Productivity

Redo your thoughts.

I have an issue with jealousy. The stupid, non-logical kind that is petty and mean-spirited. Like the time I was jealous of someone’s car that I didn’t even want. Or the times I’ve been jealous that someone I want to be friends with is friends with someone else.

The problem with jealousy is that it’s not logical. I know it doesn’t make sense. Just because someone has something I want doesn’t mean I can’t also have it (or something similar). I could buy a new car if I wanted to, but in reality, I have other priorities (like being completely debt free, feels good!). Someone else having a good time doesn’t mean that I CAN’T have a good time. Someone else getting pregnant doesn’t prevent ME from getting pregnant. You see how illogical jealousy is?

I could scold myself for having such thoughts and get grumpy at why I’m such a jealous person. But instead, I’ve started to redo my reaction.

Take the friends situation for example. I saw a picture on Facebook of people I’d like to become friends with hang out with each other…without inviting me. My first thought is jealous and mean: “Ugh. But I was going to be friends with her. Why didn’t she invite me? Did nobody think to invite me?” I knew I was being jealous and was going to just move on and try to get over it, but deep down, I felt not wanted, inconsequential, and bitter. I didn’t want to feel this way towards people I’d like to be friends with. So, I looked at the picture for the second time and redid my reaction. “Oh look, it’s such and such. I know them! It looks like they had a lot of fun. I’m so happy for them.”

And you know what? Magic. I instantly felt the bitterness disappear and be replaced with love and warmth. These are people I care about, and I do want them to be happy, regardless of if that involves me. Just because they hung out together once does not bar me hanging out with them forever.

I encourage you to try it. If you find yourself having negative feelings that you aren’t proud of, try to revisit the situation in your mind and develop a different response. The results may surprise you.  And once you do, tell me about it! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience.

Action vs. Result

In my neverending quest to lose weight, eat healthy food, go to sleep early, and watch less TV, I came across a sudden abrupt but obvious observation. The action of doing something is separate from the result, and I often love the action and hate the result or vice versa.

I often love the action and hate the result.

Situations where I love the action but hate the result:

  • My daily naptime routine of ice cream, M&Ms and Netflix. I love engaging in this activity, and it’s something I look forward to. But I hate the result of being overweight, bloated and sluggish.
  • Staying up late and either working on the blog or eating ice cream, M&Ms and watching Netflix. Working makes me feel productive; the ice cream makes me feel gooood. But alas, both feelings of positivity are promptly thwarted when I wake up feeling like a truck hit me sideways. Any productivity I might have felt the night before is squashed by the fact that I have zero energy to get things done in the morning.
  • Playing video games with my husband. Some games are just dang addicting! I love the fun we have, but often, it goes too far and we spend hours playing. Before we know it, the sun is going down and the kitchen is a disaster zone.

Situations where I hate the action but love the result:

  • I’m exhausted when it comes time to put my son down for bed. The yawns are not for dramatic effect. I hate going to bed so early and feel like the time at night is my time (MIIIINEE!) but going to bed early results in some of the best sleep EVER. I wake up feeling well-rested, and I have the willpower t0 patiently explain to my screaming toddler why he can’t eat super glue (true story). I hate going to bed so early, but I love how good of a mom I am when I do.
  • I love you guys, and I love this blog, but it often takes a lot of force to get me into this chair to write a blog post. Once I’ve written the blog post, I love what it does for my brain. It releases thoughts from tumbling around mindlessly, taking up valuable real estate. It allows me to move forward in a thought process. In the month or so since I’ve started this blog, I’ve already had profound progress in some of my thought trains.
  • When it comes to cleaning my kitchen, I have better things to do. It takes a monumental push to get me going, but I’m always so dang proud of myself when I’ve put in some serious work. (Often, 15-30 minutes of work makes a HUGE difference.) When the kitchen is not clean, it’s a downward spiral. (My son is hungry, but all the dishes are dirty, and the sink is filled to the brim with dishes so I have to unload the sink before I can wash a dish…but the counter is full of dirty dishes, so where should the ones from the sink go?) Spending 15 or so minutes every day goes a long way to boosting my confidence and self-worth.

 

The goal is to figure out how to love both the action and the result. Any ideas? What are the situations where you love the action but hate the result or vice versa? Have you done anything to resolve the disconnect?

Look for opportunities

When my son developed a love of trucks, my mom brain went into overdrive and started finding opportunities. We checked books out at the library about trucks. I pointed out dump trucks driving down the street. We often stopped to watch construction happening at the new shopping center. I found opportunities EVERYWHERE. (Seriously, who knew how much construction is happening around us? In addition to the new shopping center, the neighbors put in a new driveway, old sewer pipes are being replaced around town, the high school is redoing their parking lot, etc.)

Some opportunities are given to us (a mom who cares, a library with awesome selection and transportation to get to the library), but some opportunities we must actively seek out. More than just a toddler’s love of trucks, I’m talking about your life. There may be the opportunities handed to you, but I would assume that predominantly you have to find your opportunities.

Maybe you are super successful and content in your life right now, but I’ve always wondered why I’m not as successful as I had thought I’d be by the point. I was an entry level college graduate during the recession, and jobs were scarce. Companies weren’t hiring and people weren’t retiring for fear of what was happening to their savings. I was told to go to college, get a degree and get that full-time job with benefits (called FTJWB for short). But at the time that I graduated,

I had always been told to go to college, get a degree and get a full-time job with benefits (called FTJWB for short). But at the time that I graduated, a FTJWB was a holy grail that just wasn’t to be found for the majority. Most of my friends struggled to find any job and ended up settling for part-time work in retail or restaurants. Some took years to find a FTJWB (it took me four years and a move from Philadelphia to Wyoming); some never found it at all.

The whole point of my pity party is that I NEVER LOOKED FOR OPPORTUNITIES. I just thought they would appear: in the newspaper, through networking, through endless resumes and applications. But I never looked for tiny, spur of the moment opportunities. The kind that happen when you’re in passing conversation or reading a magazine. The kind that may or may not be related to your dream, but something about it piques your interest.

Are you looking for opportunities? I mean, SERIOUSLY looking for opportunities? Are you keeping your eyes open for cement trucks passing you by or the sewer pipes being replaced at the park? Or are you waiting for the (most likely never to come) planned out and perfect moment of opportunity?

Won’t Power

I struggle with willpower. More than feeling indifferent to the situation, I often find myself vehemently opposed to doing the “right thing,” the thing that requires willpower.

I’ve decided to call this “Won’t Power.” It is this invisible force inside of me that clings to the old life. It sneers at my plans and scoffs at my dreams. It tells me I won’t regret watching more TV — I will. It entices me to eat just one more bowl of ice cream, even though I know it will make me sick. When it comes time to

When it comes time to clean up the dishes or do whatever I’ve been procrastinating, I feel this heavy force physically holding me back, making me sick to the stomach at the thought of doing the dishes.

Maybe I’m the only one who struggles with Won’t Power. Maybe not. So many of us make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, exercise more or save money. While none of these goals is that difficult to figure out, there’s a reason why we abandon these goals in a matter of days or weeks.

Do you struggle with won’t power?

Willpower

“Adults devise a plan and follow it. Children do what feels good.” – Dave Ramsey

I’m a Dave Ramsey fan and have heard him say it many times, but I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with willpower. In fact, I struggle to find the willpower to even finish reading “The Willpower Instinct” by Kelly McGonigal. Why is this so hard?

I recently signed up for another Diet Bet, in which you bet money with an online community, committing to losing a certain amount of weight. Those who reach their goal split the pot with the other winners. I’m reminded how simple it is to lose weight…in theory. If the number of calories coming in is less than the number of calories going out, your body will use up stored energy (i.e. fat), resulting in a weight loss.

But as simple as it is, why is it so hard? It all comes down to willpower. We all know to lose weight you must eat healthy food and exercise. But it takes willpower to resist temptations and actually follow through. And that’s where the struggle comes in.

Do you have any advice for increasing willpower? What has worked for you? What has not?

How to be content when you’re a whiny little…

Yesterday I talked about my struggles with prioritizing, and I came to the conclusion that I should work on being content in my current life. Here goes:

How to be content when you’re a whiny little…

  1. Every day, list three things you’re grateful for.
  2. Count your blessings. Literally, count your blessings. On the top of my head, I can think of at least 10 family members who love me. I’m already out of fingers. I bet I could get to 100 without breaking a sweat.
  3. Remind yourself of accomplishments. What are the things about your current self that your former self would pine for?
  4. Catch yourself whining. The first step to anything is self-awareness.
  5. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Literally or figuratively. If someone wrongs you, have compassion and try to understand their motives.
  6. Be genuinely happy for others. It can be hard to be happy when someone else gets the job you want or drives the car you love, but their success does not cement your failure. It can be incredibly hard but work on being genuinely happy for the success of others.
  7. Choose to be happy. You might be reading this on the worst day of your life. Before you punch the computer screen, let me say how genuinely sorry I am for your pain. I’m not saying you stuff your feelings down deep (not healthy) or turn to a vice (also not healthy). But when you have the moment to choose happiness, do it. Even if it’s so simple as listening to your favorite song or hugging a friend, do it.

Ending this list with seven makes me content. Care to share ideas for how you’ve learned to be content in your current life?

True advice I don’t want to hear

Here it is: The hard thing in the moment is the easy thing in the long run and the easy thing in the moment is the hard thing in the long run.

Take weekends around my house. It would be my preferecne to not cook, not do any dishes, watch lots of TV or watch my son run around and do somersaults…all weekend. However, any time I do this (i.e. every weekend), I regret it by Monday morning. The dread usually starts to creep in Sunday night as I realize the house is a tornado zone.

Any time I don’t want to fold that load of laundry (that, ahem, has been sitting in the dryer since yesterday) but I somehow find the gumption to just get up and do it, I learn two things:

  1. It really wasn’t that hard. In the case of laundry, it takes about 15 (uninterrupted) minutes to fold and put away one load.
  2. I get such a sense of pride when I’ve done something to be productive.

While having a lazy makes me happy in the moment, it makes me miserable in the long run. Well beyond the moment of tackling all the forgotten chores is a sense of failure, that I am lazy and unproductive. One of my biggest insults to myself is to say I’m not a go-getter (because I watch go-getters in real life and online do amazing things, and I want nothing more than to do cool things myself).

I hate this advice because right now I’d rather go watch Youtube or putter around online, but I know that that will not make me happy in the long run.

How do you make it easier to choose the difficult choice?

Being more “productive” makes you less productive

Feeling you have to be productive every moment of the day ironically makes you less productive.

I waste time finding a podcast to keep me busy while I do mundane household chores. I have learned so much from podcasts and youtube videos and would definitely not give them up completely. But needing to fill every moment with knowledge leads to a lot of wasted time figuring out what I want to learn. Folding a load of laundry only takes 10-15 minutes and does not need “company.”

When trying to be productive 100% of the time, I notice I spend more time consuming and less time creating. Checking Facebook activates the reward centers of your brain (1). This gives you a positive hormone boost (and makes it quite addictive). In this way, I can feel like I’m being productive when in reality, I’m just scanning through dozens of Facebook posts.

Lastly, when my mind doesn’t have time to relax, it gets overloaded and works less efficiently. In this state, I have trouble falling asleep, often wake throughout the night and wake up in the morning in the middle of a thought or with music playing in my head. It’s nearly impossible to have a productive day with an exhausted brain.

On the flip side, when I put down my phone, although it initially feels less productive, I actually get more done. On these days, the house is clean, I spend precious one-on-one time playing with my son, and dinner is ready by a decent time (versus the times where it’s 7 pm and we haven’t even started cooking).

Take a look at your own life. Are there times when you mistakenly think you’re being productive? Share in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Source (1): http://healthland.time.com/2013/08/31/this-is-your-brain-on-facebook/

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-new-york-train-crowd-6563/