Tiny Victories Challenge – Week 2

I promised to share my tiny victories and my failures so here we are as promised. Typical – I start off strong and then burn out quick. I have to focus on my triggers.

For example, I completely lost momentum on Saturday when I slept until just before I had to wake up. I go to work a little earlier on Saturdays and my husband has off and I definitely didn’t take any of this into account when I went to bed Friday night. This decline in momentum carried through until this morning (Wednesday). By Sunday (the only day my husband and I both have off) I didn’t feel like doing anything. Monday, a day where I can typically hit reset, my husband was required to work from home as part of a test his entire company was conducting to ensure everyone had work from home capabilities if needed (thanks Corona Virus…) so instead of getting up and doing productive things on my last day before I go back to work, I did a whole lot of nothing until the afternoon when I managed to force myself out of the house to get my nails done (simply because I’d been putting it off for weeks and my nails were becoming a health hazard).

I guess if I’m being fair – getting my nails done on Monday was a TINY victory. I left the house and I did something I had been putting off.

Unfortunately, I admittedly drank too much wine on Monday night (I think I was doing a little self-loathing) and so Tuesday morning I woke up hung over and desperate for sleep, water, and greasy food (greasy food is my hangover go-to). Needless to say, it was not a healthy day for me.

This morning, I slept in again but forced myself to wake up in time to at least shower…TINY VICTORY.

So here we are, a week in, and I’ve already had some ups and downs. Normally I would just quit. In my sick brain I have already failed and have therefore proven myself unworthy of this effort.

Because I’m currently committed to expanding my comfort zone, I’m not stopping. I’m focusing on forgiving myself and being more mindful of my triggers.

Triggers for me are of course drinking too much – if I feel like garbage I’m not disciplined enough to still wake up early and be productive so I have to be mindful of this. Last night for example, I had one very small glass of wine and then I mindfully remembered earlier that morning feeling super hungover and decided not to drink anymore (even though my husband was enjoying his multiple glasses of wine, right in front of me…).

I still slept in this morning, but I didn’t feel hungover and woke up in time to at least take a shower so, overall, I would say being mindful helped me.

Things I need to keep in mind:

  1. Set myself up for success – eat well, get plenty of sleep, and drink water!
  2. Limit obstacles – put out clothes for the next day the night before (especially if they are workout clothes!)
  3. Don’t press snooze – when I actually follow this it’s 1 MILLION times easier for me to stay awake…just have to do it. (Thanks for the tip momma!)
  4. Be willing to be uncomfortable – as I work to expand my comfort zone I will have to be uncomfortable. That’s how it works. There’s no way to expand your comfort zone without making yourself uncomfortable. Definitely my main focus as I work on my morning productivity and overall health and wellness.

I will continue to be mindful of my triggers to set myself up for success and work on being okay with being uncomfortable. This is baby-steps. It takes patience with yourself and it takes some trial and error. I’m learning but it’s not going to all be better overnight and I have to be okay with that. I’m currently not really okay with that but, if I keep working on myself I will be one day. I have to believe this.

Sending lots of love to all of you who read anything I write and wishing you all the best on your own goals. Baby-steps! You got this ๐Ÿ™‚

Tiny Victories Challenge – Week 1 (Check-in)

As promised – I’m obnoxiously celebrating some teeny tiny victories.

TWO DAYS IN A ROW, instead of waking up with my husband before he goes to work and then jumping back into bed to sleep until I have to go to work, I have made the decision to stay awake.

This probably sounds insane but this tiny shift has actually made me feel really great about myself. A bit more free (of what I’m not quite sure yet). Instead of going back to sleep, I stayed awake and got things done around the house. This has resulted in me coming home to a clean house and has even already triggered my husband to feel a bit motivated to shake things up and start taking actions that will help him achieve his own goals.

I’m really proud of myself and I honestly do feel a lot more relaxed about my goals. I’m already seeing the benefits of taking the pressure off meeting “the goal” itself and instead taking microscopic steps that will set me up for success. And who knows, my goals may even change as I go along – that’s okay!

To give some context, I have a goal of going to the gym at least 3 times a week. This goal, is actually part of a bigger goal of creating a morning routine which is part of an even bigger goal of improved mental and physical health and wellness.

Ideally, I would go to the gym before work. I’ve tried many mornings (promising myself the night before that I would) to wake up and go to the gym before work. I have even tried to make myself accountable by telling my friend that I would meet them there. I have yet to actually go.

I realized the reason is I don’t feel like it. I am groggy when I wake up and have zero motivation. Additionally, my friend is equally unmotivated so instead of encouraging each other to go we are enabling each other to not go. It’s actually now just a joke between us…which sucks and wasn’t the intent but, here we are.

So I realized while breaking down my big overarching goal of “improved health and wellness” into smaller pieces like creating a morning routine and going to the gym at least 3 times a week is helpful, starting with small changes that foster the right mindset for success is already giving me a lot more motivation.

I feel fantastic! I am giving myself a HUGE pat on the back and I’m going to keep celebrating as I slowly start to work my way toward fulfilling my goals.

I realized that until I am okay with waking up early and staying awake, I will never be okay waking up and going to the gym. I’m working on expanding my comfort zone. I have to take baby-steps to get there though and choosing to stay awake and not go back to sleep is the first step!

Tiny Victories Challenge – Week 1

By this point, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and dare say you have heard of “baby-steps”. You know that before you can learn to run, you must first learn to walk.

But the reality is, this sucks. We are impatient – humans – and we want it NOW. Baby-steps means we have to wait.

Countless times (you can see some of them here on this blog…) I have set goals and FAILED. More often than not, if I’m being honest, I have set goals and didn’t even start.

Every time this happens I am crushed. I feel like a hopeless case. Worst of all, it reinforces current behaviors and creates new triggers that will inevitably create new obstacles for me the next time I try to make a change.

Logically, I know I should be breaking my goals down into smaller and more manageable ones but emotionally I can’t get over what that requires. I think for example, ” I want to lose 30 lbs now! What is making sure I drink a glass of water every morning when I wake up going to do?”

In reality small, incremental changes are a huge part of life. We don’t wake up one day married with children – there were a lot of steps before that. Think about your social media pages. When you get that classic Facebook “TimeHop” reminder that 2 years ago you were living a completely different existence than you are now and you say, “That was TWO YEARS AGO??!?” it’s a great example of how much can change over time but how you hardly noticed it at all.

After reading a lot about what baby-steps really look like, I’m realizing I don’t get the concept as much as I thought I did.

I break my goals down (sometimes) into smaller pieces but those are not baby-steps. That’s more of a sectioning off than a breaking down.

What I am learning is I need to focus on “tiny victories”.

What does this mean? Well, it means literally celebrating the smallest of wins.

I read a pretty straight forward article on Psychology Today that actually did a really good job of outlining 9 of the most common struggles “one step at a time”. The article explains that identifying the underlying psychological dynamic and then making very small changes that push against it (really the smaller the better!) the more likely you are to rewire your brain and to incrementally change your habits.

A great example that was given is the classic, “Tomorrow I will get up early and go to the gym!” promise and then when tomorrow morning comes, instead, I’m too tired or the bed is too cozy or I tell myself I deserve to relax on the weekend because the week is so busy.

In reality, the issue is “I don’t feel like it” when I wake up. So week after week, I promise myself I will wake up early on Saturday to go to the gym and months go by and I haven’t gone.

The breaking of promises to myself when, “I don’t feel like it” is what I need to focus on. I need to change that habit.

A tiny victory would be, my friend asks me to go out to lunch next week. When next week comes around, I’d much rather eat in. Instead of bailing on the lunch because, “I don’t feel like it” I make myself keep my promise and go. Maybe the lunch was awful but regardless, if I went I deserve a BIG PAT ON THE BACK! I should celebrate and remind myself I did a great job. I didn’t want to go, but I did it anyway. I stepped outside my comfort zone.

Repeating this behavior in small every day tasks over and over and over will change the way my brain thinks about doing things when “I don’t feel like it”. Instead, now when I promise myself Friday night that I will wake up Saturday morning and go to the gym, I actually do it! Not because I all of a sudden really wanted to wake up earlier and go work out. Not at all…

I wake up and I go to the gym because I’ve trained my brain that when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. No matter how uncomfortable it is, I have learned to be accepting of this feeling and have now expanded my comfort zone.

I’m going to be exploring this concept further each week as I challenge myself to truly break down my goals into baby-steps and commit to celebrating tiny victories.

Next week, I’ll identify my first goal (or I might start by sharing a list of several of my most pressing goals) and each week following I will update you on my experiences and my progress using this concept. I expect some weeks to be a lot more challenging than others and I can’t say for sure what will happen – if the past is any indication I will eventually stall out and give up. But, I will be honest. I will share every stumble along with every victory.

What makes this different for me than all the other times I take “baby-steps” is that I will be focusing more on my triggers and on retraining my brain, not just crossing off items on my To-Do List. I will be obnoxiously celebrating to the MAX every small victory.

As always, stay tuned! ๐Ÿ™‚

Studying for my permit…

What didn’t you give yourself permission to do today?

Was it speaking up at a staff meeting?

Did the words echo in your brain, over and over, but you said nothing?

Did you tell yourself you can’t possibly wear that top today?

Even though you really like the top and, it’s one you’ve only allowed yourself to wear once – and that one time was intentionally limited to a few hours at a dinner with your aunt who never asks to take pictures so, you felt it was safe.

Did you forbid yourself from going to the gym today?

Despite wanting to work toward your weight-loss goals, because there are so many other much more important things you told yourself you should be doing and you don’t have the time.

Did you stop yourself from being honest?

Maybe, when the person – your person – who you talk to every morning at the coffee cart outside your job asked you what you were up to this weekend?

Did you want to tell them you’re free and was actually wondering what they were doing this weekend so you could finally have a conversation longer than 10 minutes with them – but you told yourself you couldn’t? You couldn’t possibly put yourself out there like that.

Did you look out the window, and dream of a life where you choose how you live but then laughed at yourself quietly as you remembered – who am I to think these things?

What didn’t you give yourself permission to do today?

Checking In

Well hello there! How are you doing today? Is 2020 already throwing you for a loop? Never fear – every day is a new day!

We are a little over two weeks into the new year and while almost nothing has gone perfectly, I’ve already been sick once and now so is my husband with a totally different thing (so who knows if I’m in store for #2 already, trying to avoid it!), I have to remind myself each day is a gift and a new opportunity to learn.

If I reflect on the past year, I’ve learned a great deal about myself. Where I was 1/1/19 is far from where I am today and of course, if I’m honest with myself, this has happened many times before. I think we (at least I know I tend to) forget how far we’ve come and how much more we have to look forward to. It’s insanely easy to see each day as a never ending string of “days to get through” with maybe a few “exciting moments” splashed in. But, we should give ourselves more credit. Tiny habits that you might not even notice daily, or a shift in perspective which has rippled out into everything we do has impacted us and gotten us here today. The best part, whether you are exactly where you feel you want to be or you are still working toward it, you will continue to move forward. You aren’t done yet!

Something that often comforts me and is probably an experience we can all relate to in some way is a memory (which really represents lots of other similar memories) from when I was probably in 2nd or 3rd grade. It was late (some time between 11PM and 2AM) and I was working on a project or some other type of homework assignment. Looking back I can’t imagine it was a very difficult assignment, seeing as I was so young, but I had procrastinated and I tended to prefer to be a night owl anyway so staying up late wasn’t a really big deal or very unusual. However, as it got later and later, my child-brain felt like I had been working on the assignment FOR. EV. ER. And it was starting to get to me. I was frustrated and was getting tired and my mom was (needless to say) not very pleased with me. “How is it possible you are still working on your homework. A child your age should not have that much work to do,” I remember her saying. And, while I definitely lived through the era of children carrying around backpacks that weighed more than we did and hours of homework at a young age (this has since become so hotly debated that now some schools actually ban homework – we suffered for a greater cause I suppose), she was right. On this particular night it was my fault and that only made it feel even more torturous.

I remember feeling like that moment would never end, as if I was going to die or something. What I also distinctly remember is some part of me pinching myself (in my head) and saying, “This is a moment in time. This is not forever. One day, you will look back on this and it will seem so silly.”

I honestly have no idea where it came from but it struck me so much because it was true. Logically, this was a moment in time and as with many other moments it would soon pass. Whether I finished or not, I would not die because of it. It gave me the boost I needed to just keep moving forward and push through to finish the assignment the best I could. Forever more, I have reflected back on this tiny moment in my life where I can feel that immense crushing weight of, “I’m never getting out of this situation,” and I can’t help but chuckle and remember “this too shall pass”. Even as an adult, when mistakes or uncomfortable situations are much scarier than a failed homework assignment in elementary school. IT STILL WORKS.

Now, I don’t always remember this right away. I might panic first. It’s easy to forget when you are being nearly consumed with fear, but if I can get a grip (pinch myself in my mind) and remember this fact – because it is a fact – then it completely shuts my ego up and I have a sweeping calm rush over me. When you remember this moment, while important as it’s part of all the moments that make up your life, is only a moment it’s insanely powerful.

So, I challenge you to think about this – especially if you never have before, but most likely you just forgot. This moment is only a moment. I have had many before this where I felt like the world was coming to an end and yet, here I am today. When you think about it this was you also appreciate the moment more, you realize there were so many other moments where you weren’t present and you probably could have gained even more from the experience if you had been.

Again, every day is a new day! But this day will only ever happen once (no matter how similar it may seem to all the others) and so appreciate it for what it is and keep moving forward to the next one. You got this!

30 Day Challenge – Day 30

Well, here we are. It was a bumpy 30 (plus technically…) days but I’ve done it! I wrote 30 posts in about as many days.

It’s a good feeling but now comes the real challenge – to keep writing even though I don’t have to.

TIME – such an enemy of mine. I have written before about setting a morning routine for myself that includes writing. The past two weeks I have let the holiday hoopla (combination of a different schedule, my husband being home more, and having a lot more social commitments) distract me.

Tonight/Early tomorrow morning (depends how today goes) my husband and I are going to travel to Vermont to see my family. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to coordinate a visit for Christmas so we are doing “Second Christmas” together tomorrow.

I know being in Vermont it’s going to be so tempting to just veg out and escape from the world and do nothing. That’s not entirely bad – sometimes we really do need to take a time-out. However, I’ve been working on giving myself more rest this past year and for me it’s now time to really take action on the goals I have for myself. The challenge will be making the most of the week without my regular work and to instead work on building my podcast, writing for my blog, and prioritizing building healthy habits. I would also like to find time to visit friends who are in the area who I have not seen in quite some time.

Energy is so fascinating to me. I can feel like I’m zooming – super motivated to achieve everything – and then next thing I know it’s like I’ve been deflated and now all that helium that had me flying high has now left me and I’m crumpled on the floor. I’m still figuring out my triggers. What makes me feel on top of the world and what brings me crashing down? The more I can pinpoint this within myself, the more I feel I will then be able to control it. If I know how to protect my energy then I will know how to use it for productivity both in my own life and within the one we all share.

My husband and I are not able to go to New Jersey today – bittersweet because we both so wanted to be there with our dear friends (if you have read my last couple posts I talk a bit more about it) and honestly what they have planned sounds super fun and like a great bonding opportunity but…we have to be mindful of our energy. If we push ourselves too much it’ll be a domino effect and it’ll take us a while to recover. We know this because of past experiences. We are still learning to say no, but we have learned what happens when we don’t.

What are you thoughts on protecting your energy? Do you recognize your own triggers? Do you have any tips to share on how someone can recognize triggers or if they recognize them what they can do to protect their energy?

30 Day Challenge – Day 29

The next few days are going to be busy! It’s Friday and it all started this morning when I had to drive about an hour away to get a certified copy of my marriage certificate so I can finalize my paperwork for insurance (I’ll also need a copy to go through the name change process eventually). I had to get up early and get everything I needed together before work so I could go straight from the court house to work on time.

I still have some last minute gifts I want to get sorted before my husband and I travel to Vermont and I have no time. I work until at least 7PM tonight and am back to work at 9AM tomorrow, then I go right from work (I don’t even think I’ll get to go home first) to New Jersey (2 hours away) for a birthday party and then (because we no longer have anyone to watch Jayda – our pit bull) we have to go back to Delaware to leave ASAP to drive back North to Vermont to be there as early as possible Sunday.

As much as I want to go to the birthday party (we will get to see more friends we don’t normally see very often and who are very important to us) and of course I am excited to see my family who I rarely see since they live about 9 hours away, I’m also feeling overwhelmed. It’s a lot of running around and getting things together in very limited time. Our entire holiday break was spent cleaning the house, preparing to host for NYE and then New Year’s Day was completely taken over by traveling back and forth and spending time in NJ.

This is the thing – spending time with others means less time for yourself.

The problem with that for me is I don’t have a ton of time for myself to begin with and the time I do have I don’t get much done…so now I’m a little stressed and this is when the urge to cancel everything and just hide under my blankets comes out. I’m resisting the urge but oh, man, is it tempting. I just saw the friends we are seeing for the birthday party on Wednesday. Yes, we will also be seeing other important friends but how much more tempting could it be to bail?

We really should have just done one or the other but here we are now, committed to way too many things. We have to at least go for as much of the birthday as we can – it’s too last minute to back out since not only have we insisted we will be there, but we also put the host in a spot where she committed to a number for the rock climbing we plan to do and dinner reservations. The dinner could probably be skipped…but I don’t know if that would even really make that much of a difference since it’s still going to be two hours each way alone.

I am obviously going to keep pushing forward. The ball is in motion, as they say. But yes, I also want to curl up in a ball and cry a little. I can’t stand how frantic EVERY. THING. WE. DO. ends up being. I think this is something my new husband and I really need to work on together. I tend to procrastinate and so does my husband (we are perfectionists and nothing is ever perfect so we hold back until we can’t possibly any longer) so we enable each other. If I try to start something “early” I get convinced we still have plenty of time. Then that time is gone and we are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, as they say…

I guess I have to start taking control over my own shit. If I think something needs to be done sooner and my husband doesn’t, I have to push forward on my own. Either he’ll realize this method is better and join suit or he won’t and at least I know I did everything I could for myself and he’ll have to be frantic all on his own if that’s how he enjoys living. I really don’t – not one bit. It makes me feel like a fool and I honestly am so sick of it.

I think I need to be more confident in my own independence. In this instance, if I know I need to pack for Vermont – I’m going to do it tonight so it’s DONE. I have very limited time otherwise and I know this. If my husband thinks he has more time and doesn’t want to deal with it after work, okay but I’m not packing for him later and I’m also not going to not pack my own stuff just because he isn’t. I have to be confident in my own thoughts and feelings and not simply go with whatever everyone else is doing.

Do you ever feel like this? If you do, have you figured out how to overcome it? Or do you struggle like I do and get that “flaky” reputation?

*UPDATE: Well, more obstacles for Saturday – my husband has a lot going on at his job right now and a project heโ€™s part of requires all hands on deck. So much so, heโ€™s working late tonight – has to work Saturday and will also be working remotely the entire time we are in Vermont with my family.

Observations, information and hopefully inspiration.