Just the other afternoon I grabbed a pouch of trail mix for a quick afternoon pick me up. This particular mix has dried apple pieces and I am not fan of the odd chewiness. Rather than throw them away, I normally leave them for last and dread each blasted chewy chew of this throwaway ingredient. Why do I do that to myself? Why not just eat them first on so I can enjoy what I really want? Then I realized that my approach to my trail mix shows up in other parts of my life, too. How many times have I put off less than desirable tasks or challenges and wind up paying for it later? I know its a big leap from the trailmix…just stay with me. Are you someone who tackles a challenge head on or puts it off and create pain for yourself and everyone around you?
I am my own worst enemy. I seem to have a knack for getting in my own way. I make my life difficult at times. Do any of these statements describe you? They surely describe me at times. I can look back on challenging situations in my life and I can see where choices I made resulted in unnecessary self inflicted suffering that winds up trickling down to my kiddos and spouse. Sometimes its something small like jumping on the computer to check my email first thing in the morning rather that tackling the morning routine or sometimes its big, like not incorporating healthy habits into my lifestyle because its just too hard to accommodate due to <insert-any-excuse-that-makes-me-feel-justified>.
Regardless of the size of the task or goal I’m actively and consciously choosing to not to do, there is always a cost associated with it. I find that I become a less patient mom, an easily annoyed spouse, and just not a very pleasant version of myself. The day I prioritize email over jumping in the shower is the day I fall behind getting the girls ready for the day, lose my patience with La Grande for not moving fast enough (doesn’t she know mommy is running late?), don’t get to clean up the morning breakfast dishes, can’t concentrate at work because I can only think of what I didn’t finish in the house…the dominoes keep on falling. The simple act of setting email ahead of other priorities creates negative stress, not only on myself, but on others around me.
The question becomes how do you stop sabotaging yourself? How do you stop the madness and establish control? The short answer is just do it <sorry, Nike>. Seriously. If that isn’t clear enough for you, try these four easy steps to put yourself in the driver’s seat of your day:
1. Set Goals
Approach each day/week with a clear list of tasks you’d like to accomplish. Write it down. Trust me! It can make all the difference. When you approach a day/week/LIFE with out an end in mind, how can you be surprised when you don’t accomplish much?
2. Plan Your Path
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Mentally plan your day. If you have children and the luxury of nap time, plan out how to make the most of their nap (no, their nap time is not your nap time with exceptions of mom’s with children age 3mos and younger). If you have errands, plan your driving map to make the most efficient use of time and gasoline…you’re not on a treasure hunt, you’re on a mission. See if you can plot a single path from start to finish with out having to back track or zig and zag all over town; it will save you time and money.
3. Execute Your Plan
Duh, right? What good is having a plan if you abandon ship? Follow through is the key to any plan or goal. I wish I had a magical hint or tip to help you execute your plan…oh, wait, I do: “Stop whining and do it already!”
I wouldn’t tell you to say this to yourself if I didn’t say it to myself daily. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt your own feelings. The only thing that hurts about saying this to yourself is that you know its true.
4. Reward Yourself
Don’t forget this step! Rewarding yourself is the key keep you motivated! Now, I don’t mean go on a shopping spree or take the next day off…keep it small. Little pleasures keep you going. It could be something like a treat at a favorite coffee shop or grabbing a 30 minute veg out break. I treat myself to a special snack (read: yummy naughty latte beverage) if I accomplish my to goals for the week.
Don’t Worry If You Fall Off The Wagon
It happens to the best of us. If you fall off, just get yourself right back on! And, of course, there are times when you can afford to have a lazy day here and there. Just don’t make that lazy day, every day! This strategy is just a tool in your mami-tool-kit to make life easier and less stressful for you and those around you. When you start approaching each day with a purpose it is incredibly empowering.
Don’t let life happen to you. Let you happen to life!
What tips do you have that help you get the most out of each day? Do you ever sabotage yourself? What can you change to start happening to your own life?
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