We’re mid-way through August and I thought I’d take some time to reflect on some of the new habits I’ve started this month. These habits have helped to boost my productivity, calm my over-active mind, and has made me feel more secure about the future.
Here are 3 habits that I started this month:
1. Waking up earlier
Over the last few months, my sleep schedule has really been all over the place. I tend to sleep late and wake up late. Somehow, this makes me feel at a loss, like I have less time to do what I need to get done. In reality, since I sleep late, I have the same number of hours, but at night when my mind is tired, I’m not exactly the most productive person. I start off wanting to write or create content and ultimately I end up down a YouTube rabbit hole as so many of us do.
Recently, I’ve been trying to wake up earlier to truly seize the day and to get stuff done. Ideally, my blog and content creation should be my motivation, but in reality, it’s often the thought of breakfast that gets me out of bed. That and a hot cup of coffee! Usually, I have a bowl of cereal or oats, but for the past few weeks, I’ve been putting in a little added effort and making toast, eggs, and occasionally sausages and fruits too. Having a nice breakfast that you truly enjoy is blissful.
One thing I immediately noticed about waking up earlier is this feeling I get that time is somehow on my side. I do things at my own pace and I feel more relaxed. Before this, I would feel tense looking at the clock, “Ahh! It’s noon already? But there’s so much more to do. And now I’ll need to go prep lunch. Ahh!” Those extra couple of hours in the morning have become really precious to me.
2. Practising gratitude in the morning
Ah yes the G word – gratitude! I’ve talked about how I like to have a conversation with my husband about the things that went well in our day before bed, and it’s been a wonderful way to put us in a positive state of mind as we’re going to sleep. But recently, I’ve started practising gratitude in the morning.
Over the past few months, I noticed that I would wake up and once I started my work, negative thoughts or self-doubt would creep in and affect my mood. In all honesty, I’m not the most pious person, but I’ve started praying in the morning and it’s been pretty helpful. I play some calming music and pray; it’s just 5 whole minutes where I’m not thinking about where I’m at, my progress, my future. I’m just expressing thanks for all the wonderful things in my life – my family and friends, my health, the opportunity to do what I love.
For some, it’s prayer, for others it’s journaling in the morning or silent meditation. Something that anchors your day in the positive. There’s no right or wrong here, it’s all about what works for you.
In the weeks to come, I hope to incorporate some breathing exercises into my daily routine as well. Prior to this, my therapist had recommended breathing exercises to help with my anxiety. In all honesty, I could never get myself to do it consistently. “It’s just breathing! I do it every day! How’s that going to help?” the sceptic in me would say. But I think I get why it could help.
Just being still, not needing to be anywhere else, physically or mentally, is kind of a nice feeling. I have this annoying inability to shut off my mind, and focusing on something else like what I’m grateful for or my breathing could help if not to switch off my brain completely, at least to slow things down and get to a calmer state of mind. I hope to try out a couple of apps that offer guided breathing exercises and I’ll put up a review soon.
Ah yes, back to the G word. Last week, my husband and I worked on filling up a gratitude jar. We each got small pieces of paper and filled it up with things we’re grateful for. Then, we folded them up and put them into a glass jar. Now I try to take one out at random every morning and read through it. A jar full of notes like this just reminds me how much I have to be grateful for.
3. Performing a financial check-up
Right before the pandemic hit, my husband and I had started house hunting. We’re hoping to invest in our first home and once things settle down, we’ll resume our search. So we decided to take this time to do a full financial check-up. We sat down together and discussed our savings, checked on how our investments are performing, and came up with a game plan.
This helped us decide our down payment, our budget for a new home, and our investment strategies moving forward. I think having periodical financial reviews, especially before embarking on any major financial decisions, can be very helpful.
When we first started house hunting, we made the mistake of taking a more ‘going with the flow’ approach. We eye-balled a budget, which turned out to be too high in terms of monthly repayments and ended up revising downwards. Ultimately, this meant we were wasting our time falling in love with properties that weren’t suitable for us. There’s a lot we’re learning about house hunting and I can’t wait to share our experiences with you once we find the right place!
So back to our financial check-up, my husband and I sat down with an Excel spreadsheet to track our total savings, current value of investments, listed all anticipated expenses in the near future, and discussed what changes we’d need to take on to afford a new home. Open and honest financial discussions are important so family members are on the same page when it comes to big financial decisions. We’ll probably do this financial check-up once again prior to committing to a new home
So, those are the 3 habits I started in August. Habits are a lot like shoes; everyone has a different fit. I hope some of these habits will work out for you and produce positive results, but if they don’t, don’t worry. Keep experimenting and you’ll find what works best for you.