Seven Means of Keeping to Your Path

During every end of year holiday season, I look to January as a time to be done with indulging and the frantic pace. …knowing I’ve been using energy for shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking. But this year I looked forward to redirecting that practice of busy-ness in making my life more fruitful and satisfying. 

I generally begin January 2 with my list of things I want to change and/or improve on. Have I been totally successful? No but every year, I’ve gotten better before the focus of self-care turns to other mundane things and my good intentions fall to the wayside. I know I stand in good company but I’m also going to celebrate the little habits which have stuck. I have gained ground every time. 

Anyway, I’ve really been enjoying this January and I feel like I’ve the tools to do what I need this time. I’ve been getting up early, knocking things off my to-do lists, taking time to journal, mediate, exercise. I’ve signed up for the Daily Calm and doing a class on OMDaily for emotional and physical de-cluttering. I’ve been reading “Willpower Doesn’t Work” by Benjamin Hardy and other good books on Blinkist. And I’m going to share some strategies which seem to be working and I’ve noted too that they seem to be all interconnected and entwined. 

1.  Getting Up Early & Exercising. I am thrilled I’ve found a 5:30 a.m. buddy to be accountable to for getting up and doing. We both receive and give encouragement and it’s helping us both with keeping our goal of becoming more fit and having more stamina. Exercise does the body good but it also helps the mind by making it more clear and focused. 

2. Journaling in the Morning. This is the best time to tap into one’s subconscious. I’ve been working on giving my subconscious something to think about before I go to bed and then I circle back the next morning. This doesn’t mean my conscious brain holds onto it. I’m putting it in “mull” mode. The cool thing is I’m already seeing flashes of insight in the morning and it is wonderful! Plus, touching base every morning, I think, is crucial with staying on target. It’s sure helping me. 

3.  Plan the Day. I started breaking things into 6 categories, which I got from Hardy’s book. These categories are Environment, Relationships, Finances, Time, Self-care and Spirituality & one’s reason to be. I have something in all of these bullet-pointed categories, (even if it’s “continue doing ‘that thing’).  

I also decide what my MIT (Most Important Item) is for the day and SMIT (Second Most Important Item) is AND get this, I do these things. Other things may slide to another day, as needed, but MIT & SMIT take me to my END goals. These are not to be procrastinated. Do I know how to do MIT or SMIT? Yes? Do them. No? Then maybe the MIT to do that day is to learn HOW to do whatever the thing is.  

Additionally, there is a big difference between END goals and MEANS goals. I’ve been focusing on what my End goal is to decide what the Means goals are to get there. It’s important to know your WHY you want something to find the HOW to get it. More on all that on another post.   

4. Environment. This, by the way, is HUGE. If YOU want to change, change your environment. I sort of poo-poo’ed this one for years but wow, what a difference. You really are a reflection of your environment. I love my new writing space. It’s a fantastic anchoring point that brings me back to WHY for my goals and it helps me figure out the HOW.  I’m digging my adhesive white-board for story notes. And, well, more on this on another post.  

5. The List.  I am enjoying 24Me. It’s an app that works very much like an electronic assistant.  I’ve tried a bunch of different ‘to-do list’ and ‘calendar methods.’ This one incorporates both, plus it allows you to do notes, both bullet-point and canvas. It allows you to do re-occuring, set reminder timers, color-category label…there’s a nag option…you can email things right to the list, etc. I’ve been using this app for a few months – excellent to keep everything organized over the holidays btw, and it’s working very well for me. 

Also, for my list of things to do – if whatever it is takes less than a minute to do and there’s nothing preventing me, I do it NOW. Why put it on the list? I’m finding actually doing it now to be liberating about 90% of the time. So yeah, I think I can deal with the 10% annoyance factor.   

6. Learn Something Everyday. I have audio books (and lots of ebooks and paper books). I have Great Courses Plus subscription. I have Writer Digest Tutorial subscription.  I have History Channel vault and CuriousityStream. Did you know gaining knowledge isn’t done osmosis? Yeah, my inner me didn’t find that humorous either…probably because it was said with a good dollap of sarcasm. Anyway, one of my goals is leveraging my resources. And so far, so good. I’ve been knocking this one off my list for 27 days consecutively (so far). 

Learning something keeps the mind active and healthy, helps you to build on connections, provides material for inspiration, and many other wonderful things. Another more for another time. 

7. Meditating. I’ve been taking time before bed to breathe and practice Mindfulness. Because – “What you practice is what you grow.” This, tai chi, yoga and fencing (rapier sword) are instrumental (for me) for learning/practicing flow. Flow is something I very much want in my life. 

Flow helps with improving performance. It is emotionally rewarding because it releases dopamine the “feel-good” hormone which also heightens attention and decreases distractions. Flow helps with having greater patience and having a better attitude. This for me is HUGE because I provide care for a beautiful smart and energetic ADHD kid who needs extra guidance when it comes to focusing, time management, and developing crucial executive functioning, particularly the course load with middle school. (This is our first year away from the elementary school and my goodness, big big difference in expectations) Flow also helps the body and mind to de-stress. Helping myself stay even-keel is helping me guide a young person in how to deal with everyday life while also modeling the tools necessary to do what needs to be done for everyday and for striving towards one’s goals.  

I also learned a big word yesterday, “Transient Hypofrontality” which is very much involved in FLOW but that is definitely another post for later. 

Life is a journey. I’m working on keeping mine on the path which I’ve set for myself and I’m finding the necessary strategies to accomplish them. Do you have tools/strategies that are working for you?

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