Last month I celebrated my 35th birthday. Now, I don’t know about you, but birthdays always make me re-evaluate my priorities in life. I’ve never really bought into the whole New Year’s resolutions idea, but that’s kinda how my birthday makes me feel.
Setting priorities in life
I look back at the last 12 months, pick out the things I wish I’d done differently, and make plans on how to make changes over the next year. This time around, I decided to focus on losing weight/getting in shape, time management, and making time to read more.
Losing weight/getting in shape
I’ve been doing Slimming World Online on and off for the best part of 2 years now, and while I’ve had a reasonable amount of success, I’ve found it all too easy to fall off the wagon. If I’ve eaten crap all week, I tend to avoid weighing in until I’m confident that I’ve had a good week. If my scales don’t show a number I’m happy with; I move them around the bathroom until I get a better result. Yes, I’m THAT pathetic sometimes.
Knowing my tendency to cheat, and seeing that my subscription was about to come to an end, I decided to face my social anxiety head on and join the local Slimming World group instead. A close friend of mine had also vowed to join that week, so we snagged the free membership voucher that came with some glossy magazine or other and trotted along to our local group for some much-needed honesty and accountability.
As it turns out, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. The group leader was welcoming; the group were warm and friendly, and my weight wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I feared it would be.
As far as getting in shape is concerned, I opted to incorporate more walking into my day, along with a routine of stomach crunches and waist twists in the mornings.
I’ve always looked at people who have a proper family/household routine in awe. How the hell do they manage it? Our ‘schedule’ is very much a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ type of thing. That is to say; we don’t have one. It’s more a case of putting out the fires as and when they arise if we can be bothered. It sucks.
Between my partner working 12-hour shifts, one child in secondary school and the other attending nursery part-time and me trying to run a business, our home life is haphazard, at best. It drives me nuts and the lack of routine causes problem after problem. So, I decided to do something about it finally.
I took an online course – this one by the wonderful Christy over at Productive Mommies called Establish Your Routine. I watched the videos, went through the workbook, and managed to draw up a plan of action that incorporates all the things that need to be done each day/week/month along with some extra time for us all to pursue our hobbies – coloured pencil drawing in my case. She explains the benefits of batching similar tasks together into a single time-block and shows how to work through each task in the workbook using her family’s schedule as an example. My attempt is nowhere close to the level of hers, but at this point, it’s a vast improvement on the chaos that we’ve been living in up to now.
A month or so before my birthday, I started getting up a little earlier in the mornings so that I could make time to read. I’ve always considered myself to be a night owl, staying up until the wee hours of the morning and getting out of bed at the last possible minute. The problem with that was that the mornings were always a mad panic, and I spent most of the evening flopped in front of the television rather than getting anything productive done, and I hardly ever felt like picking up a book.
Since changing my routine, however, I’ve found that I am a remarkably productive person first thing, and the 90 minutes of peace I get before the kids wake up have quickly become my favourite part of the day. I now get up at or just before 5:30 am, make myself a coffee, and sit reading for 45 minutes before I crack on with our new morning routine. Since I began making an effort to get out of bed and pick up a book, I’ve rediscovered my love of reading.
So far, I’ve read the following books:
- Better than before – Gretchen Rubin
- Bird by bird – Anne Lamott
- The joy of mindful writing – Joy Kenward
- The happiness project – Gretchen Rubin
- The miracle morning – Hal Elrod
- The bullet journal method – Ryder Carroll
- The 12-week year – Brian P. Moran & Michael Lennington
- Eat that frog – Brian Tracy
I’m trying to apply the things I learn from the books I read to my life, and I’ve taken away something helpful from each of them so far. I’ve also been listening to audiobooks as I do housework, although I prefer fiction in these circumstances – I’m currently working my way through Sue Grafton’s alphabet murders series, then I intend to listen to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.
Now, I know that the three areas that I’ve chosen to work on this year aren’t going to appeal to everybody, but that’s not the point of this post. The point I’m trying to put across is that it’s important to take time to evaluate your life and to reassess your priorities in life every now and then.
A lot of people choose New Years, but I prefer my birthday. It’s really up to you when you decide to undertake the process, as long as you actually make the time to do it and plan out the things you want to work on and how you intend to make the changes.