I came up with the ‘life is now’ mantra, which I think I’ll turn into a nice wall plaque or something for my crafty space to keep it at the front of my mind.
After that day, I had a couple of ideas about what I needed to do and where I wanted to go from here and I was feeling quite positive about it all.
Only real life interfered and pushed all that stuff to the back of my mind, where everything that is ‘on hold’ sits.
Right now it seems to me that I can’t even do the simplest thing to make my life easier, and that I’m hell-bent on sabotaging everything. I don’t have time, I don’t make time and I can’t be bothered anyway.
I’ve lost count of the number of time management, how to prioritise, how to get things done, how to manage your life, secrets of organisation books and websites I’ve looked at, how many times I’ve seen a great idea and thought I want to do that, how many times I’ve started something that’s fallen by the wayside . . . you get the idea.
Every time I see a new book or a new website, I think, yes this is the one that is going to work for me. And what happens? I read the book, print out all the worksheets, start to fill them out, maybe even start to do one or two things, and then it all gets too hard and I slip back into my old ways and life goes back to normal.
I don’t know if it’s because my life doesn’t immediately change as a result so I don’t think the strategy is working, or if it’s because it’s just so hard to break an old habit and replace it with a new one.
(I know, I know! It’s flawed logic. You don’t put on that extra 15 kilos overnight, so you can’t expect to lose them after one session at the gym.)
Here’s an example of what I mean: I want to drink more water during the day. I make it as easy as possible for myself by taking a full water bottle to work so I don’t even have to go to the water cooler. And still some days that bottle can sit in my bag, right next to my desk, all day without me having a single drink from it. I don’t think I could make it any easier, unless I got one of those beer caps with the tubes running straight into my mouth.
So if I can’t do something as simple as drink water, what hope do I have of doing anything that actually will get me to where I want to be?
I’m feeling quite disheartened about it all.
All I can think of is that for me to be able to work out where I want to go and how I’m going to get there, I need to get out of the real world for an extended period, sit down and work this all through. I can’t do it while I’m tending to my day to day responsibilities. It’s too much. I don’t have time.
A week in a secluded retreat, with no phone, no contact with anyone, days to think and write, quiet uninterrupted nights, blissful silence. Wouldn’t that be great?
It would, but it’s never going to happen.
Still I keep thinking to myself, if only I could somehow get to that place, then I could sort myself out and things would be better. I could work out which dreams I want to pursue and which ones aren’t me any more.
The result is I don’t do anything, and things stay exactly the same, and I keep wishing they could be better.
This week, however, I’ve read two things that give me a glimmer of hope that I might be able to find a way through it.
The first was a comment in (yet another) book about decluttering (from Simplify 101), which was the very simple and very obvious premise that you have to actually do something. All the reading in the world won’t help if you don’t get out there and start doing it.
That is: to create change, you must take action. Or in motivational speak ‘if nothing changes, nothing changes’.
And to do that, you have to make a commitment to take action, and then do it. And doing it once and sitting back and thinking ‘that’s it’ doesn’t work either. You have to do it again the next day, and again the next day.
It’s not rocket science is it? And I bet every book I’ve ever read says the same thing. I’ve certainly heard it many times before.
But what am I going to do? There’s so much I want to do, so much I need to do and so much more I don’t even know that I want to do yet. It’s all too much. I really need that week-long retreat to work out what I want to do, so I can work out where to start.
Since the retreat is not going to happen, at least not now, if I want to do this stuff (a lot of which is just vague ideas of future plans, goals, dreams and hopes), I have to do it within my day to day life. That is, now.
I actually have to make time to do it. Gretchen Rubin came to the same realisation when she was embarking on her Happiness Project.
And since changing everything at once is way too much (and I don’t know what ‘everything’ is that I want to change yet) and is completely unachievable, I need to take one step.
I need to make the time to take one step. Surely that’s not too hard.
And here’s the second thing I’ve found helpful. An email from the Planning Queen (aka Nicole Avery, who runs the Planning with Kids blog and has just released a book called Planning with Kids).
She said what she did was focus on the things that made her grumpy. Being grumpy was making her day worse and dragging everyone else down too. But if she could find the things that triggered her grumpiness and work out something she could do to deal with those triggers, in a 15 minute timeframe, which would be manageable in a busy day, she wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed or be as grumpy.
One of her examples was not having cluttered bench tops.
I totally relate to that. Just the fact that the benchtop is cluttered seems to make me (more) tense and anxious. It makes preparing meals more difficult and is a particularly unpleasant sight first thing in the morning, when I’d rather still be in bed. Looking at a clean benchtop is somehow calming. It makes me feel like things are under control, even if they aren’t.
Cluttered benchtops are definitely a grumpy trigger for me.
It seems to be a common thing among organisation books and websites that clearing your benchtops (and kitchen sink) at the end of every day is a great first step to making your life more manageable. I made one of my resolutions earlier in the year to wash up and clear up every single night, and I stuck with it for a while, then it fell away.
So today I’m returning to that resolution. It’s the one thing I commit to do every day, starting today. I will do it every night immediately after dinner or, if I’m putting Juniordwarf to bed, as soon as I’ve done that.
This is my first step. It’s action.
And to make sure I stick to it, I’ve made my own version of Juniordwarf’s rewards chart. I made a resolution chart earlier in the year as part of my Happiness Project, but I always kept it in my journal or somewhere else out of reach and always forgot to look at it or update it.
It’s now in full view. I hope this will make me more accountable and that by taking this first step, I'll be inspired to take the next step.