New Beginnings: How to follow through on resolutions 12 days into the New Year

take nothing leave nothingIt’s been a long time since I’ve written. I experienced a number of extremely difficult challenges in the early to mid-part of last year. And while none of those challenges actually precluded me from writing, by way of time consumption, I didn’t write here. I didn’t focus on creating the deliberate slow-paced, self-designed lifestyle that I wanted for myself. And I’ve fallen into some consumerist and stressful habits.

Yet with the soul searching, and reading, and studying, and praying, I have been put in a situation that allows me to start building something for myself and my new husband. This past October, my then-fiance was awarded a graduate assistantship which gave us housing at virtually no cost. So at the start of this year, we downsized from a two bedroom/two bathroom apartment to a 400 square foot studio (more thoughts on this next time).

I have the opportunity, time and space now to get my career together, without the pressure of a huge onslaught of bills. I do have some serious financial obligations, but nothing is so pressing that I’ll lose any sleep. Anyway, with all of this available time, and unlimited potential before me, I see how I could easily become a freeloading slacker. Being slow-paced isn’t necessarily being lazy. It’s just living a productive, meaningful life, without the chains of societal expectations holding you back.

So last year, while struggling through the consequences a job termination, totaled car (no injuries), and death in the family, (all of which occurred within a calendar week) I filled my mind with positive and productive ideas to keep me moving. At times, my state of physical and emotional burnout overtook me. And then there was the craziness of planning our November wedding in an extraordinary short period of time.  Outside of those moments, I was flying high off of everything that I was reading and a few ideas stuck with me. I wanted to share those ideas that I came across/figured out for living a meaningful, deliberate and productive life:

  1. Talking about an action depletes the energy needed for that action.  This basically means if you need/want to do something, don’t say you have to do it. Just do it.  Don’t share your excitement of this great idea you have, because if you do, you won’t have the energy to do it. For me, this is a big one: I’m all talk and no action sometimes.  I’ve probably heard this statement a thousand times from my husband, but it wasn’t until I read it in The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity by Edwene Gaines that the idea actually stick with me.
  2. Find a way to keep yourself accountable. This seems to contradict number uno, but this just means have a system in place to make sure you’re doing what you’ve set out to do. I don’t mean telling other people your goals and having them check up on you. Keeping myself accountable to other people, ie telling them “I’m going to work out 5 days a week,” doesn’t work for me. Either they annoy the heck out of me or make me feel guilty for not reaching my goals. What I’m talking about could be as simple as putting quarters in a swear jar or marking off items on a check-list.  For me, writing this blog reminds me to stay focused on the life I want to live. It is a way to chronicle my journey.  I think detailing your day in a journal, after you complete whatever it was you set out to do, is very effective and is a positive way to track your progress.
  3. Lower your standards, especially if there is something you are just getting started with. This is one I keep seeing from different bloggers, the first was Kazumoto from AJAAT (click the links in his article, they’re good further reading on the subject.) If you say, “I’m going to write a thousand words on my novel today,” and you haven’t written anything in a month or two, chances are it’s not going to happen. But if your goal is to just write something in your novel today, you’ll reach your goal if you write five words, fifty, or five thousand. (I’m totally, obviously not talking about myself, here). Now I don’t mean to produce poor quality on purpose.  I just mean, just do something, or do more than nothing. Let me tell you something: it is easy as heck to just do a little better than nothing, and as many of the others have said, you may find you do a quite a bit more than nothing (no pressure though).
  4. Be mindful of the process, and don’t fixate on the end goal. I seriously want write a whole post on this, but in brief, the idea is to immerse yourself in the task at hand. Don’t do something just to have it finished. If you focus on the process, before you know it, you’ll actually finish instead of lamenting how much time it is going to take.  So many of the things we love can be tedious. We plateau, get stuck, have to back-up and redo. A task you thought you liked might become tedious if you’re having trouble.  I am very much guilty of fixating on the end goal. But I noticed when I focus on the process of the task I’m completing, I enjoy myself more, and the task actually gets completed. Less stress in the end.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope these four thoughts can help you stay motivated with your New Year’s resolutions, life goals, or whatever ticks your clock. I’m signing off for the night.

Thanks for reading.

Peace and Blessings.

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Can You Stop Procrastinating?

I am the biggest procrastinator ever!  I keep saying “If I just did what I was supposed to do, I wouldn’t have any problems.”  I believe that is absolutely true.  We all know we should not be procrastinating, but why do we do it?  I have a theory as to why.

We expect too much of ourselves. How can we not,  with the way American life is structured today? Think about when you were in high school. Maybe not high school, but middle school, when your only responsibility was school. Maybe you played a sport on the weekends or afterschool, but what else did you have to do? Make your bed, clean the bathroom? And when you weren’t in school or doing simple chores, what were you doing? You were playing and enjoying life. You didn’t have to work to pay for school, or the roof over your head. Life was very manageable. Adulthood sucks in comparison.

Who says that adults are truly capable of managing the responsibility load that our culture expects of us?  I don’t believe it anymore. I don’t believe it for a second.  We work, go to school, pay bills, deal with creditors, utility companies and landlords. We cook, we clean, we take care of our children, significant others, and pets. Running our lives is like running a corporation. You are doing all the roles at once without any assistance. It becomes all work and no play.

But what is it that you want to do? Play. What does that mean to you? Basically the same thing it did when you were a child: spend time with friends, enjoy the fresh air, play music, read a good book, etc.  So why are the responsibilities of life so overbearing? Because we live in a culture of overconsumption. Our overconsumption makes us slaves to money. If we weren’t slaves to our money, we would have fewer responsibilities.

Think about this for a moment: if you owned 10 pieces of clothing, in total, how bad would laundry be? That’s one load to wash, one load to dry, and maybe 5 minutes to fold and put it away, at the most.  Would you really have to procrastinate doing laundry?  It would take so little of your time, so little energy, that I believe it would be a non-issue. I have to do 5 or 6 loads of laundry if I wait until I get down to my very last pair of socks.  No wonder the laundry piles up for weeks on end, and I’m in and out of the laundry room for a day and a half.

Don’t feel bad if you are a procrastinator. Most people are. And I would say it is because your life has become unmanageable– don’t take offence– I’m just saying you have too much on your plate. Forgive yourself.  You bit off more than you can chew, and you can’t put it back. You have to finish it all to clear that plate sometimes.  You have to work 2 jobs to pay the debt, or pay for school.

You can figure out ways to make life a bit more manageable. If you cut back on the stuff, you can cut back on your chores, or at least make them easier. Fewer clothes= less laundry. Fewer dishes= smaller dish pile and quicker clean-up. Smaller house= fewer rooms to clean. Fewer gadgets= less money owed. .

Well, what about procrastination? How does this help me with my thesis that I’ve now dragged out to a fourth semester? (I’m the guilty one here).

Tell yourself: I’m going to achieve one goal today. One solid goal that requires a bit of effort.  For me, that was turning in my substitute teacher application, and running all over town to prove to the public school system that I’m not a criminal. Yes, it was a pain and took a total of 5 hours, but it’s done now.

And after you achieve that goal, don’t feel guilty for spending the afternoon twiddling your thumbs while staring at the boob tube. I gave myself permission to watch Misfits and Glee without feeling like I should be doing something.

If you do that one thing, and complete one solid objective today,  you’ve accomplished something. You’ve taking a reasonable step towards a better life.

You aren’t going to stop procrastinating, ever. Perhaps, you can get your life simple enough that the type activities you procrastinate are virtually non-existent or minimized so that they aren’t so bad. For now, just do one thing at a time. Maybe that one thing will give you some momentum to accomplish another thing. Maybe not. Either way, it is okay.

Hope you are having a great week so far.

~namaste~