Vince and I like to GLIDE. We plan ahead and we don’t like to live life by the skin of our teeth; for some that’s exciting, for us it’s stressful.
One of the things we’ve identified that helps with the glide is to automate as much of our lives as possible. This creates a structure around certain areas which in turn facilitates flexibility in others.
For us gliding is about figuring out which actions bring us closer to a sense of peace and ease, and which take us further away.
Some of the positive actions we’ve integrated into our days are:
Positive Actions: ‘Fully Integrated’ (these are actions we’ve been doing for a year+):
- Keeping a daily journal
- KonMari decluttering our house (and maintaining this method)
- YNAB (You Need A Budget) budgeting App (can’t recommend this highly enough)
- Meal planning + online grocery shopping
- Maintaining a shared online diary (we use Google’s calendar)
- Streamlined, super-simple paperwork filing system
- Keeping an electronic ‘To-do’ List
Positive Actions: ‘Work in Progress’ (these are things that don’t yet feel fully integrated but are well on the way):
- Daily yoga / gym 3 x a week
- Daily mindfulness meditation
- Taking a long term break from Facebook
- Attending to laundry every day
Positive Actions: Next on the list:
- Diarise a block of time each week for taking care of admin, ‘to-do’ list items, chores (approx 3hrs).
To back track a little, I noticed a big dip in my energy and motivation levels towards the end of March this year following a relay race of family colds. For a good 2-3 months after that I continued to feel sluggish and let some of my established positive actions slide. It didn’t feel good. I needed to take responsibility for my energy levels and not just self-medicate with sugar and mindless trawls through Facebook. As a result I’ve been taking the Ayurvedic supplement ‘Ashwagandha‘ which certainly helped reignite my spark. The effects are super subtle but I noticed a welcome brightness and clarity of thought much later into the evening than I had without it. After a few weeks of taking the tablets, alongside daily yoga I admitted to my reluctant self that I needed to introduce some cardio <insert fountainous crying emoji here>.
You see, I’ve always told the story that ‘I have a poor relationship with exercise because I never really saw my (naturally slim) parents exercise and I was terrible at sport’, but when I thought about it I was actually able to identify several pockets of time in my post-school life where I have had a good relationship with exercise. I needed to ‘flip the script’ and start telling a different story. I’ve since joined our local gym and have committed to an hour three times a week. My energy levels have continued to increase along with my productivity, and motivation to ‘get shit done’.
One of the prompts in my Daily Greatness Journal is ‘What is going well and why?’ Consistently the ‘why’ is: ‘X is going well because I’ve made it a priority and I’ve psychologically committed to doing it’. It really does come down to that.
I’ve mentioned here before that a great trick for me is to schedule these positive actions into my diary ahead of time, so for example I have decided I will go to the gym Monday, Thursday and Saturday mornings first thing. By making this decision in advance I’ve helped remove that internal negotiation each morning of, ‘shall I go to the gym today? I’m feeling a bit tired, I could go tomorrow and then I’ll work REALLY, EXTRA, WONDER WOMAN-LY hard because of course I’ll feel less tired tomorrow…’ Without that pre-commitment I’d be extremely susceptible to talking myself out of it, kicking that can down the road. Instead I’ve identified those slots in my week, and consider them set in stone. The night before I also write it in my schedule for the next day to further commit. When I wake up it feels like a done deal, I just get up and go with no shilly-shallying. It really seems to be working for me.
One thing I’m trying to square is just how long it takes to fit in all the good practices into my day. Much of it means time away from the Little Chap. 1hr of exercise + 20 minutes meditation + 5 minutes diary writing + 10 minutes YNAB update + 20 minutes on laundry – that’s around 2hrs a day. For a while I was feeling like I must ‘get through’ those tasks so I can get on with my day but slowly I’m realising those things are my day, that they deserve the time required and that actually the positive effect will benefit the Little Chap. I have more physical energy for play, meditation is making us calmer and more patient, I’m demonstrating the life skill of setting positive goals and tracking them in a journal, he’ll grow up knowing how to manage his finances, and in the meantime we won’t be overly stressed about money, he’ll see the benefit of keeping on top of things like laundry to avoid that clothes mountain overwhelm. Of course some of these things can also be done when he’s in bed! A major revelation to me was looking at how long I could spend on Facebook, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. I’m sure across the whole day it could easily have been an hour. That’s THIRTY HOURS A MONTH! What could you achieve if you had THIRTY HOURS A MONTH to play with? Our introduction of a daily meditation practice was a no-brainer swap. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to prioritise new things and invest in the glide.
When we consider implementing a positive action we usually have to accept an initial sense of loss. If we want to lose weight we will mourn those times of over-indulging , if we want to fit in exercise we may have to forfeit that delicious extra time in bed, sorting out our finances may mean we have to forego holidays, new clothes, meals out.
Of course ALLL the positive actions don’t magically weave a protective bubble around us and things do go wrong from time to time. Just recently our car, fridge freezer, a wall of shelves and our loo all broke in the same week. In the past we’d have felt like the Universe was against us but because we have our YNAB budget we had already, month by month, set aside money in several emergency funds to cover these things. Of course we’d rather not have had to spend all that money but as it had already been given that specific job it really didn’t sting that much to get repairs and replacements sorted.
Before we make a mental commitment to introduce positive changes, all we can picture is that no-man’s land of restriction but without the benefits those positive actions will ultimately give us. That looks like a sucky place to be, zero fun. Emotionally we can be extremely resistant to taking up residence there even if we know it’s only for a while; this is where I’ve found it helpful to ‘fake it ’til I make it’, over-ride emotion by getting practical and make a concrete plan, put things in diaries, walk confidently past our whining doubtful selves clinging on to the takeaway menu like it was a jackpot lottery ticket.
Make deals with yourself on the really tough days: don’t even think about getting on the treadmill, just focus on getting into your gym kit. Once you’re in your gym kit you might as well drive to the gym. Once you’re at the gym you might as well do a few belligerent minutes on the treadmill. Before you know it you’ve done your hour and the virtue just drips off you (yesiree that’s glowy virtue I’m wiping off the machines after I’ve used them). Keep showing up to the task, find your inner grit, accept you’re not gonna love it at first but trust that eventually you will (well you’ll love the after-effects at the very least).
Before you know it you’ll no longer be faking it, you’ll feel that glide and then YOU’RE OFF…
Header pic: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_anagram1′>anagram1 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Clock pic: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_james63′>james63 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
No Man’s Land pic: courtesy of: http://tomtunguz.com/