*If you can’t be bothered to read all this, I did an in-depth training video on this in my Self Discipline Support Group on Facebook. Click here to request to join the group.*
Who could you be if you gave it your best shot for three months?
It’s been twelve weeks since we have been in lockdown in the UK. Who knows how long we will be living like this? It seems like social distancing is here to stay for the foreseeable. I am pleased, given the circumstances, how we have come through the last three months.
I want to point out that there is no judgement here on how you have personally coped with the lockdown situation. Every person has a different lived experience with different worries and challenges. Some have lost jobs and businesses, some have struggled with childcare and mental health. As a global society we have never been in this position before and there is no right or wrong way to respond to recent events.
For me, this is a point that I want to look ahead. I cannot believe it has been twelve weeks since lockdown. That seems like such a long time but it has also gone by in a flash. This morning, while clutching my cup of tea and reflecting on the last three months, I thought about me in three months time. Three months from today will be Wednesday, September 2, 2020. September is a month I adore. It reminds me of fresh new classes at school and having new shiny shoes, pencil cases and bags and getting ready for a new academic year. Even though I’m a grown up now, I still love the fresh feeling as the seasons change in September and there’s a last push to end the year on a high.
So thinking about ‘future me’ in 12 weeks time, I got a bit deep in my thought process and had a realisation that the me I will be in 12 weeks will be the product of repeated decisions each day. That is the same for you. The person you can be is the person that will form thanks to the multiple choices you make about your life every single day.
Last week I wrote about wanting to be a bit better. I started to think about the choices I get to make every day that push me on to being a bit better, or keeping me stuck. I thought I’d share with you some of the questions I’ve been asking myself today around the choices we all get to make to push that needle further towards our goals and the person we want to be.
Will you choose you wake up on the first alarm or sleep in?
What will sleeping in give you in your life? I know there are some times when I could do with the extra sleep, but there are also times that choosing to get up gives me the gift of a morning to myself. Sleeping in and constantly snoozing the alarm makes me feel like I’ve wasted the day, or feel a bit like a failure. I also miss out on that valuable alone time that is vital to my mental health. Especially in lockdown when my days are juggling the constant guilt of not doing a great job of either homeschooling or work.
When I choose to get up on the first alarm I feel like I’m winning the day before it has even started. I have won the war against the snooze button and within a few minutes I am up and excited for the day ahead. Do you feel the same when it comes to your own battle with the snooze button?
Will you choose to set intentions for your day?
It was Jim Rohn who famously said “Either you run the day or the day runs you” and having a plan for your day makes you more likely to stick to it. I love to write out a to-do list and share it publicly to keep me accountable. Having a list of daily non-negotiables keeps certain actions at the forefront of my mind and they’re more likely to be achieved. Do you know what you need to get done in the day and do you plan it out and stick to it?
Will you choose to get your work done on time?
Will you make ‘future you’ proud and happy that you stuck to your self imposed deadlines and finished your work on time? Or will you spend your time procrastinating on social media and now have to cram a load of work in when you’re tired? I can write this one with confidence as this is my own greatest weakness. I should have a PhD in procrastination as I will often sabotage my future leisure time by seeking instant gratification and distraction in the form of social media or general internet browsing. That’s why I’m a big fan of using a mechanical timer and a planner to keep me to time on my tasks. Choosing to plan in tasks and be disciplined in their completion would mean a lot to me if I repeated this choice each day for 12 weeks. It is something so simple but something so potential powerful and effective. It also sometimes requires strong boundaries to tell people who may cause the distraction that you need the space and alone time to focus. If you chose to get your work done distraction free, what impact would that have on your working day and stress levels?
Will you choose to drink the water?
Yes, it’s boring. Yes, diet coke and coffee is far more tasty and exciting but YES it is the water that is going to help you think better, keep hunger at bay, improve your skin, help regulate your hormones and flush out toxins. It is so deeply boring and unsexy but choosing to hydrate yourself each day will have a life changing impact. Yes, you might feel like you’ll wet your knickers constantly but that feeling will pass after a couple of weeks. Stick with it! What would positive effects be if you actively chose to drink enough water?
Will you choose to fuel yourself with food that gives you essential vitamins and nutrients?
What will the ‘you’ in three months feel like, look like and act like if you choose to fuel your body for performance rather than soothe your emotions with high sugar food and drink? Food is the most abused drug we human beings use to mask our feelings. I can say this with confidence as a binge eater. Trust me, you cannot fill an emotional hole with food. I’ve tried and all that happened was I filled up on feelings of pure failure and hopelessness. Would your life and health be enriched if you chose foods that nourished you?
Will you choose to wind down with alcohol?
There’s no judgement here as someone who has decided to stop drinking. I don’t want to be a Preachy Patricia but I can tell you in the same way that eating three bags of Liquorice Allsorts in secret doesn’t fill a hole after a stressful day, neither does a bottle of rosé. Yes, the kids have probably been utter shits and your house looks like a bomb site but booze isn’t the answer. All it does is fuck up your sleep and leave you feeling even more frazzled the next day. What does choosing alcohol cost you?
Will you choose to move your body in a way that challenges your strength and stamina?
I’ve hardly done a thing these last twelve weeks. I could use the excuse of being injured as I damaged a ligament in my wrist, twisted my ankle and caused bursitis in my knee after a fall in week one of lockdown. BUT… I could still walk. I just didn’t. I have felt sad at my gym being closed and had a victim mentality rather than moving my arse. I am responsible for my health. Yes, life is bonkers and busy with this new homeschooling and working from home life but even a choice to move for 20 minutes is better than a choice to remain sitting on my arse mindlessly scrolling on my phone. Would you in three months time look and feel better if you chose to challenge your body and move?
Will you choose to ask for the help you need?
You don’t have to do all of this alone. In order to make some of these positive choices, you may need to ask for help. In order to have valuable time to yourself, you might need to ask a loved one to give you that time or space, or take care of the kids. I’ve asked my husband this week if he can take a couple of days off work and take our son out so I can get ahead and get a couple of days of guilt free work sorted. I’m sick of doing a half arsed job on both homeschooling and client work and I need some help to ensure my son is cared for so I can create some brain space to complete some work. Could you choose to ask for the help and support you need to live your best life?
Will you choose to keep your environment clean, tidy and in order?
If this is what feels good to you, will you choose to commit to it? I realised today that there are boxes in my hall that have been there for six months. We’ve been in the house for 18 months since we renovated it and still don’t have any bathroom mirrors. There’s a drawer in the kitchen that is jam packed with screws and fittings that the kitchen fitter didn’t get round to completing. There’s an Ikea bag in my room of folded washing that I’ve been intending to iron for four months. All of these things have become somewhat invisible but my subconscious knows they’re there and gets pissed off every time I glance at them. Imagine how you in three months time would feel if you dedicated a day to finally sort out all the ‘intolerables’ in your environment once and for all?
Will you choose to watch your spending?
Will you put money away where you can for the future? Will you budget for things that you need and think twice about putting things on credit for instant gratification? I know I need to stop buying things off Amazon that I don’t need! If I put that money away every time there was an urge to purchase something unnecessary then I’d have a nice little pot of money to play with in three months time. How much could you save if you chose to be a bit more considered in your spending habits?
Will you choose to be present with your loved ones?
Last week in the Self Discipline group on Facebook that I host, I asked what happiness means to people. Most people wrote about things that involve being in the present moment. Conscious experiences like playing with their kids, enjoying that first morning coffee in peace or moments in nature were common answers. What would your family dynamic look like if you sat around a table at dinner time and talked with no TV or phones to distract you all? I say this question out loud to myself because my little family have got into this bad habit at meal times of staring at our phones rather than communicating with one another. Would your family life feel more enriched if you chose to be fully present for one another?
Will you choose to get enough sleep?
Will you choose to not be tempted by technology and let it rob you of precious rest? You WILL NOT miss out if you don’t check Instagram in bed, I promise you. There is NOTHING you will see on Facebook after 11pm that is worth compromising your sleep for. Karen and her opinions will still be there for you to laugh at when you take your phone to the toilet the next morning! What stops you sleeping enough? Is it worth choosing technology over sufficient rest?
Will you choose to show affection to your partner?
If you share a bed with someone you love, will you choose connection to each other over connection to your phones? There is no greater joy that deep connection with your partner AND it’s good for your health! Is Karen going off on Facebook really more pleasurable than a potential orgasm? Yes, sometimes we’re tired or feel insecure or we really can’t be bothered but one day our hips might not work or our ticker won’t be able to cope! Choose love and connection. Even a spoon or a hug is better than pressing play on that next Netflix episode. You can watch it tomorrow. What would choosing love and affection over your phone do for your relationship?
Will you choose to speak to yourself with love and kindness?
Sometimes the biggest problem any of us have in trying to be better is that our monkey minds stand in our way. The way we talk to ourselves is vital in our day to day happiness. If you choose for your inner monologue to be critical, negative and nasty then you’re on a slippy slope. If you can’t be kind and loving to yourself, don’t expect anyone else to be. In order to make positive choices every day you will need to enter into a battle with your inner comfort-zone seeking self. Remember what you are capable of in twelve weeks time and try and talk to that version of you each day rather than the one that holds you back and sabotages your efforts. What if you chose to be your own best friend in the way you talk to yourself each day?
We are a product of the choices we make
If you’re not happy with the place you’re at right now, it is within your power and ONLY your power to change it. It won’t cost money and you have so much to gain when you make those conscious positive choices every day. All it takes is one choice at a time.
If you want to stay as you are, that’s totally cool but I’m probably not for you. I love to help people learn to love the joy of achievement. I do this through my books and my Facebook group. I don’t want to stay where I am and play small. I want to see what I am capable of and I want to help you do the same too. Every month. Every week. Every day. Every choice.
Think about the you that you have the potential to be in three months time. The you that you get to be thanks to the cumulative effect of a series of positive choices.
What does the you that you could be want you to know right now?
What does the you that you have the potential to be what you to believe about yourself right now?
What does the you that you could become in twelve weeks want you to feel today? To do? To choose?
One day at a time.
One choice at a time.
We are all capable of so much more than we think when we make a commitment to choose to be a bit better.
Who could you choose to be in three months?
PS – As usual, this thought process inspired today’s #WankyQuoteWednesday
Gemma Ray is a BBC Radio presenter, best selling author, communications coach and always the most filthy person in a WhatsApp group chat. Gemma tells it like it is and opens up about the stuff most people would never even dare admit to themselves, let alone put out in public.
Join Gemma on a refreshingly honest, powerful and inspirational journey of self love, self belief and self trust through her books, blog, free Facebook accountability group and courses where she helps members take action on their goals.
Listen live every Sunday from 2-6pm GMT on BBC Radio Lancashire or catch up via the BBC Sounds app.