Year of Discipline: January

“Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows
with the ability to say no to oneself.” 
― Abraham Joshua Heschel

This month I really tried to use the fresh start energy that January often brings to practice some new habits, without getting too affected by the #newyearnewme attitude that I find personally unhelpful. New Year’s Resolutions do not work for me, which is why I like yearly themes instead. Themes, I find, allow me to vary what I’m doing or focusing on at any given point rather than holding me to a prescriptive lists of dos and don’ts.

So, how did the Year of Discipline start off, you ask?

Exercise (blech). I’m not going to meet my 101/1001 goal of a certain amount of exercise per week for a six month period. This is annoying because I’ve had a lot of stretches where I was really dedicated to exercise and was seeing the benefit of it–even if I hated every single minute of it. But on the other hand, my Year of Health last year helped me to lose a lot of weight, sort out medications that were clearly affecting other areas of my life, start eating healthier overall, and nearly eliminate what were once chronic migraines. So while I’m still working on exercising more regularly, I’m not beating myself up too much over missing out on this goal. I did track my exercise this month which included days at the gym, but also included a step-counting challenge for charity for work, and walking home from work as many days as possible, even though the January weather isn’t exactly a Londoner’s delight.

Healthy eating. You might have seen the Instagram Stories over December…to say I indulged would be a hilarious understatement. One of the best things I did for my health over the past couple of years was to drastically reduce the amount of sugar I was eating but that had fallen by the wayside in the last few months of 2018. I took this month as an opportunity to really be mindful about my food and deliberately healthy in my choices. This isn’t some kind of personal revolution, I’m not jumping on the latest trend, and it’s not something I’m going to be particularly rigid about moving forward; I just appreciated the chance to deliberately focus on reinforcing the good food habits I’ve spent a long time building. This month I cooked almost all of my food at home, with one night out and one brunch with friends, and deliberately carved out time to cook on the weekends and during the evenings.

Waking up earlier. One of the unintentional bad habits I’d found myself sliding into was hitting the snooze button more and more, which made for rushed and grumpy mornings. I also noticed that I didn’t have as much personal time as I wanted. Work has been pretty consuming which has meant late nights or lack of time or energy for personal projects in the evenings or at weekends. I decided to try and free up some more time in the morning instead and do you know what? It worked! After the first week of adjusting to my new wake up time, during which I woke up but allowed myself to get up and moving at a leisurely pace, I was gradually able to introduce more and more action to my mornings. Sometimes I made breakfast, sometimes I did some light exercise, sometimes I just read the news and got my social media fix. It made for a much better and less frantic morning routine. Did I miss a couple of days due to overslept alarms and unintentional snoozes? Yes, but less than five, so I’m going to call this a goal achieved.

Financial health. Jeff and I put some big payments towards our personal debt in December and were determined to not use our credit cards more than strictly required. I literally took them out of my wallet this month to rely on cash as much as possible. I also saved on travel costs by walking home when I could, packing my lunches, and curtailing my afternoon coffees at work. I scheduled appointments with my bank to finally make some minor changes to my accounts to facilitate improved savings habits. I had a bit of a wobble when it came to shopping which I wrote about here, but the total damage was under £250, which is something I more than accounted for by changing my food habits.  Budgeting: fun, no. Another month of debt payments? Yes.

Other stuff:
I used some of our budget this month to start the long put off project of framing our art. This is going to take a long time to do so we are going one piece at a time, starting with a print we bought last year.

Took another batch of items to donate to charity shops and donation centers. The water damage to our apartment finally got repaired and we used the opportunity of camping in our living room for two weeks to go through our stuff and set aside items for repair or donation. It was cleansing, even if we did spend the day arguing!

Reorganized the house. See above.

Scheduled my next batch of immigration work, including a test.

Tried to dress better overall. This month I played around a bit with my wardrobe and found ways to wear favorite items, styling or layering them for the colder weather. I also really made my morning grooming routine more of a priority…which was not easy given that workmen were in our house for two weeks and we were sleeping on the living room floor!

I renewed an out of date library card. While buying books is allowed this year, I’m trying to minimize this by taking advantage of the community resources I benefit from.

Booked a dental appointment and processed the insurance claim immediately.

What did you do for yourself this month, kittens? There are NO wrong answers. 

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