closest friends and family 🙂


A few weeks back, I told my boyfriend that for the time being, I’m going to shut up about the things I want to do or work on. I said that I’d rather keep those things to myself until I feel I’ve made some progress. He replied “Oh sh*t, I was just reading a similar thing on Reddit/LifeProTips about that!” He said that the Reddit user wrote about the idea that it’s often better to keep your goals a secret, at least until you’ve taken real action or have some results to share. I read the post and looked into the idea some more, and found that it was actually a thing. Don’t get me wrong, I was not about to think I came to this idea completely on my own. I’m sure I heard it in passing a while back and threw it onto the back burner [of my mind] until I was actually ready to receive it. Well, that time had come.

Photo by Gesina Kunkel

I shared with a friend that I would love to start exercising in the morning as soon as I wake up. I told her that I want to start waking up half an hour earlier than normal, throw on workout gear right away (because that’s what they all say to do), and do 10 minutes on the bike followed by some crunches and planks. I told her how excited I was, that I was going to start small and work my way up, and that it’s going to really improve my mornings and my mood. Yea, so, that was about about 2 months ago now and that morning exercise regimen has yet to exist.

This has been a common occurrence in my life. I get really amped up about the thing I want to do (e.g. eat healthier, save more money), I talk about it with people, and I begin to picture myself doing the thing. What happens then is that it starts to feel like it has already happened; like I’ve already started… and I am filled with happiness from this. I’m filled with pride. BUT WHY? I haven’t even done anything yet!

Visualization is a powerful tool. Many athletes and high-powered people use it daily to get what they want and get themselves where they want to be. It’s something many of us do without thinking, but when you do it intentionally and wield it in the right way, you can truly benefit from it. Go read about it; it’s cool.

What I came to know is that when I talk about the thing I want to do, that’s the moment it feels real and that’s the moment where I begin to unintentionally visualize it [aaaand cue the endorphins, cue the false sense of pride, prepare to fizzle out]. That’s when I decided to experiment with the idea of keeping my mouth shut. Instead of talking to my pals about the thing I want to do, I will wait and talk to them about the thing I’m doing. Instead of allowing myself to feel proud of something I haven’t even done yet, I’ll wait and save that delicious feeling for later when I truly deserve it.

Well, OF COURSE I had to wait a few weeks to write about this because I wanted to talk about it after doing it for a while. So far, I am so pleasantly surprised by how good this little change in behavior is for me. By not openly discussing something before I do it, I keep myself from accidentally unlocking those feelings of pride, and that drive to actually get started remains in tact and gets me going.

=)

4 Things I’m Currently Focusing On

Photo by Mr TT

It has gradually become clear to me that I need to have defined areas of focus. If I don’t, I either become overwhelmed and try to focus on too much, or I focus on nothing and stagnate.

Today, I’d like to talk about 4 of the things that I’m working on right now.


THIS BLOG || I don’t have enormous and/or specific aspirations for myself within this platform just yet, but I do know that it’s something I’ll continue to focus on. I love creating. When I hit publish on a post and send my finished product into the world, I feel proud and so content. I also see this as a unique opportunity to engage with like-minded and maybe even more importantly, NON-like-minded people. Finally, I love having yet another excuse to expand my knowledge base and explore interesting topics.

NOT LETTING THINGS PILE UP || I have a natural tendency to let things pile up over time. These days, I am doing things on a more consistent, little-by-little basis. For example: instead of letting laundry pile up for weeks, I’ve been doing smaller loads once or twice a week. It seems to take less time and more importantly, it takes a lot less energy. Doing 7 loads of laundry on a Saturday or Sunday sucks a lot. Plus, I don’t give myself the chance to build up the task in my mind and turn it into something bigger and more unpleasant than it really is.

READING || I didn’t read enough in 2018 and it really bummed me out. I love reading, but if I don’t make it a priority to do so, I find that it will just slip through the cracks. Well, it’s a priority for me again. I make sure to open up my book at least once a day, usually when I crawl into bed. I won’t get into the joys and benefits of reading, I will just say that I am a happier person when I’m in the middle of a book. [I’m currently reading Dune.]

CONCENTRATION || I’m working on my power of concentration. I knew going in that this would be very difficult and it really is, friends. It truly takes practice. I’ve started small with tasks that take 5 minutes or less. For example: if I set out to brew some coffee or do a quick dusting of the bookshelves, I will do that and only that; I won’t pick up my phone in the middle of it and start scrolling through Instagram. Once I feel I’ve mastered this level, I’ll move up.


Of course there are many other things (e.g. my wedding in September!) that have my focus at the moment, but these 4 have had the most significant impact on my happiness and mental health as of late.

Normally I don’t like to preach, but do yourself a favor and take 5 minutes to define some of your areas of focus. I promise, it will help you immensely.

=)

Battling one thought.

I had a written list of things that were preventing me from starting this blog. Any time something new would spring to mind, no matter how silly, I’d add it on. I worked through this list, reflecting on one thing and then another, and eventually got to a place where I had confidently crossed off all but ONE.

EVENTUALLY, I WILL RUN OUT OF INTERESTING THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT.

Photo by Brandi Redd

This little rascal of a thought burrowed into my mind and set up camp. It sort of felt like a bad commercial jingle that got stuck in my head… just looping and looping and looping. I’ve heard this phenomenon referred to as an “ear worm,” which is the absolute perfect name for it, albeit a tad gross. No matter what I did, no matter how many ideas for posts I continued to come up with, the whole thing felt pointless because why start something I feared would end sooner than later? My head was really being messed with.

I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to stop thinking about blogging, writing, and anything to do with either for at least a couple of weeks. So, I went ahead and marked a date on my calendar, two weeks from then, “Resume blog work. Even when an idea for a blog post popped into my head, I would bat it away. That may seem counter productive, but I really wanted to make sure I got enough distance from it all so that I could break the obnoxious loop.

Resume blog work” day rolled around. I put on some music and sat with my journal. I thought about those two weeks that had passed and what they had looked like. I thought about the conversations I had, the things I’d learned, the movies I watched, the walks I took with my boyfriend, and so on and so forth. So much had happened within that short period of time. Suddenly, a warm and fuzzy realization settled into my being. It wasn’t so much one specific thought, but a group of thoughts all coming to the same [fuzzy, warm] conclusion. I wrote them all down in list form as they surfaced. 

  • All of this in infinite.
  • There is a countless number of things for me to experience and feel each day.
  • There is a countless number of things I can write about, and a countless number of ways I can write about them.
  • My mind/awareness is a deep, deep well that grows deeper every day as I experience and learn more.
  • I once read somewhere that one’s creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets!
  • I cannot possibly run out of things to write about. I encompass too much.
Photo by Harli Marten

I knew all I needed to know, and I knew it deeply. There is so much to write about, and so many ways to write it! I was so relieved. Finally, I’d kicked that stupid ear worm (ugh) to the curb. I will be honest, sometimes it feels as thought it’s still hanging out in the periphery of my mind, waiting to strike when I find myself in a low moment… but I now have more tools to use against it.

Sometimes, a thought is just a thought. It enters the mind for no specific reason, and may have absolutely nothing to do with what you know to be true. I think in this case, it was like my mind’s last ditch effort to keep me from doing something new. Whatever the reason was, I knew I didn’t have to listen.

And that was my battle with one [stupid] thought.

Constant connection.

Photo by Andrew Guan 

I love my phone. It keeps me connected to my family and friends, it keeps me aware of current events, it provides me with inspiration whenever I might need it, and it gives me instant access to interesting [or deliciously useless] information. I hate my phone for all of the same reasons.


>>> Personal phone history: Most of my friends got a phone in 2001, right after 9/11. Our high school was just outside Manhattan, so a lot of parents wanted their kids to have one for emergencies. At that point I really didn’t care whether I got one, and since I was rarely by myself, my parents figured it wasn’t necessary. Cut to December 2004 when cell phones became MUCH more common– I wanted one pretty bad and my parents very kindly obliged. They gave me a cuuute silver flip-phone for my birthday. Loved that thing! All you could really do with it was call, text, calculate, and play games. It was simpler then. Picture it with me, folks. Anyway, about 5 years later, I got my first smartphone and I’d say that’s when the love/hate relationship really began.<<<


When I contemplate my cell phone usage, I remind myself of the fact that I existed without one for 17 years, and without a smartphone for even longer. I also think about what that really means. What is it that I really went without until then? The main thing that comes to mind is constant connection.

While I am very grateful that my loved ones and I are so available to each other [for support, for emergencies, and for FUN], being constantly connected to them gets really overwhelming for me sometimes. My current struggles with this:

  • I feel guilty if I don’t answer in a timely manner, so it feels like I’m always texting in order to stay caught up. I don’t want to be on my phone that much, so finding a good balance has proven tough for me.
  • It can be tiring to be part of multiple conversations at once, and I get very invested when it comes to my friends and family. It’s important to me that each person knows that I’ve really heard them. So, I often wait until I can fully pay attention and respond thoughtfully. This sometimes causes a pile-up of open threads that leave me feeling kind of anxious.
  • Just the thought of being available to so many people [and even having them available to me] is overwhelming. I am not so sure that this is a state we should all constantly be in.
Photo by israel palacio 

I have instant access to information. Whenever I want to, I can hop on my phone and see what’s currently unfolding in the world. If I’d like, I can read and learn ALL about the mechanics or the history of- well, almost anything. It is absolutely fantastic, but there is a degree of pressure that comes along with it for me. My thinking is that because I have so much valuable information available to me, I feel like I should be accessing it often. I do take advantage of it, but I’m always asking myself if it’s enough. Uncle Ben’s quote “with great power comes great responsibility” comes to mind. There is so much power and knowledge at my fingertips 24/7, but do I use it well and responsibly?

Some might read all of this and think “wow, she’s thinking about this waaaay too much.” I don’t think I am. I believe everyone should be giving at least some degree of thought to how they use their technology each day. For me, there always seems to be an ebb and flow when it comes to my phone usage. I’ll get a handle on it for a time, but then it just gets away from me and I’m forced to have this conversation with myself and reign it back in again. I hope that I’ll eventually find the secret sauce for this but until that time comes, I will keep questioning and experimenting.

Really, at the end of the day, this a terrific problem to solve.

=)

Keeping it light.

Part of what inspired me to write this was another post on the blog Untangled called “My mind is tired of mindfulness“. It’s a great, short read; go for it!


I ponder over my personal development a lot (hence this blog), and I know I’m just one of many. It’s no wonder that this is the case considering “Personal Development” and “Productivity” and “Life Hacking” and aaaall that jazz is enormously popular these days. Bestsellers about nurturing effective habits crop up [what feels like] every other week, articles on powerful morning routines seem to publish every hour, and blog posts about all of the above are popping up more and more frequently (like this one!).

Once a person starts down the road of personal development (there’s that phrase again!), mindfulness, and other things of that nature, it can become difficult to stop. Some of what you’ll read and hear all over this realm are things like:

Consistency is key.

Good habits form when you make small changes every day.

You will see a difference when you are willing to put in the work.

Consistency. Every day. Work.

I’ll state the obvious here… I don’t disagree with any of these statements. I’m simply pointing to the fact that it’s not a wonder that people get swept up in this stuff so quickly, or that they feel guilty and maybe a little paranoid when they give it a rest. If you break the consistency, if you break your streak, if you stop the work for X amount of time, will you immediately slide back and find yourself stuck again? That’s a question I’ve certainly asked myself and to be honest, I do think that sometimes the answer is yes. For me, that will have to be okay.

Some may disagree, of course, which is great. Everyone has different circumstances and goals, everyone processes change differently, and everyone works at different paces and in different ways (even if all these differences are subtle). All of us cannot possibly be on the same exact page when it comes to something so personal as personal development.

Photo by Carolyn V 

I just need a break from it sometimes, and it’s really as simple as that. I’m the type of person that turns inward very easily, and if I spend too much time there, things start to get very exhausting and fuzzy. As long as my breaks (ranging from an hour to a day to a couple days) are completely intentional, I am golden. If I start to let things slip a little bit at a time, day after day, without thinking and without having a reason behind it, that’s when trouble ensues-but I won’t get into that. Today, I’m choosing to keep it light! And now I think I’ll go make a nice cup of tea like the one in this really pretty photo.

=)

Why I’ve kept myself from setting goals.

Photo by Bekir Dönmez

For most of my life, I’d never been one to set big goals or “dream big”. In a journal entry a few weeks ago, I asked myself flat-out why I think that is. I was able to clarify at least a couple of reasons, and I’d like to share them. Perhaps others can relate!

  1. Envy. Until my early to mid-20s, which is when I began to gain some wisdom in this area, I always envied people that had “a lot” – a lot of money, a big gorgeous home, great beauty, great confidence, great talent, etc. The envy ran pretty deep and it is only recently that I realized how much I let it control me. Though I never begrudged anyone their happiness or good fortune, I put them on a very high pedestal in my mind. The gap I felt between myself and “them” widened over time and it ended up feeling like more of a weight. In my misguided attempt to lift this weight, I guess I somehow convinced myself that I would simply never have what they had. I convinced myself that those people were just lucky, I wasn’t, and that was that. I wouldn’t even let myself imagine what it would feel like to have what they had (and I specifically remember saying that so many times- “wow, I can’t even IMAGINE!”). It’s not that I couldn’t, I just wouldn’t. [Important sidenote: I have fantastic, supportive parents. They never, ever told me that anything was out of my reach. Introvert that I am – I hardly expressed or discussed the envy that I had with anyone for so long, out of embarrassment maybe (?) or to preserve my pride (?), so I think it just quietly chipped away at a part of me.]
  2. Depression. I’m prone to it, and one of the symptoms is the inability to clearly envision a future. I believe this symptom, which I’ve experienced MANY times in various depressive slumps, managed to stick to my every day thought patterns.
  3. Overthinking. This one is sort of related to the other two, but I felt it was worth clarifying. If I have the beginnings of an idea about my future and what I could possibly do with it, I’m able to talk myself out of it pretty quickly. I think about the reasons it may not work and sure enough, I become fearful and want to climb back into my comfort zone.

The abundance other people have has absolutely no bearing on my goal for more abundance in my life. I know this now.

If I hit a depressive slump, I try to journal my thoughts & feelings and keep them confined in there. I remind myself that what I feel during those times isn’t always real; that the depression is hogging my attention. I cannot allow it to follow me.

As for the problem of overthinking: I’m working on it! I’m working on my ability to concentrate and my ability to control my awareness. Like anything else, this takes practice, but I am already reaping the rewards. [I highly recommend this YouTube video about the power of concentration: Dandapani: Controlling Your Awareness]

Gaining clarity on why I haven’t set big goals for myself has been enormously helpful. I’ve been able to combat my unhealthy thought patterns and obstacles because I know exactly what I’m up against. At this point, I can confidently say that envisioning a future and dreaming up great, big, wonderful goals has never felt easier.

=)