Tweaking the Zen Habits Approach

Step by Step

If you’ve read my previous post, you know I’m applying the Zen Habits approach to my morning routine. As a quick recap, my morning routine didn’t exist and I wanted to change that. The hardest part of my routine was starting it since I already knew what I needed to do during my routine. So, with my Zen Habits book by Leo Babauta in hand, I begun the very slow process of building up to the morning routine I wanted to implement. The baby step I was working on was to be on my feet by 5am.

Since my last post, I’ve only failed to be on my feet by 5am once, meaning I had to pay my friend $80 per our accountability terms. That sucked, and has so far been enough to keep me going strong. Though I noticed something that happened halfway through my first week of doing this teeny tiny first step – the follow-through on the rest of my routine wasn’t guaranteed. At all. In fact, it crumbled the more I kept at it.

Some days were great – I’d be on my feet downstairs by 5am and after sending the accountability selfie (totally a thing) to my friend, I’d immediately feed my cats and then myself since I was already downstairs. But a growing number of days lately has had me rushing back upstairs to hide in bed, sometimes not leaving myself enough time to eat or even shower before having to leave for work. Definitely not the point of starting my day at 5am with this small step.

Even though I’ve been doing good at this small step, it’s not bringing me much satisfaction if it’s harming other aspects of my life/routine. I’m trying to build a solid foundation but I feel like I’m cheating by doing it then forgetting why I’m doing it in the first place.

Right now I’ve worked up through chapter 23 in Zen Habits and I feel one of my issues is that I’m forgetting what I’ve already done in the previous day’s mission/exercise. I also read ahead at one point, which threw me off. So in lieu of a traditional Habit Sprint, I thought I’d take the time to do over the missions from the past 10 days (11 including today’s) that I haven’t been keeping in mind. Here they are: Continue reading

Using the Zen Habits approach with my morning routine

Cropped Zen Habits

A couple of years ago, there was a Kickstarter launched by the awesome Leo Babauta of the blog Zen Habits (which I HIGHLY recommend you start reading regularly if you don’t already) to fund a book entitled Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change. I funded it to receive a copy, along with 8,210 other backers. I received both a digital and hard copy of the book and it was great. I read through it the first time to get a feel for the book rather than working on the exercises, however, because I was going through a rough breakup and wasn’t ready to pump up my self-improvement just yet. I’ve read it a few times and have slapped on sticky flags (which I love) at the parts that spoke the most to me, some of which I quote to my sobriety clients to help them with their struggles (there are some wonderful analogies in this book).

Zen Habits book
My slightly beat-up copy of the book

This time, however, I’m ready to make a change (well, many changes, but I’ll just start with one for now). There aren’t many positive routines in my life right now and I’ve always had trouble establishing good habits (thankfully breaking a bad one, though difficult, was doable for me). What I’m hoping to accomplish through the Zen Habits method is to create a morning routine that gets me out of bed by 5am and out of the door by 7am so I can be on time for work, which starts at 8am. There are a lot of elements to my morning routine and I’ve written out the very bare minimum on an index card, laminated it, and used a dry erase marker to check things off as I do them, but it doesn’t matter if I do everything in my routine if I don’t start it on time.

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I’ll be back soon, don’t worry

Cropped Wig

I bought a blue wig for Halloween (I’m going as my Pokemon Go avatar….don’t judge), and I’m pretty sure I’ve found my alternate persona.

Now that I’ve got your attention…an update on the things that have been going on in my life!

I’ve been super busy lately, but mostly just dealing with the chaos in my own mind. Depression and anxiety are beasts for sure, and mine ebb and flow at the worst possible moments. Right now I’m coming down from a big explosion of both twirling like tornadoes at once. I tried getting parts of my brain zapped by an electromagnet (doesn’t hurt, don’t worry) through a therapy called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for 12 weeks and was starting to see improvements during the last week, but the doctors didn’t submit a request to continue treatment! So, I acted like a child and didn’t go to my last three sessions because if they didn’t believe in helping me, I didn’t want their help. I know, I know, super mature. My psychiatrist also changed my meds based on emotional outbursts I was having, but I was having them after my TMS approach was changed and they went away after the approach was changed again (in the last week of treatment), before I had my meds changed. So now I’m a bit worried that they got changed to treat something I’m not even dealing with.

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My Sticky Flag Love Affair

Sticky Tabs in Books

Yeah, It’s Pretty Bad.

I don’t know how or when I started but I know I can’t stop. I’m obsessed with sticky flags and use them for every tidbit I find useful or interesting as I’m reading a book. The sad thing is that I actually do reference these flags later on, otherwise I’d probably just get rid of them after I finished reading the book (or at least that’s what I like to tell myself). There are too many little morsels of knowhow for me to write down and still salvage some of my sanity, so I keep the sticky flags in place.

There isn’t a color system for them, though the particularly helpful chapters or larger sections of text are marked by a sticky flag coming from the top of the book as opposed to the side, which is reserved for smaller pieces of information.

A sentence here, a paragraph there; on and on I go, sticking my sticky flags to and fro.

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When your social life is killing your self-improvement

Joshua Earle

I’d like to think that I’m a good friend. I help my friends out with their issues, problems, predicaments, what have you, and I try to put them first whenever possible. But when I have pressing issues, problems, and predicaments of my own, I’ve noticed I start to help others a whole lot more than I should. I’m talking about filling up my schedule with things I’ve suggested doing for others rather than focusing on myself.

I’m either avoiding my own issues by helping others and convincing myself it’s not wrong of me to be doing that “because look at all the good I’m doing!” or I’m trying to stop feeling helpless by helping others when I can’t figure out how to help myself.

I’m using my social life to kill my self-improvement.

I don’t just try to help people with their problems, either. I make their problems my problems. That’s a big no-no.

Here are 5 ways to tell if you’re using your social life to kill your self-improvement (and what you should do about it)

1. You find yourself asking why you agreed to go to social obligations you really don’t want to go to or be a part of.

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Tips For Getting Sober

I have a drinking problem. Although I’ve been sober since September 4th, 2013, I still say that I have a drinking problem because it’s something I struggle with everyday. I wouldn’t call myself an alcoholic: I didn’t drink everyday, didn’t try to hide it, I didn’t drink at work or get fired due to my drinking, and I didn’t have a  physical dependency on it. But for all I know, I might just still be in denial of how serious my situation was. My drinking problem was that once I started, I never stopped when it was appropriate. I drank until I blacked out and wouldn’t stop there. I’d make terrible decisions without knowing it until I came out of my blacked out stupor. However, the worst part of my drinking was the aftermath.

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