After coming off the high that was my HELL YES October challenge, I couldn’t help but want to prolong it. And what you focus on, you amplify in your life. Clearly, this was a great way to feel even better.
So why, OH WHY, did I decide to focus on the negative for November?
My monthly challenge was to say HELL NO to all complaining. I wanted to identify my negative talk triggers and figure out a way to accentuate the positive 🙂 And, oh baby, did I find me some trouble spots. After spending a month monitoring my ups and downs, here are two of my biggest takeaways:
Observation #1: What vs. Who
Turns out that it’s not always the “what” that can bring me down, it’s the “who”.
Are you familiar with that famous Jim Rohn quote?
“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Yup, that’s right: I discovered I have a trigger person. After only a few hours with this individual (sometimes even just within minutes!), I noticed my blood pressure rising. Any particular grievances that would have been dealt with calmly and rationally were now standing center stage. Under a spotlight. With a microphone.
Luckily, it was often just the two of us around. She would start ranting about something and that would eventually send me into a foul mood. I’d find myself adding fuel to the fire. It was not a good look.
Action Shot #1: Box It Up
When I realized this person was a mega-drain on my energy and attention, I had to do some serious work to reroute this path. At first I tried keeping conversations on happier, more positive topics. Nope. She derailed that line of thinking. Next, I tried getting her to think constructively, to seek out solutions. If you’re gonna vent, that’s one thing, since it’s briefly cathartic. But if that’s all you do, it’s useless. She had literally zero interest in bettering her situation so that effort fell on deaf ears. Finally, I had to disengage. Compartmentalize and keep quiet. It felt rude at first, but then I realized she wasn’t really talking to me, more at me. I’ve been spending less and less time with her as a result and it’s definitely had an impact on how much I’m complaining. I’d call that a win!
Observation #2: Snark Attack
I hate being late. It’s embarrassing, makes me feel rude, and is unprofessional. I will go to extreme lengths to be on time. I will take expensive Ubers, forego breakfast (or any meal for that matter), and will pull all-nighters if need be. But lately, I realized I’ve been getting extra crabby when traffic is bad or I’m cutting it down to the minute. I’d snark about bad drivers, clueless pedestrians wandering across the street, and my general need to eat or sleep.
My reality check: I like to think I can do it all. And I can’t—especially when I’m not properly taking care of myself. I’d been treating my body like a machine (and not a well-oiled one) instead of my business. Pushing yourself to your limit usually means something’s going to give out—and soon. An early warning sign? My, ahem, charming personality gets less than sociable.
Action Shot #2: Pick Two
I’ve caused myself burnout before, two major episodes in the past seven years, to be exact. My productivity suffered, I wasn’t willing (or able) to work on new, exciting projects, and any personal or professional development took a backseat while I basically slept and recuperated my way back to being a normal human being. When you’re freelancing and you have a part-time job and a side project, you need to be excellent at multitasking, communicating, and self-care. Often, it feels like you have to pick two:
Burnout has been a recurring theme I’ve been writing about over the past few years. It usually happens right after I’ve burnt out or can feel myself on the edge of another one. This was a particularly surprising realization. It really crept up on me this time. I get ambitious and overconfident and, without the proper system in place, it’s incredibly difficult to level up in a healthy way.
Long story short, November has been heavy. It’s been an important month but I’m definitely taking the lessons learned and applying them to make sure I stay happy and healthy (and don’t infect others with negativity… it’s worse than the flu!).
A New Start to the End… Of the Year
With December—and the holidays—upon us, it’s important to realize that this time of year can either become super stressful or super festive and fun! I want to enjoy the snow, family, friends, and all the festivities this year. We all have responsibilities and obligations, that’s a given, but what if we could really make the most of the season and keep things in perspective?
I want to amplify the good and end 2017 on a high note. So for my December challenge, I’m going to do 31 acts of kindness! I’m going to make them as varied as possible and even keep track of what it “costs” me. Whether it’s time, money, extra effort, etc. I’m going to try to do one per day, and focus on family, friends, colleagues, and strangers.
The turbocharged goal is to do 31 different acts of kindness and make it a habit so that I can start 2018 off on the right foot. What are you going to do for your final act of 2017? Are you going to complain that this was just another dumpster fire of a year or are you going to do your part and actively try to make your little piece of the planet just a bit more pleasant?
I’ve made my decision and it feels pretty darn good, if you ask me.