Alone but not lonely (until I am)

Photo by Mo Riza

Photo by Mo Riza

Willy came home from a night class on Monday – the first class he’s taken since the winter semester 2012 (a year ago). It was 10:00PM when he got in. He came over to me and looked a bit sad and said something like:

“You’ve been here all night alone!”

“Yes,” I didn’t get where he was going with this

“And you did this almost every night last year.”

“Yes.”

“You just sat around all alone,” he said, and then after a beat added, “No, actually, that’s not true. You got things done while I was gone at school.”

A light when on in my head. “Yes I did, didn’t I?”

And that, folks, was when I realized the difference between last year and everything I got accomplished versus this year. The presence of my husband verses  him not being around as much.

I’ve been thinking about this all week (while procrastinating writing this post). Whenever I’m all alone in the house, I’m motivated to do things. Whenever there’s someone around, that motivation dies. The mornings when Willy isn’t around when I wake up (which is rare), I get up, have a shower, read my Bible, and have  a full morning. When he’s away or there are other people around, I’m a bum. I don’t always read my Bible ( I do always shower) but… it’s just different.

This is my guess as to why: I’m an extrovert, who sometimes cherishes my alone time but when there’s too much, I go stir-crazy. At first when I was getting used to Willy being away at school, I watched all the movies I wanted to that he didn’t. I was like a kid in a candy store. But that got old fast and I realized I was quickly going to rot my brain and waste my life. I was also getting stir-crazy so that’s when I got productive. But when people are around, it messes with me. I feel like I need to be chatting with them, engaging with them. I have a hard time ignoring my husband when he’s around. Like when I’m reading my Bible, it feels private and personal (despite the fact that I often end up telling him about what I’m reading thinking after… see where this gets confusing?) and so I feel a bit abashed to know people are seeing me doing it.

This past Friday, a bunch of friends were going skating. I decided to stay back because I get sore feet when I skate and can’t stay out as long as others, making me a kill-joy. I wanted to do something social, but I asked a few friends and they were all busy. So, I was left alone, which I wasn’t particularly excited about.

But I remembered I hadn’t baked in a while and so I did that. I ended up really enjoying my evening alone!

So I think the lesson here is that I need to institute some time where I’m actually entirely alone, without anyone around — even my dearest loved one. It wont be Monday nights when Willy’s in class, because I’m taking a class, too.

Being enough

draft

I stumbled upon a a bunch of drafts that I thought I would share since I have no idea why they were left unfinished and unpublished. This was originally dated August 10, 2013.

I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird the last few weeks (and loving it). This excerpt perfectly explains my thoughts about being a emotionally healthy goal-oriented person. It’s from her essay “Publication.”

“All that I know about the relationship between publication and mental health was summed up in one line of the movie Cool Runnings, which is about the first Jamaican bobsled team. The coach is a four-hundred-pound man who had won a gold in Olympic bobsledding twenty years before but has been a complete loser ever since. The men on his team are desperate to win the Olympic medal, just as half the people in my classes are desperate to get published. But the coach says, ‘If you’re not enough before the gold medal, you won’t be enough with it.'”

This is, adding to last week’s conversation, a key to dealing with/avoiding a quarter life crisis.

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.

Ten Months

calendar

For two years in a row, I have managed to stay on top of my New Years Resolutions for Ten months. This is surprising to me because ten months is a long time. Ten months is the vast majority of the year!

But it’s still only ten months and not twelve, which I find super frustrating. WHY CAN’T I DO THINGS PERFECTLY?

And so now I have this on my list to ponder for next year. Why ten and not twelve? Is it that I get bored (high possibility)? Is it something about October? Is it both? What gives?

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.

Giveaway: The In-Between

The-In-BetweenLast week I mentioned a few books that helped me process and understand my  quarter life crisis. (For the record, I still feel stupid every time I write that phrase.) Honestly, none of them were Book Saviour of my situation. Nothing I came across carried the epiphany that solved my broody inner conflict.

This book is also not that book. (Sorry.)

But, in a sense, the book is more than that. The whole premise of it is, as its subtitle says, embracing the tension between the now and the next big thing. It talks of the discipline of valuing the awkward in-between. Don’t worry, the book is not as painful as that sentence made it sound. Jeff shares how he has learned to find meaning and value in the times of waiting.

It’s something I’ve tried to get better at.

As I was reading this book, I thought, “this book would be good for people going through a quarter life crisis.” I also started wracking my brain of people who were in an in-between phase so I could recommend it to them.

And then I had a horrifying realization. I have been in the in-between state in certain areas of my life, too. It was better when I didn’t realize I was waiting and hoping for things. Now I feel like I’m in this purgatory and CAN’T GET OUT! Suddenly the book went from being something I wanted to pass on to someone who could benefit from it more, to something I was thinking about regularly, practicing often and ended up reading a second time.

The In-Between is a story of growth and change. The glimpses the author gives us could very well be from your life or mine. He’s adventurous and goal-oriented. But no matter how hard we work to get somewhere there are always times of waiting. How we respond to this waiting, Jeff says (and I totally agree), can say more about us than where we’re going.

Go leave a comment answer the question: What was your most recent ‘in-between’ moment or most difficult time of waiting? Then sign up for your copy of The In-Between by Jeff Goins! 

The giveaway runs today until August 30 (2 weeks). You can get more entries by tweeting and sharing on Facebook daily (come back and update Rafflecopter each time). The only mandatory entry is a blog comment. Rafflecopter now works on iDevices.

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