Habits vs perfection

Changing anything in your life is not about the right or perfect circumstances or the right or perfect environment for this change to happen. It’s about habits.  Those daily rituals that lead to the circumstances eventually becoming the “right” ones. My natural tendency is to think that if everything were perfect I would drop the weight. Be a regular gym goer. Prep healthy meals. Eat healthy all the time. Meet the right guy. Be 100% happy and fulfilled in my job all the time. Have perfect relationships with friends and family. If only everything were “right” or perfect! But what am I doing daily that’s actually leading me towards the perfect circumstances or “right” situation?

We (me) are so obsessed with what we perceive as overnight successes and seemingly impossible overnight transformation stories. Except, we never see what that person does on a daily basis in order to be that “overnight” success. The road to success can seem boring and lack lustre.  And yet we very much want to be part of that legion of athletes or “overnight” success stories.  And still we are not prepared for the daily tasks required to do so.

Ask any athlete what it takes to achieve a personal best. Ask any successful business person or entrepreneur or chef what they do on a daily basis. It requires a huge amount of daily rituals, practices, habits or discipline to achieve something that you truly value.

They don’t say, I’ll start on Monday. Or I’ll hit snooze and sleep for 5 more minutes. Or I’ll do it tomorrow. Or I’ll start next week. Imagine we said that about something like brushing our teeth or bathing. Yes, you could do that. But you wouldn’t be very popular or get invited out much. The people who continually achieve their goals hold themselves accountable to a much higher standard.

They value their daily habits and they do them!  They know it’s the foundation of something greater! Their reward is not just the end result but the process of unfolding. Or to use that much used cliché – it’s about the journey as much as it is about the destination. They take action EVERY DAY!  Not just on a Monday. Or when they feel like it. Or when there’s a full moon. Or when the weather is perfect.  Or they spend hours researching the plan as opposed to doing it! These are people of action! EVERY DAY!

So last week I set out to do a daily habit of 5000 steps per day. And I have to say navigating the mental game required to do that in itself was quite challenging. I ensured that I monitored my daily progress towards 5000.  Also tried to build in as many ways to hit that goal. Longer walks to my car. Lunchtime walk with my colleague. And if I didn’t hit the goal by the time I got home – I did laps within my flat! Yes, it looks crazy and weird but I don’t care! So yay me!

Also another thing I added just last night – every time there was an ad break during the movie I was watching – I did some steps!  And voila I started the new week off with a 5000-step day! But this week’s average is upped by 1000 steps! So its a 6000 step target.

Hello Week 4!

Consistency is key

Week 2 proved to be a lot more challenging, but we celebrate the victory of small things and the art of the re-start 😊

Even this blog post was touch and go – albeit late. But I am happy that it is live and published.

So what detractors, negative behaviour or wall did I hit this past week?

My world was definitely not set up for success. No planning. No prep. And definitely no daily deliberate focus on the small actions.  So why is this?

Sometimes we are the sabotagers of our own success. Motivation alone is not enough to sustain us. Motivation gets us started but it’s definitely discipline and daily action that keeps us going.

I recently heard Will Smith refer to the analogy of building a wall. The mindset we follow is to think “I need to build a whole wall.” This would definitely talk some of us out of starting. Especially those of us (me) that love procrastinating. We would get lost in looking at types of walls. Wall-building methods. Looking at other people who have built successful walls. Dreaming about walls. Looking at online inspiration for walls. But did we even lay the first brick!

So, according to Will (yes we’re on a first name basis now that I am into wall building) you need to focus on the first brick. Then the next brick. But you just focus on each brick. Make sure you lay that brick in the best possible way. But you just keep laying those bricks. And yes, you can argue that you may end up with a divider wall between your toilet and your shower. Or you could end up having built the next great Wall of China. But guess what? Without laying one brick at a time, you end up with what? Nothing. Just maybe that first brick you put down. Or the first couple of bricks you put down. But no wall. So not only did you lose out on building the wall. But you also lost out on really becoming a kick-ass brick layer. Again. Consistency. Disciplined. Daily practices.

So what’s really holding you back from making he changes you want to make? Sometimes the key lies in what seems like adversity. Sometimes you have to go at a slow pace. Sometimes you have to take another viewpoint of your situation in order to unlock things. Ask yourself:

  1. How badly do I want to make the changes? Maybe, if you dig deep enough, you may find you really are not that committed to making the change.
  2. What’s the daily action or steps I need to take consistently? What’s the brick that needs to be put down? Break down your goals into actionable steps. Eg don’t say I want to lose 10kgs. What do you have to do on a daily basis that will make you become a person that has lost 10kgs.  Meal planning. Meal prep. Daily exercise. But even further.
  3. Break it down into the smallest possible actionable step that you can take daily.
  4. Then do it!  Every day. If you miss one day its fine. But two days in a row and you are now not creating a new habit. So you start again with laying the first brick in your wall.  Just keep going!

So how has this translated for one of my habits.  I believe I do need to exercise consistently on a daily basis as part of building my weight loss “wall”. But if I can’t lay a fundamental brick of moving every day – then the wall is not even an achievable thing. So, what’s my daily brick? 5000 steps. Yes, I know that 10 000 has been touted as the minimum to get any kind of benefit (I am well versed in the theory of weight loss thanks! But it’s the implementation that’s a problem!). So, if I can’t consistently do 5000 a day. How the @$@#$@#4 will I achieve 10 000 steps a day? And therein lies the rub. We set such lofty unachievable tasks that we are sunk before we even start.

For Week 2 of the year, my step average was 3043 steps. Way below my target which I only hit once last week. So, I know what I need to do each day this week!

So, here’s this week’s thought. What’s the bricks you need to put down on a daily basis in order to build your wall? Roll on Week 3. 

The Power of Small Stuff

Week 1 of 2019 is done!

I have seen all the posts on social media and various blogs. New year, new me. 356 days, 365 opportunities. New year, new life. Blah blah. And so, we already feel pressured into #livingmybestlife because it’s #newyear.

We spend our entire existence on some form of timeline. Whether by choice or subliminal influence from everything that’s around us. Somehow there is a need to re-invent, re-new or just re-start everything at the beginning of a new calendar year.

By week 2 of the new year (if you made it that far) those resolutions already start dwindling fast. And so, you start the year off feeling like a #failure! #StopIt!

I have been doing a fair amount of research on goals, goal setting, listening to podcasts and reading blogs on what makes one stick to the goals, resolutions or things you think you want to achieve! One word. DISCPLINE!

But that word tends to conjure up all kinds of imagery around punishment. Leading a spartan existence. No fun. No excitement. Generally sucking the joy out of your very existence. No?  Maybe just me? Anyhow this is for those who get my meaning.

At the beginning of the year, or maybe just before then. We start this process of thinking about the things we want to change and be better at. Or do better. Fitness. Weight loss. Better relationships. More money. Whatever it is. And yet we end up not being able to maintain the pursuit of the very things we want to achieve by Week 2 of the new calendar year! What’s that about? We tell ourselves we lack the discipline and then go about our undisciplined lives hoping Monday we can make a new start.  Every Monday. Again.  Just me?

2019, I am going to Maya Angelou the hell out of you. When you know better, do better. For me, I am trying a new approach. I have not set any new year’s resolutions! As in, this year I am going to get fit. Or this year I am going to lose weight. Or this year, I am going to achieve my financial goals.  I am not setting myself up to feel like a failure by Week 2 of 2019.

I had stumbled across the work of BJ Fogg a while ago. I had done his Tiny Habits challenge and that’s how I got to make daily flossing an automatic habit. He also opened my eyes up to the myriad of habits we perform daily without even thinking about them. I learnt about anchoring new habits to existing habits.  Then I came across the work of James Clear (still reading). Again, it’s about those small daily things we can do that actually makes us already more disciplined than we give ourselves credit for. If you are currently not doing the stuff you want to do, all it takes is creating new habits to replace the ones which were not serving you.  Sounds simple enough. But I would suggest you read more from the experts on this and find a way to make it work for you.

So, this year, instead of setting big lofty goals.  Which I secretly know I am not going to achieve, I am doing small things daily. I had started doing small stuff towards the end of last year. Like taking the four flights of stairs to my office every morning.  Parking my car further away. Probably looking like a nut as I do a square route to my car as opposed to a straight line. Taking a walk at lunchtime with a colleague. Tiny daily practices which I didn’t do before. I have by no means dropped weight miraculously or become an athlete in the process. That wasn’t the aim.  The aim was to do them daily. I wasn’t always 100% successful, but I kept plugging away. And now those small acts seem to be coming part of what I do every day. Believe me, I am not suddenly a non-procrastinator or the beacon of health who makes sound nutritional choices.  Instead I am just focusing on those daily tiny things I can do without really thinking about it too much.

I do have big stuff I want to do this year. Not so much goals but plans really. And you could argue it’s just semantics and I will say, you just need to find what works for you. Then just do it! Every day!

This quote by John C Maxwell sums it up quite nicely. You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.

I wish you a happy and fulfilling 2019 filled with the small stuff that leads to big stuff 😊. Hello Week 2.

Mermaid by Sama

This beautiful illustration is done by my friend. The very talented and creative Sama. She needs to do a daily habit of illustrating which she will be posting on Instagram soon. Watch this space.

My brown green smoothie

Freshly inspired by a colleague I have finally decided to break out my low-budget version of the Nutribullet, the Kambrook Smartlife Super blender, this morning.  This was a Xmas gift received Xmas 2016.  Patiently awaiting its debut just over a year later in January 2018.

Note, that no resolutions were made to do anything remotely health. I am just looking for an easy and quick hack to up my vegetable and fruit intake. I also watched that Joe the Juicer guy’s documentary over the festive season.  Fascinating in itself.  But I would miss chewing food too much.  Next best thing, a smoothie.

Of course this involves first doing some research for the best recipe, shopping to get said fruit and veg in order to make this antioxidant filled, life-giving, wonder drink. Just to note that no fruit had been allowed into my house (except berries) as I still had a bit of an anti-fruit hangover since Banting days. I stopped at the Spar on my way home last night. Chucked some basics in a basket. A packet of spinach. Apple. Lemon. Fresh ginger. And mango for something a bit exotic.  I was psyched.

This morning. I got up a bit earlier. And chopped like a mofo. Ingredients used. Spinach, apple, a piece of ginger, some mango and some frozen berries thrown in to give it a bit of chill. Loaded the tall container on the blender and turned that baby on. It took a couple of stops and starts. And adding a bit of water to help the machine get going. But once it was going, it was going. I watched closely as I expected this beautiful bright green elixir of life to emerge from the blender. All I got was something closely resembling shit chocolate and not a bright green smoothie. It looked like I had blended more earth than the fruits of the earth. I was not deterred. This was healthy dammit! It tasted good though.

After a quick google search I have found out that I made the rookie mistake of chucking those berries in there.  They throw off the green. Then I remembered primary school art class. When you learnt color mixing. And you thought you were being efficient and smart because more was more back then. And you mixed everything together. You got the same result – brown!  I also learnt that brown smoothies are a thing. But clearly not as popular (or pretty) as green smoothies. But they do the same job!

I am not deterred. This definitely is a great hack to get some added veg and fruit into my life. The psychosomatic reaction to this healthy drink is interesting though. Could I possibly be experiencing detox after just one smoothie? Is my mind fighting off this barrage of healthy liquid and creating faux detox symptoms? Or is my body just rebelling and screaming for some bacon and eggs?


It’s 2018 – year of the Wood Dog

According to Chinese horoscope its year of the Dog.  Specifically, the wood dog. Apparently this bodes well for me as a Tiger.  And I am guessing, being a wood Tiger (or a Tiger Wood), is especially auspicious.

2017 – in brief. Management course undertaken. Lots of brain stretching. Exhaustion. No balance. Not seeing as many people as I would have liked. And generally being stuck in a bubble. On the up side.  Graduation from my previous studies. Meeting new people. And stretching my brain.

2018 – will see another graduation from above-mentioned management course. Hopefully some travel. Even if just local. Finishing student debt. Yes, I still have that at my age – sadly! No resolutions of any kind being entertained. I am already moving more. Well compared to 2017 me of course.  Also spending more time being outdoors. Using some fitness trackers to score my points (and freebies).

First day back at work today!  #Hello2018

Brands – valuable construct or modern day mumbo jumbo?

I have always been fascinated by brands. As a child, I was one of those who was not happy with the single point of brand contact, I had to go all in. From Maya the Bee, on tv – I had to of course get the Maya the Bee doll.  Barbapapapa – I had the toothbrush holder.  Smurfs, the cuddly toy, the branded backpack and of course those collectibles at the petrol station. Heidi, in addition to the books, I had a lovely set of earrings and matching necklace. Snickers and Mars Bars (at the time not available in South Africa) but a friend had brought me some as a gift. Then the Hello Kitty accessories and stationery and of course let’s not forget the masters of kiddie branding (both small kids and adult kids alike), Disney.  The deliverers of magic (and still to this day I am a serious fan of Walt Disney) but they also delivered my first brand disappointment.

My Dad had traveled all the way to America in the 80’s. The land of brands!  At a time where it was not quite OK for him to travel outside of South Africa. He had won an incentive prize at work and so his company went about obtaining special permission for him to leave the country – to go to the land of brands. Of course this was a huge deal.He was the first person in my family to travel outside the borders of our country.  Prior to this he had been to Zimbabwe, in the time when it was still called Rhodesia. All sounded pretty exotic to me but I digress.

Dad had an amazing adventure.  He brought back plenty of photographs and memorabilia from his trip. Of course as a kid I was only interested in what he had brought back for me. In addition to a piece of the Golden Gate Bridge and plenty of your typical touristy trinkets. My prized possession, a backpack and floppy hat from the REAL Disneyland with none other than Mickey Mouse on it.  It went to school for Monday News.  It stayed in my school bag. It went everywhere with me. Then one day while flicking it around in my hand my eye fell on the label.  “Made in Taiwan”.  Of course I couldn’t quite process how something that came all the way in a plane from America could have been made anywhere other than at Disneyland by Mickey Mouses & Co. I mean, it said Disneyland on the front of it.  Mickey was there in all his famous glory. How did this happen? What was Taiwan anyway?  And why would this be allowed?  So many questions followed.  Talk about #brandfail and Dad trying to explain how products are manufactured outside of countries as they are produced cheaper. This did not make any sense to me. It said Disneyland so it surely has to be made in America where Disneyland is!

And so started my continued disappointment and love affair with brands. I am mostly fascinated by how brands can make you fall in love with them. Rip your heart out. And yet, still find a way to creep back into your life. Despite what you may know in the realms of logic and reason. Some brands are able to transcend the biggest disappointments, and resurrect themselves, like phoenixes from the ashes. And others, after some small but significant mistakes, are forever put on the #brandnever pile. But what exactly separates those brands who are able to resurrect themselves from scandals and #brandfails to those who crash and burn at the slightest hint of impropriety.

So, brands. Modern day mumbo jumbo or valuable construct?  Like art, I guess, brand love or hate is in the eye of the beholder consumer of that brand.

The writing muse is alive…

And just like that, it’s the eve of Nablopomo 2016.  My last post on this blog was in January this year.  While a lot has happened in my offline life, my writing has taken a backseat.

Well it has and it hasn’t.  I have not been writing for leisure, creativity or the sheer joy of putting characters on a piece of paper.  Instead, I did the kind of writing, that can drive you crazy. The kind that can basically suck the life force out of you.  The kind of writing you do for academic purposes. While I can appreciate that it has a purpose. It was an almost counter-intuitive-to-everything-that-I-had-learnt experience. Business writing these days requires short, to the point, and sometimes one-pager dashboards to communicate things.  Then there’s the online world. Short sentences. Paragraphs. With lots of white space.  Brevity.  So extrapolating 15 000 words from something that could have been said in less than 1000, proved to be a painstaking challenge.

But it’s done. I don’t think I could muster up any energy just after handing THAT in to write. But recently, I have been feeling the need to dust off my trusty blog and churn out some posts.  How fortuitous that it’s the end of October. Halloween today actually. So in keeping with the days observances. I am honoring the death of the last 18 months of the torturous writing experience that had me in its grip. And I look forward to the new that lies ahead.

A whole month of posting on a daily basis. Challenge accepted.  I have signed up to the official blog roll. Let’s do this.