It's About So Much More than Just Doing the Thing

Photo by  Lesly Juarez

Photo by Lesly Juarez

One week of 2018 down, fifty-one left to go! How did you fare with your intentions and goals this first week?

I learned something very interesting about myself. My intention for this first week of the new year was to be diligent about my daily water consumption (64 ounces a day) and to carve out at least a little chunk of time for some sort of Me Time on a daily basis. 

I did a pretty good job. Not a perfect job, but a good job. I drank 64 ounces of water most days, and created a bit of time for myself every day--some days it was walking, some days it was yoga, others it was writing, or giving myself a face mask. Some days I gave myself more Me Time than other days, but every day there was at least some time.

Here's what I noticed, though, which I found incredibly interesting: because I was being more mindful about taking care of myself in these specific ways, I also found that I was much more mindful about my general state of being in the larger sense. There was a sort of trickle-down effect. Like, for instance, I flossed my teeth more than I usually do because I was in the mode of finding a few extra minutes each day to create an end-of-day ritual of taking care of myself.

But, much more than that (although my dentist will be proud), I paid more attention to and was more mindful of where I was at at any given moment. I treated myself more like I would treat a friend than how I usually treat me. Spoiler alert: I'm usually nicer to my friends than I am to myself.

  • When I had the thought, "I should do X" I stopped and asked myself: Is this really what I want to do, or is it what I feel like I should be doing? 
  • I was more in touch with my emotional reactions and, because I was mindful about them, I was able to treat myself better in the moment and navigate them more effectively and with more self-compassion than I normally would. Rather than reacting, I took control of the situation and, more importantly, my emotional wellbeing.
  •  I was better about thinking things through. There were a couple of instances where I almost blew off doing something for myself, but I took a few seconds to stop and think about how I would feel if I didn't do it in the long run. Better or worse? In both examples, the answer was "worse," so I chose the options that I knew would make me feel better in the long run. 

So, yes, at the end of week one, I feel more hydrated and my skin looks a little brighter, but much more importantly I've learned this very valuable lesson: the little things we do for ourselves are much bigger than those small actions themselves. They create the larger effect of making us pay attention to ourselves and treat ourselves a little bit better in small ways that accumulate over time. 

Another happy result of all of this is that because I was aware of the larger picture, I also avoided getting competitive with myself as I have a tendency to do. "You drank 57 ounces of water instead of 64?! You have failed!"

And, finally, I have to say that, interestingly, I found that I had more extra time this week than I usually do. I'm going to chalk that up as a win for intentional action.

Let me know where you're at so far! If you need a bit more motivation to stick with your intentions and resolutions, check out this mental hack