Some weeks, you hit a mystery slump. No amount of meditation or cold brew lifts you up. Three days later, when the weather changes from overcast to bright/warm/dry, you suddenly feel better — without noticing why.
Today’s the first sunny day this week. I’m getting a lot done. I would like to be more productive on rainy days, but I don’t sweat it: sometimes all you can do is outlast the clouds and work harder next time.
On weeks like this, all it takes it some sunlight.
I just moved into the most beautiful room I’ve ever seen.
It’s small, but it has all the right amenities:
a neat bed with massive drawers
an amazing, minimal desk from Wayfair
perfectly organized, ergonomic storage (via Marie Kondo)
quietness, cleanliness, and privacy
I was under the impression that all these perks were going to give me a productivity boost. And they have. Falling asleep is easier, cooking is more fun, and my stuff is tidier than it’s ever been.
Problem is, that’s not enough.
Designing our life is up to us. A sleep cycle app, timed HUE lightbulbs, and a bright window might make waking up easier, but getting out of bed still takes tremendous effort.
So, despite all the conveniences, my good habits are sliding this week. That’s natural. The move is a big transition, with a solid chunk of time going towards packing, unpacking, and getting organized. However, when all is settled, I can’t rely on my stuff to get me back to work.
…I am trying to approach this transition in my life with more whimsy. If I move somewhere and don’t like it, I’ll go somewhere else. There are so many interesting cities and it seems a real shame to just pick one and stay there forever.
Funny enough, after seeing that Boston Globe article earlier today, before seeing Connor’s post, I was feeling my own anxieties. I penned some words of wisdom:
Yeah, Boston is a certain way. Some neighborhoods totally disappear in the summer. There’s terrible inequality.
But a few tips:
Having a job, or any other thing, is not going to make you self-confident. You could always be doing more, making more, closer to perfect. The only thing that can make you feel good wherever you are is YOU.
Going to a different place is not going to make your life good. Other places can be better in some ways, but meeting people, making moves, and growing is a choice you can make anywhere.
It’s a few lines at the end of a long day. Ultimately, it doesn’t require a breathtaking amount of effort and probably won’t inspire much change. But it’s one of four life-changing “Daily Habits” — along with journaling, cooking, and yoga.
By writing it, I’m turning against everything that holds me back and taking one step forward.
So there’s no thesis here. No elaborate conclusion or passionate call-to-action. Just the affirmation that, even on low energy and little inspiration, I can keep my promise to myself.
I notice it when, in group conversation, my main talking points are complaints. I notice it when I introduce a guest to my neighborhood and only emphasize the rats. I notice it when, after a day around the city, I revisit the daily obstacles of urban life — instead of the triumphs.
Some days I break through negativity with hard work and mindfulness. Weeks of self-observation, journaling, and reframing have huge payoffs: bouts of positive energy that can last weeks. On the other hand, much like depression, some days optimism comes in waves.
Today was one of those days. Maybe it was the warm weather, the people, or the place we went. Regardless, in a small Cambridge cafe, sipping coffee and browsing my RSS feed, inspiration hit.
As tough as things are, I’m incredibly lucky. Right now, the two things most important to me — learning and making — are more accessible than any point in human history. I also have the privilege of being educated; not just in the curriculum presented by a good high school and college, but in mindfulness and mental health.
The possibilities for my future are limitless. My potential projects, ventures, and journeys span not only as far as physical travel can send me, but as far as modern technology can send my ideas.
And, on top of that, it’s sunny today. So there’s that.
Habits can make or break a lifestyle. As Leo Babauta points out in his recent Zen Habits article, one or two routines can send health and productivity into an upward (or downward) spiral. Run a mile each morning and you’re closer to ruling the world. Stay in bed and…well, we all know where that path leads.
If you’re anything like me, you’re especially sensitive to these fluctuations. A break in weekly routine — something as simple as an unexpected commitment, a cold, or a hangover — can disrupt your upward spiral and set you back.
Progress is fickle. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s easy to get back on track. On top of that, our grip gets stronger each time we’re knocked down.
This week, I have a big interview, a guest staying at my apartment, and two more friends visiting from out of state. I’m making plans to move apartments and attending end-of-year festivities all weekend. And, oh yeah: I’m graduating college.
It’s a more important time than ever to stay focused. I’ve already finished my first task of the day — writing this article.
Now it’s off to yoga. Because nothing shakes off a hangover quite like downward facing dog. (And nothing makes progress quite like small steps.)
In a few weeks, I’ll be doing one of the scariest things a person can do: moving to New York City.
I’ve always had some issues keeping myself on track. At my foundation, I’m an incredibly energetic human with lots of passion. Unfortunately, self-doubt tends to topple that and leave me rolling in the mud. The only thing I can do is try to get better at remembering who I really am so that each time I can get up faster.
On that note, here are some directions I wrote for my journey to the Big Apple. Hopefully they’ll help me survive my own inner jungle while I learn a new, concrete one.
“Write the truest things you can. Show others the truest ‘you’ you can. Let their value structures roll off. Do the most you can. Don’t beat yourself up when you can’t do more. Don’t obligate yourself to do things that aren’t worthwhile. Don’t chicken out of things that are worthwhile. Keep learning. Keep being mindful. Keep doing yoga. Let an honest, hopeful, wiser self bloom. Wake up early but don’t get pissed off when you can’t. Remember that you are always good enough. Remember that you are always mortal. That’s okay. No matter what.”