The blog that did not go up on time. Four days late, if we are keeping count. On Wednesday a friend inquired about the status of the blog - not only did she make my day, she kicked my accountability into gear and I was determined to publish this blog no matter how late!
I spent the first two weeks of the month feeling pretty pleased with myself. Court was not in session and office work is a lot less demanding than trial, so I was smashing my goals.
I was in the gym at least four times per week and I was writing faster than I have in years. Great! I’m sure you will agree that there is no better feeling than setting goals and actually making gains at achieving them. Life, however, sure has a way of keeping us humble. The honeymoon period came to an abrupt end last Tuesday. I only managed to head to the gym three times that week - so far this week I’ve only been to the gym twice; and, don’t even get me started on the fact it has been eleven days since I have written anything.
I started to tell myself I was ridiculous for setting these goals in the first place. My job isn’t going to go away (read: I have a mortgage and two very spoiled, very greedy dogs) and it was just too difficult to try to keep up with it. Not to mention the guilt. I mean, it isn’t that I am curled up on the couch with Netflix instead of writing the novel - I am curled up on the couch with case files. So, what do you do when you are trying your best but real life gets in the way?
Reflection is going to be really important this year if we are going to keep focussed. I won’t deny that it is something most people hate to do. But, right now… if your plans have started to go awry, it is important to be painfully honest with yourself. Recalibration is necessary if life is in fact getting in the way. So, it is time to sit down, think about when things started to go wrong and determine if it has been as a result of competing obligations as opposed to you actually just becoming a bit lazy. If you have just started becoming a bit lazy: reread last week’s blog , pull up your pants and get down to it.
Remember, we begin to sleepwalk once we get too complacent to want to change things. If, after honest reflection, you agree that maybe circumstances are making achieving your goals as you initially set out hard, then the next steps are for you.
Institute a state of emergency! It might be necessary to make slight tweaks in your schedule. The one thing I’ve learned is your schedule must be achievable. If you set a list of goals for yourself that you will keep missing, you will grind yourself into the ground, get disappointed and eventually stop.
So, if you were meant to go to the gym four times per week but you find that circumstances have changed and you can only reasonable make it three times - head to the gym three times. If possible adjust your workout to reflect the change as far as practical. If you did thirty minutes of cardio each day - try adding an extra ten minutes. The extra ten minutes is easier to add and will mean you end up doing your fourth day’s worth of cardio spread out through the three days you can actually go. If you are doing strength training - try to add another exercise. If you are finding that studying for two hours at a time frustrates the hell out of you - carve out half of an hour Netflix time (replace with whatever fun activity you like) in the middle of it in order to reboot.
It is counter-productive to be a slave to a schedule which isn’t working.
The most crucial thing about a state of emergency is that it does not last forever. As soon as circumstances start to change again, revert to your original schedule.
Be Kind to Yourself
This applies even if you have just started sliding back into the trap we all existed in for 2018. Life happens. Time, like a river, flows forward. Unfortunately, we cannot predict how things will go. Work might start piling up, illness might creep in, your emotional health might take a hit, your body might become exhausted - it happens. It is important to not bombard ourselves with negative self talk. Let’s face it - we are often meaner and more cruel to ourselves than any other person can ever be. Acknowledge you are trying your best. Promise to make the adjustments needed to go forward. And, cut yourself some slack.
Every Likkle Mek a Mukkle
This is a Jamaican proverb which refers to thriftiness. It means that every cent you saves adds up. But, I have taken some creative license because it sounds so much cooler than “one one full basket”. Every little you do counts. If you can only do twenty minutes at the gym - go! If you can only revise half a chapter - revise! If you can only write two hundred words - write! If you can only practice that instrument, dance or paint for half an hour - do it! If you can only read a paragraph of that self-help book - read! It is better than doing nothing.
I used to have the worst habit where if I didn’t think I could make my word count, I wouldn’t write at all. I realized, after honest reflection, that I am still doing this - this is why I have written zero words in eleven days. If I had written two hundred words (ten minutes or less of writing) each day, I would have added 2200 words to the novel. That is an entire chapter, perhaps and is certainly better than nothing! Do not fall into the same trap. It is better to do something than nothing because we get comfortable with doing nothing - stop trying to do anything and hello 2020 with the realization we slept through 2019!
Finally, remember why these goals were important to you in the first place. When we spoke about identifying goals in a previous blog, you chose these goals for a reason. They are worth it. Your development is worth it. It doesn’t matter if things have started to get a bit tricky. Head back to the drawing board, load up on discipline and shine!
We are almost at the end of the first month of 2019. You are doing better than you think! Remember, even if things do not work out exactly how you planned - the victory is in getting it done! See you on time, next week!