Greetings blog world! I’ve missed you! It’s been a while, so I thought I’d update you on a few of the things I’ve been up to while I’ve been, ahem… not blogging.
- I’ve been getting to know my new city and taking in all the sights.
- I’ve finished four grad school applications, with a fifth one in-progress. I should hear back in March-April, so fingers crossed!
- I’m halfway through my year of service with a local literacy nonprofit, and am helping nearly fifty students in an under-served school meet their literacy needs.
- I’ve lost seven pounds! I wish I could give you some tips and tricks, but it’s been mostly burning calories shuttling children around at work. Bad cold (or flu?) and stomach bug also contributed, unfortunately.
- I’ve been on a book binge! Books on tape driving to and from work, reading books all day to kids, and a small book club with my high school friends. (New favorites blog post coming soon!)
- I’ve been learning a little Korean. Or, at least how to read it. Work in progress on that one.
- I’ve been on a minimalism/zero waste/plant-based food kick. These are all works in progress too, but I’ve really been enjoying watching Youtube videos and making small changes. I bought almost an entire new work wardrobe second-hand from Clothes Mentor and Thred-up and saved a ton of money in the process.
Now, confession time, I HATE life transitions. I mean, absolutely hate them. Big life changes make me terribly nervous and I have a tendency to want to avoid them. This year, though, changes were thrust upon me, and I just accepted that I was going to be anxious about them. Accepting that aspect of myself somehow made things a lot easier because I was kind to myself throughout the process rather than trying to be hard on myself. I practiced self-care and self-acceptance rather than trying to perfect the process. I also treated the whole thing as an adventure and decided to be grateful for new opportunities, because every life experience is temporary anyway. I’m still in a very transitional place in my life right now, but I’m learning to enjoy that more and to live in the moment.
So, now that grad school apps are almost done and I’m past the half-way mark with my year of service, I’m hoping to be blogging more often. I’ve got a few new ideas, but also let me know if there is anything you would like to hear from me!
Today’s Work Charm is all about starting the day off on the right foot. I’ve added a few tips that I find helpful to make sure my workday is a success.
1. Practice acceptance. In any workday, there will be things that are out of our control. We can accept this and focus on what is within our power to change. There is no point in getting upset over things outside of our control. A little self-love goes a long way.
2. Make a list. Focus on the things that are the most important and the most urgent first. Check out this quadrant from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People if you haven’t already. It will keep you from getting stuck in the rut of email-checking for hours on end.
3. Eat your frogs first. This means do that difficult task that you know you will be dreading all day first so that the rest of your day you won’t be stressing over it. For more information, check out this post.
4. Consider flow. Flow is a state when we are “in the zone” that has been shown to increase our happiness. In order to achieve flow, your task needs to be engaging, challenging but not TOO challenging, and have clearly defined goals.
5. Find your challenge. In the book, Superbetter, Jane McGonagal talks about viewing obstacles as a challenge, rather than a threat. Threats trigger your cortisol, making you feel stressed and leading to myriad health problems. Challenges, in contrast, trigger the reward center of your brain, releasing dopamine, which is correlated with happiness. So, the next time you have a difficult task ahead of you, try to view it as a challenge, rather than as a threat.
How to you make sure you start your work day off right?
I have recently embarked on my first real “city rush hour” commute, and oh boy, I haven’t been missing out on anything. The experience, however, has given me some opportunities to reflect on how I can make my commute more Enchanted, so I thought I would bring it up as part of the Work Charms series. I’m by no means a commuting expert, but I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along the way. Feel free to share your own tips with me as well; I could certainly use them!
1. Be mindful. Of course, we should be mindful of other commuters, but what I actually mean by this is to consider our commute as part of our day, rather than just a transition time between here and there. Our time is valuable and I find that I am much more content if I am appreciating what I am doing in and of itself, rather than just treating it as something that will bring me to the next thing on my to-do list.
2. Explore the senses. Keep your eyes on the road, of course, but being considerate of your senses can be a nice thing. I recently cleaned my car out and got some new air freshener, which smells nice. I also have some new music. I like to bring tea or coffee with me. If you commute by bus, walking, or bike, you may not have as much control over your environment but maybe you can take the time to look around you and explore something you hadn’t noticed before.
3. Invest in yourself. I am currently listening to some sociology and psychology books I had on Audible that I never had a chance to listen to before. After that, I plan to listen to a Korean language series. Consider how much time you have on your commute. Now, imagine that you have that much time every day to take a class or to learn something new. What would you invest in for that amount of time?
4. Practice compassion. It’s easy to find ourselves angry when people cut us off or drive recklessly. There is a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh I like to remember when I’m not feeling compassionate, which is: “When a person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over.” This reminds me that another person’s careless behavior says more about their own emotional state than it does about me personally. So, I can empathize with their sense of stress or urgency and let my own anger go.
5. What happens on the commute stays on the commute. By that I mean, don’t let a bad commute ruin your whole day. You can treat the time that you arrive at your workplace as a new day and a fresh chance to start over. Take a moment after you arrive at your destination to take some deep breaths, have a little tea or coffee, and start your day anew when you enter your workplace.
Do you have any tips for how to make a commute more pleasant?