A recent windstorm knocked out our power for about three hours, and they turned out to be several of the most comfy and relaxed hours I have enjoyed in this ramp up to the holidays.
Truth be told I don’t really get too stressed about the festivities as over the years they have gotten more simple and manageable. I credit letting go of some traditions and keeping the ones that are truly a joy; a wildly over-decorated tree (Our motto: Let no branch go untrimmed), my husband’s amazing stuffed pork roast, and minimal gift chaos.
I confess that it bothers me to see so few packages under that baroque-ly festooned tree, after years of presents for children and everyone else that showed up.
And then I remember that quiet candle-lit evening with our books and the cat – no worries about who I had missed, how many packages would balance out the expense of some gifts, and when would I be able to run out and spend just a bit more money on things that would wind up in the back of a drawer somewhere.
You’ll be getting this newsletter in the aftermath of your own end-of-year celebrations and the beginning of what is usually known as a “fresh start” or…drum roll…RESOLUTION TIME.
it is a good time to look back over the past year and consider how it
might be easier in 2019 – or perhaps you’ve figured out the perfect
balance already. Either way, a new year is a good time to think about
what lies ahead, whether it’s changes, challenges, or adventures. And
naturally these things can be positive or daunting or a mix of both.
Especially if you are focusing on your habitual behaviors, like the ones
most commonly high on resolution lists: health related choices.
I’ve written a lot about habit change, and in my mind resolutions have a pretty poor reputation. The very word resolution invites ideas about how to break it, ignore it or otherwise find a loophole.
So how can we learn to better keep the promises we make to ourselves? After all, these are things that are supposed to make us feel good, live comfortably and enjoy more moments of contentment.
Whether the focus is food, exercise, hobbies long forgotten, people we miss, private time or social engagement, any choice to change requires more than will power.
Change requires self-awareness, really owning what you’re thinking and honesty about your motivations. The mind is a tricky thing, and it usually would prefer you to keep the status quo. Without understanding how you keep yourself in place, you’ll get nowhere and the lists of good intentions will wind up in the recycling.
Or more likely they’ll be buried under the other un-filed paper.
Oops, didn’t mean to carp!
we’ll move on to something positive and inspiring, an idea about
methods. Any time I have decided to shift my behavior or pay more
attention to something, I have to recognize that my thinking about it is
meaningless unless I have some kind of physical, tangible reinforcements.
This is about creating infrastructure that will support your goal.
you decide to try the popular Keto diet for example, keeping bread and
sugar easily to hand will end your efforts in a trice. If you join a gym
that is cheap but takes 45 minutes to drive to, well, heck – I wouldn’t
go either. Commitment to reaching out to friends will go nowhere if
you don’t have their contact info and make time to communicate.
Supportive infrastructure can look like a lot of things and these are some that I actually use:
- Tape a printed note, taped to my dash, reminding me that I can choose to let crazy drivers pass me with no reduction of my honor or sanity.
- Set out exercise clothes and pack my gym bag the night before: no thinking required.
- Buy quantities of chlorine stripper, so I won’t avoid swimming. (works on hair and skin)
- Always have protein snacks in car, so I won’t go to Dicks for fries. (not often anyway)
- Sort the mail right next to the recycle bin.
- Keep shortcuts on my computer desktop to files I uses monthly.
- Get ride of all the other icons that cause distractions.
- Manage email twice a day, deleting or moving all messages that are handled.
When you create a structure that is custom designed for your goals and priorities it becomes a living thing, a powerful tool which adjusts to your daily circumstances. It can eventually provide you with more time, more energy and more peace of mind.
One aspect of chronic disorganization is very similar to something I learned recently about sufferers of chronic pain. When people are managing cycles of physical pain it’s important to maintain a steady effort, and a consistent approach. Whether it’s the use of medication or therapy exercises, success is undermined if a person swings between the end ranges of an all-or-nothing attitude. This looks like going from dedicated adherence to a regime….to giving up completely….to forcing things back on track…over and over. It’s exhausting, and only perpetuates the pain.
Rather than going for perfection or despair, a personalized understanding of what supports change and a willingness to move in the direction of healthy behavior may be a more realistic viewpoint to cultivate.
Organization is very similar! If getting on track with your paperwork or keeping your closets accessible is a part of your hopes for 2019 – I encourage you to consider how some structure and gentle consistency could make all the difference.