Slow Progress is Better than No Progress

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Since writing my last post, and reflecting on how I’d finally managed to break down a gargantuan task into smaller actions, I’ve gotten myself a new mantra: ‘slow progress is better than no progress’.  I realise this is already a well worn adage, but these past couple of weeks I’ve found this phrase SO surprisingly motivating.

I can be a bit ‘all or nothing’ and will get waves of productivity which I ride enthusiastically until they ebb and I jump out the water for a lie down.  With my new mantra I’m finding it easier to paddle in the shallows until the next wave of energy hits,  thus retaining some momentum.

Remaining gently active changes my psychology completely.  Where there would ordinarily be stultifying procrastination, there now remains an energetic flow. This is so much better for the soul.  It’s like keeping myself limbered up so it’s not such a shock  to the system when I need to really kick ass on a task.

Recently Vince was working hard on a literary competition submission and for two weeks I was picking up as much of the slack as I could to give him maximum writing time.  Ordinarily this would have meant I lapsed on some of my stuff, thinking along the lines of ‘there isn’t enough time for me to give those things my full attention so might as well ignore them for a bit’. This time however I kept my stuff ticking along.

To give you an example, I noted that since joining the gym a couple of months ago, I was struggling to commit to my former >30 mins of yoga every day.  So for a short while I was skipping the yoga or doing it sporadically or squeezing it in at the end of the day.  By applying my ‘slow progress’ mantra I’m now just doing 10 minutes of yoga on my non gym days and I’m finding that far easier to commit to.  Yes it’s less than I was doing at my peak, but I wasn’t going to the gym for three hours a week then.  10 minutes is better than no minutes, and I’m maintaining a positive connection with the mat.  I’m seeing these 10 minutes as my gateway into longer sessions in the future when time allows.

What has been interesting to note is how what I’ve been learning about mindfulness meditation has informed the decision to scale back the yoga.  The lovely Joseph Goldstein talks about how it’s okay to have aspirations, the problem comes when we hold on to expectations.  I aspire to exercise at least 6 out of 7 days of the week, but I’d set an expectation that I needed to do at least 30 minutes of yoga every day when I wasn’t at the gym.  As I noted my resistance and tuned in to what my intuition was telling me, I realised that 10 minutes of yoga a day felt just right, for now.  I’d removed the struggle (dropped the expectation) and it’s become a pleasure once again.  There’s a whole lot to be said for tuning in to the authentic flow of what feels good and discovering which actions sit just right, rather than forcibly implementing an expectation.

Likewise with Item #1 on my Mr Worry List: my big mountainous ‘glob’ of a project (complex property reconfiguring), I’ve found that by releasing myself from the expectation that I need to tackle it as a whole or have a final solution mapped out before I take any action, I’m really enjoying focusing on the first couple of steps. Modifying my approach by making sure that even when I’m too busy to tend to something fully,  I still move things forward a little, has been a breakthrough for me.  Knowing the pot is simmering gently on the back burner stops it from becoming something oppressive and heavy hanging over my head.  It maintains some life, lightness and forward energy.

I can be impatient, once I have an idea I want to make it happen NOW, but in the last couple of weeks I’m discovering there’s a quiet joy to be had from inching along and letting ‘now’ take it’s time to arrive.  There is beauty in the process and it seems a shame not to enjoy that part of the ride.

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Photograph copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_juhku’>juhku / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Authenticity, a slippery old fish.

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Tickling Trout – Frans Wesselman

“Authenticity, I think, is simply trying to find the kindest way to speak the whole truth.” Erin Loechner – Chasing Slow

I read this line a couple of nights ago and it leapt right off the page.  I am always on the hunt for just the right language to articulate the wildly wonderful search for authenticity I find myself on.  For the past few months I’ve been working with a treasured friend on ‘Operation Bloom’ and we’ve spent much of our time trying to distill into words our exhilarating, white knuckle ride experiences of tuning in to our authentic selves. Continue reading

J.F.D.I

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Stages of Change diagram courtesy of socialworktech.com

This morning a friend of mine who’d just read my ‘Creating Daily Rituals’ post messaged me to say I’d inspired her to take action. She’d already been thinking about changing her evening routine, had even written a plan but was yet to get going on it, whereas I was ‘doing the doing’.

As I replied to her message to reassure her that her self-awareness to even have written the plan was a big part of the battle, it got me thinking about why it can be tricky to make that transition from thought to action. Continue reading

Creating Daily Rituals

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I’ve become increasingly interested in the benefits of automating and streamlining as much as possible of my day to day life. Aside from the obvious example of the ease of online grocery shopping, I’ve found that creating specific rituals in advance takes care of a good 90% of the motivation needed to start / complete a task in the moment. Continue reading

Finding courage

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Just before Christmas I had an idea for a book. A book about living authentically, listening to our gut; its working title: Operation Bloom.  I felt that fluttering in my belly that told me I was on to something.  As it started to take shape, I tentatively ‘put it out there’ that I was ‘working on an exciting project’ (I figured this would light a little extra fire under me).  For a few weeks I daydreamed and visualised,  meditated and wrestled with it, and thought of little else.

And then I lost my courage.

I’ve never stopped loving the concept but I’d lost faith that I could make it manifest and so I wanted to hide and pretend I’d never said anything to anyone because who the hell was I kidding? And now I’d look like a total douche if they asked how it was going. (Fortunately most of my friends are, like me, mothers of young children so short term memory is not our strong-suit).  

Never-the-less for the last few weeks I’ve studiously hidden from it.  Our house has never been tidier, my friends have never seen me more helpful, I’ve chucked stuff out, and even hired the services of a heart-stoppingly-uber-chic Instagrammer to help me create a capsule wardrobe (once my house is tidy, and I have only 33 items of clothing I’ll be ready to start Operation Bloom in earnest, right?)

And then today, following a long, lazy pyjama day, hanging out in the ‘big bed’ with my three year old,  I told my husband I’d lost my bottle. Maybe I had nothing to say after all, maybe I didn’t have it in me. I don’t know if he was utterly convinced and his response was genuine, or if he was cleverly calling my bluff (in his ‘knowing-me-better-than-I-know-myself’ way, goddamnit) but he said,

“well maybe you have to give up on the idea, then.  Maybe all this resistance is saying it isn’t for you.  Maybe you should just focus on your regular work.”

Cut to me racing upstairs 2 minutes later, elbowing aside my technical intimidation lame procrastinatory tactic about not knowing how to set up a blog, and within 20 minutes I’d set up this page. I know, impressive right?

So here I am, plucking up the courage to follow my intuition which is telling me the next baby step is to simply start writing about my own Operation Bloom experiences; review the things I’ve done, and journal about the next things I’ll go on to do to, in a bid to create a meaningful, authentic life for myself and my family.  

Nothing more than that.  For now.

And maybe, just maybe, I will find I do have it in me…