The Problem with Things

“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 πŸ˜‰

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…

Stage 1 - Too much of a good thing!

Stage 1 – Too much of a good thing!

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.

Brook takes his life into his own hands by adding a little "light humour" to the situation!

Brook takes his life into his own hands by adding a little “light humour” to the situation!

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

Linking up with Grace for FYBF πŸ™‚

Linking up with The Lounge for “Simply the Best” week. Why not link up the best post you’ve ever written here?

Have you liked The Lounge Facebook page yet? You totally should – it’s 99% fabulous and 1% fat-free!

The Lounge


32 comments on “The Problem with Things

  1. Lydia C. lee says:

    Good planning….I too believe fixing things should be one step at time – but often that one step is tricky enough! I’d move December up the list – probably the best and the easiest…hehehe

  2. Oh God I just woke up and shouted ” All of the things must change henceforth and forthwith!”. You know by the end of the day ill be lying in a pile of chocolate wrappers obsessively refreshing Twitter.
    Excellent idea, you, and DDU. I will think about it.

  3. This all sounds so eerily familiar Rachel!! I tend towards the all or nothing! Such a great concept from Dad Down Under – will have to look into it some more. No Internet for a month – very scary idea! Does Brook mind having to wait for ‘his’ month til December? ;). Haha! All the best – fantastic challenges ahead! πŸ™‚

  4. Oculus Mundi says:

    I only do “all the things” for things I like. I certainly do not embrace moderation on any front , you will not be surprised to hear πŸ˜€

    Have not gone a day since I was about 13 without reading at least a few pages of a book, read when on the loo, brushing teeth, in queues, it’s a true addiction. Yoga sounds nice, I went to a couple of yoga classes earlier in the year, but I would rather spend my free time watching eps of Hannibal, True Blood or Dexter, if I’m honest.

    The CBT and diaphragm breathing I learned back in 2010 altered my anxiety levels (for the better). As soon as I became less anxious I stopped yelling very often. On the opposite side, it stopped me stressing about most things, which was the only thing – it turns out – that was making me do stuff I don’t like. Like housework. Win/win for me, I reckon πŸ™‚

    Life is short. and can be snatched away in an instant. I do what I have to do to get by and so I can get back to the stuff I love. And talking of alcohol (well, I was!) have not had that in a few months either, might be time for a visit to the bottlo rather soon πŸ™‚

  5. Luisa Munoz says:

    What a great idea! I USED to be like that and don’t ask me how – but I’ve now managed to do everything in moderation. Mainly due to the fact I would start and never finish anything and it really started to bother me. Would love to see if I could think of what I could do over the next year – maybe get through one month first and then plan at the beginning of the next. Big Love!! Luisa from Motherhood Herald xx

  6. I’ll admit I freaked out when I saw that you were considering a break from the internet. Who will I whinge about the lack of spelling skills on the internet with I screamed in my head! I was very relieved to read that you won’t be doing it until next year lol.

    I am more of an all or nothing. I either do everything or I do nothing…nothing is the state of play at the moment.

  7. Trish MLDB says:

    I was with you until you said Internet free – I’d maybe go one day (36hrs) over a weekend internet free , every weekend for the month.
    Great post , you have inspired me.

  8. Gosh I can relate to the all the things cycle. Your graphics are brilliant as always! Bite size chunks seems like a great plan. I started blogging to force myself to read more, and it works some of the time. It works when I’m not getting lost for hours on social media! I’d probably need to combine the Internet-free pledge with a few of the others to make it work! Good luck πŸ™‚

  9. Zanni Louise says:

    Yep, Matt does make it sound easy. Good luck with your overhaul. Doing things one thing at a time makes a lot of sense. My Frugal June was a good experiment – a month is just about the right length of time. Thanks for hosting too. x

  10. Sarah says:

    Best of luck with the downward dog.

  11. The Tunnel says:

    Cool. Will make sure not to provoke you in February. Your kids will love the winery and brewery tours in March!

  12. Sarah Mac says:

    God that sounds scary! I’m going to start with a no cake month … Yes I am! …. No I’m not … that would be stupid – You NEED cake to live right?

    Ok, I’m going to give this some thought because I love the concept – maybe my first month could be – stop just loving the concept and actually DO it??

  13. mummywifeme says:

    I love your too much of a good thing illustrations πŸ™‚ The project is an awesome idea and I do love a good project …

  14. daddownunder says:

    Good for you Rachel, it’s official now, lots of witnesses : ) Look forward to seeing how it all works out

  15. becc03 says:

    I do hope you are going to ease into these things where you can – ie. build up to 5 days of exercise. Obviously, giving up alcohol for a month cannot be eased into.
    I assume each month you have to carry over the previous thing that you achieved – yes? I guess once you make something a habit, it is easy to continue it over the next month and the next.
    Good luck with it. I will look forward to how you go πŸ™‚

  16. Aye Karumba you sound like me!

  17. Wow girl, I’m impressed and jealous all at the same time! I REALLY think I need to do this also – books oh how I miss them, love the exercise one too and the no shouting, I think I might just copy yours and do it with you, with the exception of Feb, it’s my birthday month and can’t stop booze. But my alternative is to only drink 2 maybe 3 out of 7 nights every week – might be easy for some but not for someone who loves a big glass of vino with dinner! I loved this post, the comment from B and the boys and the dino roar – I’ve missed your posts xx πŸ™‚

  18. Ness says:

    Sounds like a plan Stan. My dad has always been a advocate of the February diet for reasons similar to yours. I have a feeling I’m going to be forced into some changes, having had a blood test today to check my cholesterol (among other things) so maybe I can go with a similar plan, give up on chocolate one month, cakies the next, then MY WHOLE LIFE the next ….*sobs*

  19. robomum says:

    Man that is one of my favourite sayings. But not in a judgey way… I think it’s a good life philosophy.

  20. I loved Matt’s plan…. it does seem totally manageable when you break it into chunks, but yes, internet free month will hurt. You know, it’ll suck for the first week, and then be liberating as shit.
    You’re going to be so amazing for your 37th you’ll be able to party like it’s 1999!!

  21. Annaleis from Teapots and Tractors says:

    Great idea from Matt and love the way your taking it on. You do realise you can put your list on the fridge and until December you can point to it and say, “Hubby remember December is THE month!” Good luck!


  22. Fabulous plan Rach. Best of luck!

  23. Shazzamattaz says:

    Good on you Rach! I’ve recently given up coffee and chocolate in staggered starts which seems to have helped. “Hi, my name is Sharyn and it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve had a coffee and 1 week since I’ve had chocolate”. This is a really big deal for me and I must admit I’ve been feeling great without the added sugar and caffeine. I’m going to add in meditation shortly (this is an easy one for me given I’m so spppuritual hey Rach?) and I will make exercise my August addition. Good luck! PS I think you should make Feb a fundraiser. You’d probably get heaps of donations for giving up something so close to your heart…and the donor support keeps you on track. Think of it as Dry July in February πŸ™‚

    • Rachel says:

      WOW Shaz that’s intense! Glad to hear you’re feeling the positive impacts of it already. You might be surprised to know that giving up coffee is actually far more of a big deal than giving up booze (which I’ve done before with no dramas). And I am counting on your help with the yoga & meditation month in July next year because you are the only sprrrrritual person I know!

      PS may take your advice and do some fundraising for dry Feb. It will keep me HONEST if nothing else πŸ˜‰

  24. Ha, love it! Coming to you from FYBF πŸ™‚

  25. Kim says:

    This is SUCH a good idea of Matt’s. I love that you have crazy eyes and do all the things, but I kinda feel Brook’s pain a little too. I married an ‘all or nothing’ man. He tries to sweep me up in his ‘all’ things though, which can be – um – trying. You can at least remind Brook about all the dogs December will bring. I might piggyback on some of your ideas. NOT the alcohol one. I turn older in February. Washing THAT one down!!!

    • Rachel says:

      You would have to ask Brook, but I probably have been known to sweep him up into the “things” vortex from time to time! We have such different approaches though that if we did things his way it’s quite possible that NONE of the things would be done. So this is hopefully a way to bring a little compromise into the equation, and if he bellyaches I will indeed remind him of the festival of downward dogs in December πŸ˜›

  26. I will make a plan for the 365 challenge but just not quite yet.

  27. Mez says:

    This is excellent. I too, am an all the things nutjob. I like the challenge idea, may consider it. Xx

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