Do you know how days can sometimes get away from you? Some days I am too busy to stop and think, and sometimes I am too tired to even really get out of my pajama's and engage the world. No matter the situation, I find I occasionally go to bed feeling like I wasted a day.
Let me tell you, that is not a good feeling.
But I've been doing something for the last several weeks that has really helped lessen the number of wasted days.
It all starting when I was browsing around on the internet and I stumbled upon this page. Basically it describes Jerry Seinfeld's key to success; which was to use a big wall calendar and put a big 'x' on days when he wrote and simply not break the chain of x's. He credit's his success to working every day at writing comedy.
Now, let me temper the above statement by saying that when I think of huge success stories, Jerry Seinfeld isn't the first person to leap to mind. And I don't think that hours put into something is the only factor in creating success. I do however, know one of my biggest weaknesses in general is consistency, and this seemed like a great technique to help me with that.
The first thing that sprang into my mind when I read this was that I should apply Seinfeld's calendar technique to a work out plan. Then I found this website about a man who was applying this with a slow-building work out routine. So I started slow (really slow) with a routine that looked like this:
1 Push Up
1 Sit Up
5 Jumping Jacks
1 Minute of Walking
And I've been added something small every Sunday since. Nothing overwhelming, nothing intimidating, but very very easy to commit to. It is so easy (and short) that I can find time for it on the busy days and get up the motivation to get it done on the lazy days. Right now my daily routine is looking like this:
3 Push Ups
3 Sit Ups
3 Calf Raises (on each leg)
4 Minutes of Yoga
10 Minutes of Walking
15 Jumping Jacks
A bit more of a commitment, but since I've been increasing by such baby steps, I haven't been able to psych myself out.
However, being the overachiever that I am, I wasn't able to leave it at just a work out. I wanted to improve my writing too. So I committed to writing something every single day. It can be for the blog, in my journal, or for some other creative endeavor. The best thing to come of this commitment is that for me writing is no longer sacred. The conditions no longer have to be perfect, I don't have to wait for the muse to descend, I just write. If it isn't good, that's okay for now, but at least I'm showing up every day.
The other thing that popped into my head as an activity for the calendar plan was my Italian. You remember my Italian? Well I had been plugging away at it, but only intermittently. Basically everyone in the world agrees that the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself. My progress has been pretty impressive since I started working at it ever day. I'm amazed at how much is sticking in my brain since those neurons have no time to fall out of practice.
When I was devising my calendar plan, this is when I came up short. There was no way I was going to divide up each calendar square into thirds... I needed to give myself one more thing to do each day. (Please tell me I'm not the only person who's brain works this way? Even Numbers < Odd Numbers.)
I thought about my activities so far. Physical body, check. Creativity/self-expression, check. Intellect, check. Then it hit me. It was all about me. Surely I could allow one thing a day to be about someone else.
So I went back to something we'd focused on at my elementary school, "Conscious Acts of Kindness". The beauty of this requirement is it can be really big or really small. Some examples I've done so far include, donating some old clothes to charity, picking up trash that wasn't mine, and making dinner for Mike and I to share. My very favorite part of this challenge is that it makes me spend part of every day thinking about what I can do for other people. This is the aspect of my day I look back on with the most fondness when I'm going to bed. How can I feel like I've wasted my day when I know I did one kind thing, no matter how small?
Being truthful here, I have totally broken the chain once already, but I'm back on the horse and I haven't given up.
I love having something to do with my days beyond my work, my friendships, my routine. I go to bed each night knowing I've done something with my day.
And let me tell you, that is a good feeling.