Monthly recap : January 2021

The first month of 2021 has drawn to a close. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel rushed or lost at the end of a month. I don’t have any regrets of how I spent my time this month. I tried very hard to journal everyday and that sure does help in bringing back my focus to the present moment.

This is my first monthly recap and I plan on doing this at the end of each month going ahead. I will be dividing this recap into 5 categories namely Mental Health, Personal Growth, Workouts, Education, Entertainment. I’ll be including my progress in these categories and goals for next month. I might change/update these categories over the course of the year if I find them irrelevant or not in sync with my overall progress.

Let’s do this!

Mental health

  • Meditated for 26/31 days. I initially started with 5 min meditation during the weekdays and increased it to 10 mins during the second and third week. Last week was exceptionally good with a 20 min meditation even during weekdays.
  • Journaled/documented my day for 21/31 days.
  • Practiced gratitude journaling for 9/31 days.

Goals for February :- 20 min meditation everyday (maintain my streak on headspace app), practice journaling and gratitude journaling everyday.

Personal Growth

This section is for a new skill or talent that I’ve acquired in this month, tried a new activity or thing that has pushed me out of my comfort zone.

  • Woke up at 5.45 am consistently for 3 days in the last week (This is a big deal for me and helped me extensively in having a rush free morning hour during the weekdays)

Goal for February :- Try at least one new activity that forces you out of your comfort zone and document it.

Workouts

Extremely happy with my progress in this category!

  • First longest solo run of 18.36 kms to kick start the new year (pace 7.01/km)
  • 4 long runs in this month
  • HIIT workouts thrice a week during the weekdays (started with 20 mins and increased to 30 mins in the last week)
  • Increased my rope skipping sessions to 1000x, twice a week from 600x in the last week

Goal for February :- 25 pushups in proper form at one stretch

Education

  • Decent progress with CFA Level 1 curriculum. I’m left with 2/10 subjects for 1st reading

Goal for February :- Revision of entire CFA curriculum twice and make notes, study for at least an hour after office complete 2 online courses and earn certificates

Entertainment

Goal for February :- 2-2-2, complete 2 books, 2 movies and 2 series

That’s it. Aah, how I love documenting my goals, progress and creating these recaps. Can’t wait to see what February has in store for us.

Enjoy the day and let’s begin February 2021 with a bang!

My younger self

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.  Tiptoe of if you must, but take the step.”

-Unknown

I was quiet an insecure child growing up. I more or less disliked every aspect of my personality. At times I was laid back and always procrastinated till the last minute for any school activity. I was overweight and made fun of by my cousins who I cared about the most. We didn’t have much money in the family and grew up in a dingy little house which I was ashamed about. I wanted to be an organized person but kept failing at keeping up with the elaborate study schedule that I prepared with much gusto, every DAMN time. I was a shy and introverted girl and was scared to speak even in a group of close friends. I had social anxiety and dreaded any situation where there was even a remotely possible chance of having people’s attention on me. I was ALWAYS late to any place, be it school or classes or meet up with my friends.

As a child, I desperately wanted to change these aspects of me that I as embarrassed about. I wanted to quickly grow up and change myself for the better. I felt growing up and earning money will be the solution to all my problems. I grew up, earned money and became more conscious of myself than I ever was before. Happiness still eluded me. I found a new found trouble in the form of “work stress” and was anxious 24*7. I was still scared to speak in a group, lived in a house that I was ashamed of and was overweight. I kept longing to become the person my younger self would be proud of and change my life for the better. But that day never came and I stopped hoping for it.

A few days back, I found my old diaries inside my book shelf. As I started to read my old diary entries, I couldn’t help but feel bittersweet about my emotions when I wrote them. It reeked of desperation. And a realization dawned upon me that I HAVE BECOME THE PERSON I desperately wanted to become as a child. My life has had a 180 degree change in the last 3 years ever since I’ve joined this workplace which I crib about all the time. I am no longer overweight, my house is renovated and I’m proud of it, my social anxiety is under control, I AM ORGANISED about most things in life and I try to diligently work towards my goals in life. Yet, I was unhappy. I couldn’t believe that I was unhappy even after achieving ALL of my childhood goals. I AM THE PERSON MY YOUNGER SELF WANTED TO BE ALL MY LIFE. This realization has been path breaking for me.

I have decided to live in the present moment as much as I can, celebrate the little wins and document each day of my life. Life has treated me fairly well and I shouldn’t have any reasons to complain about. Yet, I crib and cry over the little things that would have been insignificant and completely manageable to my younger self. My present life seems like a fairy tale when I look through the eyes of my younger self. I’ll try my level best to make most of everything in my life going ahead and live it in the best possible manner. Each day is a blessing and I wish to celebrate my life. While my present self is giving me a disapproving look, my younger self is jumping with joy with this idea. I plan to listen to my younger self this time!

Chasing perfection

#76/100

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

-Robert Frost

These are my favorite lines from Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. I think of these wordings whenever I need a motivational boost or am lacking energy. Ever since I was a kid, I wished to be perfect at whatever I did. Every situation was “all or nothing” for me. This also created a false idea of perfection in my mind. I didn’t know where to stop. My efforts always felt incomplete and the final result was never satisfactory to my critical mind. What could have been a decent attempt was considered absolute trash by my mind. I never applauded myself on the journey and severely criticized for not achieving a “perfect result”.

It took a lot of time for me to realize that these were caused due to my low self esteem issues. I had absolutely no confidence in myself. My mind set unnaturally high standards for all aspects of my life in order to achieve a fair sense of self worth. Needless to say, I was never able to live up to my mind’s expectations and ending up wallowing in self pity most of my childhood and teenage years.

I’m glad that I eventually got past this phase. It took a long time and continued effort in healing my inner child to begin loving my existence on this planet. How did I do it? Rome wasn’t built in a day, I brought these little changes in my life and consistently applied it on a daily basis. I had given up at the time I started doing it and didn’t mind trying anything new without expecting a favorable result.

  • I paid attention to my negative self talk : I realized that I dealt with a level of criticism and hate towards my own self that I wouldn’t even subject my enemies to. I have always been patient towards my friends, family or even a stranger when they commit mistakes or do something wrong unintentionally. But when it came to me, my mind never spared a chance to make me realize how my existence was futile on this planet. Once, I understood my negative self talk pattern, it was easier to find a way to deal with it.
  • I started appreciating myself : You know the little pat on the back we used to get from our teachers or parents during school days on doing something right, I mentally pat my back on completing any task (big or small). What felt ridiculous in the beginning somehow became a thing I looked forward to each time I felt like I did something right. We don’t have to wait for the big achievements to celebrate our efforts. Every small effort is important in building our personality and growth in life. These efforts deserve an appreciation and I didn’t shy myself from giving it.
  • Attempted difficult tasks : There were few things in life which I considered absolutely impossible to attempt. Once I started appreciating myself on the small wins, I developed enough confidence to attempt few difficult tasks in life. My weight loss journey was one such task. I tried to disassociate myself from the result and celebrated every small milestone on the way. This was a revolutionary attempt as it ended up changing my life. Since I attempted (and ending up being successful at) a task that I considered absolutely impossible, my self confidence and esteem got a great boost. It made me the motivation to achieve such tasks in future. My inner child slowly became proud of myself.

Life is unpredictable and we unnecessarily tend to beat ourselves down for no reason. I’ve learnt to be more compassionate and give myself second chances whenever I need it. Let’s try to be the reason of our confidence instead of cause of it’s destruction.

The last lap

#51/100

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

-Thomas Edison

Today was a momentous day for me. Right before our country went into lock down, I was very frequent with my running schedule. I used to run at least once a week covering a minimum distance of 5 kms each time. During my weight loss journey I had gone crazy with my runs. There were times when I did back to back runs of 10 kms every weekend. After the lock down and subsequent rise in the number of cases in our neighborhood, I stuck to home workouts for almost 6 months. I had registered myself for a 10 km virtual marathon (to be completed at our own place) at the beginning of this month to motivate myself to get back to my old running schedule. Last week I went for a trial run and felt like I would die out of exhaustion after 5 kms (no kidding). I had absolutely no clue how I would complete my 10 kms run this week. My mind went back and forth on the thought of giving up on this event altogether. Somehow I convinced myself to run at least 5 kms and call it a day. I woke up 6.30 am, procrastinated for an hour and finally dragged myself out of the house at 7.30 am.

I had planned to complete only 5 kms but midway I decided to give 10 kms a shot. I convinced myself by saying that I could walk the last km, let’s just try doing it. What seemed like a herculean task in the beginning somehow eased up after completing each km. However, I felt like giving up multiple times in the last lap. Well, I didn’t, I finished strong by completing 10 kms in a little over 1 hr 14 mins. I did walk the last km. The round right before that was my most challenging one.

I want to bring attention this particular phenomena that I face during each run or any task for that matter. When I know that I’m about to be done, I feel like giving up. My mind wants me to stop, my patience levels are depleted and I somehow just want to rest it out. In a 5 km run, I face this after I complete 3 kms. In a 10 km run, I feel like giving up after 8 kms. Surprisingly in a 21 km run, my mind absolutely gives up after 16 kms. So what is it exactly? This doesn’t seem like a fixed pattern. I also couldn’t seem to find any link with my energy levels and my timings as well. It’s just that my mind wants to give up right before the finish line.

No matter how hard my mind tries to make me give up during the last lap, I develop a miraculous strength to ignore it’s banter and keep going. And I end up completing the run, every single time. Running has taught me so much about life and our human mind’s innumerable tricks to avoid facing hardships. While I know it does this to protect us, this kind of over protection only ends up in making us a fearful human being. I’ve experienced this last lap syndrome in many of my other aspects of life. Rethinking a big decision right before the deadline, backing out of an event right before I am supposed to leave home, making extreme last minute changes to a project that was completed and verified, so on and so forth.

I don’t really know if it’s a legitimate observation, it’s just something I face very often. Till the time I gather more information on it, i’ll start applying the trick I use to complete my runs during the significant last lap to the other parts of my life when I realize that my mind is acting up. What’s the trick you ask? Ignore and keep moving.