What’s working for me (June 2017)

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

They get a bad rap, but I love resolutions. New Year’s Eve is often the hardest day of the year for me, but I LOVE New Year’s Day. I love the idea of a fresh start, a new beginning. I like goals, I like lists, I like personal growth.

Over the years of making resolutions I’ve learned a few things about myself:

  • I like the process of making goals a LOT more than I like the daily process of making decisions in order to meet my goals. It helps me to think in terms of habits rather than resolutions.
  • I like giant elaborate plans, and I don’t tend to do anything unless I can do it big. But change happens when you make small deposits over a long period of time. So rather than falling in love with my big plans, I need to think about the small daily habits I want to commit to.

Because of this, I’ve changed the way I think about goals and resolutions. I used to work through an elaborate goal setting activity (which I still love, but it’s just not where I am anymore.) This year I thought through my goals and habits along the framework of what is working for me and what is not working for me.

Since we’re halfway through the year today, it’s a good time to take stock and ask myself again:

What’s working for me?

I actually have lots of areas that are working for me right now. My marriage is strong, we’re headed into the summer, so I’m getting more time with my kids (but we’re not far enough into the summer that we’re on each other’s last nerve.) We’ve had lots of social activities which have given me time to connect with friends. As I think about my personal habits, what’s working for me specifically:

  1. Limiting Social Media

    I learned a lot when I gave up social media for Lent. I am back on Facebook and Instagram (Twitter and Snapchat to a much lesser extent), but have enjoyed just checking in once or twice a day. I’ve found myself mindlessly scrolling a couple of times over the past few weeks, and I want to put a stop to that. It works well for me to use social media to share and connect, but not to entertain, escape, or distract myself.

  2. Getting my news intentionally (not from social media)

    Another result of my Lent experiment was the realization that I am calmer and saner when I set aside time and deliberately choose how to consume news. There is so much bad news in the world, and what is shared on social media can tend to be skewed, alarmist, and is not always from reputable sources. I’ve been listening to NPR’s daily news podcast most mornings as I get ready. It keeps me informed about what’s going on in the world but doesn’t cause my blood pressure to spike (most days), and there’s no temptation to get in a fight with someone over social media.

  3. Investing in Daily Spiritual Practices that give me life

    I’ve written about these recently, but am including them again as reminder to myself to keep going. School ended last week, so we’re figuring out new schedules and routines, and we’ll be traveling quite a bit this summer. New schedules and traveling are traditionally things that throw me off the habits and routines that make life work for me. I want to think through my spiritual practices and figure out which of them will work best even when traveling. And I want a summer routine to lean on when we’re home that will help me stay consciously connected to Jesus moment by moment and day by day.

  4. Leaning into a few things that scare me, areas where I need to learn and grow

    I tend to invest heavily in areas where I know I’ll succeed. I’m learning that I am healthier and happier when I choose one or two areas where I have to learn, where I need to give myself room to grow. Writing regularly here (and posting and advertising it) is one of those areas, and I’m grateful for every kind comment and share y’all have given me!

What’s not working for me?

I like starting with the areas that are working, but it was much easier to come up with the things that are not working for me.

  1. Not getting enough sleep/random bed times

    Getting 8 hours of sleep was one of my primary health goals this year, and I  managed that maybe 3 times in the last 6 months? I’ve tried various things, from setting a bed time alarm, to talking to my family about my need for sleep. And I could blame this some of the time on having a job/ministry with an unpredictable schedule, or parenting a teenager who comes home at his curfew (after my bed time) wanting to talk and how can I argue with that? Those things are periodic challenges, but the real issue is that most nights I’m just not going to bed early enough. I know it works for me to get ready for bed as soon as my younger kids go to bed, and start  winding down earlier. I know what time I should get into bed and get off of my devices. And I’m just not doing it.

  2. Making a habit of not exercising

    Similarly, I started 2017 doing a daily yoga routine at home. It was so good to invest in my body every day, and I know I’m healthier (mentally and physically) when I’m prioritizing that. But it’s gotten away from me, and at the moment I’m making a habit of not doing anything physical. Now that it is beautiful outside, I’m pretty motivated to get outside and move… but every time I plan to go for a walk or a bike ride, I talk myself out of it. Sigh.

How about you? What’s working for you right now? What’s not working for you?

What's Working for Me

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