|Harper (aka "Hop") + Mommy|
Have you ever tried to declutter a whole house? Our revamp your entire day's or week's schedule? Or start a new healthy habit? It's easy to ride the wave of those first few days, but the massive amount of work involved in such a daunting task can be overwhelming to maintain. When your wave crashes and pulls you back out to sea, you look up to see how far you still have left to go. Might as well throw your hands in the air and give up, right? Sound familiar?
And recognizing this pattern doesn't help. That just makes it easier to give up before you even start. Because, what's the point, right? What's the point of starting if you know you won't finish? Right? Right? So now we shift from the depression of failure to the anxiety of procrastination.
I'm definitely a procrastinator, at least with things I don't really want to do in the first place or things that scare me. I'll tell you this: not much scares me anymore. I've embraced my fiery aries-choleric bravado over the years, and if an obstacle is going to stand in my way to getting what I want, it won't be fear. But if I don't want to do something in the first place, I balk. The fear of having a house filled with whining tantruming little people just so we can clean something? THAT scares the crap out of me. It's hard to be a cheerleader and get everyone else on board with a difficult task when you know you're going to get pelted with the verbal equivalent of rotten vegetables.
So instead of procrastinating or taking it ALL on at once, we need to remember the importance of tiny victories and the snowball effect. Tiny changes snowball into big changes, with very little effort. Accomplishing something, anything, no matter how small, makes you feel good. Getting that little zap of feel-good for several days in a row becomes a drug. You want more. So you do another small something for a while. Now you're doing two things and getting twice the feel-good juice. See how the new pattern works? It's all about momentum, baby.
Momentum is your best friend.
Lori talks about an upward spiral. Leo talks about sticking to a habit. I'm sure you can find plenty of other explanations, because this momentum thing is very cool stuff. It's magic. And once you harness the magic, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it before.
This spring, I'm trying to catch a little momentum magic for myself. Here are a few ways I'm building on small successes:
- We're starting with our daily rhythm, by making sure we get our mornings off to a good start, the same way every day. So far, it feels great. I'll talk more about that next week. Then we'll add a few minutes of family sketching time in the afternoons. (Check out Amy's new Art Together series if you need a little inspiration with this, like I did.)
- We're doing the same thing with the house. I'm not taking a week off to "spring clean" or declutter. This year, I'm grabbing things as I see them and putting them in boxes in the office. This summer, we'll go room by room and reorganize. But for now, I'd much rather prep the garden or lay out on a blanket to read or do anything else besides sitting in my house and throwing things out. I'll save that for the summer, when it's crazy hot and I'm afraid to get vaporized outside. I'm working with the seasons, instead of against them. Plus, putting one thing at a time in those boxes gives that little boost of accomplishment. Magic, baby.
- Same thing for big house projects. The spring has me itching to fix all sorts of things. To focus my energy, I made a master list of homestead-type projects we want to tackle, and listed baby steps under each one. Each weekend, if we pick one thing to cross off that list, it feels amazing.
- I'm also building in some writing routines. With baby steps. First, I focused on Mondays. If I write something for this little ol' blog on Monday, that feeling of productivity carries me through to Tuesday, when I write something, anything. It doesn't have to be a whole post. I can edit a piece of something, write a paragraph for a new idea, or jot a few notes. It's something, which leads the way for something else.
- The same thing goes for my fiction writing. I commit to sitting with my notes each day and working on something. Not editing an entire chapter or charting out a character's entire family history. Just . . . something. A few notes on theme, two scene cards, or defining a character's goals. Anything is better than nothing. If I'm up to it, I write a lot more than that, but I only expect tiny bits from myself. I can always sneak in five minutes while I'm waiting for pasta to boil or while a kid takes a bath. Five minutes is easy.
Next, I'll show you what our spring rhythm looks like. It's still a work in progress, but I'll show you what we have so far. Until then, I hope you think of some way you can build momentum for yourself. Or, if you're already riding that momentum wave, please leave a comment and share your success!