I was in my office in the autumn of 2017 when I felt really stressed. I was maybe close to burn out. It was quite dark, close to the end of the working hours. I was sad and agitated and felt I had no control over my life as my to-do-list was only increasing with tasks given by other people. So I went online [what else could one do in this day of age, right?] and searched for videos on how to behave in order to accomplish my goals [which translates to shorten my to-do-list]? And this is how I’ve started getting into the whole habits thing. Which I must say, is how I experiment on myself.
There is always something I want to improve. It may sound as if I am unhappy or unsatisfied with myself, but I am really not. I really find pleasure in succeeding in accomplishing my own goals. I do pay attention and find joy in passing my own tests, which only increases my happiness. I find there to be so much insight in planning my actions, implementing them, monitoring them and evaluating them. I love working in excel, so why not using and improving my skills while experimenting on myself?
I’ve learned so much about who I am. Actually, I guess I learned more on who I am not. For instance, I don’t find the same enjoyment in finishing my shampoo bottle as I find in opening a new one [and don’t even get me started on perfume]. I’ve learned that if I have to do focused work [such as writing], I might want to take a walk before or read something inspiring for 10 to 20 minutes, and I will just get in the “writing mood” like that. I hate, HATE, [HATE, ok, HATE] to do things on the last minute. I am procrastinating on tasks I find stressful or unclear, but I like to take my time doing the task, reviewing and improving it. Doing a little bit every day is better than doing it all in 20 hours before [or sometimes even through] the deadline [it happened, that’s how I know]. So I am not one who likes to do just one thing, but I like to focus on one task only with a clear, focused mind and I am definitely panicked by a deadline and not thrilled to compete against it [I’ve even discovered that having a deadline makes me want to quit doing something all together, which is soo dangerous].
There are things I really enjoy doing while doing them, but are probably never going to turn into habits; by habits I mean activities I do without much debating before starting or debating all the way through doing them or doing them with ease [like brushing my teeth or eating fruit every day]. Here’s my list:
- I’ve been doing this since forever. I wrote for fun since I’ve learned how to write in the first grade. And except for my diaries, I have always struggled with writing, depending on the task. Be it homework, stories, essays or others, writing was more or less easy.
- For a long time, I had to be in the “mood”, whatever that is, in order to write. I realized it when someone else told me that and I thought it was a stupid thing [One of my best friends on Earth, Sonia, was suppose to write her bachelor thesis and she was watching Friends when I asked why she’s not writing instead. She said she was not in the mood and that she needs to be in the mood in order to not waste time. I knew she was on a deadline and her time was precious as she was balancing work and university and I regarded what she told me as being (highly) irresponsible. Then I thought about it myself and realized I, of course, did the same thing. But, you know, it’s so easy to judge the lives of others].
- With time, I’ve realized I will be in the mood so rarely that I risk not finishing what I want to accomplish. And you know, when interested to build a career in social science, writing comes with the territory. So I just do it anyway, because this is how I will write the article/book/thesis done.
- There are days when I get inspired while writing. There are days when I dread the process and can’t wait to get the minimum done and get started on other things. But it’s through this effort that I realized that I can change how I feel or that I can accept how I feel. Regardless, writing 500 words per day happens when writing and not when thinking about writing.
- Lange Rede, kurzer Sinn, developing the habit of writing 500 words every days it’s not like taking a shower each day after waking up. It needs preparation, lots of reading and note taking, which imply finding the literature and going through many articles or books which are more or less connected to the particular subject at hand. I love the process of writing and I do it, but I need to be intentional about it. I expect it to never be easy.
- Doing sports.
- Oh, the joy of moving my body. Even walking every day would be a hard to develop habit for me. I always, but always, feel so grateful I went to the gym. However, the time [approximately two hours] before getting to the gym is a dangerous period.
- I exercised in the evening ever since high-school and I am not interested in changing that [I tried, twice, and I almost fallen asleep in the office after training in the morning; to my defense, I start working at 08:00 and I need about an hour before leaving from home, so waking up at 04:30 to go to the gym is way too much trouble for me].
- So, with approximately an hour before starting to get ready for gym, my mind keeps coming up with reasons not to go. It’s how I learned how inventive I can be: I’ve had to do x [x being answering an e-mail for work which I shouldn’t have answered in my days off] today, so I don’t have to go to the gym, right?
- The worst part of it all is that it comes with a bad mood and I am easily annoyed. Despite that, I get up from my desk and put on the gym clothes and prepare my bag and walk there and when I am starting I am like “oh, well, it wasn’t that bad!”. The boyfriend is witnessing all of this and he thinks it is in fact bad. Especially when I am like “But I don’t want to go….” and then I go. Complaining less should be a habit to take on.
- Oh, the cooking. I am a true believer in eating mostly things fresh and not combining too many produces. At times, I eat almonds and two pieces of chicken breast and call that a meal.
- I cook about once a week which literally means taking already cut meat and putting it in the pen with some butter. [If boiling eggs count, I cook five times a week, with approximation]. When I want to make an effort, I do some schnitzel. Or I make bread [which means I put all the ingredients in a machine, plug it in, choose a programme and press start]. We have the bread baker for about 1.5 years and I guess I made bread 10 times tops.
- But I stopped eating out that much and I never order food or bring cooked food home, which is a big fat plus for me.
- My grandmother cooked every day and I am pretty sure my mom cooks five times per week. This gene was lost on me.
- Wearing make-up.
- This is something controversial [because I am a girl and maybe I could be more into it], but I will say one thing: I do understand the importance of looking good. And I do want to look good.
- However, going through all the steps is just not me. I manage to do it when I get something new and shiny and I use it for like a month and then all of the sudden I just stop. However, the biggest improvement is that I started wearing face cream quite regularly so that’s a plus.
- I might be feeling worse about it if I knew it is healthy, but I hear make up is not so good for the health of the skin so I tell myself I take better care of it when I use less make-up.
- But let’s be real: it’s not that much about being healthy as it is about the process being inconvenient in my life.
- Speaking on the phone.
- The phone. I really do love my phone. It is small and it has a purple case. It is how I stay connected with people through podcasts, how I listen to audio-books, how I text, how I schedule gym classes, how I take pictures, how I make videos, how I check my bank account and how I can be reached quite easily.
- It feels like so much trouble to speak on the phone. I understand it’s fast. I like it that it’s cheap [now]. I believe it’s a good way to get the information one wants. But I can’t stop considering it as an invasion of my privacy.
- I bet a few friends of mine and my mother believe this to not be true, as I call them and we speak for more than 25 minutes. But it is mostly because I am walking and/or I feel bored and in the mood to talk to someone.
- I would prefer 100 times more to get an e-mail when someone needs me to do something. Especially then. To have written conversations. This phone conversations help building relations, sure, but are not great accountability instruments. Too many times I got in a she said-she said kind of situation because of misunderstandings happening over the phone. So write that e-mail, I beg of you.
Now, this is my list. I may sound like I complain too much. I do, it’s true. But complaining or thinking things should be different doesn’t stop me for doing the right thing or what needs to be done. Some things I love to do will never feel easy to be done, but that is fine. I can find ways to get started and once the ball is rolling, I love the process of it all.
Make the day count!