That damn alarm clock. That painful little reminder how I thought it was somehow a great idea to stay up watching 3 episodes of Stranger Things after working a 12 hour shift at work and pulling into the driveway well after every single one of my neighbors had already gone to bed. That wonderful, ticking, in-my-face confirmation of my complete failure to grasp even the most basic of self-care principles, while simultaneously showcasing a complete time management fail. I think it actually showed enormous self constraint on my part that it never got smashed against the wall.
And that was my life in a nutshell for years and years. I was so tired. SO tired. I couldn’t even sleep when I wanted to, but the option to do so very rarely was available anyway so it didn’t really matter. When there WAS a moment or two that I could relax, I certainly did not use the time wisely to rest or rejuvenate, but instead virtually flushed that time in the toilet doing things too boring to remember the next day. It wasn’t my fault really – I was actually too exhausted to do ANYTHING worthwhile.
If this all sounds too familiar at all to you, you are in good company. Most people spend their entire lives in varying stages of absolute exhaustion. It’s somehow considered normal nowadays. And we take it even further than that….WAY further. Sure, we’ll take good care of our pets and maybe even our electronics, but most of the time, we push our own physical and emotional well-being so far on the back burner that we forget to even take it into consideration. As a society, we are sleep deprived, under nourished even when we over-eat, not getting enough exercise, consuming way too many quick-remedies such as excessive mediation, alcohol, caffeine and junk food, and working too many hours in jobs that we most likely don’t find rewarding or stimulating. Sounds like a recipe for a peaceful and fulfilling life, right? But wait! We don’t stop there. We then up the ante by borrowing from time we don’t have to spend endless hours mindlessly scrolling on our phone, or sitting lifelessly in front of the television, or other equally unfulfilling activities that actually have a huge draining effect on our life-energy. And boy, can I testify! I walked around like a complete zombie for most of my adult life. The scary thing is that I didn’t even notice there was an issue. It had just become the sad routine of my everyday life. I was eternally sitting on top of a mountain of things that I needed to get accomplished that I was too fatigued to even address. And then onto the next day! (Which would be a repeat of the day before, and the day before that…..)
If we are all scuffling around feeling this terrible all the time, is there really any surprise that we don’t even have the wherewithal to make even minuscule improvements in our lives? We are too worn out and stretched thin to even contemplate making changes. We live on the edge of sanity most of the time, just trying to keep it all together. If there was a fast forward button to get to the pajama-inclusive part of the day, I think most of us would press it.
But the time is ticking. If we don’t start actually living this life, its going to be over before we know it, and what will we have to show for it? Some Chinese take-out and an HBO subscription? Clearly we are missing the mark, but what is the alternative? How would it ever be possible not to be tired when there isn’t actually enough time to lead the life that we have?
And that’s it. We’ve got to take a good, long look at the routine and schedule we have set up for ourselves. Is it really realistic? How long can we actually carry on with this much stress and this little self care? When we were children, we always found a way to take time for ourselves…to play and to contemplate the world around us. We found joy and magic in almost anything. And we lived by simple principles – when we were tired, we slept. When we were hungry, we ate. We did not ignore our basic human needs. We listened to them. And for the most part, we took care of ourselves.
I believe that all people are meant to experience incredible joy on a regular basis. We deserve to be getting proper sleep and eating amazing and nutritious foods that nourish our bodies and keep us strong. We should be enjoying meaningful and rewarding relationships with interesting people that encourage us to think and broaden our horizons. We should be excited to get up each day to see what the world holds for us. But most of the time, we shrug all these things off as trivial and unimportant. Boy, are we wrong about that.
I only know because a few years ago, I finally snapped myself out of zombie-hood. I’m not going to lie, it required a LOT of monumental changes in my life to be able to do it, but I can safely say that it was WORTH IT. And YOU are worth it. This is it. It’s time. We’ve got to step up to the plate. We have to start taking care of ourselves.
But here’s the good news. We are the author of our lives, and we get to re-write the story. This will definitely require us getting out of our comfort zones…but really…where have our comfort zones gotten us? Not where we want to be, obviously.
The first thing we need to address is sleep. Can you even imagine how different you would feel if your eyelids weren’t held up with toothpicks all the time? We need to do an inventory of everything we are wasting our time on, and start throwing those things out the window like they are going out of style. And I get it. So many of the “time wasting” activities are an attempt at a reward ourselves for getting through the day. For me, TV had become like a buddy I could hang out with after a endlessly long and stressful day. But hanging out with that “buddy” was making me so sleep-deprived that I was beginning to have trouble completing my sentences. It was a horrible habit that I needed to change. And I did. I went radical about it, and actually ended up giving up television entirely for two years. And I didn’t stop there. I gave myself a complete lifestyle makeover that even Tony Robbins would be impressed by.
Now before you get completely discouraged thinking you could NEVER do anything like that, I’m going to stop you before you even start. You can. You SO can. And you SHOULD. If you are experiencing even a fraction of the degree of misery I was living in on a daily basis without even NOTICING, it’s time to change. You deserve better. In fact, you deserve the best. You deserve to live the ABSOLUTE best life imaginable.
So, give yourself the respect you deserve by being honest with yourself. What just isn’t working? Don’t limit yourself by saying that some things aren’t changeable for this reason or that, because that is very rarely the case. Change might not always be EASY, but it is possible. And necessary. Good Lord, we all need to sleep!
Believe it or not, personal development starts to become really fun after awhile. Once you witness these incredibly positive changes in your life, you just want to keep the flow going. Seeing with your own eyes that its possible to improve whatever you want is unimaginably powerful. And the key is to just get started. Don’t wait for the time to be right…that time will never ever come…just take a baby step. In any direction. Before you know it you’ll be running marathons.
Make that laundry list of all the things that need a tune up. And anything that isn’t serving you anymore, its time to give them the boot and replace them with new, empowering habits and experiences that enrich your life and fill you with joy. WAIT until you see what your life can become. And you won’t even be too tired to live it. Carpe diem, my friends! And may your reality become even more incredible than your dreams. Spoiler alert: it will.