I’m a glutton for fresh starts at the beginning of the year. Then, I let everything wane away for this or that reason by the third week of January. Anyone else? The only time I stuck to some new habit or activity was when I decided to start running. I am a terrible, terrible runner. I had a goal and I stuck to the plan for six months – an absolute miracle! I gave it up immediately once I reached my goal because my body hurt so bad after each run. And the Texas heat was unbearable but mostly because I ached everywhere. I tried adjusting my gait, my shoes, my breathing, the music I was listening to, the time of day I ran and even the location. My body said no thank you. That was two years ago and I have not wanted to start it up again in the least.
I’ve made a lot of excuses to not be the type of person I want to be. Things like school, starting a family and homeschooling my four kids have been huge road blocks. I’m now in a season of figuring out, or maybe remembering, all the things I wanted to do and try and I plan on making that happen.
My mode of operation in the past has been to jump in the deep end of all new things. This time though… slow and easy for this gal. In my life before having kids and early in motherhood, I was a mental health counselor. I say this because I have given patience and grace to so many other people on their journey to fulfillment and peace except myself. Author James Clear has helped me take a pause in how I process personal change. Specifically, he has (in the first 7 chapters of Atomic Habits) taken away the guilt and shame I have carried about not sticking to new habits by reframing the environment I am working with. I was working from a point of focusing on the product and not the process.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been told to focus on the process. At the start of grad school for counseling, I had a professor who handed out the class syllabus and as I scanned through it looking for due dates of assignments to add to my planner I noticed something strange… there were none. Zero. I thought this had to have been an error so I approached him after class, planner and pen ready, and asked him if he could tell me when he needed me to turn in the assignments. He sat back on the edge of his desk and folded his hands in front of him. He smiled broadly and said, “Trust the process, Stephanie.” Huh? He told me there were no dates and to turn in the assignments when I felt they were at the level I wanted them to be. I was a wreck but I did enjoy the process on my own terms and I liked it.
So, what’s my process? Designate a specific time for writing (Monday, Tuesdays and Fridays at 12:30), short term goals with rewards associated with writing (new class or book), with a big long term goal mid year (release a short story). I know, there’s still a bit of product focus happening but the process of getting to those points is clearly defined for me.