Last night, as I was in bed watching an Amazon Prime original on my computer and scrolling on Instagram simultaneously, I was determined to do two things: spend less time on the screen and more time sleeping at night. So, what did I do? I took advantage of the features of this expensive @** iPhone, which I’m sure I don’t get my money’s worth from. There is a bedtime feature in the clock application that allows you to set how much sleep you get. How does it know you’re sleep? It probably doesn’t but it reminds you when to go to bed and when to wake up. So, I said I wanted to get 6.5 hours of sleep per night, Monday through Friday (I probably should’ve set it Sunday through Thursday so I’ll adjust that before Friday night comes knocking). At 10:45, it reminded me that I have 15 minutes until it’s time for bed.
After I did that, I restricted screen time with the usual suspects. Actually, I restricted screen time almost all together. Between the hours of 11PM and 7AM, I will only have access to certain apps, such as the Bible application and the Harvard Business Tip, which I read first thing in the morning. That means no e-mails, no calls and text messages*, no Instagram. I also retain access to my fitness applications because I should be using them first thing in the morning.
Finally, the asterisk above is because I can be reached during these times via call and text by a select few people who, in the event of an emergency, I would be expected to respond.
My first night on this was fairly successful. At 10:52, I realized I needed to post to my photography Instagram page, so I was a few minutes late for bed (I am able to override the suggestion to put the addictive device down), but, all in all, I am pretty happy with this new commitment to a healthier schedule.
Oh, and if you don’t have an iPhone but do have a smartphone, search Google Play (or whatever other app stores are called) for iHome. I was using that for sleep regulation before iPhone developed these features.
Make taking care of yourself a priority.
At the beginning of this month, I told myself I would knock out 60 miles. Sounds easy, right? Just means I have to average 2 miles each day.
I started strong and continued strong. I was top three on my Nike Running Club app leaderboard… until homecoming. Since homecoming, I’ve had trouble making a dent in my goal.
Yesterday, I told myself, “You have 10 more days until the month is over and 35.4 miles to run. You can do seven five-mile runs (give or take), four ten-milers, or a variation of the two.” So, I knocked out 5.5 miles and called it quits.
Today, I recalculated; 9 days with 30 miles to do. That’s three ten-milers, ten three-milers, six five-mile runs, or five six-mile runs. I had time so I did the ten.
Now, as I recalculate for the remaining eight days, I have greatly increased my chances of succeeding. I can easily run five miles four times between now and next Wednesday to hit my goal. Tomorrow, I may knock out ten and really increase my chances of succeeding.
How can you take this and apply it to your life? What goals do you have for this month or year that seem to have gotten away from you? Maybe it’s saving money. Maybe it’s losing weight. Maybe it’s knocking out x books. Don’t think about the fact that you won’t get them done. Figure out how you will accomplish them. Do the math, then do more than the minimum. Keep chipping away and, before you know it, you will have reached the goal.
Make finishing a priority.
I haven’t ran more than six miles at one time since 2015. I’ve done quite a few five-milers and even an accidental six here and there but today, I went out and did seven solid miles on an unforgiving hilly trail.
The thing is, I wanted to wait until Monday to “get back.” I figured it made sense to start on the first day of the week. But who made up these asinine rules that you have to start and end at a certain time to be effective? Who informed us that we have to look a certain way to succeed?
Don’t wait until Monday to go for a run. Don’t wait until 8 AM to start being productive. Don’t wait until January 1, 2019 to make the changes that you know need to be made right now. Life is short. Yesterday is a memory. Tomorrow is a fantasy. All we have is now and, right now, I’m telling you to break the rules of conventionality and do it with such confidence that everyone around you wonders why they too are not living with such freedom.
Make being effective more of a priority than looking effective.
On Tuesday night, I was having a talk with one of my good friends while I was driving back from Greensboro. We talked about developing good habits and changing destructive ones. It made me think back to the beginning of the year when I committed to living a healthier lifestyle during 2018. And I did for the first quarter. I was eating better, drinking less, and exercising at least five times a week. I even started off the second quarter like that. But, throughout this quarter, I’ve seen my resolve wane, and, this past week and a half, it has come to a complete standstill.
Because life happens. Over the past few weeks, work has been hectic, family has been demanding, and side hustles have been taking up my weekends. I just feel like I don’t have the time. But really, I haven’t had the drive to get it done. There are twenty-four hours in every single day and, where I started the year off using the first two waking hours of those twenty-four to focus on my spiritual, mental, and physical health, lately I’ve felt too drained to do that at all. But we’ll always have some excuse to say we’re drained, be it work or family or funds. But that’s no excuse. Realizing that, I have to work twice as hard to make up for the two weeks of quality work I haven’t put in at the gym or in the kitchen.
Don’t let your 180° change turn to a 360°. Good intentions will have you change for a short period of time. It takes true discipline to ingrain that change into your life. That’s not to say that you won’t hit slumps where you fall off the wagon but staying off is a choice. Choose to get back up and back on today.
Make developing a stronger resolve a priority.
Last week, I didn’t post to The Reader. I needed some time away so that I could marinate in my creative juices. And this blog wasn’t the only job I stepped away from.
When I’m gone (and I mean really gone) from work, I do my best to disconnect. I don’t check work e-mail more than twice a week (at which point I respond to whatever is truly time sensitive). I may choose to respond to an urgent work-related text but my responses are very quick and direct. In short, I make a true effort to protect the time I’ve carved out for myself, my family, and my friends.
Everyone doesn’t agree with my school of thought. Some people believe that endless work equates to a solid work ethic (whereas I equate that, in a salary role, to either poor time management skills, a lack of a personal life, a thirst for money and/or attention, or some combination of all these). When you work, work hard. When you play, play hard. Try to keep the two separate, if at all possible.
Living selflessly is great but you’ll never know how happy you can help someone else be until you explore and nourish that which truly fills your own spirit with joy. Like I said yesterday, time is a nonrenewable resource. Make sure you set some aside for yourself from time to time. That’s what adds color to a life that would otherwise be nothing but a monochromatic period of time.
Make protecting your joy a priority.
This morning at 5:30 AM, I got back to Prime Athletic Training & Fitness Institute for the first time in a week. Though I have gone running a couple times this week, today was my first day of lifting and it was obvious. Not because of the weight. I actually had a decent weight day. My effort is what told on me. It was as if I was proud of myself for just showing up. As if the gym should be happy I came. As if being there and doing the bare minimum and coasting through my “workout” was enough.
I was not there mentally. My mind was in a fantasy land. I was going through the motions so I could check off the gym box as opposed to being fully present. The General Manager, Rashard, came up to me about 30 minutes into my workout said “Bro, I’m glad you’re back in here but you see what that sign says?” “No sitting.” “No sitting. I’ve been watching you this whole workout. You’ve got to get back to it.” So I got back to it.
Find a community that cares enough about your wellbeing to get to know your work ethic and to challenge you when you miss the mark. I am past the point in life of needing a yes man/woman. Sure, sometimes everyone wants positive affirmation, but if I am messing up, I need you to let me know. Certainly don’t berate me maliciously but please come to me with constructive criticism that I can use.
Thanks to Rashard, I will be back where I need to be next time I step in the gym. Choose to be in spaces like Prime, where you are challenged, as opposed to spaces where they are just glad they pocketed your money for another month. And that applies to every circle you are in, from fitness to professional to social to spiritual. If it is not making you better, make it better so that it can make you better or let it go.
Make finding the right community a priority.
“There’s always a choice.” — Charlie Cunningham
I’m at a stage in life where I don’t care enough to allow anyone to make me grossly unhappy. Thankfully, I’m in a position where I have the autonomy to come and go pretty much as I please. If the day is nice and I don’t need to be inside, I won’t be inside. If I don’t feel like wearing a tie and don’t have to wear a tie, I’m not wearing a tie. Conversely, if I feel like sitting in my office in a restful state with the lights dimmed, I’ll dim the lights. If I want to rock a tie, it’ll be a tie that I rock. Long story short, if it’s impractical and causing me undue stress, right now is the time I can let it go. I don’t have any dependents. One day, I may. So right now, I’m here in a polo, chinos, and chucks with the sky as my ceiling, my earphones playing a pretty cool Spotify playlist, and my lap as my desk, working on projects and loving this 68° cloudy day. Why? Because I don’t have any meetings today and I work well in different settings that allow for me to be inspired in different ways, so why not?
For too long, people were told that work had to be a stressor and that you shouldn’t be able to relax at work and I just don’t believe that. These are the same people whose parents and grandparents worked in sweatshop conditions without a department of labor regulating unfair practices. I believe in working hard but that doesn’t have to result in high blood pressure and health issues. Once your health is gone, it’s gone. And, to be honest, these companies and organizations will keep moving with or without you. So take that mental health day when you know you need it. Use your sick days for a check up at your physician and your dentist. I’m not saying abuse the system. I’m saying don’t be afraid to take care of you because these corporations and institutions will take care of themselves.
Break’s over. Back to work… from this park bench. 😁
Make working outside from time to time a priority (if that’s your thing).