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Is It Possible to Put Yourself First in the Midst of a Busy Life?

I was going to begin my day with dishes. Can you believe it? What a miserable way to begin your day. Unless you like doing dishes, then, have at it. I just don’t always see how washing dishes as a way to take care of yourself.

On this day, I approached my sink half full of dishes and said, “f**k it, I’m going to do the things that I want to first.”

What did that mean to me this morning? Well, I’ve been wanting to write and read – I have a reading list and we are over halfway through January and I haven’t finished a book yet from my list. I haven’t written daily. Meditation? Yeah, nope. So, today I decided to do this differently.

While taking a class with Katey Schultz, she gave us a morning exercise to help feed your creativity (and sanity). I’ve written about this before but haven’t really done the practice much.

The practice includes:

1. Read for 15 minutes. This reading is meant for self enrichment. Right now I am reading ‘Still Writing’. Its not really a self help book but it does get my brain working in a writerly kind of way. And it is on my list.

2. Write for 15 minutes. This is a good time, not to work on your current WIP, but to write those journal pages. This post was written during one of those morning writes, simply because I came to a blank page, primed and ready to get something down.

3. Activity for 15 minutes. I’ve been trying to meditate and while that doesn’t seem very active, it is an activity. Sometimes I have a 15 minute yoga practice that I work on which gives me movement. Both are breath and body type of activities. And meditation is one of those goals I want to achieve.

4. Feed your creativity for 15 minutes. This one is interesting for me. In the past I’ve used picture books, photography learning books etc but that isn’t what I want to work on now. This would probably be a good place for my writing book that I am currently reading but since I’ve already done that – what do I do. Einstein sat for many hours in his study, just thinking. And I’ve been fascinated with this idea for a long time. I’m not quite sure I am ready for that just yet but I need to find a way to feed my creativity. Perhaps a bit of painting. I’m so not an artist but I like playing with watercolors. Perhaps that will get the juices moving.

My theme for the year is authenticity and what better way to figure that out than to spend some time with myself doing some of the things that I love. Each of these exercises is a way to explore and to grow and to find myself again – my true authentic self.

Did I answer my question? Is it possible to put yourself first in the midst of a busy life? I think I didn’t really answer the question. I just gave myself another to do list. Yes it is one that is doable and I enjoy, but, if you noticed, it takes an entire hour to do all of those things.

I don’t believe taking an hour for yourself is unrealistic. In fact, if you can manage it, this small block of time can help you to grow.

Until next time,

Angela

In Pursuit of Good Habits

For the past year or so, I’ve struggled to create good habits in my life. As I am in the midst of a transition, I want to create some good habits. For some reason, I am struggling to do so.

I have always thought about the fact that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. And all you had to do was power through until that point and you would have a habit. Except that misses a very important point:

How do you find the motivation to repeat something every day for 21 days or more?

I knew I wanted to begin a few things to add to my life:

I want to rebuild my writing habit. In my pursuit of my transition, writing daily is one of the things that went by the wayside. With novels and flash fiction to write, not to mention blog posts, daily writing is important to me.

I want to meditate. In my recent studies about anxiety and well being, meditation is one of the best ways to help, even better than medication. Even more importantly, I believe in the power of meditation.

I also want to read more. Reading is one of those things that seems to be last on my list. However, it is important both to working with clients and with my writing. I also love to read and have missed losing hours in a good book. I’ve even created a reading list for the year. The idea comes from Ninja Writers.

I also want to keep up on the housework, make my bed, take walks and attend yoga.

And, how hard this has been.

Since the shift in my life has begun, I have struggled with each of these. I sometimes work long hours and am exhausted. It is easy to “forget” to work on my habits.

So I went looking for some ideas to help me build my habits. Turns out it is more than deciding to do a thing over and over until it becomes a habit.

Interesting thoughts about habit building

According to Routine Excellence, habit building takes an average of 66 days. Seriously, 66 days? How do I do the same thing over and over for 66 days?

Apparently building habits aren’t the simple act of doing a single task over and over again. Habits are an action you do frequently and automatically in response to your environment. The idea is to create an environment that triggers and rewards your habits.

Fascinating!

This is why we set up spaces to write, meditate, read, exercise etc. To me the idea is to have a space that is just for writing so that when I see it, I will make the connection and write. I think this would go for having the tools already set up such as your notebook and favorite pen at the ready.

Here are some other tips for setting up habits (for the purposes of this article, I will focus only on my writing habit):

1. Start with a small habit. If my goal is to write every day, I begin with something small, i.e. the act of writing each day, no matter how small. For example, to write 100 words. That’s easy. It’s a paragraph, or a sentence, depending on how wordy it is.

2. Increase in small increments. Some suggest 1% each day. For me this would require math. So if I am writing 100 words per day, perhaps I increase by 25 words each day. Again, this is a sentence or two. I can do this.

3. As you build up, break it down into smaller chunks. Okay, so this means to take my goal and divide it up into parts. Perhaps writing 50 words at a time throughout the day. As the days go by and I am increasing my word count by 25, by breaking it up into smaller chunks, it makes the task seem more reasonable.

4. When you slip, get back on track quickly. I need to remember this one. When I miss a day, it is so easy to just give up and believe I am a failure. Except that if I remember to be gentle with myself, I can just begin again – where I left off.

5. Be patient with yourself. Stick to a pace you can sustain. It would be difficult to add 25 words each day to my goal. If I did that I would have to write somewhere around 9200 words a day. That isn’t sustainable for anyone. For me a reasonable goal is to write 500 words a day. That would be a good pace for me but everyone is different.

*the above information came from James Clear.

One of the other things I often have to remind myself of is the intention of my habits. Why do I want to do these things. Why do I want to improve my life or add these habits? That is a question that each one of us has to answer on our own.

I hope that you can use these ideas to begin to build some habits of your own.

Until next time,
Angela