by Amy Odland
Ahhhh, the new year is here: 2019, with its hopes and dreams of what could be. We are well into January by now. Have you chosen your word for the year or made your list of resolutions? Tackled the latest decluttering challenge AND started going to the gym again? There is nothing like January and all its perkiness about changing our behaviors to make you feel horrible about the way you care for yourself.
Why is it so hard to change our behaviors? I’ll tell you why…at least what I’ve found to be true for me. Because we wish they could magically change overnight. We want to see immediate results without doing the work. We want to be a butterfly right now, not 14 days from now! We want the fairy godmother to show up and poof Disney magic on us so the weight melts off while we sleep or Prince Charming to ride in on a white horse and put the clean laundry away, folding it like Marie Kondo, please-and-thank-you-very-much.
Barriers to Change
For some, it’s hard to change because we want to avoid pain. Let’s be real, it’s painful at first to not sit on the couch every night binge-watching TV.
For others, we have difficulty managing our time or priorities. We bite off more than we can chew and then wonder why we don’t have any time left for ourselves. As hard as I’ve tried, I cannot just “squeeze in a little more” on a plate I’ve filled 4 layers high in the buffet line of life. Still for others, we have tried and failed so many times we are hesitant to try again. We dove in, enthusiastic to make a change, and tried to metaphorically swim the English Channel by ourselves, without training.
When we failed because of overwhelm, we beat ourselves up and became a little more embittered towards new ideas or others who accomplished their goals seemingly effortlessly.
The ideas I present below are not new or unique. They are only the most recent lessons I’ve learned to help me get a foothold in the ongoing battle I’ve been fighting for years…to make taking care of my physical and spiritual being a priority. By reading them today and understanding I’ve been there too, I’m hoping you can also be brave to try again, to not give up on yourself, and to give yourself grace when it’s needed.
Four Ways I’ve Recently Learned to Care for My Creative Self:
1) Ask for help.
You cannot do it all. I know that’s hard to hear if you’ve gotten in the habit of thinking you’re the “strong one.” Maybe you’re still young or stubborn enough to THINK you can. To think if you just work harder or longer, you can do it ALL. Eventually you’re going to hit a wall and you won’t be. able. to. do. anything. at. all.
Before you reach that point, take it from those of us who’ve learned the hard way: ask for help. Hire a trainer if you want to exercise consistently or correctly. Seek out a class or ask someone to teach you how to cook in healthier ways (or watch some You-Tube videos). Trade tasks with a friend…ex: she cooks some meals for you, you clean her house. Use the drive-thru grocery pickup service or have them delivered to your door. Stop trying to “just be stronger and push through.”
There is nothing bad or weak about asking for help. It takes great strength to be able to admit you can’t do everything.It takes great strength to be able to admit you can't do everything. ~Amy Odland @Amy_Odland #selfcare #creative Click To Tweet
2) Shoot for done and schedule.
Sometimes as creatives, we get so focused on a project, wanting to work and work until it’s finished in the way it looks in our minds-eye. Whether it’s painting a landscape, organizing the Tupperware, or making a gourmet meal, we want it to be a masterpiece when we’re done.
This “striving for perfection” either keeps us from A) starting at all because we’re afraid it won’t be perfect enough or B) losing ourselves in our “project” (aka we forget to pay the bills or eat or pick up the kids from school).
If we’re holding back from starting something because we’re afraid it won’t be perfect enough, we need to shoot for done, not perfect. It will never be perfect enough. Anne Lamott says,
“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,
Waiting for perfect is going to keep you waiting a long time. Just start somewhere and work towards done.Waiting for perfect is going to keep you waiting a long time. ~Amy Odland @Amy_Odland #selfcare #creative Click To Tweet
A walk that’s done is better than a walk that didn’t happen because the weather wasn’t perfect or because the correct shoes weren’t with you.
On the other hand, if we’re getting lost in our stuff and neglecting the outside world, we need to set boundaries or time limits so we don’t become negligent in what needs to happen in the here and now.
Set up a schedule. Set alarms. Set reminders. Delegate tasks to others. Once I was 45 minutes away from town and lost track of time while immersed in a project. I realized **at the very moment** the bell rang and my kids were walking out of school to find me in the pickup line that I should’ve started the drive from home 45 minutes ago. Facepalm. Nice one, Mom. I’ve never since driven that route as fast as I did that day. But I do now set an alarm whenever I start a time-consuming task so I don’t get lost in my own mind.
3) Keep it simple.
I get easily overwhelmed with all I need to do to care for those around me. When I first decided I needed to take better care of myself again, I started with improving ONE THING: drinking more water. That was it. I worked each day to make sure I was drinking enough water. I didn’t try to accomplish 10 things all at once…I didn’t try to drink more water, exercise every day, eat more vegetables, go to bed earlier, take my vitamins, etc, etc all at the same time. I started with water.
Once I’d made that into a habit (aka done it consistently for more than 21-30 days), I moved on to the next thing on the list of good habits I wanted in my life. Over time, I built these up, one-by-one on top of each other, just as I would do if I were building a brick wall. (Ok, is it even safe to use a wall analogy these days? What have we become, here in 2019?)
I’m just trying to say it’s going to take time. Don’t think you’re going to become a different person who takes better care of herself overnight. Take the baby steps to get there. Do it brick by brick and keep it simple so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up completely.
I didn’t do this on purpose, but just realized my first three points spell out A-S-K. I guess it really IS important to start with that! Ask God for help. Ask your spouse or friends for help. Ask professionals for help. If you receive rejection from the first round of people you ask, keep at it. Ask, and do not be afraid. God will bring different people into your life if He needs to. The help you need will be found if you keep looking. (Read Matthew 7:7-8 and Luke 18:1-8 below or any of the hundreds of verses in the Bible that say “Do not fear”)
My fourth point would’ve messed up my accidental acronym, so here it is:
4) Give yourself grace.
Above all, don’t abandon ship because you failed once, twice, or even seventy-seven times. Change will always cost us something – once we decide we’re willing to pay the price, we shouldn’t give up on ourselves.
“Any day can be January 1st,” Jon Acuff likes to say, and I agree. You don’t have to wait until January to set resolutions. You don’t have to wait until Monday comes around to start eating better. Start today. Do what you can TODAY to change your behavior and habits.
Yesterday’s failures are behind you and can only be erased by God. Once forgiven, they shouldn’t be dwelt on. Give yourself grace; God was able to, so why can’t you? Learn from your mistakes and try it differently next time. Just don’t give up completely, because once we start on our metamorphosis, we shouldn’t turn back. If butterflies can do it, so can we.
What has been your biggest struggle in making self-care a priority, friend? Comment below!
Scripture to read as reminders:
Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart
Matthew 7:7-8 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Matthew 6:33-34 – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Luke 18:1-8 – Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them
Personal Growth on Medium
NIV passages – www.biblegateway.com
Amy Odland is a WAHM who spends most of her time partnering with her husband to manage their 4 businesses and raise their 4 kids. She has come a long way in her 45 years, but still struggles with making time for taking care of herself with everything else on her plate right now. Her current side hustle of book launching helps her get her fill of GIFs, which should really be considered the 6th love language. Well, 7th…after chocolate, of course, which is the best self-care out there. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or find more of her great content on her blog.