Friday, January 25, 2013

Routine: Friend or Foe?

I've been no stranger to sharing here that I have a certain type of personality. Call it what you will; Type A, particular, a planner, a sucker for consistency, a need for control. A beast of many names.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about this part of me. This need to be one step ahead. Well, to be honest, one step ahead of the person who is already one step ahead. This constant need for constant. The challenging part is distinguishing the role that these personality traits play in my life. Positive or negative? Good or bad? Friend or foe?

My argument has always been quite simple; friend. Routine keep us structured. Accountable. In line. Routine and consistency are the reasons I can keep my work week in line, how I manage stress, how I keep from imploding. It helps me make small strides towards larger goals. Consistency keeps me accountable to my running schedule, gives me a step by step guide of how to train and prepare for a race. Planning saves me a trip to the grocery store everyday, it keeps me well rested, and ahead of the game; in short, its keeps my world turning.

But what happens when your good friend turns on you? When routine doesn't make you happy, and productive, and in line with the world's plan for you? When planning becomes over planning, when analyzing becomes over analyzing? When you begin to force all of your daily activities, and your actions become inauthentic and ingenuine? When you begin following the routine plan, and stop listening to yourself?

I've learned, like most things in life, it's not black and white. To achieve balance you cannot be Type A in all aspects of your life. Your personal and professional life just won't survive. The very definition of balance tells us that you can't carry all that weight on your shoulders. It must be equally distributed.

So, I challenge all of you, as I challenge myself, to correct one inauthentic routine or behavior. To break a "bad" routine. To think twice before going into autopilot, and evaluate a need for change in just one behavior in your daily life. Make your life, your work, your relationship, more passionate and more alive by seeking change somewhere you find you're unhappy or in need of a boost.

Routine is always going to be a friend and a foe, an angel and a devil; the challenge is recognizing the routine behaviors that just don't work for you anymore, and taking steps to turn them into more positive, more fulfilling behaviors. Because, hey, it's got to be better than what you're doing!

Change is the only constant, right? But don't have a panic attack Type A'ers, just think of it as planning to be unplanned for awhile..

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Don't Hate, Appreciate

Ever find yourself in a rut? That's a silly question, because to say no would be a lie. The more appropriate question most days would be which one? Professionally? Personally? With co-workers? Friends? A partner? Yourself? The list goes on.

I recently found myself there. Rutsville. My long awaited vacation was such a tease. Saving all my vacation time to finally get away, but so much time away can make it hard to go back. Like, really hard.

Without getting into the nuances of my job, I'd say I'm content. Pleased. The long days, the early mornings, and the constant change provide a love-hate relationship. In short, sometimes I love the excitement and the newness of everything, and sometimes, well... you get the point. Post-vacation was especially difficult. My lack of energy, excitement, and enthusiasm had me pondering all of life's big questions (and by life, I clearly mean my fresh-out-of-school, first time entering the workforce, shouldn't this all be rainbows and smiles and everything I've dreamed of... job).  Caution: rut ahead.

And so it went for a few days. The questioning, the short temper, the agitation, the countdown to the weekend. And then, something totally unexpected happened. A small gesture that changed everything. In a routine meeting with my boss, she took the time to let me know that she knew things had been crazy and tumultuous lately. She took the time to tell me how much she appreciated me during this transitional time in our company. That I was valued, that my work was noticed, that I was making her job easier, and that I was an asset to my team.  With that short, 45 second detour in our conversation, the stress, the doubt, and all the other negative feelings began to subside. For the first time in a few very long weeks, a deep breath helped me loosen my chest and clear all of my noise.

The lesson here? I understand we're not all this lucky. This perfect scenario doesn't always present itself at that moment when you need it most, or ever in some cases; but, it taught me that a little appreciation truly does go a long way. Genuine appreciate can be attitude shifting, mood changing, purpose driving. I hope for all of you that you have someone who provides some form of appreciation in your day to day life; but don't give up if it's not right in front of your eyes. Start with yourself! Give yourself the appreciation you deserve. You're doing just fine. You're valuable.  You're making it through, one, two, or five steps at a time. You survived. Appreciate…yourself! And repeat the next day, and the next.

But more importantly, pay it forward. Alleviate someone else's noise; your partner, your friend, your co-worker, your family, by letting them know they're not unnoticed. They're appreciated. They're doing just fine.

That's the thing about a little appreciation; even if it doesn't completely turn you around, no matter where you are on the road to Rutsville, I guarantee it'll stop you dead in your tracks.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dry January

The holidays take a toll on everyone, some more than others. And I don't know about you, but being home for 10 days in my quiet upstate New York hometown, reunited with friends and family, celebrating the holidays, and rejoicing in my well deserved, long overdue, long awaited FIRST vacation from work since June, meant one thing. Lots…of…booze.

Everyday was a celebration. The first night home, Saturday night, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the I'm so hungover I might as well keep drinking day after Christmas, New Years Eve. All of this cause for celebration left me sleepy, loopy, bloated, grouchy, and what I imagine the remaining Seven Dwarfs of Drinking would be. I knew immediately that a break from the drinking, the late nights, the food, and the excess, was necessary. ASAP!
Last year my boyfriend embarked on a sober streak from the day after St. Patrick's Day (no explanation needed) until our half marathon in early May. I wish I could say that I was the supportive girlfriend who said I would do it with him, but in my last semester of grad school before graduation in May, I knew I didn't have his willpower to abstain from the relaxation and the celebration. But I watched him stick through it almost until the end (insert peer pressure from my visiting sister and her boyfriend…thanks guys), and told myself I would complete the task along with him next time he did it.

Flash forward to New Years Day. Holy….hangover. I rolled over in bed, and my first words were, "Boyfriend, I'm doing sober January with you..", as I dozed back to sleep, hating my life, my nausea, and the fact that in a few short hours I would have to drive 4 hours in the car back to Philadelphia, and head to work the next morning. Feel bad for me..

But, unlike this story usually ends (I'm sure most of you can't count the number of times the statement "I'm never drinking again" has come out of your mouth), I decided with sober eyes that I was going to follow through on Dry January. Not because I needed to, but in an effort to honor my commitment to better myself, and take a break from all of the excess (while secretly hoping I'd save some dough, and drop some of that holiday poundage).

While it hasn't been easy to resist an evening glass of wine after a hellish challenging day at the office, or a Friday Happy Hour with friends after work, I'm so far enjoying my responsible evenings and peaceful mornings. 

So raise your club soda, fuel the rumor that you're more than likely pregnant, and here's to a happy, Advil-free January! 


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

May Old Resolutions Be Forgot

Maybe this post should take a cue from my last one. How did we get here? January 2, 2013, months (and that's generous) without a post, more changes than I can count, a new season, a new year…you take your pick!

But I'm back. And with that, a new commitment to myself to revisit you all. And not just for you, even though I know you've all missed me so, but for me. 

I stray from the "R" word though. Not a resolution. The pressure once a year to make grand, often unattainable changes, only complicated by the 5-8 lbs of holiday weight, lingering hangover, and the "I can't believe I really have to go back to work" mornings in bed. 

So this year mine is not an intention, to be forgotten once the cold of winter hits, but a commitment, a promise.

To revive not only my blog but myself. 

To do the things that make me happy, and to do more of the things I know will make me happy if I just shut up and do them. 

To run. 

To write. 

To enjoy. 

To stress less. 

To connect. 

To find and maintain balance. 

To continue searching for my passion. To find it.

To make lasting change. For this 365 days, and the next, and the next. 

So, don't be overwhelmed by the January 1 resolution deadline. Start January 2, or 3, or 23. May old resolutions be forgot, to make room for all of your commitments this year.

..and hey, if you can kick those 5-8 lbs, consider it an added bonus!