How do you stick to something?
My answer: I don’t, and I stop trying.
If you are like me, you are endlessly searching for the best diet, time management planner, or reminder app to keep on track. Let it go! It is not going to happen. Period.
Wondering what the heck is wrong with me today?
Well, I am tired of beating myself up for failing yet again at an exercise regimen, sleep schedule or water bottle quota for the day. I have finally come to the conclusion that not being able to stick to something is the best way to be consistent.
Instead, be consistently inconsistent, adjust, adapt and regroup your path and plan as you go.
For instance take my sleep schedule: I am “committed” to getting to sleep each night by 10pm so that I can follow Arianna Huffington’s best go-to-sleep techniques which include winding down, dimmed lighting, reading or maybe even a bath all while banning my blue light technology.
Here’s what my sleep plan looks like:
Sunday: After a relaxing weekend, I get to bed on time and fall asleep according my schedule.
Monday: Wake at 5:30am to work out. I feel great, nice and rested.
Bedtime: Then, bedtime comes, and I end up in a great conversation with my 15-year-old daughter about her school friends. We decide to share an episode from Gilmore Girls on Netflix. (These mother/daughter moments are getting fewer and farther between so I grab ‘em when they come.) But of course, I fall asleep in bed while watching the show. I wake back up fully dressed at 2:30am and stumble into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Now I am wide awake until 5:00am.
Tuesday: Wake at 6:00am in order to make school lunches. I’m feeling a little sluggish, but reasonably good despite the bout of insomnia.
Bedtime: I run kids to activities between 4 and 8pm, make dinner and have a glass of wine. I get up to bed and decide to quickly organize my jeans in my closet. Well, I notice the yoga pants are all bunched up on a shelf, so I straighten them and then I realize that lots of my jewelry didn’t make it back to my jewelry box…and all of a sudden it is 11:30pm! I hop into bed but can’t fall to sleep despite numerous repeats of my “relax before bed” meditations.
Wednesday Up at 5:30am, exhausted. I am too tired to work out and completely off my sleep schedule—and it’s only hump day!
Ok, you get the point. What happened?
Well, you might say I am not acting with enough discipline, or perhaps I am unfocused or not prioritizing. And I guess all these are true, but actually I blame it on one thing:
I allowed my life get in the way of my well-intended plan.
As a diehard perfectionist, (and I mean diehard—remember the jean straightening distraction?) I have come to the conclusion that nothing is perfect. NOTHING. Ok, I know you know this, but living it has been a hard one for me. I want perfect. It feels cleaner and more organized. It feels buttoned up and calm. But aiming for perfection was killing me because it never arrived.
I’ve also noticed that one bad day can knock us further back than one good day can push us forward. Why is it so easy to give up on a diet after an entire tube of thin mints (those darn Girl Scouts!) and yet so hard to keep our exercise regimen even when we follow-through and spend 30 minutes one morning on the treadmill? Instead of letting yesterday’s failure’s define us, we can wake up every day knowing we are worthy of our own forgiveness and effort.
In this journey, I am finally loosening my grip. I understand more than ever that some days will be balanced, some chaotic, others will be devastatingly sad, and some will be the best of my life. And whatever day today is, the most predictable thing is that tomorrow will be different—not good and not bad, but exactly what it needs to be. I remind myself especially on the bad days that “there will be days like this…”
In his old age, King Solomon (the wisest of wise) wrote this great reminder that I lean on during the crazy days.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3)
Life is not meant to be set to a strict schedule, but to be an agile, acrobatic routine of fluid adjustments and recalculations. And in order to embrace this imperfect chaos, I have to reframe it. I now have what I call a “beautifully messy life,” fully loaded with lots of broken plans and lack of follow through. I am actually really great at this description. In fact, I’m doing it perfectly.
The key for me is to stay present, live each day with great intention, seize unexpected moments, and in the process, be as kind to myself as I would my best friend.
That’s a plan I can stick to.