“All things in moderation”.
A phrase beloved of teachers, parents and, in quite startling numbers, people by the name of Judgey McJudgey-pants.
Personally I prefer the Oscar Wilde version…
“Everything in moderation, including moderation”.
Much more my style.
As you may have gathered I don’t really do things by halves. At, least I haven’t so far in my 36 years to date. For as long as I can remember I’ve had an all or nothing approach to life.
There are positive aspects to this approach. It has fueled the ambition I’ve needed to make a steady upward progress in my career. It drives me to try new things and challenge myself to see what I’m capable of.
And it makes me lots of fun at parties 😉
However the negative side to this approach is that my life seems to be caught in a cycle that I’ve been able to identify, but not fix.
Stage 1 of the cycle usually kicks off when I get busy. Because I like to throw myself into things I’m always up for taking on new projects or added responsibilities at work. Add to that a love of socialising and the constant whirl of kid-related activities I start having “too much of a good thing”, as is illustrated by the diagram below…
This “Too much of a good thing” part of the cycle can last as long as 2 months. However with the brakes well and truly off there is no doubt I am heading for a crash.
Inevitably I reach a crisis point. Stressed, bloated and exhausted I decide that enough is enough.
Stage 2 of the cycle begins now and is usually followed by announcement along the lines of…
ME: “Right! There are going to be some CHANGES around here.”
At this point the boys and Brook exchange muted glances of solidarity, as if to say “Alright lads it’s on again. Best dig in for the duration”.
Undeterred by their less than enthusiastic response I will continue…
ME: “I am, as of this moment, on a diet so we will ALL be eating healthily ALL the time. This may or may not involve concepts such as clean eating or becoming ‘Paleo'”.
Max: “Does that mean we eat dinosaur food? Like a T-Rex? I’d like to be a dinosaur. Raaawwwwr!!!”
I don’t answer this question. I’m on a roll now and not stopping for interruptions.
Me: “Hence forth, I will be going to the gym EVERY MORNING. I will be a slave to fitness and if that happens to make me a little tired and grumpy every now and then I expect I will have your full support!”
A little dismay has crept into their expressions but they should hold on to their hats because shit is about to get REAL….
ME: “Furthermore, I shall be instigating a cleaning roster! We will all start tidying up after ourselves, effective IMMEDIATELY. ”
The boys make themselves scarce at this point, but poor Brook is caught in the tractor-beam of my “new regime” fervour.
I inform him that in addition to the previous initiatives I also plan to undertake a regime of general self-improvement. I am woefully behind on reading and current affairs so I’ll make an effort to catch up on some books and articles I’ve been meaning to read since forever.
I shall also become calm and flexible through nightly yoga sessions. I downloaded a yoga app about a million years ago so I’ll fire that up and do a couple of downward dogs.
Brook becomes momentarily excited about this prospect until I assure him that I don’t mean THAT type of downward dog.
And for a couple of weeks everything goes well. I do actually do ALL the things.
But around the one month mark cracks are starting to show. The constant self-denial and effort required to maintain such a heightened state of self-discipline is starting to become a strain.
This frenzied pursuit of “All the Things” is of course completely unsustainable in the long term, a fact which is obvious to everyone except me.
The end rot usually sets in around the two month mark. Suddenly before I know it I’m saying “fuck it” to all my carefully constructed improvements and I’m right back at the “Too much of a good thing” part of the cycle.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It’s depressing quite frankly.
So where does that leave me?
Well I’m currently coming out of a Stage 1 “too much of a good thing” blow out, and was all set to dive headfirst into a Stage 2 “ALL the things” makeover.
But then I read something that stopped me in my tracks.
It was a post by Matt at Dad Down Under, which you can read here. What he proposes is revolutionary.
He is going to undertake a challenge where, instead of trying to improve ALL the things he is going to tackle one specific thing a month.
Just one thing. Per month. It was like a light bulb had gone off in my head. I had never for one second there was an alternative to doing ALL the things. It’s brilliant in its simplicity.
Trust a bloke to take something really serious and complicated and make it look easy 😉
However don’t get me wrong – it only LOOKS easy. Matt’s challenge is not for the feint-hearted. The “no internet” month in makes me distinctly uneasy, and the idea of a no-coffee month is so terrifying I can barely contemplate it.
But I’m going to give it a shot. I’m going to switch a few things around so that it’s tailored for me, but on the whole I’ll be trying to remain faithful to the motivation behind the challenge.
The positive side of my all or nothing personality likes the idea of seeing whether I can stick out some of the tougher ones!
So here is the Rachel 365 Challenge…
August 2013 – 30 minutes of reading ACTUAL books. Books used to be my whole life but I can’t actually remember the last time I picked on up.
September 2013 – Exercise (minimum 30 mins of rigorous exercise 5 days a week)
October 2013 – Healthy eating overhaul and pre-Christmas detox
November 2013 – No shouting month. Not just me – this is one will be a whole family exercise! Kind and considered communication from everyone will be the order of the day.
December 2013 – Relationship back to basics. Use some of our holiday time to… uhhm.. catch up on some downward dogs?
January 2014 – Financial Freshen-up. No better time to look at how we are spending our money than when we don’t have none 😉
February 2014 – Alcohol Free. The fact that this is the shortest month of the year has nothing to do with it… much.
March 2014 – Family Fun. Make an effort to plan at least 4 day trips to explore some of the awesome stuff in our local area.
April 2014 – Meal Planning. Actually planning meals for a whole month not just pretending I’ve done it because I thought about food.
May 2014 – Internet free. Apart from work related internet usage (which is minimal)
June 2014 – Take a Course/Learn Something New
July 2014 – Yoga/Meditation. So that I commence my 37th year in a calm and clear minded state!
By the end of 12 months I’m hoping to see a healthier, more balanced me. And if you’re interested I’ll be posting about my progress with tackling the monthly challenges in the first week of each month.
I don’t know how I’ll cope but I think it will be an interesting ride!
For all the details about Matt’s “Dad Down Under 365” challenge go here.
Are you stuck in an “All the Things” Cycle? Then why not set your own 365 Challenge?
It would be awesome to see your ideas about how you can challenge yourself and get your mojo back on track, so whack’em up on my Facebook page so we can all have a look 🙂
Linking up with Grace for FYBF 🙂
Linking up with The Lounge for “Simply the Best” week. Why not link up the best post you’ve ever written here?