Why Some Days Are Better Than Others

As we make our way through January of a new year, it’s not unexpected that many people’s heads will be swimming with resolutions and ways to improve themselves in 2017.

Making promises to yourself to change for the better is often a plight to achieve our perfect lives – our perfect body, career, home, family and faultless days to boot.

But what is a perfect day? Is it a day full of productivity, errands and perfect health? Is it holiday cocktails on the beach with no work or responsibilities in sight?

And how impossible is it to achieve this flawless life?

One of my recent online discoveries is Amy Young, a life coach specialising in relationships. Her YouTube videos make me laugh and she’s super real about life and a big advocate for taking it easy on yourself.

One of her videos is about ‘better than’ days. Go watch it. Seriously. After suffering anxiety, she started to note down activities that made some days ‘better than’ others. Not perfect, just ‘better than’ the not so good days.

I’ve started doing this in the last month. Each night if I feel I’ve had a ‘good’ day, I’ll note down what made it a good day and, I’ve got to say, it really strips things back to the bare bones.

My ‘ingredient list’ for good days, as Amy calls it, is not outlandish or impossible to maintain – in fact most of the activities are things I can do pretty regularly.

Below is a sneak peek of my ingredient list for good days:

  • Doing a Yoga with Adriene video
  • Going for a walk in the sun
  • Eating pasta and drinking red wine
  • Writing a blog post :)
  • Calling a good friend
  • Dancing around the house to music

My challenge to you: when you find yourself heading to bed thinking ‘well, that was a good day’, note down in a log what made it ‘better than’ other days.

Let this serve as your roadmap to what you want to punctuate your days with and let me know what improvements you see when you work these activities into your life more regularly.

A flawless life is probably unrealistic, but good days are not. 

The Birthday Post: Lessons Learned This Year

It’s the most magical time of year! Well, for me... my birthday! As I mentioned here, I do love to celebrate and my birthday is no exception.

I have to be honest though - my birthday is losing a little shine as I get older but I’m trying to hold on to the fun and am grateful for every year (and fine line on my face - ahem).

You can catch up on previous year's posts below:

Previous Birthday Posts

So what has the past 12 months taught me? An immense amount again, I’ve got to say. So let’s get started…

1. Thoughts control everything

This feels like a true life long lesson for me and I have Jess Lively and Brooke Castillo to thank for introducing me to the Self-Coaching Model.

Brooke’s underpinning theory is that your thoughts create your feelings and your thoughts are just reactions to external circumstances.

How we interpret any situation is completely up to us and how we view our lives is completely up to us.

If you think you have a boring, uninspiring life - guess what, you will feel depressed that you do. If you direct your thoughts to a life filled with gratitude and fun, positive feelings will follow suit.

One of Brooke’s worksheets is here and I urge you to give it a try - write down the top three feelings you most feel every day, then choose what you’d prefer your top three feelings to be each day.

Even in the hard times you can direct your thoughts where you want them to be and your feelings will follow - sometimes slowly, but they will follow.

You are one thought away from the feeling you want.
- Brooke Castillo

2. Nothing happens perfectly

Hello, flashback to lesson 1 of 2014. I learned this again in the past year.

Between having to change my overseas travel plans, to having a mini personal crisis in the middle of my studies, to missing out on achieving one major goal I wanted to this year, it all just reminded me that we can plan and scheme, but life just happens as it will sometimes.

The sooner we let go of the perfect picture and let life unfold in its messy, sometimes unforgiving way, the better.

We never taste happiness in perfection, our most fortunate successes are mixed with sadness.
- Pierre Corneille

3. Never give up on learning new skills

Here’s a secret - I’ve always regretted not studying for longer at university. I was itching to get out of study and into full time work and years later, ha, how silly I realise 21-year-old Georgie was.

This year I returned to study life coaching and have enjoyed and surprised myself at learning this new skill - it’s totally different from my day-to-day job and has taken hard work, but I’m learning so much. You can get on my coaching wait list for 2017 by sending me a message here. 

I also changed career industries almost two years ago and was on a steep learning curve after over eight years in my previous industry of publishing.

I felt in over my head but over the last year I’ve tried to remember that I constantly surprise myself - well maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise anymore - I actually am capable and can learn almost anything with time.

Every artist was first an amateur.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. Keep a record

Any kind of record. I was a diary keeper as a teenager and am pretty sure I just wrote about boys... I have no idea if those diaries are still around but I hope they are fully cremated and never seen again.

Between this blog, my journaling and The Holiday Council I do every December with Molly Mahar, it is truly gratifying to go back and read how I felt at a certain time, to see how far I’ve come with my goals and to watch myself evolve in general.

Almost nothing makes me feel happier.

We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.
- Joan Didion

5. …It’s all an illusion anyway

Bear with me on this one readers. I read Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach almost ten years ago and revisited this fairly philosophical book in the past year.

It’s a simple story with a pretty complex theme to get your head around - it might not be for everyone but the underlying message is that life is only as difficult as we make it (hello lesson 1) and as far as we know, the world we live in could just be an illusion.

I know it’s a bit way out, but it helps me let go of the inane - we’re not going to be here forever and the quicker I flow with my life the more present I’ll be. So here’s to another year ahead...

The world is your exercise book, the pages on which you do your sums. It’s not reality, although you can express reality there if you wish. You are also free to write nonsense, or lies, or tear the pages.
- Richard Bach

And because I love Meghan Daum and music and this quote makes me tingle, here’s one last message for you.

Thanks as always for being here readers and happy birthday to me.

“Listen,” Older Self might say. “The things that right now seem permanently out of reach, you’ll reach them eventually. You’ll have a career, a house, a partner in life. You will have much better shoes. You will reach a point where your funds will generally be sufficient—maybe not always plentiful, but sufficient.”
But here’s what Older Self will not have the heart to say: some of the music you are now listening to—the CDs you play while you stare out the window and think about the five million different ways your life might go—will be unbearable to listen to in twenty years.
They will be unbearable not because they will sound dated and trite but because they will sound like the lining of your soul.
They will take you straight back to the place you were in when you felt that anything could happen at any time, that your life was a huge room with a thousand doors, that your future was not only infinite but also elastic.
They will be unbearable because they will remind you that at least half of the things you once planned for your future are now in the past and others got reabsorbed into your imagination before you could even think about acting on them.
It will be as though you’d never thought of them in the first place, as if they were never meant to be anything more than passing thoughts you had while playing your stereo at night.
- Meghan Daum

Have We Stopped Having Fun?

Do either of these weekdays sound familiar?

Work all day, gym, get home, do chores, cook dinner, prep for the next day, check work email, sleep.

OR

Wake up to screaming children, get them breakfast, get them ready, drive them places, return home, clean, slurp from a cold cup of tea, prep dinner, pick children up, give children dinner, get them to bed, check social media, sleep.

Do either of these weekends sound familiar?

Wake up, exercise, groceries, lunch, cleaning, gardening, catching up with family, sleep.

OR

Wake up from large night on the tiles, lament the world, regret behaviour from the night before, mope around all day, eat fried food, sleep.

If any of these routines sound like your life - firstly, you’re not alone. Our to do lists are a part of our reality.

We’ve made career, family and lifestyle decisions that have led us to these day to day movements. But a couple of elements shine through with these routines:

  1. We are determined to keep control of our lives.
  2. We neglect to include any fun in our days (or we save it all up for Friday night when we can finally relinquish the tight grip we’ve held on our lives all week).

Back in this post, I mentioned that over the last year fun has become a huge priority for me.

I was finding myself caught up in the minutiae of keeping every aspect of work, home and health together and never really taking time to enjoy my day (other than when it resulted in an enormous hangover).

So what can we do to bring fun and joy back into our lives?

Create a fun list

Start a running list of everything that you enjoy doing. From taking a bath to visiting a museum to going for a walk while listening to a podcast, this list is going to serve as your idea catalogue.

Some category ideas to help you get started could include - friendship, romance, adventure and relaxation - and let me know if you’d like a peek at my list.

Schedule something that brings you joy EVERY SINGLE DAY

Yes, every day!

Why do we hate Mondays? Why is Wednesday called hump day? Why do we have Sunday night blues?

It’s because we have nothing to look forward to on those days.

The night before each day (while you’re doing some of that humdrum prep we already talked about) look ahead to your calendar and see if there’s anything you are looking forward to the following day.

If the answer is no, go to your list and choose something you’d like to do, no matter what time of day you can fit it in.

Focus on your most dreaded or boring days

As I experimented with this idea, I noticed that Mondays and Tuesdays were the days where I was lacking the most fun.

I’d had my fun and prepped for the week on Sunday but Mondays and Tuesdays were about getting serious and churning through work and a couple of gym sessions.

Now I have regular fun booked on these days.

On Mondays I always take myself out for lunch (with or without friends) to a new cafe in my work area. Previously I would have brought whatever food I’d prepped on Sunday and raced back to my desk to keep working. Now Mondays feel special because of having this scheduled in the middle of the day.

And now every Tuesday night my husband and I go out for dinner to try a new restaurant near home. We share the responsibility of choosing a place and always have a great time - chatting about our week and mixing up a somewhat boring weeknight. It doesn’t have to be expensive ($10 pho and ramen anyone?) and I highly recommend it.

If you’re already having a blast every day then more power to you, but if you’re feeling like something is missing in your daily routine, adding fun could turn things around.

And I’m more than certain our best memories are not created while cleaning or working late at night - they’re created in moments of joy and happiness.

How do you include fun in your day to day life? Let me know in the comments below.

The Housework Struggle Is Real

I have a lovely visitor coming to stay with me this coming weekend and was thinking about when to tidy the house. I looked around and saw at least a dozen things that needed doing and I started to fill with dread.

Would I do it the night before she arrived so everything was fresh? Should I do it now so I don’t have to look at it all week and feel stressed? But if I do it now, will it need cleaning again by Friday night? Fun thoughts, right?

Luckily over the years I’ve learned how to quash these destructive musings and I wanted to share my strategies with you.

The pursuit of perfection

Many of us are Inadvertently aiming for ultimate control and perfection in our lives. Before we had magazines and TV to live up to, now it’s every social media channel and lifestyle blog we follow. Sparse white tabletops with fresh flowers fill our feeds, while we wonder where to store empty boxes and stacks of random papers we know we have to keep somewhere, for someday.

Are we too focused on keeping everything in order? Is life meant to be messy? Are we cleaning up to avoid spending time on more important hobbies that we might be afraid to pursue? Ask yourself these questions as you step slowly away from the vacuum cleaner.

Maternal gatekeeping

This is a concept I’m fascinated with. Maternal gatekeeping, as the name suggests, usually relates to parenting but it also includes the concept that women will limit their partner’s involvement in housework. Why you ask? Because our partners can’t do it as perfectly as us. And when they do the housework, we often criticise and question how they’ve done it. Sound familiar?

Recognising this has been a huge shift in my relationship. A while back I gave up ‘being in charge’ of the house and directly asked for help. After some negotiation we now share the housework 50/50. We are in charge of our own jobs and we rarely let each other down in this department.

Does handing over control like this make you nervous? If so, another tip is to let go of the jobs that you don’t really care that much about. For example, I like washing and hanging the laundry, but I couldn’t care less how the dishwasher is stacked as long as it gets done. Ask yourself - do you want it to be done perfectly or do you just want it to be done?

Write down all the jobs that need completing around the house (yes, all of them) and how long they each take. Then divide them up fairly. And if you don’t have a partner…

Batch household tasks

Another major shift for me. Doing a little bit here and there only made me feel like I was constantly doing chores, and also consistently on the look out for the next chore that needed doing. Now I devote around an hour or two on a Saturday and then I’m done.

I usually plug in some music or a podcast and reward myself once the time is over with a hot coffee, a cooking show (my guilty pleasure) and a cuddle with the kitten.

Try doing all your housework at once and let me know if it makes a difference to the rest of your week.

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Will anyone really care?

Back to the catalyst for this post - keeping your house ‘perfect’: either to impress people, or because you care what others think of you. In all honesty when was the last time you walked into a good friend or family member’s house and really cared what state their home was in? When they apologise to you for having a messy house, did you ever even notice? Seeing them and enjoying great company and conversation, so outweighs the dust we all have hiding under our couches.

If you truly dig deep, could you be happy with a tidy house over a sparkling clean one? Can you shift your focus to the fulfilling time you’ll share when that person arrives at your house, over what they’ll think of your cleaning skills?

What’s your housework mentality? Will you be trying out any of these tips? Even if you’re too scared to tell me, I truly hope this helps you loosen the reins dear readers. And if you have a cleaner, even better!