Well, I’ve started another trip around the sun, entering my 41st year on this planet. Yesterday my daughter said: I don’t want you to be 41, can you go back to being 40? I said, “well if I go back to 40, that means you have to go back to being 8, and I don’t think you want to do that do you!”. She most certainly did not. She’s ready to grow up right now apparently. It’s hard to keep her in her own age group as she is a much more mature soul than her 9 years. Takes after me a lot there.
So I took this chance to give myself a fresh start. Fresh starts can happen at any time: Monday. Today. Start of the month. A birthday. There are lots of great chances for fresh starts, but a birthday is an excellent chance to recalibrate your lifestyle. When I look back at the periods where I felt the most successful in my life, I was doing several things:
Planning my week out carefully
Exercising in some way every day
Not drinking alcohol
Getting up early and doing important things first
Working on projects in short bursts
Actively putting myself first more than before.
When I look at my current reality, I noticed that I was not doing many of the things that really made me see progress. Progress is my definition of success as this is what we all actually want, to see progress, and to feel like we are moving forward in some way.
How did that happen? Surely once you get the hang of doing things that make you “successful” you don’t stop doing them? Er, no, that’s not quite how it works.
You will do whatever your habits are and our habits will change based on what’s going on around us if we don’t stay aware of things.
So what’s changed? Well, I have more time to myself than I did back then. I used to get maybe an hour or two when my son was asleep and before my daughter came back from kindergarten. So I really packed in a lot of things during that short time. When they both went off to kindergarten and I had 5 or 6 hours of free time, not much more got done, to be honest!
So it’s not a lack of time that is keeping me from doing the things that made me successful.
I used to get up at 5:30 so that I could go out and exercise (in the dark/snow/or cooler summer morning weather) and that helped me get through my day in a much better way than if I slept longer and didn’t go out. My husband would go to work at 6:45 am so I had to be home again by then. It’s amazing what you can do when you have to. Now I don’t HAVE to get up at 5:30 am, I really struggle!
Since then, we’ve had an international move which has led us to a different lifestyle. Now that we’ve done nearly a full year in Sweden I now mostly know what to expect:
There will be giant cream buns everywhere from January to April - you do not need to eat them
It will be very dark and you will feel like going to bed at 4:30 in the afternoon. But do not go home! Just keep doing what you are doing!
In February you might start to feel like the winter will never end and it will be dark forever. Do not pacify yourself with the aforementioned cream buns.
In April Spring will start to show up and you’ll start to feel a lot more cheerful
Now I finally know my way around my city, the supermarket, and other things that I feel like I can focus back on what I’m actually doing in a day and why I’m not doing the things I should be.
Focus on your actions, not your progress
One thing I’m doing is making my actions visible. I was going to say progress but focusing on the progress/results or the lack of them, is what can actually get you stuck. Focusing on the actions that will eventually lead to progress is what gets you the progress.
So for example, I’m marking my family calendar - the one on the fridge with all the important family things on it that everyone can see. I’m marking it with a giant pink smiley face when I’ve done my exercise for the day. I can clearly see when I’ve had a streak of exercising and when I’ve not made it a priority and it hasn’t happened. It is generally that “I haven’t made it a priority” that is my downfall, not lack of time.
So how do I make it a priority?
I choose to exercise. When it’s a choice, it comes much more easily than if I am telling myself I “have to”.
I put it very early in the day, at the moment that is straight after I have dropped my kids at school.
I put on my “exercise wear” and it doesn’t come off until I’ve exercised.
So you could do this with anything you are wanting to make a priority. Let’s say it’s writing.
Choose to write. It’s your choice and you are looking forward to it.
Do it before you start doing other things. Either at the start of your work time, your free time, your day whatever.
Sit in your writing chair until the time for writing has finished, and there are no other options but to write. No scrolling on IG or emailing etc.
Check a box, mark up your calendar, whatever you do that helps you to SEE your actions and therefore progress.
I hope you will find something that resonates with you and try your own fresh start with things that make you see progress.
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