NBPM #2: Making small changes

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Coffee time = Me time




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