Tools to set yourself up to win!
It has been a long day and you are finally climbing into bed but are you consciously aware of your thoughts? As you reflect on your day, do you feel you were productive? Did you make time in your day for self-care? Were you true to yourself in setting necessary boundaries?
If you are anything like me, your mind races with thoughts of angst and anxiety about what still needs to be done. You may even have feelings of guilt, disappointment, and frustration which is often felt in the pit of your stomach.
Does this scenario seem familiar?
It is 8pm and I am finishing my workout. I become aware of my negative self-talk, berating, and shaming myself for not working out earlier in the day. I catch myself in the moment and consciously reframe my thoughts to acknowledge my accomplishment of getting the workout done, instead of ridiculing myself for waiting until the end of the day.
In this crazy and uncomfortable time so many of us are working from home, juggling kids, school, and trying our best to just keep it together. We are adapting to being ‘less busy’ though there are more pressures. These unprecedented times force us to adopt new routines and set new personal and professional goals.
For those of us in arts and entertainment, work that requires a gathering of individuals, adjusting to a virtual world brings new and unique challenges. Historically, when hired to speak for corporate audiences or present a master dance class and workshop, the preparation, execution, and follow up were always clearly defined. The expectations were clear, and the services were delivered with a thoughtful execution. I presented in front of live people, where there was an exchange of energy, whether it was crying or laughing. And in most cases, we shared interpersonal social time before, during, and after the event.
In today’s environment and new reality, my colleagues and I struggle to find a sense of direction and productivity. We are faced with questions like, how do I build a virtual audience, maintain financial solvency, and spread my message? Today, instead of standing in front of a live audience, I sit in front of my computer dressed in sweats, connecting virtually through my writings and social media posts, disseminated without the exchange of energy via the ‘send’ button into the cyber ethos.
It’s clear that structure is an important component for a successful life. How do you structure your days?
The structure in my life begins when I awake every day on schedule, followed by morning chanting with fellow SGI Buddhist practitioners, I eat clean food, and get regular exercise.
These days life often feels less structured and the ‘what did I do today’ question is more and more relevant. Was I absorbed in the Facebook rabbit hole? Did my depressed and dark moods consume my day? Was I distracted by online shopping instead of completing an article or assignment?
These questions are always followed by dangerous feelings of defeat. My old programming plays into the thinking errors of ‘I am not going to succeed anyway so why even bother’ message. The doom and gloom of today’s news reinforces these dark thoughts, and the world starts to feel like humanity is unraveling. The negative loop of thought always leads me to wonder if I will ever fulfill my mission or be successful….
Does this sound familiar? Does this happen to you? I think it is a by-product of being home all alone, day in and day out over the last nine months. To live within this new pandemic reality, I find I must more specifically define my days. I, as an overachiever and recovering people pleaser, am tasked with setting myself up to win by adjusting the demands I place on myself to something realistic and possible with the constraints of the pandemic.
Simplicity works as a structure. I limit sitting to 45 minutes or less, I work out in shorter segments but more often throughout the day. When I take a break, I stretch, do a few yoga poses, 20 push-ups, and 50 sit-ups, or I may jog in place for 2 minutes. You get the point; this is not any new information. A little oxygen in the blood goes a long way for both physical and mental well -being.
As a professional producer, I generally work a project backwards, from the end through to the start. I start with the question, ‘what will the final product look like’? From there, the action plan is generated.
Adapting an in -person business to virtual has been the same. I have had to determine the answer to ‘what is my end goal’? My end goal is to share with organizations and companies how I was able to transform trauma into triumph. The next step is to identify and create the small steps to meeting my goal. What are 1 or 2 things that can be done TODAY to propel me towards achieving my goal.
By clearly working the steps towards meeting my goals, I feel less overwhelmed. I am an ‘all or nothing’ type of person, very much an extremist. By working the small steps every day, the ‘never enough syndrome’ is lessened or even eradicated.
I find that it is easier for me to do the hard things first. The morning is the most productive time, right after chanting. Intentionally I schedule the most challenging tasks first.
As the day progresses, I am less focused, so easier tasks are more likely to get done then.
This step takes a bit of exploration along with some trial and error. Pay attention to what time of day you are most inspired. What time of day are you least distracted by internal or external forces?
Do you have longer term work projects or goals? For instance: I am working on a second book with the initial draft complete I am adding a new plot theme. Writing is mentally taxing, and it takes me a while to sit down and start typing, especially when I am writing highly personal stories as is the current situation. I made a goal to write 5 hours per week, knowing that I am good for about an hour at a time and then I need to step away. The manuscript copy is something I find I am better able to manage when I am a little bit tired, so I leave it for a bit later in the day. More trial and error builds solutions and results.
Lastly pay attention to your environment. Do we have a dedicated workspace, a space that is comfortable and relatively free of distraction? Since our environment reflects our state of mind, I try to keep my office organized. Do you like music playing or does it distract you? Are there boundaries around ‘work time’ in place? Truth be told we figure all this out as we go. These unprecedented times heighten our tendencies, but it also provides a wonderful opportunity to transform our habits.
If you are like me and need encouragement that you are taking the necessary steps to achieve your goals, take stock of your everyday wins. Give yourself credit for those emails and phone calls and sticking to the limited use of social media.
As we struggle with the ‘never enough’ syndrome, remember that our current state of life will not last forever. Stay focused on what you CAN do to ACCOMPLISH your goals now. Know that every small step taken will help create a big win in the end. Yes, you ARE doing enough!
Give yourself a hug and tell yourself congratulations. You are WINNING!