2016 was quite a rollercoaster year on many parts. I’m grateful for several things that happened in my life, but I must admit that I let myself slip quite a bit while enjoying only the good things without taking some time to keep on improving myself. While in 2015 I succeeded at losing a lot of weight and establish a daily routine, I let myself slip during 2016, something I wanted to get back on.
Several things happened that pushed me to reinvent my life on a lot of levels. First I started to work as a freelancer (I talked about this on my professional website (in French)), after 8 years working in several companies from different sizes and business. This wasn’t an easy decision at all, in fact it was something I was thinking about for several years but I didn’t dare to make the jump. 2016 brought me the “little push” I needed to take the final decision. I’ll come back on this subject later on in another post.
One month ago, I decided to get back on tracks and establish a morning routine again. The first part was to get me out of bed as quickly as I could the morning, while still feeling refreshed and awake. For this I have to thanks two things. First Sleepcycle, who monitors my nights and wake me up at the best time possible (I’m still A/B testing my own life and playing with waking up times to find the perfect configuration but it’s one hell of an improvement at the moment). Second was reading the Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and especially this quote :
“I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”
— Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)
While I still have troubles getting out of bed from time to time, I keep this as a nice reminder that every hour I spend in bed doing nothing is an hour lost I could have invested in my personal growth.
On top of that, I’m currently developing a morning routine. For one month and half, I woke up early to do 40 minutes of indoor biking. During the last two weeks, I’ve switched to work on some exercises one day on two, following NerdFitness teachings, and started to keep a Battle log in their forums to stay accountable (and this blog is another step in becoming even more accountable).
After those exercises, I usually take some time to write down some morning pages, emptying everything that goes through my mind at the moment. Those pages usually pack reflexions on the day before, but also feelings, dreams, … It helps me to start the day on a clean slate. Thanks to several stoïc readings, I’ve also started to do a Premeditatio Malorum each morning to help me cope with the day. This helps me in my day to day jobs and help me improve my reactions and overall stress.
I’ve also started to practice meditation every single day, thanks to Calm. During my life, I’ve always had troubles to keep my mind focused on some things and troubles going to sleep (falling asleep took me around one hour. Now it takes me around 10 minutes), while packing a lot of stress and nervousness (even leading to a serious case of ulcers). I’m currently on a 32 days streak and can say that my life has dramatically improved : a better sleep, more calm, less belly-pain and an enhanced focus capacity. I still have to work a lot on my stress and some burst of angriness (starting and ending the days on the road stuck in traffic doesn’t help), but I feel I’m on the right path.
Lately I’ve also temporarily suppressed two other things from my life. Coffee, first, as I was feeling like I needed more and more of it to feel awake but that taking more of it lead to troubles sleeping, belly-pain, … I switched to tea and infusion and must say that for the moment I feel way better. Second is alcohol. I’d like to mention that this is not a dry january attempt, but more a personal experience I’ve been through during the last month. Every single time I took alcohol in the last 3 months, I’ve experimented extreme sadness, and severe depression episodes the day after. So I don’t see it as a permanent ban, but except for very special occasions I’ve decided to ban every “casual drinking”.
I’ve also changed my general diet to suppress every sugar (bye soda, sweetness, dessert, …), grains (gluten) and starchy foods (bye bread, potatoes, pastas …) and increase my vegetables consumption (and made a recipe board on Pinterest). The first 3 days were quite hard, feeling really weak and with a lot of headaches, but lately I’ve felt I had more and more energy, so it’s quite nice.
Around 10pm, I usually switch off every screen (TV screen, computer & phone which are both using f.lux), and take a book to bed for the next 30 minutes. This help my mind to slow down, breathe and enter a “going-to-sleep” mood. Good side? It helped me finish already 7 books since the beginning of January!
I’m still working on those things to develop pure habits (for this I have to thank Habitica) and refining some parts, but I must admit that lately I felt really good and energized. I’ll keep posting about those habits and routines and see how it goes and improve. But don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any question ;)