Reading More Books in 2019

I decided that right now, I’m going to sit in front of my MacBook Pro and type whatever comes up in my mind. I do this because I know how debilitating perfectionism can be and therefore, allowing myself to just write freely without trying to perfect the structure and flow of the entire post is quite freeing. It’s also good because that way I can actually get stuff DONE.

I’m sitting in my grandparents’ guest bedroom in Northern California, with my phone face up next to my right arm on the desk, Instagram opened. Today’s IGTV video is 74% loaded, after many many attempts to upload the video. The app kept saying “Upload Failed,” to which I responded by tapping “Try Again” – and this happened probably twenty times, if not more.

You would think that this kind of situation would make a person extremely frustrated and upset, but for some reason I was completely fine (not usually like this when it comes to technological issues).

But this evening as I was tapping “Try Again” for what felt like the thousandth time, I was fine, and even quite upbeat and happy. I think the reason for this is that the rest of my day today was what I’d call a “successful” day.

What defines a successful day? Probably depends on the person. But for me, a successful day generally means that I started my day early with a lovely and refreshing morning routine, completed important tasks throughout the day, gave myself enough time to relax and rest in the afternoon (like a 30 minute nap or so), and spending adequate time planning, evaluating, and adjusting my schedule, my short and long term goals, and just my whole life in general.

It also means that I did things that I consider my lifeline: prayer (30 minutes is ideal), meditating (and really just doing nothing), Bible reading, and reading other spiritual and self-help books.

I just started reading High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard (I recently discovered the amount of value he brings to the world and now trust pretty much every word he says). IT’S SO GOOD.

I’ve never considered myself an avid reader, especially since I can actually count with one hand the books (or series of books) I read growing up: Harry Potter (but I never got around to reading the 7th book..), A Series of Unfortunate Events… and I recall reading some Nancy Drew books every so often.

But that was mostly in elementary school, and maybe some of middle school. Once high school hit though, I don’t recall ever reading a book for leisure. I do remember reading enough books for all my high school English classes.

Anyway, my point is that when I say a book is good, it’s usually a pretty big deal. But then again ever since I became obsessed with all things personal development, pretty much every self help book turned into a good book.

Here are some enlightening quotes that struck a chord in me today from High Performance Habits:

“Who are these people, and what’s their secret? They are high performers, and their secret is their habits…With the right training and habits, anyone can become a high performer…”

“What you need is a reliable set of practices for unleashing your greatest abilities. Study high performers and you will see that they have systems built into their days that drive their success. Systems are what separate the pro from the novice…Without systems, you cannot… repeatedly deliver exceptional results. In personal and professional development, these systems and procedures are, ultimately habits.”

“High performance is not achieved by a specific kind of person, but rather by a specific set of practices, which I call high performance habits.”

Anyway, just a few things that stood out to me and gave me renewed hope, all within the first twelve pages of High Performance Habits. I’m suuper stoked to finish the rest of the book!

One of my goals for 2019 is to READ MORE. So please send me your book recommendations and I’ll put it on my To-Read list!

I really really believe that 2019 will be the best year yet, and something just tells me that my life will be drastically different by the end of the year. Maybe it’s just a feeling, but anyway, these motivational people like Brendon Burchard give me much hope and expectation for amazing things to come this year!!

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Following Your Anxiety to Beat Procrastination

In my last post I claimed that I had finally “figured out” how to schedule my time, and yes, that was true at the time (about a month ago). But I think I was a little too quick to make that kind of a claim.

Yes, I really did feel like I had my life under control just a month ago, and it felt great. I was productive, waking up early in the mornings, exercising, starting each day intentionally..

But that kind of “ideal” lifestyle gradually evolved into a less ideal one as the days and weeks went by. Hence the lack of new blog posts for a whole month.

The good thing is that I finally told myself tonight that I cannot go to bed until I’ve finished writing a new blog post. So here I am.

It’s actually very late at night, past midnight, but I knew that if I didn’t take action ASAP it’d be difficult for me to make progress on my big life goals. I believe that it’s worth making certain sacrifices (in this case, the amount of sleep I’ll get tonight) if you know you will not regret the results you’ll get from sacrificing some of your comfort. I just wouldn’t do it every day.

Just before I started typing up this blog post, I read a bunch of articles online that talked about time management, productivity, habits, and related topics.

But first, just a sidebar before I talk about what I just read…

It’s actually really frustrating for me right now as I’m typing these words because my thoughts aren’t flowing and it’s like my brain is stuck. It’s like some form of writer’s block, where my sentences are choppy and I wonder how I used to be able to write so much so often and my range of vocabulary words seems so elementary now.

That being said, I will still finish up typing this post because I want to respect myself and my already-made decision to finish this before going to bed. Actually I’m technically already in bed, using a lap desk, leaning against my pillow against the wall, looking forward to finally resting from the long day. (Note – I fell asleep right about here after I wrote this paragraph, so I actually finished writing this the next day.)

Anyway, one thing I thought was insightful and helpful from one of the articles I read was that if you find yourself procrastinating on something and you sense resistance or anxiety about the thing you’re procrastinating on, that’s a good indication that that is the very thing you should do first.

This makes sense to me because if you think about it, who in their right mind would “procrastinate” when it comes to watching their favorite shows? Netflix and YouTube have never struck me as anxiety-inducing, but rather, they have a way of helping us numb away the scary “real” things that we should actually be working on. 

But after that numbingly wonderful Miranda Sings video is finished, you’re back to square one: overwhelming huge mountain of intimidating task giving you anxiety and way more stress than you need (not that you ever “need” stress).

Let’s look at it from the other side: you’re about to procrastinate by doing something that seems productive such as wiping down your kitchen counters (why not), or taking some papers out to the recycling bin to help you “declutter” and “organize.”

So you proceed to “take care” of these good, productive tasks, when deep down you know you will still have to face that looming project you’ve been avoiding. Despite all the little tasks you get done, your stress level rises, you’re less happy, you’re more irritable, and any ounce of motivation that was in you leaks out.

Then you continue to look for petty (but oh so productive) tasks. Maybe you even plan out an ambitious schedule for yourself for the next week to complete that project of yours. And then maybe you don’t even follow the well though-out, ambitious, color-coded schedule that you labored so diligently on.

Meanwhile, you’re MORE stressed, MORE unhappy, MORE irritable, and EVEN MORE unmotivated. And this vicious cycle repeats itself over and over again.

Does this sound familiar????

My point is, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed about something that you’ve been putting off doing, that’s probably an indication that it is a very important task or project that needs your undivided attention right away.

So if you’re feeling anxious right now about something you know you have to eventually do, my suggestion is to “follow” your anxiety right to its source and face it head-on. Make that a priority and just start.

In most cases, starting is the hardest part, but once you’re fifteen minutes (i.e. the time it takes to get into the “flow” – I read that somewhere) into it, you’re in the zone, you finally make some progress (however little it may be), and you experience a decrease in stress and irritability, and an increase in happiness and motivation.

Try it out and let me know how it goes. 🙂