Rhythm: A Progress Report

It's the fourth month of the year. I'm sorry, WHEN did that happen?! I realized I should write about my word of the year now that the year has had a few months to get going, and then I realized how badly I've been failing at putting this word into practice.

It's not surprising, it's the whole reason I chose this word in the first place. I'm not good at consistency and creating habits. I'm not good at building healthy rhythms in my life that I actually uphold for longer than a few days or weeks at a time.

If you've read Gretchen Rubin's book Better than Before, you know she identifies four main tendencies for how people handle expectations. (If you haven't read that book, I strongly advise you get your hands on it right away! It's been life-changing for me. Also, you can take the tendencies quiz HERE) My type? Rebel. SHOCKER. Here's what it means, in simple terms: I resist both outer and inner expectations. I, therefore, struggle to create habits, because I view them as expectations, and I push back against them.

I know my knee surgeon and physical therapist told me to do certain knee exercises every day, but that makes me not want to do them at all.

I know I should fully cut out processed foods, but that just makes me really want to grab some Easter candy when it's on sale.

I know I should wake up earlier to have a devoted quiet time before work, but I push snooze seven more times instead.

I'm a mess, people. 

I'm learning that the traditional ways of creating habits just don't work for me. I'm learning ways to trick myself into building better rhythms while eliminating that feeling of being pressured or cornered or held down. I'm finding ways to give myself just enough accountability to stick with things, but also an abundance of freedom to do the things I want to do at the same time.

It's a tricky thing. Fighting my nature is not the way to go, though. Working with it (even when I have to get creative or do things that other people think are weird) is so much better.

Oh, and I learned some other things about myself reading Rubin's book...

I'm an abstainer. This means I do not do well with moderation. If I buy a bag of chips, it will be gone in less than two days. If I have candy in my desk drawer, it will be devoured by the end of the day, no matter how sick I know it makes me feel. I cannot do the one square of chocolate a day thing. (Mostly because I hate chocolate, also because I just can't moderate.) It's all or nothing. Things like challenging myself to buy no new books in all of 2016 work well for me as opposed to letting myself buy one book a month or something. 

I'm a night owl. I will never be an early morning person. Yes, having a real job means I've trained myself to get up and going and out the door by 7:45 every morning, but it's not the time for me to do my Bible study. My lunch break or while I'm eating dinner at home after work are much more realistic options, and I'm much more engaged in what I'm doing. Don't fight what you aren't.

See how it's all starting to come together? The more I learn about who I am and how I work, the better I can create rhythms that are actually likely to last. I've been fighting this for far too long, trying to turn myself into somebody I'm just not going to be.

So. Things that HAVE worked and stuck!

Yes, there are some good rhythms I've created! It's not all hopeless, praise Jesus.

I now take the stairs to and from work. I park in a deck about two blocks from my office, and I never park on the ground level. I'm usually two levels up, giving myself a few flights to go down to to the road before my little walk to the office. Once I'm there, it's five floors up to my cube. I make sure to get up to get water or go to the bathroom a few times throughout the day, and at least once I go down to the 4th floor to make tea and come back up. Now that it's nice outside, I'm getting an extra "5th floor to ground floor back up to 5th floor" round in there, added to a little walk down to my favorite bench by the canal to read. I've only taken the elevator four times since Christmas (and those times were all because I was with my team heading to group lunches), so I count this a major win.

I'm reading through Tory Vore's #effloresce2016 Bible reading plan and loving it. I bought a new journaling Bible solely for this, and it's been great to have a blank slate for all of my notes as I re-read through all of Scripture.

I go on long walks after work ALMOST every day. The days that I don't, I try to do yoga. Some days, I do both. (And I give myself a big pat on the back on those days, too.) I've adjusted my daily step goal on my Jawbone to accommodate my post-four-surgeries knee, and I meet it most days! Getting 2 miles in while listening to podcasts and soaking up some evening sun changes the tone of my whole day.

Every time I cook or prepare any meal, I make enough for a second (or third!) meal so I have lunch taken care of for the next day. I've also done better at planning specific meals with awesome vegan and gluten-free recipes so I'm not just buying random food and then struggling to create dinners throughout the week. Progress, people!

Building better rhythms doesn't happen overnight.

Sure, I had grand ambitions on January 1 that I would declare this word for my year and them somehow totally embody it well as a result...but that was never realistic. This way, this slow and steady, trial and error, win some and lose some way, is much better and much more sustainable in the long run.


If you picked a word for your year, how's it going?! What does your progress report look like?!

One year ago on the blog: To Say I Love You // A Letter

Two years ago on the blog: Why Easter Sunday Matters on a Monday

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