So, it’s day two of NaBloPoMo, and here I am again, perched on my chair, critiquing my thoughts before they even reach the keys, wondering if I am really cut out for this blogging month. Lucky for you, I’m not going to bore you with my negative self-talk — I’m going to nip it in the bud, as my grandmother would say. This nipping it in the bud is a practice that I am perfecting these days. It’s one of the small changes I am making to lead a life with less stress, and a life that will leave me smiling at the end of the day. As I tell my students, step by step you will get there…..wherever it is you want to be.
- Nipping it in the bud. As a perfectionist, I’ve mastered the art of worrying, over-analyzing, and finding problems where most sane people wouldn’t. Lately, I’ve had to be stern with myself. When I see myself going down a negative path or a path that will lead to a sleepless night, I take a step back, and redirect my energy into what is going right, and what I actually have control over.
- Caring less. This is my biggest challenge. I care deeply in all areas of my life. I go to work early and leave late; I buy the office B-day cakes because my company won’t; I say ‘Yes’ when I mean ‘No’. When I think about caring less, I immediately think about shrugging responsibility, and that does not sit well with me. However, day by day, I am learning how I can ‘care less’ and still do a good job, even if I don’t please everyone. In my personal life, I am learning that I can only give so much, and that relationships based on respect and reciprocity are the ones worth nourishing. As sad as it is, sometimes you just have to let go.
- Exercising my mind. Sounds simple enough, but it is so easy for me to get into busy, auto-pilot mode, and neglect my brain. I truly believe that you need to feed your mind before you can relate meaningfully with others. This year I’ve taken a couple night classes, tuned into some insightful podcasts, read some wonderful books with the book club and on my own, and deleted the Facebook app and replaced it with Pocket.
- Exercising my body. When I was sixteen, I started going to the gym with my grandma, and rekindled my elementary school love for running. Over the past fifteen years, I’ve done a few 5 and 10k runs, and learned so much from my buddies. I haven’t always been consistent, but as I get older, I realize that fitness is critical to my physical and mental well-being. It’s not only a stress reliever for me, but a social outlet, and sweat has also fueled some great blog posts — like this one.
- Speaking up. This is another tough one for me. I feel much more comfortable speaking up for others than I do for myself. I have no problem putting in for raises and writing stellar reviews for others, but when it comes to a promotion for myself, I shy away. This hasn’t always been the case. In Thailand, I did speak up, and got myself a nice little living allowance. At times, I forget this, but lately I have been vocalizing my concerns and my plans. Even if nothing changes, at least I’ve been heard, and being heard is half the battle.
- Making ‘me’ time. Surprisingly, I’m getting really good at this. I leave work on-time, at least twice a week, so that I can go to the gym, and I even negotiate a later start-time after long days. On my way to work, I stop in at a coffee shop to read my book, and I only feel a tinge of guilt. Some Sundays are for manicures, others are for pancakes and meeting up with friends, and then others are for long, solo runs to a favourite breakfast spot. Having ‘me’ time helps me recharge.
These small changes make smiling easier at the end of the day. Although I may not be exactly where I want to be, like my students, I am taking it step by step, and embracing the journey.