Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Removing the excuses

Every day I stare at it.  I have a little piece of paper taped to the top of the frame around my computer screen at work.  It says:

only handle it once

Only handle it once.  It being email.  Read it, reply, or drop it into a "save" folder.

It has changed how I live my life.  Every day I make sure I clear out my work inbox before I leave, if not right when I get each email.  No longer are the unanswered emails staring me in the face, mocking my very existence.

You might be aware of this, Internet, but I stress out easily.  On the other hand, though, I'm a simpleton when it comes to happiness.  Little things bring me great joy.  Once I started clearing out my email inbox each day it was a tiny step to clearing off my desk before I leave.  Both of those things mean I come in and approach the day without carrying over a single remainder of worry.

The last few years I've tried to simplify so many of my decisions.  Having dealt with my fair share of anxiety, it would appear that before my thirties I didn't really have a handle on how to do things without becoming a total freaking mess.  Outwardly I was making it all happen and signing myself up for anything and everything I could, but inwardly I struggled with stress, expectations, demands on my time and guilt.

I've learned to write down EVERYTHING.  Google Calendar is my best friend.  I have reminders set up on my phone for everything.  Ev. ery. thing.  I have a list for my kids of what they need to do morning, afternoon, and evening.  I have a chart for myself of what I need to do, cook, run, and clean each week.  I have a daily task sheet that I fill out for myself every morning when I get to work so I don't forget to do any of the basic (but ridiculous) responsibilities I have, like taking roll.

All of this means the worries are out of me and written down on paper.  But I had to come up with a way to make consistent running happen, and making a list wasn't enough.

Enter the best idea I've ever had for my personal well-being.  Remove the excuses.

I know you're like duh Bob Harper, but listen.  This is my blog and I get to celebrate all the obvious epiphanies I want.  I'm sure I heard a million and a half people tell me this kind of thing in relation to food (you know, take all the junk food out of your house, dummy) but as it applies to running I had to figure it out for my little self.

I started running on Monday April 13, 2009.  I was two days away from my 9 year wedding anniversary with the guy I'd been separated from for six months.  (What?  Yeah.)  But I decided that I needed to begin (as I called it) Operation DontGetFatter even though my life was a steaming pile, and running was going to get me there.  Running has been the best thing I've ever done for my mental health.  But running wasn't then (and has not been) easy to maintain.  This summer is the best I've done with making a choice every day to run (notice that I don't say discipline), and I think it's because I have figured out what my excuses are and how to avoid them.

Here are the little convos I have with myself based on my little cadre of excuses:

Excuse #1: I hate running when it's hot.

Solution #1: Learn to get up early.

Excuse #2: I am too tired to get up early to run.

Solution #2: Go to bed early.  Take a Benadryl by 7:00 or 8:00 and you will feel plenty sleepy.  (Plus you like sleep anyway, so quit complaining about an early bedtime.)

Excuse #3: Long runs are boring.

Solution #3: Get over yourself and go run with people.  (Yes this means making friends, Introvert.  Do it!)  Get some audiobooks for when your friends can't go.  Learn where you can run and look at pretty things.  Learn to stop waiting to be happy until you get someplace.  Try to be happy wherever you are.

Excuse #4: I am too slow.

Solution #4: Announce to the world that you are slow and you embrace your slow speed.  No, you would not like to push it a little harder, your name is not Usain Bolt.  Tell people you're captain of the Walk Break Team.  Share with the world that you are working your ass off to run those slow miles and anyone who has a problem with it can shut the hell up and suck it.

Excuse #5: I don't have time to run.

Solution #5: See #1 and #2.  Plus if you get up early you're never going to have conflicts with other fun stuff since normal people don't get up at 4:00 AM.  It's amazing how many free hours you have in the early morning.

Excuse #6: My feet hurt.

Solution #6: Get the right shoes.  Spend a little money on a good pair of socks.

Excuse #7:  My legs/back/hips/knees hurt.

Solution #7: Figure out what you're doing wrong, or what you need to be doing right.  Running is strenuous, but if it hurts like a mofo something is wrong.  And you're no spring chicken anymore.  A little stretching might do you some good, Father Time.  Same goes for post-run ice, genius.

Excuse #8: Running is hard.

Solution #8: Um, yeah.  It is.  When did that ever stop you from doing something?  So was college.  So is marriage.  So is BEING A PARENT.  The best you can do is to do well right now in this moment.  Take baby steps.  Remember how to eat an elephant.  You can do hard things ANYWAY.  Remember what mom and dad said:  Just do your best.  Your best is good enough.

Excuse #9: I don't like to run on Wednesdays, Fridays or Sundays.

Solution #9: Don't, then.  Run on Monday and Tuesday so you can take Wednesday off.  Then run on Thursday.  Boom--Friday is a free day.  And if you run on Saturday you earn a rest day for Sunday.  Planning your run days around your own natural schedule and preferences makes a big difference.

Excuse #10: I am afraid to run in the dark.

Solution #10:  So don't.  Stop trying to pretend you're not afraid and just go join a gym.

I guess this has been on my mind lately because of #10.  The week school started I slipped back into excuse mode and I only ran one time.  I can't do that since I have a marathon in three weeks.  I've learned that just like it helps my kids to have fewer choices when they make a decision, I tend to do better if I've narrowed the field.  The gym has been a lifesaver.  Removing the excuse, the worry, the fear about being out in the dark means my week is much less stressful.

If I sleep early, I know I've improved my chances of getting up early too.  If I get up early, I'm not going to not run because there's something else more fun happening.  If I tell my friends I'm going to run with them, I'm way more likely to go.  If have the right gear and I walk when I need to, I'm more likely to have a pain free run, which means I'm more likely to go the next time.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm learning to trick myself into doing things.  But it's working.

Two blogs that have been incredibly helpful in my efforts toward simplifying and being more productive:  Zen Habits and Simple Mom.

1 comment:

  1. You are amazing...all of these things apply to me...thanks for making it a little more simple!!