Are you a disciplined person? I can’t decide if I am. I think I many ways, I am but in perhaps MORE ways, I am most certainly not.
I’m a strong starter but my follow-through is sometimes lacking. It doesn’t take much discipline to START projects. It does, however, take much more discipline to FINISH.
In school, I always started off the term gangbusters! Fully organized with my colour-coded binder and pens. The ultimate note-taker complete with perfect penmanship. After a few months (weeks?) the penmanship would turn to chicken scratch and the colour coding ship had long since sailed.
In many ways, I’ve overcome these counterproductive habits with far better ones. For example, I’ve run several half marathons, most of which I entered into fully trained and felt strong from start to finish. I’ve set all kinds of fitness and work goals and put the work in to complete them successfully. I’m proud of all those achievements where my outcomes were concrete.
But what about those “projects” that were just for my own personal development? The ones that no one witnesses and of which there were no tangible outcomes?
Connection with a higher self.
These are all areas where a strong sense of discipline and consistency pay dividends. Also, all are practices that my discipline falls short. There’s no score kept and no one knows if I’m falling short of my goal, so it’s easy to let it slip by the wayside.
So! I’m holding myself accountable and inviting YOU to join me in accountability. I’m going to embark on a 30-day meditation challenge starting TODAY.
I’ll be using the Headspace app to guide me and plan to allot anywhere from five- to ten-minutes most days and one 20-minute meditation weekly.
I’m looking forward to discovering what a consistent effort in this arena will do for my mental health and spiritual wellness.
What about you? Do you meditate? What’s your experience been like? Don’t meditate and want to join me? Please do! I’ll post regular mini updates on my IG @alisonaugust and weekly blog post updates right here.
I’d say wish me luck but luck has nothing to do with discipline, so I won’t. 😉
Do you have any bad habits? I do. Several, actually. None that are necessarily harmful or that I worry too much about. I feel I also have good habits and so it all balances outs. I work out and run regularly, and I eat fairly well. So, I’m all good, right?
Almost… but there is one nasty habit that I have to break. Part of me doesn’t really WANT to break it, but I know I NEED to break it.
I spend too much time on my phone.
There, I admitted it. I’m sure it’s probably an addiction (but I prefer to call it a ‘bad habit’). My guess is that I’m not alone with this phone habit, am I? We live in a society of fifteen second videos and perfectly curated Instagram feeds constantly bombarding us with ideas of how we can be better, thinner and more stylish versions of ourselves. And, unfortunately, it’s got me hooked. Part of me figures since we are all basically hooked on our phones, then why should I have to bother changing anything.
The answer is, I think it’s bad for my mental health and stunts potential opportunity for growth. And I don’t want to be stunted.
Moreover, I find myself CONSTANTLY negotiating and putting limits on my kids’ screen-time (I’ve also been known to nag Jason about picking up his phone while we are talking or eating dinner together). In reality, I’m probably the worst for this in my family and (shame on me) if anyone dares to police my phone habit, they’re likely to get a quick snipe back at them! So, I’ve decided it’s time I police myself a little and start building better screen-time habits.
In order to put limits on my bad habit, I know I need to replace it with good habits. With that in mind, I’ve come up with three tactics to put into place to switch the bad to good.
1. Put the phone in a drawer and put on some good tunes.
One of the times of day I am particularly bad for mindless scrolling is after the school/dinner-making hour. Juliette and Miles will usually be playing or watching a show and eating a snack around this time. I tend to enjoy some time chilling out and scrolling my phone before I start to pull supper together in the kitchen. Isn’t that awful?? I could be spending quality time with my kids but instead I’m wasting time on Instagram. I feel a little gross just admitting it!
This time of day organically starts to change as the weather warms up, and we naturally start spending more time playing outside with our neighbours. But until that happens (spring weather can feel free to show up anytime…), we tend to stay indoors more between the hours of 4 and 6 pm. So, rather than stick my nose (and theirs) in a screen, I’m going to put on some music, pull out some puzzles or colouring, and enjoy some time with the kids. Maybe we’ll have a little dance party or handstand contest! I can leave the tunes playing while cooking dinner and maybe even get the kids to help in the kitchen. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that children learn from what they see, not what they’re told. If I want them to have less screen time, I need to set that example. It starts with me!
2. Morning meditation
I doubt that spiritual gurus and wellness coaches have been spreading the word about the benefits of meditation and setting intentions for the day because it’s a BAD idea!
I’ve dabbled with meditation on and off over the years but rarely stayed committed for any length of time. My excuse is always that “mornings are crazy with the kids,” yadda, yadda… But honestly, I spend twenty to thirty minutes upstairs blowdrying my hair, putting on makeup, and looking at my phone every morning. During that half hour, the kids rarely come upstairs. With that in mind, I know I can definitely dedicate five minutes daily to a morning meditation. Five minutes may not seem like much time but it feels like a manageable starting place for a beginner.
In the past, when I’ve played around with meditating, I used the Headspace app on my phone and found it super helpful. My plan is to start using that app again to get me into the habit and to acquire some helpful meditation tools. The narrator, whose voice is so calming and gentle, presents guided meditations of any length you choose. You can also set up the app to send you notifications throughout the day with mindful messages and little bits of wisdom.
3. Read a book
Finally, I am going to start reading BOOKS again, dammit! I used to read every night before bed and now I lay under my covers, comfy and cozy, and I scroll. For far too long, I scroll and peruse images of people I know, and many don’t, doing random things that have nothing to do with me. I waste SO MUCH TIME scrolling! I don’t want to be that person! I want to be the Ali that reads again!
It’s not for lack of reading material that I wind up scrolling. Frankly, I’m just being lazy. I have a stack of books just waiting for me to pick them up. Good books, too! Becoming by Michelle Obama is first up on my list. I started reading it a couple of months ago and set it down after two chapters with the intention of picking it up again the next night… and then, I just didn’t.
On the plus side (and in my defense), I have been reading an excellent novel with Juliette for the last month. Every night we read a few chapters of Wonder. Have you read it? I cry almost every night while reading it to Juliette. Technically it’s children’s literature, but I think it’s a beautiful book for readers of all ages. Highly recommend! They made it into a film with Julia Roberts that we are going to watch when we finish the book. I’ll be sure to have a fresh box of tissue nearby…
My reading goal at one book per month. Maybe I’ll even start a book club here on the blog! Would you join? Leave a comment below and if there’s interest that could be something fun to roll out in the coming months.
There you have it! I am consciously committing to spending less time on my phone and MORE time doing things that are actually good for me. Here’s where the accountability comes in: I am going to report back to you on the blog how I’m doing with my commitment. I promise I’ll be honest! I plan to write quick weekly updates on my progress and, thanks to that awful little iPhone feature that reports your screen-time, I’ll have actual measurables to tell me if I’m succeeding or not.