Being Crafty

It's still in its home on the back of my dad's couch.

It’s still in its home on the back of my dad’s couch.

Growing up, we had this afghan that lived on the back of our couch. No matter how many times we moved (and they were many), this blanket came with us. It was there through all of our childhood illnesses, through every movie we watched, every cold Canadian winter. My Dutch grandmother had crocheted it years ago. One day, I resolved as a teenager, I would learn to crochet and make a blanket like this for my family.

Since graduating from University, I’ve been on a quest of sorts for hobbies. I know that hobbies are a very important part of a balanced and full life, especially if you’re someone like me who can be a little too into her work. But I just couldn’t find something that I clicked with and loved to do (except blog, right?).

“Start being Crafty” has been on my Personal Development Plan for years. I’ve taken steps towards these things. I sewed a bit one year, I tried to cross stitch another year… but there’s always this threshold of difficulty that I have a hard time surmounting. My mom finds this hilarious and bewildering, because these things are like breathing to her. Whereas I get annoyed when she can’t remember her AppleID or work her iPad.

But alas, here I am, finally crocheting. I asked for crochet gear at Christmas and this is my big goal for the year. For a few reasons:

  • I want to be able to do it
  • I’ve put it off long enough that it’s becoming shameful.

So despite the fact that I’m not running right now, I did go swimming this week. Despite the fact that I haven’t been writing every day, I’m blogging a little bit more regularly. And three weeks ago, I couldn’t crochet at all. I’m not stagnating anymore!

crochet

I’m back in the saddle, it seems. A friend recently asked me why I’m blogging more again and what had changed? The answer: who can know? I don’t really know what has changed, other than I actually feel like I have something to say again. Why do I have something to say suddenly? Again: who knows?

Maybe it’s that I got restless after sitting around for so long in the fall. Maybe it’s that I got a crochet hook, some wool, and a how-to book and enough motivation to start. It’s probably a little of both. This brings me to the point of my post.

I haven’t really been working on my bucket list goals very much recently, but I obviously have been moving forward on other ‘lesser’ goals. In some ways, they’re just as important as these other things, just less audacious. They’re also things that I had always wanted to do, but never made it onto my official list that I had created.

Even though a Personal Development Plan is different than a Bucket List, it’s still totally relevant to this blog. I’ll explain why the next time I write (see? I’m back in the saddle, people!).

Dissonance

The last few months have been obviously abnormal for me in certain ways. As my dad put it, “Your lack of blogging is very obvious.” He also proceeded to assume that I must be a lot less stressed by blogging less.

Not exactly.

I’ve realized that my life is a lot more together when I’m busy. There’s this sweet spot where I’m quite busy actively working on my priorities. This point exists right before I’m freaking out because I haven’t done laundry or grocery shopping for weeks. This fall, as I have focused on work and getting my laundry done on time and having food in the house, I’ve also watched a lot of Netflix.

I am mostly OK with these things.

I’m mostly OK with having not really moved forward much in reaching some of these goals listed on this website because I know there’s more to life than blogging and running and reaching goals. I’m mostly OK with having been a bit of a blob on my couch because it’s OK for me to not have everything together at all times.

But I was also partly not OK with this fall because I don’t like being a blob. I’m not a very great person when I’m a blob. There’s this ugly spot on that same imaginary chart where if I don’t have enough challenge I revert to laziness. This was me in my personal life this fall.

There was a distinct dissonance in my life and I didn’t know what to do with it. I was unmotivated, yet I understood that this was not the end of the world, even if I didn’t like it. My SAD wasn’t really a big deal recently, which was incredible. And yet, something was still off.

This morning when I woke up the sun was shining. We cleaned the house and I did all kinds of things I had put off. I scrubbed the tub, I cleaned the shower curtain, I did laundry, tidied the house, I walked to Café St. Henri and here I am. Blogging. Getting Things Done.

There’s something about December that motivates me. It’s the anticipation of a new beginning in January. So here I am, turning my back on that weird fall and facing forward.

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Learn how to motivate yourself

As you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to motivate myself. I don’t think this is entirely a bad thing. Sure, it isn’t nice to be unmotivated, especially when you’re someone like me who likes constant movement towards, well, anything. The positive thing is that I’m learning about myself. Through trial and error I’m learning how to get myself from where I am to where I want to be. Since I started University, I’ve been using different techniques to motivate myself to do tasks I don’t like. I would never have graduated without doing this.

I know that just because I don’t want to do something doesn’t mean it has stopped being worth doing. It just loses its excitement, not worth. In reading and learning about leadership, I’ve heard people say that leading yourself is one of the hardest things you’ll learn to do. I can’t remember where I heard that and I’m not totally convinced it’s true. But I do know it can be hard.

This week I watched the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (on Netflix). It was fascinating. One thing that I noticed that was alarming was how many people the guy was interviewing who said something along the lines, “I know I’m going to die because I’m overweight and unhealthy. It’s no one’s fault but my own. I’m the only one who can fix this. But, I just can’t. I love food.”

“BUT YOU CAN!” We  want to yell at them, right? And yet, we can probably relate in some way or another with serious demotivation. We can relate to an obstacle that seems so insurmountable, we give up before we start. Right?

This is where become resourceful is key. We need to have a tool belt of ways to get our butt in gear. In my experience, one thing may work like a charm in one area of my life, but not another.

In getting ready to write this post I searched the internet for resources to quote, but no one really said much that I didn’t already know. This was half encouraging (I’m on the right track!) and also disappointing (what if these ideas aren’t working!).

Ways to motivate yourself

If you’ve read my ebook some of these things wont be new. But they’re still true. Sometimes you need to be creative in how to activate each of these things.

  1. Vision. Remind yourself of how it could be if you achieve your goal. What was that original vision that capture your heart and mind? If you want to know more about this you can read my ebook.
  2. Inspiration. Hang out with inspiring people, read inspiring blogs, or biographies. Find out what inspires you to be better (spouse? child? sibling who tells you you can’t accomplish your goal?) and use that as fuel.
  3. Rewards. Humans often need rewards in order to be motivated. Whether or not you are ok with that or not is out of the question. You might think you’re better than that, but you probably aren’t. You’d be surprised what you’ll do for a square of dark chocolate, a chance to play a video game, dinner at Joe Beef. Develop a rewards system for yourself and try that out. Maybe going for a winning streak on Lift is reward enough.
  4. Play games/add healthy competition. Find a friend (or enemy?) you can have some healthy competition with. See who can lose the most weight, or swear the least while making a pie crust. Try something like Lift
  5. Act on the facts. The facts are, you’ll die younger than necessary if you’re obese. How do you act on that fact?

Now the question I’d be wondering if I were you: are any of these working for you? Sigh. Not in this case. BUT, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up. I’m still on the search for a successful motivational tool. Sadly, the increasing numbers on my bathroom scale are not yet working.

Motivation: found

Just as quickly as my motivation left, it returned. One piece of information changed my attitude completely. It’s a bit bizarre, actually. I’m not sure why my attitude was dependent on these details. I went from not having zero desire to pursue any of my goals, to realizing I was being an idiot. What changed?

Fall came.

Yes, it’s that time again. When exercise is no longer a luxury or a middle-class hobby, it’s an act of desperation in order to keep on top of my mental health. When my morning routine is a way I keep on top of all of these things because they’re all crucial to me keeping my life in order. I don’t think it’s any coincidence I first posted about morning routines exactly a year ago. Fall, for me, is very pretty torture.

But you know what? I don’t really want to run anymore. I’m working on that one. I used to really enjoy it! And now all these people who started running after me are totally overtaking me in distance covered etc. They’re all running 5, 10ks. People posting their half-marathon times on Facebook and I’m experiencing deep regret over my public declarations.

But that’s kind of the whole point of the public declaration: so I will be shamed/encouraged into continuing.

The Oggings

If you follow me on twitter you would have seen me tweet this yesterday:

In the last week a bunch of people have bugged me (or simply asked) what was up with my lack of blogging (or jogging for that matter).

The simple answer is: I don’t know. That’s also the complicated answer. It’s not that I’m too busy (Mrs. Buxton!). It’s worse than than. I have been uninspired and  demotivated.

I still care about these things. I just lack drive. This is a weird state for me to be in. It is rare for me to lack drive to write. It’s rare for me to lack drive to learn.

So this week I was thinking a lot about what I could do to stay motivated.

Dynamic Determination

Dynamic Determination is a leadership quality we teach a lot about at work and one that I’ve been working on in my life these last few weeks. I am determined to not let The Oggings fall totally by the wayside. The process of figuring out how is the tricky part. Do I use positive reinforcement and reward myself with Fleur de Sel every time I do one? Do I use negative reinforcement and deprive myself of something good for not having done one of these things?

I know that in my life there will be plenty of times when I don’t Want To do X or Y. Right now I’m learning how to find or make the Want To. Self-discipline is hard enough for me when I have motivation. At this point in time when I lack it, that self-discipline is nowhere to be found. But I’m on the hunt.

One-eighty

A year ago I was scrambling to find resources to help me manage my full-time work with people. I was a team leader that meant I managed a staff team (people work) and talked to other people all day. I was struggling to have any desire to have friendships at the end of the day. I talked to my friends basically only by text. This blog was the place I worked out some of the things I learning about how to streamline my life to manage everything all while trying to achieve in the long-term the things I wanted to.

This year I don’t manage that team. Nor do I work primarily with people. I mostly work to create capacity so others can do a good job talking to people all day. The biggest shift I’ve seen in my life now is that I have relational energy at the end of the day.

I noticed this shift in a roundabout way. I was doing a random survey someone had tweeted to help their friend write a book. The survey asked questions about free time to do hobbies. Did I have enough? What were my hobbies? As I was listing the things I enjoyed doing I realized they were all solitary activities: writing, blogging, cooking, baking, reading. I imagine I developed the enjoyment of these in response to a largely extraverted life, full of people.

Now that I’m mostly engaging with people online through video chats, email, writing, and phone calls I’m wondering if I’ll still enjoy these primarily solitary activities? Is this why I’ve barely looked at twitter and my blog the last two weeks?

I keep finding myself planning to have people over. Every night! People! More people, please! I’m shocked at the one-hundred-and-eighty degree turn that I’ve done socially since April. I’m also looking forward to being an extrovert again.

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