“Rules Control the Fun!” – Why Monica from Friends Was Right

If we are being honest, I have always been the most like Monica. OCD? Check. Goody two shoes? Check. Ends up with the goofiest, most lovable romantic? Hell yeah. Now, please watch this clip below.

RULES ARE GOOD! RULES HELP CONTROL THE FUN!

Yeah, Monica! I agree so much, I just spent half an hour looking for that clip.

Anyway…

Remember when I flipped out a little about wedding planning because it hit THE YEAR of my wedding?

Well, that was nothing like the standstill I found myself in at the T-4 month mark. There was so much to do, in so little time….so I started doing nothing.

Here’s how the conversation went with my fiance, Kieran, basically every day.

Kieran: Babe, we gotta be productive and [insert wedding task here].

Me: NO BABE, I AM TIRED AND HAD A LONG COMMUTE AND I DON’T WANNA THERE’S TOO MUCH TO DO LEAVE ME ALONE NO CUDDLE ME HELP! [insert temper tantrum here]

Poor guy.

In two days, I will be 3 months from best.day.ever. I cannot afford to be doing nothing. I mean, I could, but then I would have no veil, no invitations sent, no cake, no…should I just elope?

Then I had a break-through moment that I think will be helpful to all panicking brides. It is inspired by something I learned back in college.

I work best with one incredibly rigid rule.

In college:

I was tired of being behind with homework and readings all the time, and scrambling to get it done on time. So I promised myself I’d stick to one rule: I would never do anything the day it was due. 

The night before? Sure. A week ahead, better! But never the morning before the class it was due. And once I caught up (that first day was tough), I never looked back. I always followed my rule and it made me me more productive, efficient, and organized.

While wedding planning:

I knew I needed to make a change to get myself motivated. If it worked in college, why can’t it work now? I messaged my bridesmaids the following message in our group chat, before I could change my mind:

Hi bridesmaids and ladies of high esteem ! I’m starting to panic ever so slightly as we approach T-3 months . Panic=paralyze for me so my new goal here is to do one thing at least every day for wedding stuff . Literally anything . All I need for this is for you all to check on me and make sure I’m on track for this goal. Thank you!!

The rule? I have to do at least one wedding-related task per day, and make sure the ladies know about it.

Yesterday, I forgot to send a message.  So my gal Stacey message the group said, “Sabina, what’s the update?” It felt so good to know these girls have my back and WILL nag me for my own good. That’s what bridesmaids are for!

Next time you have a motivation problem, try making just one rule. You’ll be surprised at what it can do – especially if you’re a stressed out bride! And remember…

 

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My 35 Book Journey in 2016 – Answers to your Questions & Stats

My Goodreads goal for 2016 was to read 30 books. But because I am such a nerd, I actually read 35.

Just as last year, beating this goal was a joy. I read many great books, learned a lot, and it felt great to brag to people about the number of books I’ve read. I may be a nerd, but I do love to flaunt it.

First, let’s take a look at some fun stats:

i-am-an-open-bookha-haQ&A

I had my friends on Facebook ask me questions about my Goodreads challenge. Here are the questions and answers. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Swift Kick’s new intern Dee asked me a bunch of awesome questions. So we will start with hers:
 
Which books were most meaningful for you to read?
I would have to say that The Gospel of John and I Love a Cop. 
The Gospel since it was a big step spiritually for me to read a little of a book of the Bible every night until I read the whole thing. I highly recommend reading isolated books at a time if the whole Bible seems overwhelming.
I Love a Cop was incredibly meaningful because it was a fantastic handbook on how to be married to a police officer without going nuts. Since I am about to do  just that in 2017, this book really eased my fears by giving me clear steps to take for the issues that only police families face. I covered this book in notes and highlights, and then handed it to Kieran so he could learn about our future marriage as well, through my eyes.

Which books challenged you (or your thoughts/ideas/current mindset/etc) the most? (This question was echoed by Kristen as well.)
I think Superbetter did this! It’s all about viewing your life, and biggest challenge, with a ‘gameful’ mindset. This book came at a time during which I was getting over the deepest depression of my life, and, coupled with the Superbetter app, helped me take some control back of my happiness. I still use some of the language from this approach today.

At the same time, Superbetter also affirmed some of the things I knew about thinking positively, while framing them in the science-backed psychology mindset that I am so comfortable with.

Which authors would you love to have dinner with?
I actually HAVE had dinner with one of the authors. Katie Cotugno, author of Fireworks, is married to my fiance’s brother. Bet you didn’t see that coming, did ya?

 

The next questions are from a few of my other friends. 

Elisa: How did last year’s book list affect this year’s choices?
I don’t know that it did too much, to be honest. I will say that my discovery of Ready Player One lead me to read that author’s new book Armada, and also more books of the science-fiction realm.

 

Last year’s list probably also helped me be more adventurous with looking for books to read, instead of just going with what I know. On the other hand, doing a book club with my company put a lot of books on this list I never, ever would have read on my own. (For example, The Untethered Soul, The Five Agreements, Deep Survival, Quiet, You Might Be a Zombie.)

 

Sarath: What book do you think you would need/like to reread to understand more fully? Or to take more out of?
I thing that the one book of poetry I read, 99 Poems by Dana Gioia, is a prime example for this. You can always re-read poetry to get a better understanding. I tend to read quickly, so to read it more slowly would certainly give me an even greater appreciation for the collection. Of course, the same should be said for The Gospel of John, since the Bible is meant to be understood more deeply with each reading.

 

K’yla: Did you ever feel it was a chore? Or more of a goal? Like did it ever feel burdensome or overwhelming to have a stack of books to read?
Hm, good question. No, I never did. I tend to fly through books so quickly that I knew I was going to surpass my goal back in October. Since I don’t have a predetermined list at the beginning of the year, each new book choice is full of possibilities. I would say the reading challenge is one of those goals that are more to make me feel great than challenge me, since I will always be reading and hitting that number.

 

I wonder what number of  books will be my downfall…? ;)

 

Alright, that’s my wrap up about my wonderful 35 book journey! I will say, I think I had altogether better book choices in 2015, because how can you beat Ready Player One and The Martian?

Wishing you a book-filled holiday season and New Year!

PS – Read my official review of The Never-Open Desert Diner here!

How My Need for Constant Progress Got Me Stuck

  • Come up with a list of personal to-dos outside of work tasks on my daily planner sheet, based on my monthly personal goals [mapped out on a dry erase board in my room]
  • Get 10K steps on my Fitbit, even if it means pacing quickly around my room at 11:50pm
  • Complete my “brain training” for the day using the Elevate and Peak apps
  • Keep working toward my 30 book goal for the year
  • Spend time with my boyfriend or my friends
  • Plan what activity or conversation my boyfriend and I will do
  • Daily gratitude journal
  • Pick tomorrow’s outfit
  • Sleep???

Are you exhausted yet? I am. No really, I am so tired because that last bullet point often doesn’t happen till 1am, so that I can start the cycle again at 7am the next day.

Turn down for what-I realized this week that I feel stuck. In my desperate attempt to get more productive and happier outside of my job, all those things that should feel awesome start to feel like have-tos. I’ll admit, I am very goal oriented, and slightly addicted to checking off task lists. And I am pretty darn good at doing all these things. So why do I feel stuck?

Maybe it was a recent post on The Student Affairs Collective that sparked this realization, or maybe it’s my lack of sleep. Actually, it’s probably both. As that post clearly states, balance has nothing to do with the “pie pieces” that your life breaks into. Trust me, I am great at not thinking about work once I leave the office. Balance means you have time to decompress. 

There are SO many projects I want to do, ideas I want to follow up on, things I want to experience. My need to constantly make progress has hit an almost-dangerous high after I recovered from mono over a year ago. I overcompensated for my slump by rarely staying still, until being so desperate for leisure time, I choose to do a crossword at midnight instead of going to bed.

Yesterday, after being in tears over some unrelated things, both present and future, I realized I need to unstuck myself. I need to find balance in how I balance my life. I need to find that sweet spot where I am productive for myself, without planning every detail of my life. I need to remember that my “me time” should include “because I want to, right now” activities. 

Maybe it’s okay if I don’t hit 10K steps.

Maybe it’s okay if I skip those games sometimes so they don’t feel like a chore.

Maybe it’s okay if I let my time with my boyfriend happen naturally, and continue to work with him to find the balance between comfort and becoming closer.

Maybe it’s okay if I collapse into bed and pick my outfit in the morning.

Maybe it’s okay if I don’t outline my personal goals in the same way I outline my work goals.

Maybe it’s okay if I don’t build a personal brand on my blog, and I just figure it out as I go.

Maybe it’s okay to just start somewhere, because I want to choose that project, without trying to balance out all the other things I planned that month.

Maybe those to do lists are great when I have a busy off day, not every single day.

The truth is, I am not sure exactly where that balance is. I am not sure how to accomplish goals without getting stuck in my own plans again.

I am only sure that I need some time to just breathe and to choose to do something for the sake of doing it, not because it leads to a greater outcome.

-exhales-

Thanks for reading that. My point to you is that the things you do to live a fulfilling life shouldn’t exhaust you in a bad way. You shouldn’t be so tired from your constantly whirring brain that you lack sleep. You should fall into bed satisfied and happy each night, knowing you did great things and had some fun, and tomorrow is a chance to have another awesome day. 

In the words of rapper Audiopush,

Turn down for what? Turn down cause you tired.

An App that Will Kick Your Butt in Gear if Your New Year’s Resolution is Struggling

Take a moment to remember whatever it was you wanted to do this year, be it an official resolution, or just something you really wish you would start. Got it? How have you been doing with it? 

7 weeks toIf you are having trouble sticking to it daily, I found a great app that might help you. It’s called the 7 Weeks app, and it is the reason I eat breakfast every day. Based on the book The Power of Habit, this app works with the assumption that if you do something successfully for 7 weeks straight, it stops being a decision and starts being a habit. This will then make that goal no effort at all to accomplish.

The app itself is super simple. You just pick the thing you want to turn into a habit. Every day you check off whether you completed it or missed it. I like it because it gives me something to feel accomplished about every time I check it off on an external system (aka I get a dopamine rush). This keeps me coming back every day so I can get that same dopamine burst. Neurotransmitters are like drugs, y’all.

So, if you’re looking to work out every day, write daily, or just start eating a meal you’re supposed to, here’s what I suggest you do:

  1. Choose your goal.
  2. Turn it into a rule. (For example: “After I shower each night, I will write one page of anything I want.” OR “Every day at 6:30am I will work out for half an hour.”)
  3. Download the 7 Weeks app and set up your goal.
  4. Start being more awesome than ever!

PS: Don’t attempt to do too many habits at once; it will weaken your willpower. Start with one for now. 

Let me know how this works out if you decide to try it! Happy Productivity :)

My 25 Book Journey in 2015 – Answers to your Questions & Stats

Actually, I read 26 books this year, and I bet I sneak in one more after this post gets published. It’s casual. :)

Beating this goal was an absolute joy during 2015. I read a lot of great books, learned a lot, and it felt great to do what I set out to do back in January.

First, let’s take a look at some fun stats:

Parts of the top banner and the first 2 charts screenshot from Goodreads

Q&A

I also had my friends on Facebook ask me questions about my Goodreads challenge. Here are the best questions and answers. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Juvoni asked me a bunch of awesome questions. So we will start with his:
 I am an open book(ha ha)What inspired you to take on this book challenge?
Goodreads told me at the beginning of the year to pick a challenge and so I decided why not? I’ve been much more of a bookworm since college ended. I was going through a rough time towards the end of 2014 and I probably thought a goal to work towards that involved getting distracted by books would be beneficial. It helped!

When did you start to get a feeling that you could successfully complete this challenge?
Honestly, I’m a little cocky, I think I knew I could the whole time.  It was only 2 books a month plus an extra. My commute gives me plenty of time to read. I got slightly nervous around September or October and I went into high gear, reading some books in 3 or 4 days.

What were some common themes you ended up reading this year?
I found out I really enjoy sci-fi, totally unexpected if you know me. Ready Player One and The Martian were in my top 5, and I had no idea what I was getting into when I started them. I love all the adventure and the fact that this genre is usually without the “content” a book aimed at adult women might have. I also got super into Sherlock Holmes!

Which books did you surprisingly enjoy? (Low or no expectations before reading but turned out really good).
None, haha. I tend to have high expectations and then wish a book was better executed. #OptimistProblems

How has your view on Marketing changed this year? (You seemed to have read a number of marketing books.)
I have learned so much! Jab Jab Jab Right Hook changed how I did my job immediately and opened up a brand new way of thinking. The Power of Habit  also had a deep impact in the way I understand why and how people use products, and why they continue to do so as part of their lives for good.

Which did you enjoy more reading “The Martian” or watching it?
Reading it, hands down. I don’t think you can watch a movie right after reading the book;  you get stuck on the details they changed from the novel.  And nothing compares to the edge of my seat reading on the train that Andy Weir crafted simply with words.

Why do you think other people should read more?
It forces you to focus on one thing (a rare treat in this age) and it shapes your brain in beneficial ways. Reading lowers stress, lets you take a break, and boosts creativity. Besides, it’s so fun! I always feel better and more productive if I have read a book, instead of browsing social media for hours.

The next questions are from a few of my other friends. 

Sue: Which main character that you read about did you feel closest to and why? :)
I think I felt closest to Maud from Elizabeth is Missing. The entire book is written in the first person, and this completely immerses you in the frustration of a woman with dementia who knows that there are unanswered questions, but who keeps forgetting the questions and the answers. She mixes up the past and the present in a way that comes together in the end so unexpectedly that you are gleefully stuck in the story. She was sweet, she had lived through a lot of pain, and when those around her got mad because of her memory loss, you wanted to scold them.Elisa: Was there a book that you lost interest in? How did you stick it out to finish?
I actually started and stopped a lot of books this year. If it was depressing or had content I didn’t like, I didn’t waste my time on it. One book I read through even though it was “eh” was Taxi. I expected it to be a lot less dry than it was. But I stuck it out because it was my third to last book and I kept hoping it would get better.

Sarath: How did you find the books you read? Friends’ recommendations? Lists? Randomly pick something up at the local library? Favorite authors?  :-)
Great question!  I use Goodreads to mark down books I see in stores or online. Most of my books are ones I have seen in my travels and remembered for later. Often, they are books I’ve heard about forever, like from my brother, and finally got around to. The last book I read, “Afloat”, I randomly picked up at the library and it was a wonderful read. One of my favorite reads, The Martian, I decided to read because someone writing for Fast Company magazine said that he liked both Ready Player One and The Martian. I figured if I had liked Ready Player One so much, any other book that dude liked had a chance with me.

Alright, that’s my wrap up about my wonderful 26 book journey! Wishing you a book-filled holiday season and New Year!