What goes around, comes around

When life's free trial is running out, what can you do other than make sacrifices?


Happy Sunday! We’re halfway through the first quarter of 2020! If you missed out on 2019’s Collective Reflections, you can find them on my saved stories on IG, or in my shared Dropbox folder.

Last week, I echoed some woes about out current epidemic and shared some light in spite of the situation. This week, we’re going to look at what it means to take charge of our own progress and how to break out of procrastination. Life’s free trial is officially over, 20 somethings.

Dear lunch box friend,

A few weeks ago I had a phone call with my best friend Ash that was going to change my life up till now.

We started with the routine catch up, an informal exchange of events. I told her I’ve been procrastinating at work, feeling lethargic, and just unhappily creeping through the mid-day drudgery that seems to affect the best of us. I shared about further dreams, about how my deteriorating performance had veered me off course from the bigger picture.

At some point I became manic: I complained about not having access to mentors, or the motivation to do some weeknight self-study. I even sought for minuscule faults in my surroundings to justify my inaction. I’ll spare you further detail, but it was an assortment of petty riddances uttered by the uninspired.

Ash listened, and acknowledged. She said she felt the same sometimes. But then she offered me the most important thing I needed to learn that week — in order to gain something, I must first sacrifice something else.

Every time we choose to do something, we’re gonna inevitably lose something else. No free lunch, right? If I watched some Netflix tonight, I’m sacrificing time for introspection, some time on the yoga mat, or the expenses update that was due last week. It’s an elegant adage, but in my extended lethargy, I lost sight of the simple philosophy.

She told me about the things she sacrificed too. In between the AM and PM of having a job, she had to juggle between her relationships, domestic work, cell meetings and her personal projects. Just like you and me, she only has 24 hours each day. Plus she likes to sneak in mid-day naps. So what the hell! I’m immediately humbled. She walked me through a list of things I could eliminate or defer, and suddenly a weeknight study session didn’t seem so unattainable anymore.

I’m not saying I’m completely focused and productive at this point, but through the kindness and solidarity of a best friend, the commitment to a planner that I truly love, and the gradual reframing of ‘I’m not too busy, I’m just making progress in a positive way’¹, I’m learning to pay attention to my outputs and to block time more effectively. One part planning, one part measuring. And because I have a better idea of what I’m willing to sacrifice, procrastination didn’t seem so beneficial anymore.

I choose to sacrifice my time for scrolling mindlessly, for Netflix, for (some) connection time with my partner, and for social interactions. Social was the most painful for me, but you’re still here, lunch box friend, and you rock!

So anytime I’m looking to indulge in the things I’ve tucked away in my ‘to burn’ box, I’m going to check my schedule to see if I have time for it. It’s not that I can’t do the burner things anymore, I just need to have gained something else first before I indulge. And guess what, I ended up recovering time for two Netflix & chill sessions with my partner! We even spent some time playing GTA V. Amazing wins.

In fact, the quickest win you can have right now is to assess your outputs more diligently. What have you done today that is worth celebrating? The magic here seems to be: no one else other than you get to decide what is worth celebrating. I know! Shocking. You don’t need anybody’s validation, so pull out your secret stash and get celebrating.

It’s been a few weeks since Ash has imparted me with her wisdom, and through some fine tuning I’ve come to another realisation myself — you can stuff lots of information in your mind, but your body will interpret and embody them. The information you gain can have tumultuous effects on your emotional self and the physical body. And some times they could be unpleasant. What goes around, comes around. If you have stress eaten before, then you know what I mean.

Oops, I traumatised myself with my Productive Efforts.

For example, money is a very emotional topic for me. And because of my poor relationship with it, I haven’t been able to stomach (haha) making financial decisions or to spend without guilt.

To make myself less vulnerable, I decided to gather resources about personal finances. I visualised that one day, I can pull out my own fact sheet and make the call based on the information I have, and not the pain I feel.

The good thing is I have a clearer picture of my position now, but the bad thing is my body is stuffed with anxiety and resentment from the information I gathered! I have so little. The world is so unfair. Bla bla. Usually we say don’t take it too personally when something offends us, but how am I supposed to run away from me offending me?!

What goes around, comes around.

Lunch box friend, do you feel the same way? Have you made a valiant effort in self growth but only to have bumped into some boo boos along the way?

What can you sacrifice today? And what will you need to do to keep yourself healthy?

One more thing, go celebrate yourself, please. Give me the tea later. I want to know!



What’s In The Lunch Box

For my last day in Portugal last fall, my colleague took me for some cheeky eclairs from one of the oldest pastry shops in Porto — Leitaria da Quinta do Paço. I can still taste the caramel-infused milkstache on my lips 😝

¹ This mental phrase was a sentiment offered in this blog post.

Thank you so much for reading my lunch box. I spend a few hours weekly practising my writing, and lunch box has been a huge indication of progress for me. If you would like to help me move the progress needle, let me know if my writing has resonated with you by clicking on the little heart ♥️ at the bottom!