Plank is no prank

We all heard a lot about the benefits of planking. By planking, I mean the exercise version of the word. I saw an article which had the below – a 30 day challenge – which I have decided to start about 30 secs ago. So I did the 20 sec today and spent the next 10 sec panting while typing this. Gosh. I started shaking at 10 sec.. It’s not as easy as it looks man!! The other part of the challenge, which is more important to me, is the discipline to see it through.. So hopefully I get to announce it 30 days later that I really did 5 mins of planking.. And let it be recorded here, that I pledge to start all over again the 30-day challenge if I missed one day.. Wishing me luck… 😉

 

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Photo101 Day 8: The Natural World

photo101-day8There… I’ve caught up! 😀

My interpretation of The Natural World, is one of resilience, where all things that makes up our world has one thing in common – survival.

While survival may mean different things to humans, and its meaning has taken on a different facets as our world develops, the natural world survives by being in existence. Every time I see these little plants growing out from concrete floors or brick walls, I always can’t help but feel this sense of inadequacy and guilt. These plants are so strong and resilient, and go against odds to survive, while we tend to spend too much time thinking and wondering than spend the time doing what is necessary in order to live a better life – to give ourselves a better environment to survive better. I hope the next time you come across these little growths out of nowhere, pause and smile, and feel encouraged and inspired, to live the day better 🙂

‘Living a Concrete Life’ (name tentative) is a photo project I am undertaking at the moment. Do stay tuned on my blog for updates and the completion of this project 🙂

Combating Procrastination – A Beginning

Cloud QuoteIn my earlier post, I have proclaimed shamelessly, that I am guilty as charged where procrastination is concerned, and at this point, I would consider this as my number 1 stumbling block to my success in switching from having a regular day job to a completely opposite way of life where my time is completely flexible and controlled by me. Sounds like a dream come true right? Only I haven’t quite grasped how to go about enjoying this  -.-“

Don’t get me wrong, I have not at all regretted my decision to give this new way of life my best shot, and I am still highly motivated to make it work. But looking back at what I have done or what I should/could have done, it is apparent that I haven’t done my best yet. I’ve been procrastinating on a lot of things and I worry about what to do next, regret what I didn’t do when I realized I spent my day achieving next to nothing – a vicious cycle that I know I have to do something to get out of.

I picked up several books first on time management then self-discipline and willpower. Of which, I found the book Getting Things Done by David Allen particularly useful. The tips and tools he introduced were practical, and made me feel empowered about controlling my days. After going through my mental clutter and set up my own GTD system, I was very confident my days were going to change and I will become productive now that I have my system in place.  It went well for Day 1, then Day 2, but by Day 3, the oh-so-familiar i-don’t-know-where-to-start-and-what-to-do-next feeling came creeping up to me again. I was swept again by a sense of overwhelm, with the many things that I needed to tackle on my Next Actions Task List. Just which one should I start first? If I start on A, will I have enough time for B? or maybe I should just leave it for now and think carefully… so ok, I’ll have my coffee first and think about it.

And that, is my procrastination problem at work.

With all due respect, The GTD system is really great and I do encourage anyone who needs a little help in organizing their work to implement a system for themselves. I will continue using my system too but first I know I have a bigger bug to kill.

I then looked for online resources and books for help in overcoming procrastination. They all made a lot of sense but deep down I know, the only person and resource who can help kill this annoying bug buzzing, is ME. So now it’s Me against Me!

At this point, I would like to share with you some of the great things I learn about myself and some “ammunition” for my war, from the book “The Now Habit” by Neil Fiore. This book is easy to read, and it doesn’t go on and on about research findings nor claims of extensive studies behind the theories. The concept is simple – that procrastination is not a character flaw, but “a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.”. Procrastination becomes a bahaviour we learned to adopt when we face fears and when we want to protect ourselves from certain anxieties and loss of pleasure. It becomes a bad habit that every time a familiar unpleasant situation arises, we hide behind the curtains of procrastination. The fact that procrastination often brings immediate gratification and pleasure, we develop a dependence on it and it becomes ingrained in us.

But with all habits good and bad, they can be changed. Of the various tips on overcoming the blocks to actions as introduced by Neil Fiore in his book, I find the following most appealing and relevant to me:

It is very important that you master the self-talk, because it determines the whole context or your life and your attitude to everything. It determines how you feel and how you act.

1) New Words in our Self-Talk

When we say to ourselves we “have to” or we “should”, we are actually introducing to ourselves a negative mindset. Instead, we should replace negative messages by giving ourselves the power of choice. When we do something because we choose to, the commitment level is heightened. I have to eat healthy vs I choose to eat healthy, for example, becomes positive and empowering, and naturally the chances of us eating healthy will increase! Here are the ways we can replace our negative messages:

Replace ”I have to” with ”I choose to”.
Replace ”I must finish” with ”When can I start?” (and where?).
Replace ”This is so big” with ”I can take one small step”.
Replace ”I must be perfect” with ”I can be human”.
Replace ”I don’t have time to play” with ”I must take time to play”.

The statement of a producer with a powerful focus is:
I choose to start on one small imperfect step knowing I have plenty of time for play.

2) The Unschedule and Reverse Psychology

A lot of us procrastinate because we feel that we are spending precious time on dreaded tasks, that life seems miserable this way and so we need to find ourselves a way out of this misery, by procrastinating (we delay starting, we indulge in distractions, we creatively find other “better” things to do to avoid the dreadful work) So instead of asking us to practice effective scheduling of time for various types of work, the Unschedule works the other way round. It tells us to schedule first, the time for leisure and play. The concept is such that when we know for sure we have set aside time for guilt-free play, we are free from the laments of not being able to do things we enjoy when we are working on mundane or dreaded tasks. This reverse psychology is supposed to give us the comforting feeling that no matter how dreaded the task on hand is, there is guilt-free play we can look forward to after that! The Unschedule and Guilt-free-play system also says that
  • Do not work for more than 20 hours a week on this project
  • Do not work for more than 5 hours a day on this project
  • You must exercise, play, or dance at least 1 hour a day
  • You must take at least 1 day a week off from any work
  • Aim for starting on 30 minutes of quality work.

Essentially, we will be feeling that because of the already committed time for non-work activities, we are left with limited time for work and this will induce more work done in the end! Certainly going to try this one out 🙂

3) The Work of Worrying
We often procrastinate because we feel uncertain and unsafe about what we are about to face. Sometimes a task is really not that dreadful or difficult, and the consequences of failing to do it perfectly isn’t dire. The work of worrying is about creating safety nets for ourselves. When we start to worry, we take that chance to plan out how to cope with the potential danger and move on with it after eliminating or decreasing the danger. I am also mindful that I have the tendency to over-imagine the extent of “danger” each work brings, so this one would be important for me to practice

4) Persistent Starting
In essence, just “Keep on starting.” Do not think about finishing, just think about starting. Once we start on something, the finishing will happen and take care of it itself. It doesn’t matter how big a step we take, but as long as there is a first step, and keep starting on the next, and the next, the destination is bound to reach our feet by that one next step eventually. In response to this tip, I plan on having a new mantra – to start something every day. I used to always wait for a perfect date (usually the 1st of a month or a Monday) to start a new project, start on a new book, start recording and build new habits, then when something unexpected happens, my plans will be shelved and often just sits there forgotten. I’m hopeful that this new thinking will keep me on track in building the Now Habit!

(I came across a concise summary for this book! http://www.dextronet.com/blog/the-now-habit-summary/)
 
Oops that was quite a long sharing, so thanks for reading through up to this point! I certainly hope I have the resilience and tenacity to follow through and kick the old habit of procrastination! Some people say that only certain people can become successful being a self-employed, and truth be told I do have a lot of characteristics of those whom these people classify as those who aren’t gonna make it! However, I am going to combat that. Since my life story has developed to this point and already placed me in this situation, I am choosing to make it work and make things happen. Might as well do that, right? 😉
 
Best of luck to me and others combating procrastination. It’s just a bad habit, so we can surely kick it!
 
 

 

We’re not alone!

Day 12 of Blogging 101: Zero to Hero, and I am to blog about inspiring stories I came across from blogs I visited, and boy am I glad to share my discoveries! I found out about Daily Posts’ Weekly Photo Challenge and I’m looking forward to participate soon!

I also searched on some of the tags I have on my blog, and also visited some of my followers’ blogs as a place to start my “visits”, and I am happy to have visited http://reddoorponderings.com/. In some of her posts, I see myself in them, and while I am figuring things out about my life and trying to seek balance, I am happy to know I’m not alone. In fact, WE are not alone! Seeking balance is really something not easy to do for me, but perhaps to some of you it’s a given thing, and it’s not even something you need to attempt doing. If you belong to this latter group, I appeal for you to share with us how you do it! It may be something that comes naturally to you and they are no big deal to you, but it could help people like us a lot 🙂

Just this afternoon, I was walking along the street and suddenly a surge of overwhelming feeling swept over me. Oh I could do that, hmm I should do that first, hey that looks so interesting! oh dear is this the right direction?? Thoughts like this swam across my mind in a flash and frankly it was quite a lot to handle in those seconds hahaha.. and that’s what that lacking balance and focus I’m talking about! It’s something I will be working on a lot in the days to come – finding focus and learning to prioritize in order to restore and MAINTAIN in balance.. but today, I’m just glad I’m not alone 🙂

I’m inspired, I truly am.

Time flies when you’re having fun! Today is Day 9 of Blogging 101 already, and upon reviewing the statistics which I just learnt how to today, I was surprised to see that I actually have 11 followers! Wow wow wow! You guys made my day 😀

I must say the team behind Blogging U are geniuses. GENIUSES. It was just this morning that I was thinking to myself if I had been too random about my postings and should I be focused more on something.. and that oh-so-familiar feeling of slowly slipping away had came back….. then I made myself turn on the computer and check the assignment today, and it was such a timely reminder that I should post on something that inspired me from my About page, which was so useful because I read my About page out loud and remembered what I was here for.

It’s not written explicitly over there, but through this blog, I really want to find myself. I want to know and see for myself who I really am, what I’m here for, what I’m good at and maybe discover that my footprints along this discovery route had formed a clear track that leads to somewhere. I’m remaining positive on this! Well it’s not like I’m fresh out of school and figuring things out, but after some major “life transformations”, it seems that only now I am truly pausing and listening to myself, starting a life that I want. So many things happened in the last one year that made me see the numerous mistakes I made in the past and these mistakes made me understand myself a lot better. I now feel I am ready to take these lessons and learn to walk again. Baby steps at first, but I got to just keep walking to make up for lost time 🙂

Inspirations are a strange thing. They may hit you at any time, could also be at unexpected times, and the same event/article/movie/thing/etc doesn’t affect everyone the same way. To some, they are just passing clouds that are gone before they see them. To others, they may be this huge hovering storm clouds that grab your attention of the sudden lost of light, then made you stare at it till you see the sun come out again.

And while we’re on Geniuses and inspirations, does anyone know the TV program “The Brain” or “最强大脑” in mandarin? I watched one episode of the Chinese version this evening and came to know of this person named Zhou Wei. Wei was diagnosed with mental disability but he possessed extraordinary mathematical and numerical abilities. He spend his days in a small village in China doing nothing but look at the sun (with his eyes and strangely don’t feel glares) and doing mathematical calculations. He demonstrated this ability on stage and awed many. What really touched me was how he did it like he was doing something he really enjoyed, like a child drawing a picture with crayons. Scientists present couldn’t quite explain or understand what method he used in his calculations, but everyone agreed that he was one of his kind. With no formal education or training of any sort, what he was able to do was purely out of his gifted mind. Scientists, botanists, zoologists, archaeologists, historians, gemologists spend time digging and uncovering minerals or artifacts or gems, conserving plants and animals to prevent extinction, and their work leads to things we call “treasure”. How about human beings? As a big part of Mother Earth, what are we doing to true gems among us? Wei is someone I would consider a treasure found among us, simply because he is able to do something completely out of this world on his own with no intervention. He is definitely God’s gift of some kind. Some people debate that his ability is useless, his talent cannot translate to any practical use to achieve “a greater purpose”, but I beg to differ. A rare diamond or a piece of antique jade with no greater purpose has their deserving places (and price tags) in museums or collectors’ safes… so why not a fellow human being?

I don’t know about others, but Zhou Wei definitely inspired me a great deal today. I shall remember that everyone of us, no matter what background, has our purpose here and we all have a gift inside of us. We just have to follow our heart to find it. The greatest treasure is within.

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