Something which I am becoming increasingly aware of recently is the fact that people always say ‘Oh I wish I did this less, but I can’t help it!’ or ‘I don’t want to get upset about it but I just do…’ and I used to be one of those people too. However what I have come to realise is that really, deep down inside themselves, every single one of them only has one thing to blame for the behaviour or reaction they dislike, and that is themselves. It is always easier to blame somebody else, or better yet, some sort of external, not tangible force, for your mistakes and short comings, but I am starting to think that this attitude is not only a bit silly, but actually potentially damaging to your development and growth as a person. By taking the blame away from ourselves, we limit our opportunities to learn from an experience. The only way to really move forward is to grow and improve upon yourself as much as possible, and this means facing up to your mistakes and admitting you need to make a change in order to stop them from happening again (and again).
Now I am just as guilty of doing this as anyone else, I’m not trying to say that I’m above it or immune to it, far from it. This lesson is first and foremost one which I am actively taking on board right now, and every day I try to consciously remember that I am in control of my actions and reactions. Something which I have struggled with for years is getting up on time, much less in the hours of the morning which are generally acceptable for an adult to get out of bed at. It’s a problem which has stemmed from not being able to sleep in an empty flat when I was a teenager and my Mum was in hospital, and it’s followed me through into my twenties. For a long time, I simple despaired of it, feeling irritated and stressed every time I woke up at 11 or 12, losing half of the day and often missing important events, meetings with old friends, and lots of other things. However I have slowly come to change my attitude on the matter, and instead of constantly beating myself up about it, I see each new day as a new opportunity to improve on the situation. Yesterday morning I woke up just before 9am. On a weekend, when I had nothing to make me wake up that early. This morning, I awoke just after 8. Already, just from two days of accomplishment above what I am used to, I am feeling more positive about the situation, and also more determined to keep it up. The hardest part of making or breaking a habit is in the initial first few attempts, and when you begin to succeed, it helps to encourage you to go further and achieve even more. This can be applied to almost every area of life. Want to exercise more? Just go to the gym, or for a run, that first time, then the second, and soon it will become a habit. Want to start a new project, but feel like you don’t have time? Make space for just an hour, on the weekend, or in the evening, whenever you can manage, and start writing down all of your ideas, and begin to make a plan. An hour a week for a year is still 52 hours, and the more you get stuck into it, the more likely that you will want to find more time to devote to it.
Of course beginning is only half the battle, and the next thing which I needed to work on was my productivity levels once actually awake. Yesterday, I’ll admit, I lounged about in bed for a while, then watched an episode of ‘Community’ and ate some breakfast before really doing anything. Today however, I woke up and started writing some poetry, then took a few minutes to just lie in bed, close my eyes and be calm, to centre myself for the day. After that I got up and started writing this blog post! I find that giving myself a few goals for the day helps enormously in getting stuff done. I have a little whiteboard, which lives on the shelf above my desk, where each night I have started writing my plans and goals for the following day, which I have the satisfaction of rubbing off once I have accomplished them. It probably also helps that I keep my food and snacks on the shelf above, so that I see the board every time I go to get something to eat. The key is finding little strategies which work for you, and make it as easy a process as possible to achieve your goals. Hard work is one of the cornerstones of success, but if you can make little ‘life hacks’ to aid the process, then it will be easier to get on with the real hard work.
So take a piece of paper, write down two or three things you wish you didn’t do, or could change about yourself (I’m talking mostly habits here, not the size of your nose or how weird your toes look!) and think about how you can begin working towards doing them. Small steps will lead to big changes eventually, so just start!