This week, I have been lucky enough to have the week off work while my sister and her family are visiting from South Africa. While we have planned a pretty hefty itinerary, with 7 days to play with I was also hoping to catch up on my running, finish off a few blog pieces I had written and even scope out the yoga studio down the road that a friend recommended. Plenty of time too, I thought, to catch up with freelance friends and check out the summer sales.
Its already Thursday and I have done zero running, very little writing, no yoga and one whistle stop visit to Gap. And while I have spent some fantastic quality time with my family, playing tourists and eating cake, I have also slept in far too late, wasted hours and hours watching Law & Order Criminal Intent and re-arranged my entire social media profile. Queen of Time Wasting. Turns out, I regress to a surly teenager when I lack structure and I revert to hibernating, eating badly and zoning out by staring at a variety of screens. I avoid being productive and become self sabotaging.
It’s not new and its not clever, and I do it because it easy, instant gratification and I am lazy. Classic avoidance strategy. But in the long run it feeds into a much more insidious low level anxiety due to too much sugar and caffeine, general lethargy due to the few additional pounds acquired and a general apathy that is in no way A Good Thing.
A few things have changed in my thirties. Time isn’t something I am comfortable wasting any more. And not in the ‘go faster, do everything’ mentality that the city demands, but more about the quality of the activities I give my energies to. I am becoming more ruthless about how I spend my time and with who, acutely aware that Life Really Is Too Short. This requires a bit of discipline, planning and structure to make the most out of it.
But how to stay motivated and on course when you hit an unexpected ditch?
When I’m locked into a positive cycle of eating well, exercising and looking after myself its not hard to do. The benefits are obvious on both a mental and physical level and I feel energised and engaged. But what I have found is a small change to my schedule, a bump in the road or a left field challenge leaves me stranded back in duvet land eating magnums by the carton load.
And life is made up of bumps, changes, out of the blue emergencies. I need to be able to address these and not fall out of whack. I am finding this is coming up in the blog project. The quest for perfection for every piece means I am writing less and not more. In fact it gets to a point when I don’t write at all. Its too easy to just stop than trying to work through when it doesn’t come naturally.
This is a default setting for me. If its not perfect first time I tend to give up. When I was sixteen I tried to learn guitar and it was hard (obviously, its a musical instrument!) so I gave up after two lessons. I gave up martial arts as it required more training than twice a week classes and my flying kick was terrible, so clearly I just ‘wasn’t cut out for it’. I dropped kick boxing as I was too tired to train regularly, I’d take the whole week off as I had missed the Tuesday class, so I had somehow broken the schedule. I demand perfection of myself immediately. Its the all or nothing approach and and the moment I am opting for nothing.
So I am going against my default setting here and writing anyway, a spontaneous post that I know isn’t quite on point but is going up regardless. I am trying to practise being a bit more relaxed, flexible and open, so that when life happens and that curveball hits, I don’t let the whole plan fall to pieces. One cookie is enough. And a 5km run is not hard. In fact I could run and eat the cookie. AT THE SAME TIME.