Progress vs. Perfection

Apparently the universe didn’t get the memo that I’m trying to get my life in order!  My intention was to do an update on my progress that I’ve made toward my goals for my 40th birthday but then Tuesday happened.  Tuesday was just not the best day.  I don’t even remember what all happened to make it a “bad” day but I was in a mood.  So instead of writing an update that would have just put a negative spin on any progress that had been made, I just took a step back at laid low.

I’m a person that’s comfortable with working through a process.  Unfortunately, there seem to be few people around that are comfortable with processes.  But, when you feel like things need to change majorly for not only your happiness, but your sanity/survival, the daily circumstances that surround you can often feel too daunting to overcome and you might feel like giving up.  The most important thing to remember is DON’T GIVE UP!!!  You can never give up on yourself or what you truly want out of your life.

So instead of giving up, I look at what I’ve been doing and reflect on what’s going well and what I can improve.  Acknowledging what has gone well is a far better motivator than casting a critical eye on everything and magnifying what we deem to be a failure.

With 24 days until my birthday, here’s where I stand:

Goal 1: Simplify-I’ve collected 3 boxes of stuff from our house to donate.  (There’ll be MANY more boxes to come!)  I found an old file box that I’ve had since I first started teaching that was SUPPOSED to be my filing system.  There were bank statements from banks that no longer exist and so many other things that were just completely unnecessary and I can’t even tell you the last time I looked in that box!  I consolidated it down to 2 file folders and the rest was shredded.  And to think that I have carried that box with me for 4 moves!

My goal today is to make sure that our living areas are free of extraneous things and to take the boxes to be donated.  We still have cabinets to go through and purge.  We have an entire extra bedroom that is currently serving as a storage room that needs to be purged, but that is a long term project and I’ll have to break that down into smaller pieces.  The more daunting challenge (and the most needed) is tackling my classroom.  I might have to recruit a team to take care of that!

Goal 2: Schedule-I’ve been consistent with my morning routines and making sure that I have everything ready the night before.  Bedtime for baby has been consistent but I need to move my time to work my business to the morning because my brain does not function after baby goes to bed which effects productivity, but it’s still has be an improvement.

Goal 3: Health- I’m pretty sure that I haven’t hit 120 oz of water a day but I’m consistently hitting the 60-90 oz  a day so that’s progress. Being consistent with my bedtime has certainly NOT been consistent, but I think moving my business time to the morning will help with that as well.

Goal 4: Mental Well-Being- I need to go back to my old school days of marking my activity on a calendar.  This is definitely something that I have to make visible to myself.  I’m going to put my jogger stroller in my car and pack workout clothes to go to the park after work and hit the trails with baby because that would do us both some good, but of course that means I have to leave work before it gets dark!

This week I will make a checklist of my Steps for Success so that I can make it visible to myself and hold myself accountable.  I SEE great things happening this week. 🙂

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Goal #4: Mental Well Being

I would say that most weeks start out pretty strong for me but around say Wednesday, the wheels just kind of fall of.  As in like Wednesday morning.  Is this why they call it Hump Day?  I don’t seem to be making it up the incline these days.  Case in point, this post was intended for Wednesday evening, along with my raffle drawing for my business, and I am sure a litany of things that I don’t even remember forgetting to do!  Having the weekend is definitely needed to collect my thoughts and refine my goals or steps that I can take to support my goals, but first, I need to lay out my last goal for my 40 Days to 40 Challenge.  This one is probably the most needed and my intention is for the first 3 goals to contribute to this.

I DESPERATELY need to make some time for some down time.  I need time to do things that I enjoy and have NOTHING to do with my job or the thousands of responsibilities that I have on a daily basis.  I know this will probably be very difficult for me since I have grown quite accustomed to isolating myself and just trying to get it all done.  Of course it seems that it isn’t humanly possible to get done what is required of me, and pushing harder and harder without ever giving myself a break is a whole lot like requiring 5 year olds to sit down and focus on developmentally inappropriate tasks like tests, tests, and more tests while refusing to give them recess or developmental center time to play and interact with each other.  Sounds ludicrous, right?!

There are things that were once a part of me that have fallen by the wayside since having Lucy along with the combination of my career and my husband’s work schedule, that I need to reclaim.  I know they will look differently from what they once were, and I am fine with that.  I don’t want to go back to the way things were before Lucy.  I loved those days but my days with Lucy are even better!

Steps for Success:

-Incorporate more physical activity into my life.  (I pushed a car during carpool this week, so that counts, right?!)

-Spend more time doing a hobby that I enjoy.    I have scheduled in time for reading (NOTHING PROFESSIONAL) at the end of my day, before bed.  Running and working out were hobbies that obviously are the goal for my first step for success.  I really enjoy writing so using my blog as a way to track my challenge gives me the opportunity to do a hobby that I enjoy as well.

So as I have worked my way through this week, I will take some time to do some self reflection of what went well and what I can improve on to make this upcoming week even more successful.  I look forward to sharing that in my next post!

 

 

Goal #3: Health

Now when I said I was taking baby steps, I mean I am taking baby steps!  You might laugh when you hear what my health goal is, but like I said before, if you aren’t taking care of the fundamentals, the rest isn’t going to stick.  I wish we could apply this philosophy to education, but I won’t even get started on that!  So back to my health goals…I have been absolutely the worst about drinking water.  When I say I have been the worst about drinking water, that doesn’t mean that I go crazy and chug sodas all day long.  It literally means that I neglect to put any liquids in my body.  I got to the point where IF I finished an entire 20 0z bottle of water in A DAY, I was patting myself on the back!

As a teacher, it can be quite the conundrum to use the restroom when you are obligated to supervise young children all day long!  Sure, we get a planning time, but other than that 45 minutes out of the day, you are kinda responsible for keeping 20 young children alive and on task so that would be one of the reasons that having the freedom to use the facilities when necessary is like the greatest form of freedom for most teachers!  So between the issue with using the restroom and the deeply deluded idea that if I just keep working (and not take a break to raise a cup to my lips) I would EVENTUALLY catch up, I am surprised that I haven’t crumbled into dust from pure dehydration.

SO while my goal may seem very basic, it is desperately needed.  I am sure that hydrating my body AND my brain, I will feel better and be able to think more clearly.  To prepare for this I bought three 30 ounce insulated tumblers that all look alike.  I have trained myself to always have my tumbler with me.  I don’t drink out of anything else so I am not having to figure out where the lid to the 876th random cup is.  (Remember, I am still decluttering!) It is routine for me now and therefore does not take up any of my precious little brain cells.

Steps for Success:

-Drink 120 ounces of water a day. (That is 4 of my handy dandy tumblers for those of you that like to math!)

-Stick to a consistent bed time.  This is connected with my schedule goal as well.

Like my other goals, this goal will evolve and grow as I master one component at a time.  I aim for having more fruit and vegetables throughout the day  but that comes more easily to me since I am feeding a toddler and accommodating her nutritional needs.  Now the trick for truly mastering this goal will be training my bladder to handle the change!  Wish me luck!

Goal #2: Schedule

The brain craves structure, or so the story goes.  An ADHD brain NEEDS structure.  The catch here is that as an adult, it is up to the same ADHD brain to create the structure and there is the crux of the matter.  When you are so busy running around like a crazy person with their hair on fire, you may neglect this for some time until the minutiae in which you are living in becomes downright unbearable.  And that is when you have to pull the emergency brake and take it all the way down to the basics.

So for this goal, I am SERIOUSLY taking baby steps.  I WILL be successful because I am taking it down to the bare bones and building from the bottom up!

Steps for Success:

-I have written down my daily MUST DO Routines so that I don’t skip over something that causes me to spiral into a hot mess express in the mornings.

-I have created a daily schedule for home AND work including times for all of the things that are most important to me.

-I have scheduled time for technology, for reading (that was once a beautiful hobby that I enjoyed), AND BEDTIME!!

I definitely have much work to do once I have mastered these fundamentals to be on top of all of the things that I have going on in my life, so as I approach mastery, I will be adding more steps to take.  I know that I have only been doing this challenge for a few days, but I can already feel the difference in my brain.  I am definitely looking forward to this process, but since my bedtime is quickly approaching, I will have to sign off for now but look forward to sharing goal #3 with you tomorrow!

 

Goal #1: DECLUTTER

I have SO MUCH STUFF!!!!!!!  I have TOO MUCH STUFF!! Both in my personal and professional life, I have way more stuff than any one person needs or can possibly manage without spending their entire existence on managing all of the stuff.  I have long suffered the American epidemic of feeling the need to procure more and more stuff and rarely have taken the time to purge the unnecessary items in my collection.  I have never taken the time to properly pre-plan a move from one residence to the next.  I have been too busy putting out one fire without having time to prevent another, so now I find myself with WAY TOO MUCH STUFF!  I do not want to be a slave to clutter in my life.  I know this will be my toughest goal to achieve and THAT is why I have it as my first goal.

It is a challenge to me to just get rid of stuff because I, like most people, worry about getting rid of the wrong stuff.  It never fails, you decide you can finally get rid of something and within days find a reason that you should have kept it!  Plus, super cheap girl over here hates the idea of spending money on something that I ALREADY spent money on.  Maybe I wouldn’t feel the need to be so darn cheap if I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and energy on buying stuff that I just didn’t need.  This is a work in progress that will definitely have to extend beyond the 37 days that I have left before my 40th birthday, but I can definitely accomplish a lot in that amount of time.

Steps for Success:

I will be working through my wardrobe, unused home items, and teaching supplies and donating them (or selling anything that actually might have value) and working toward having a designated place for everything that I own.

I will have an organization system for mail and other paperwork so that I don’t create piles of papers.

I will have a designated area for my business supplies so that I will be able to complete business tasks efficiently.

To keep myself accountable and make my progress visible (I am a visual person!) I will take photos of the items that I am able to donate/dispose of.  The idea of this thrills me but I will not lie, there are times where I have a little moment of panic thinking about letting some things go.  I just remind myself that I am more attached to the people in my life and this will free up my time to spend with them and help me feel more successful in my everyday life.

 

Taking the Fear Out of Change

 

Do you like change?  Does it scare you?  For many people, including myself, change can seem frightening.  I have learned that it’s all in how you deal with change that can either make it the greatest blessing or the most miserable thing ever.  We can’t reach our ultimate potential if we avoid change at all cost.  In education, we talk about creating disequilibrium, giving students new or different information and students work to regain their equilibrium by storing the new information or reshaping their pre-existing understanding to accommodate the information.  If we know that disequilibrium, or being out of our comfort zone, is necessary for growth to occur, then why does it seem so darn scary to us?

Is the fear of failure the true culprit?  We are all scared of failing at one thing or another and for different reasons. Maybe it goes back to society’s pressure to be “perfect.”  But, if we don’t buy into the notion of perfection, then are we opening the door to be more accepting of ourselves  and okay with making mistakes or failing at something for the sake of self growth?  After all, the Wright Brothers didn’t exactly get it right the first time, now did they?

Perhaps, it is the fear of success that scares us the most.  If we are successful and do indeed change, we can’t go back to our comfort zone.  We are uncomfortable with the idea of a new comfort zone.  Let’s use getting in shape as an example of this. Let’s pretend we have a friend who is about 100 pounds overweight and is currently inactive.  They wake up one day and decide that enough is enough and they want to live a healthier life.   They live on fast food, several sodas daily (whether regular or diet), and extremely large portions of food at every meal.   More often than not, we take the all or nothing approach or try to find the “quick fix”, either of which is almost assuredly a set-up for failure.  (I say we because I have been guilty of all of these things.) We resort to deprivation diets cutting out carbs, gluten, fat, or subsisting on cabbage soups, all of which are not only unhealthy, but unsustainable.  It has been scientifically proven, a gazillion times over, what is necessary to lose weight, but we think we are the exception to the rule or we just don’t want to wait that long to see results.  In order to lose weight you must expend more calories than you take in.  No one said you had to take in so few calories that you are actually causing metabolic damage, but we go there instead of proceeding cautiously into our weight loss mission.

No one needs to exist on 1200 calories a day and attempt to RUN 3 miles right out of the gate.  You don’t have to empty your cupboards and fridge of every single “junk” food item and fill them with organic kale and tempeh and eat plain tilapia out of Tupperware containers at every meal.  Quite honestly, if I had to eat tilapia out of Tupperware I would probably be the crabbiest person you have ever met! Instead pick ONE thing to change with your eating habits and find ONE way to become more active.  I didn’t say sign up for a marathon next month, I simply said become more active. Go for a WALK 3 times a week, even if it is for only 15 minutes, and work your way up from there.  Don’t start by setting a goal to lose 100 pounds because that is too overwhelming and people tend to beat themselves up if they don’t meet a goal quickly.  Make your first goal losing 5 pounds in the first month.  At the end of the month, reevaluate your progress and set a new goal for the following month.  The more gradual the changes are, the less painful they will be and the likelihood of success increases.  We don’t need to fear success.  We all are worthy of living a better life and showing ourselves respect.

My challenge, for anyone wishing to make a change in their life, is to make your (small, manageable) goals visual to yourself and share your intentions with others.  This increases the likelihood of success by serving as a source of accountability and support.  Feel free to share your goals here and we can work to support each other.  Okay, I’ll start…my goal is to drink more water, 64 ounces, a day and to lift weights 3 times a week for the next month.  I will track this on my kitchen calendar and will reevaluate my goals at the end of August.  Now it’s your turn!