The Small Promise

There have been several periods of time in the past year or two that I have dedicated to waking up early. They’re interrupted by long and short periods where I’m traveling too much or my schedule explodes and it’s physically irresponsible (notice I didn’t say impossible) to get up early and have the same schedule.

But when I can, I do. And I find it to be really delightfully productive.

In order to get myself back on track when I have the time and space in my life and schedule to commit to my early morning routine, there’s one small act I do every night religiously. Well, I guess there are two. The first and main act is that I sleep. I like my sleep. I need my sleep. I make sure to prioritize and get my sleep.

The other thing happens before I sleep though. I’ve read tons of articles, books, watched videos, and listened to podcasts about getting up early. It does not come naturally to me. Even when I do all the things you’re supposed to do, it’s still difficult. I get used to it but it never gets easy. I do it because I know that overall it will make me a happier and more productive person all-around. I enjoy that. I don’t enjoy getting out of bed while my dogs and husband are happily, quietly still snuggling. 

But see I’ve already done this one thing that, for me, somehow makes it easier to get up and get after it. You ready to hear it? I’ve done so much build up in order to get to this point. Now I feel a lot of pressure to make this thing life-changing.

Eh, whatever. Here’s my secret: I’ve set my workout clothes out the night before.

That’s it. A shirt, pants, and sports bra are waiting for me on the couch by the door. 

For me, that’s the little extra edge I need to get after it. That’s the proof of a quiet hopeful promise that I made to myself before this day even started that it might be a good one. That’s the little boost my past gave my present Briana in order to make our ideal future a reality. Just those clothes sitting there beckoning me and making it easier to change then immediately get out of the door to my early yoga.

If you were reading this thinking you were going to hear some new or totally mind-blowing tip, I don’t mean to disappoint. The truth is, you’re either going to find what little trick works for you and let your own discipline and commitment see you through to your goal or you’re going to continue to have excuses.

There’s no one thing that I read that made me think “Oh that’s the hack, I just need to do that and getting up early to attack the day will work out easy.” Instead, I read a ton. Like, obsessively. I read books by Navy Seals (lots of them) who are open about their early bird philosophies. I watched videos of people who try it out. I tried to discuss tactics with natural early bird friends.

While I’m sure bits and pieces of all that information were implanted in my brain simply by sheer volume, none of them were the deciding factor. It was when I realized that I was really obsessing over this idea that I might as well use some of that energy to simply try it.

I had to make space in my life and schedule to make it doable for me. But once I made the choice, I started noticing how it felt. And it felt good. Knowing that it felt good added to my motivation to do it despite the fact that it wasn’t getting any easier. I was feeling better throughout my day and improving my own life in the process.

And even with all my new motivation and happiness surrounding the not-so-easy ongoing choice, I still have to set my clothes out the night before. And, when I do, I’m still significantly more likely to get after it.

I’m not saying everyone has to get up early. It’s irresponsible (notice again, not impossible) for some people to commit to it. But whatever goal you want to achieve, find that little personal hack that makes you feel more emotionally committed to it and maybe makes that goal slightly easier the next day when your motivation is waning and the demons in your head are slowly moving from whispers to shouts. Quiet them with the incessant sound of that soft mantra you already promised yourself. For me, it’s simply, my clothes are here, I might as well go.

Advertisements

Exercise for Sleep

Tpuppy snuggleshere are multiple excellent reasons for exercise. I write about them constantly.

One I rarely talk about is the fact that it helps me (and most people) sleep soundly.

I have a lot of energy. I’m a pretty energetic person. I’m actually really aware of my energy level because it’s a good indicator of my inner mood. If I’m exhausted midday, it’s likely because I’m doing something I don’t want to be doing. If I’m sleepy at night just before bed, it’s been a good day of accomplishments. If I’m still anxious when I’m going to sleep, odds are I didn’t exercise and/or be productive enough that day.

Exercise, for me, is the opportunity to not only clear my mind and gain some perspective on what does and does not actually need to be done in the day. It also gives me a place to let out some of the pent up steam from various projects or interactions throughout the day. It energizes me if I’m feeling drained (and know it’s not from lack of sleep) and it calms me for the rest of the day.

I use my energy level as an indicator. And it typically directly corresponds to my exercise consistency.

Yet another reason to add to the long list of why getting up and getting moving is good for you.

 

Femoir: The Podcast – GOALS – Show Notes

goalsIt’s back! And we’re gonna have new episodes every other Tuesday that talk about comedy and happiness, two worlds that I think should intersect more than they do.

This episode we talk about one of my all-time favorite things… GOALS!

I talk about a Dungeons and Dragons dice and how you need to sleep to be productive. I mention my new Kurt Vonnegut picture (and how he’s one of my favorite authors).

I also mention how people feel the need to lose 10 lbs, sodoku puzzles, the Second City Chicago, and SNL. And wrap it all up with a Pinky and The Brain reference before mentioning my own new goal and organization consulting business, Reasonable Revolution.

Podcast Episode 67: Balance – Show Notes

elephant-balanceThe biggest takeaway from this Femoir: The Podcast episode, friends, is that finding balance is a journey not a destination.

I mention my day job. I work at the most fun Law Office in existence. I’m a lucky lady.

I talk about working out. If you read this blog, you know that I do that a lot anyway.

I also mention counting calories. I’ve written about how much I hate it before. I still hate it.

I mention the “All In” previous Femoir podcast, too.

 

Break’s Over

I had an epic day yesterday. I performed on The Groundlings stage in the early afternoon then a few hours later on the UCB stage. It was delightful.double day

A lot of time, energy, and effort went into both shows and I had a blast.

I also went without working out for two weeks because of the amount of time, energy, and effort that went into those shows.

I have to watch myself because I have a tendency to put too much on my plate. When I do that, I let the important me-things like exercise, meditation and journaling fall by the wayside.

Now that my big day yesterday is done (and was a ton of fun), it’s time to start reevaluating and re-grounding. I let myself sleep in but still worked out in my apartment as best I could for 20 minutes this morning. I’m gonna make sure I get in a quick meditation this afternoon. I’m gonna try and get some rest tonight so I can get up tomorrow and start getting back on track.

Of course there are lots of things I always have on the docket, but I gave myself a break to focus on getting through yesterday. Now that yesterday is done…break’s over. Back to work.

Crash Bam Boom

Last weekend I had a rare Saturday free. I was planning on doing a bunch of things, but didn’t really have anything specific on the docket. So instead of being my normal, hyperproductive self… I crashed.

I even took a picture as proof. crash

That’s me face down on top of a clothes pile on my bed holding a beer.

I would like to point at that at least the floor around me was relatively tidy. Pretty proud of that.

Basically my day went like this: Sleep in until 11:30ish. Meditate. Putz around the apartment. Eat. Workout. Do dishes. Put clothes away. Go for a walk. Meditate again. Eat again. Another walk for a snack. Some staring at the computer screen. Some texts convincing people I was too busy to go out. Some more putzing. Do required writing for class tomorrow. Bed.

That’s it.

And- even though I didn’t yet have my Matthew McConaughey-style-motivation, I’m still pretty proud of that day. It was needed. It was the first time in weeks I exhaled. It was the first day I did whatever I wanted and barely talked to anyone around me. It was a me-day. And it felt good.

I had a lot of stresses- personal, financial, and career-oriented- over the past couple months. I just kept plowing through them without taking time to relax. And last Saturday, I finally just let myself relax.

And even though I wasn’t productive, I set myself up for a much more well-rested, energetic, and productive rest of the week. I think I need these crashes every once in a while.

 

Alright, Alright, Alright already!

MMcConaughey120309_08-fullI grabbed coffee with a comedy friend of mine this weekend. We were discussing our projects and all the ways to be a good performer in this career and whatnot. We also discussed just balance in general- talking about how to fit in fitness with everything else we are juggling. I mentioned how hard it is to find time for a workout. And he relayed the following story:

His friend worked with Matthew McConaughey on set for one of his projects not long ago. He said that they worked on lines together and spent tons of time together over a period of several months. And he said, in that time, McConaughey always found time- no matter how busy or strenuous their schedule- to get his workout on. They were getting up at 5 am and working well past midnight. But he would always find time to workout. Even if it was at 2 am when he had to be back up at 5 am, he found 30 minutes to get on the bike and get in a good sweat.

And then he said something really telling. He said, “The people with the things we want and admire are willing to do what most of us aren’t.” Or something like that. I’m paraphrasing. I didn’t record our conversation. That would have been weird. And I’m enough of a weirdo as it is.

But that idea struck me. I’ve thought about it before and even written about it. But it was never so clearly illustrated as it is with a man who’s career and work ethic I admire.

Yes, I work pretty hard. But there’s room for improvement. There’s always room for improvement. I’ve been slacking on my workouts lately. I don’t like it. It doesn’t make me feel balanced. It makes me feel bloated and insecure. So how do I get the body I want and admire? I have to be willing to do what most people aren’t. I have to be willing to make sacrifices. More sacrifices than I’m already doing.

I don’t yet have the luxury paying my bills easily through creative projects. It’s coming- I’m sure- but it’s not here yet. So I have to give myself every advantage. And I have to work harder than those around me. In every way. And that means getting up earlier, working out more, and not making any excuses for why I don’t yet have what I want. I’m not patient enough to wait for it to come to me. I’ve gotta get clear about what I want and go out there, work my ass off, and get it.

No excuses. Only results. Let DO this.

Break’s Over

scheduleI got busy. Reeeeeeeeally busy. I tend to stay busy anyway (as you can see from a quick perusing of my website… I like to produce lots of content). In the past couple weeks, I became even busier for various reasons. Which is fine by me. It feels good to be challenged.

And last week was one of the most challenging weeks I’ve had in a long while. I was getting very little sleep and had very limited time to get done a number of projects. I slept probably 12 hours all week. And on top of it, had some things go down Sunday that made it difficult to relax during the little sleep time I did have.

I didn’t exercise. I let it go for over a week. That’s the longest I’ve gone in a couple years. It didn’t feel great because I like to be balanced. But truth be told, I didn’t even have time to worry about it. The little bit of sleep I could get during the down times was the one and only priority I had. I just watched what I ate (which is easy when you’re already stressed and feeling down) and accepted the fact that everything is cyclical. I kept telling myself just make it a little it further.

And this morning I finally got back to it. I didn’t have time to make it to the gym, but I did some basic exercises in my apartment. And it felt good. I got some sweat on my skin and endorphins in the brain.

As long as you’re actively seeking balance- and recognize that it’s ok when it doesn’t happen- you can recover from and get through anything.

 

Back to the grind

ocl montage 1

For the past couple months, I’ve put a lot of stuff on the back burner in order to focus on finishing the filming and production of my web series, The Other Client List. 

We finished filming on Saturday. I couldn’t be more proud, grateful and excited. It’s been an adventure and I’m glad to know it’s really only the start of the adventure.

On Sunday, I let myself sleep in. Then looked at the “To Do” list I’d been putting off…and had a little freakout.

Then once it was over, I stood up (did I mentioned I was curled into a ball on the floor?), took a deep breath, and got to work.I let myself freak out for a minute. It’s ok to sometimes feel overwhelmed. It’s ok to feel frustrated. And it’s ok to be true to whatever your feeling in the moment. I didn’t want to fight the freakout. I just allowed it.

ocl montage 3

I think part of what was overwhelming me was not knowing how much I actually had put off and not knowing how it would all get done. So I just started attacking it step by step. I did some cleaning and organizing. I looked through piles of papers and figured out what goes where and what needs to be addressed. I made some phone calls and sent some emails. I did my taxes. Not all of them, but I figured out what I could get done that day, did it, and have an action plan in place for the final steps to finish them.

I even took a couple hours off midday to laugh with one of my favorite people.

ocl montage 2

Even though there’s still plenty to do in both the web series, my personal goals, and at least eight other major projects I’m workin

g on, I’m ready for it. I want this life. I want a life of projects. Which means I’m ok with having times of being overwhelmed. Because everything is a balance. You just have to give yourself every advantage to learn to handle it. That way it gets easier over time. Just like everything else you practice.

I’m still learning. But at least I got a good practice meltdown and recover session in yesterday. I feel good about that.

So now it’s time to get back to the grind. Bring it.

Podcast Episode 51 – Show Notes

This episode of Femoir: The Podcast was all about Quiet Time. What it means to you and me.

It was a quick podcast. Not much to report.

This was the quote I referenced

In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.

Take a listen. Catch up on the other episodes on iTunes for free.

Tell me what you think and what you want me to ramble on about in the future.