The Importance of Taking Time Outs

I’m the kind of person who thrives on discipline and routine.  Otherwise, I don’t have motivation to complete my goals.  There are many times I don’t really feel like running, for example, but I know I’ll feel really guilty if I don’t.  And so I run.  Or cleaning my house.  I’m never, like, “YAYYY I CAN’T WAIT TO MOP!” but I get stressed when my house isn’t clean.  And so on Sundays, I do all my weekly cleaning chores.

Theoretically, there are many things I’d still  like to accomplish with my life.  I make it sound like I’m getting into my twilight years – I’m 33 and that’s still relatively young.  But there’s only so many activities we can devote time to until we feel overworked.  Getting my Professional Engineer’s license and project management certification are tangible, responsible things I’m working on now.  But if we’re talking theoretically – I’d like to be published (maybe a book of poetry); learn guitar well enough to release a self-recorded EP of songs (but not those overwrought covers that are suddenly trendy because I think we can all agree that those are officially The Worst); be fluent in Italian and French; be a craft designer and blogger; qualify for and run the Boston marathon (!); be a studio drummer.  What else?  If we’re getting really fantastical, have a dachshund farm and sheep farm (for my own line of home-dyed yarn, duh!). And throw raising a couple of kids in there.

But since I can’t do ALL THE THINGS, I choose some of the things.  A handful of the things.  Really just three things.  Right now I’m focusing on work, studying, and running.  I wake up, do yoga, go running on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, come home, eat dinner, study for an hour and a half, then go to sleep.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

But yesterday I just felt so exhausted.  I’ve been trying to increase my running distance and in this heat, it’s just taxing on my body. I felt bleary-eyed at work all day and didn’t feel any kind of  motivation to do much of anything, other than wanting to fall asleep.  My routine was catching up with me and I couldn’t motivate myself to come home and study.  So instead I made a nice dinner with Fiancé, we walked our dog and then I did NOTHING! It was great! No studying.  No reading serious articles about North Korea and our increasingly unstable president on the internet.  Instead I read about the real issues, like WHY DID ANNA FARIS AND CHRIS PRATT BREAK UP? and ARE ANGELINA JOLIE AND BRAD PITT EVER RECONCILING?

I fell asleep before Colbert came on and just slept all night. It was great.  I woke up this morning and instead of doing yoga, I typed out this blog post with a cup of coffee and belligerent dog by my side (he’s upset about the unknown entity in the chimney. Let’s give him some space).

Goal-setting, keeping a routine, and having discipline are all crucial elements to accomplishing what’s on your constant to-do list.  But sometimes if you don’t listen to your body, you’ll burn out.  By taking a break from my routine, I feel refreshed and motivated to start my day.  Sometimes a quick little break is just as important when it comes to meeting your goals.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to work and stuff.

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Easing into the New Year

I don’t know about you guys, but I can’t just dive right into my New Year’s resolutions.  Some people can, and that’s great! Go you. But I find myself getting easily discouraged if I try to do ALL THE THINGS week 1.  It’s just a recipe to burn out by week 2.  Building habits takes time, and breaking a bad habit takes even longer. What I find works best for me is to build on a habit slowly.

For example, last year I started a morning routine that I really enjoy. It consists of doing yoga right when I wake up, then making coffee and writing a little in my journal.  It didn’t start off that way though.  First, it was just coffee.  Then it was coffee and writing a little in my journal.  Then it was coffee, writing, and stretching off last night’s run.  Finally, it turned into the routine that I now really enjoy.  If I had tried doing that routine right after New Year’s, though, I don’t think I would have stuck with it at all.

So don’t beat yourself up if you’ve already slipped on your resolutions.  It’s not time to give up yet! Just give yourself time to incorporate your routine into your daily life.

Exhibit A:

all-the-yarn

So I kind of reneged on my vow to craft from my stash, but guys.  We just discussed that it’s a process, riiiiiiight? So here’s how this downward spiral happened:  I bought the Mollie Makes Crochet book at Half Price on Saturday.  Looking through it, I found a blanket pattern I really liked. I dragged Boyfriend Fiancé to Jo-Ann on Sunday and bought all the yarn with the gift card he’d gotten me for Christmas.  I warned him that it would probably be a year until this blanket is finished.  Let’s just set those expectations real low.

I am really excited about the color palette though!  And Fiancé helped select the colors, since I figured it’d be a blanket we’d both be enjoying.

I’m at least making progress on my other makes.  Exhibit B, Pussyhat:

pussyhat

I am a slow knitter so it unfortunately will be too late to ship to DC. But I’ll wear it this Saturday for the March here in Austin (if I finish it in time, etc).

And Exhibit C, the Mollie Makes Apollo dachshund:

apollo-brooch

Have a great week everyone!  I’ll be back Wednesday with all the details on a crochet class I’m taking!

Three Things to Process Failure

I can’t really believe it’s the last day of 2016.  I don’t think I’ve hated 2016 as much as the rest of the world has, but I do think it was a surreal year in many ways (“surreal” is Merriam-Webster‘s word of the year, which I think is very fitting!)

There were good things that happened to me this year, like learning how to knit and having some fun travels.  Excluding current events for the time being, I’m sure we can make a list of all the things that made us unhappy this year.  I know I can.  And here’s something that happened to me that can be hard to admit openly:

I failed.

Yep! I failed this year. Multiple times.  I bet you all did too, in some capacity.  And you know what? It’s normal.  And it’s all going to be okay.

Think about that for a couple of moments.

I feel like we’re always supposed to keep this veneer of happiness and perfection, especially with social media.  You know.  Look at how perfect everything is!  EVERYTHING IS GOOD, GUYS, OKAY?

But we’re not perfect.  We all make mistakes, every single day.

And it’s really important to remember that we NEED to fail sometimes.  There isn’t a harder life lesson learned than one resulting from failure, but it’s the one that sticks with you the most and ultimately makes you a better person.  We should constantly be trying to better ourselves.  I’m sure we all know at least one person who emotionally hasn’t graduated high school even though they’re over 30, and we definitely don’t want to be those people. We want to be able to look back at our former selves, even from a couple of years ago, and identify positive growth.  And while challenging to accept and process at times, failure can help us get on a path to bettering ourselves.

I’ve read so many self-help articles on how not to make mistakes, or how to bounce back after making a mistakes, but what about…processing failure?  That’s just as important, right?

Here are a couple of tips that helped me recharge and refocus on what I needed to do to improve after experiencing failure.

  1.  Admit that you can’t make everyone happy.  I think it’s natural to want to please other people, especially at work.  It’s important, to a point, to reflect on criticism that you receive from other people.  It’s really difficult to step outside yourself and be objective about criticism, but ultimately, that will help you improve and grow.  But sometimes, no matter what you do or how matter hard you try, someone will still dislike you or be unhappy with your choices.  Move on from those people.
  2. Take time to unpack your emotions.  Failure sucks.  It can make you feel sad, depressed, and hopeless at times.  It’s ok to let yourself process those emotions.  Finding an outlet in a family member, friend,  or a partner really helps.  Finding an activity that you find meaningful and enjoyable that will allow you to focus on something else while calming your mind.  For me, those activities include yoga, crafting, and running. Journaling also really helped me through some of my challenges.  I didn’t come to the conclusion I needed to right away, but reviewing my journal helped identify patterns and what I needed to do to improve.
  3. Don’t be hard on yourself.  This is easier said than done, because I tend to be VERY hard on myself.  If a mistake happens, then I automatically assume I’m lazy and stupid.  I read good advice once saying that you need to treat yourself like you would any other loved one.  If your loved one came to you wanting advice after failing, would you point your finger at them and call them worthless and stupid? Of course not!  Being hard on yourself only lowers your self-esteem further and does nothing to help you work on your weaknesses.  Be kinder to yourself.  That same objectivity that you take with you into those dreaded performance reviews?  Keep it here.  Accept that you’re a good, intelligent person who is fallible like the roughly 7.5 billion people we share this world with.  Instead of calling yourself names, ask what you can do to improve.

As we move into 2017, let’s take a couple of moments to reflect on the year – what went right?  What didn’t?  For anything that went wrong, what tools can you use to better yourself?

On a personal note, I wanted to thank everyone who has checked out my blog this year.  I can’t wait to share more of my projects and experiences with you in 2017.  Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, and please be safe!