Breakfast, home at Öland, after a 6,5 km easy-breezy jog. clocking in at 35 minutes. Not a measuring contest, just giving you context. Mom just cleaned my soon to be scar I’ve got on my back after removing a mold 1,5 week ago. My compulsive need to workout almost straight away after the little surgery got me into trouble – a tad infected wound that has a hard time healing.
The doctor told me I was allowed some very light and careful workouts, but the less the better. And it was best not to break a sweat. I grabbed on to that hay straw and swung in it like it was a liana in the jungle, which I had to pay a high price for. I had to go back to the doctor’s place a few days after the operation, and they cleaned up the soar wound and told me it was still looking alright, but I had to promise not to work out anymore. So I didn’t. Until 12 hours later. And yeah, I now meticulously have to clean it 1-2 times a day. That is the price of addiction
2nd addiction definition – 1: a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence : the state of being addicted. (Source – https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/addiction)
HOWEVER, a few days after the second doctor’s visit I took a good look at what I was doing and how nuts it was. So instead, I decided to take on this God-given opportunity and embrace a full-on relaxation-period. I Booked a ticket home to Öland, the place where I grew up and where my family lives, and made up a plan to embrace the mindset of relaxing, practicing mindfulness and meditation, getting out in nature, socialize with girlfriend and family, and try to limit the access to the connected world and other stimuli as much as possible.
And so here I am sitting, looking out over Kalmar Sund, after a week of this medicine, and are about to embark upon a weekly evaluation session, and thought I’d invite you along.
You see the reason for me writing this post – I’m just realizing – is that I want to share my weekly process of evaluating my past week. The ritual has come to be through a mixture of different books and own adaptations of systems and techniques with the purpose of tracking and measure my progress towards my goals.
Towards the end of the week I go through the actions I’ve taken and evaluate if I’ve reached the weekly outlined goals, which of course include reflection and analyzis to see what I can learn and improve upon. I also put up new goals for the coming week and overlook my schedule and things that ought to happen during the coming week.
Lately, however, I must say that a majority of all my ambitions never have been realized. As I’m often too optimistic about what I will actually manage to accomplish. Although, I’ve been more forgiving of myself during the last year, and tried not to push myself too hard as this system then only would serve as yet another factor contributing to overload and stress. But even so, it still serves a great purpose and keeps me more focused and at least aware of what should be prioritized. Also, just having the bait of weekly putting up goals and evaluating the progress is tremendously powerful.
Here are some of the books that has inspired my system:
- Getting things done by David allen
- Get the Edge, Tony Robbins
- Deep work and Digital minimalis by
- The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
- The 12 Week Year : Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months By Brian P. Moran , By (author) Michael Lennington
So this week I thought I’d just show approximately how I do it and give you a brief glance into my thought word, which I thought would be interesting as much of what I’m going through and are working on is related to fixing my burnout.
Firstly you should know that I divide my life into seven different life areas, which all get an overview and some goals outlined every week. And adopted from “the 12 week year” I further divide every period into three months, with overarching goals that should be supported by each weekly goal that is outlined. With some exceptions.
- HEALTH AND WELLBEING
- SOCIAL LIFE
- PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
So when I do my evaluation towards the end of the week – usually fractioned up into 1-2 sessions sometime during the weekend – I go through one area at a time and conclude how I’ve done on my weekly or daily goals. Usually starting off with just word-pooing out thoughts and feelings finding itself living on the tip of my tongue. Often, throughout the week, I’ve already done a bunch of reflections and observations which I’ve written down during my daily journaling, which happens multiple times a day.
I then try to draw some kind of conclusion or learn from the past week’s insights so that I can articulate the coming week’s goals. Which often either is an iteration off, or the same goals, as the previous week. As for my spiritual goals for instance, where I usually have some form of daily meditation as an action, I might tweak it to be a special kind of meditation (guided, daily awareness, etc) or to be done at a particular time or place (at work, after or before each meal, etc).
But instead of trying to explain it, I thought I’d publicly do my weekly evaluation for my spiritual area and for this past week here at Öland. I’öö keep it a bit raw, as it’s how I usually do it. It’s not supposed to be a perfectly crafted document – then it would take forever and never get done.
SPIRTUALITY – GOALS FOR THE PAST WEEK
- 2 min daily meditation/mindfulness – RESULT: 7/7 days
- 10 min daily Echard Tolle Reading – – RESULT: 4/7 days
- Daily Love myself-reminders in the mirror + telling myself on thing I’m good at – RESULT: 4/7 days
- Daily Nature walk for at least 30 minutes – RESULT: 6/7 days
- One 30 min Guided Meditation session – RESULT: 2 times + 4 x 15 minutes
- Paint/draw two times – RESULT: 1/2
Since Spirituality is the area I evaluate first, often a lot of things that perhaps are better suitetd for the other life-areas comes up too. It’s not that improtant – it’s the goal-tracking, thoughts, insights and reflections that are!
A win for the week of Spirituality and relaxation! I’ve researched a whole lot on the autonomous nervous system and come to realize the importance of REALLY learning to relax more. Reading up on meditation, the parasympathetic nervous system (the one that activates when we rest), and how to distance ourselves from our EGO (Tolle) made me eager and motivated to stay off the tough workouts and just embrace a calm mood! However, it hasn’t been easy to continue my Dopamine detox and avoid most of my usual external stimuli – audiobooks, youtube, music, food, workout, etc, when I also cut out the workouts this week. So… Boring and depressing.
You see I’ve gradually over the past 3-4 weeks avoided as much as possible except the workouts which always bring me so much joy, energy and happiness. Or has it? Well, the high during the workout I’ve got, but towards the end of the sessions, I’ve also felt really bad with burnout symptoms as fatigue and headaches. Kind of knowing this is a result of overloading my sympathetic nervous system (stress response), yet not wanting to admit it as that would mean NO WORKOUT. Addict talk.
But so now when I got home to Öland, I caved on the food and music as a substitute for the workout. However, that has a totally different dark side to it. The food has wen overboard, and for sure has added some stress and anxiety. Can’t get it all right. But it’s also been clear to me how addicted I am to the food. It’s like another entity enters my body when I open the fridge, especially when I’m home at my parents, and I throw out most of my rules. It’s like I excuse every shitty behavior I otherwise hold strong to – it’s like I enter a special place with special rules that allow anything since they only are temporary.
Amazing you might think. But it’s like a mental prison. Because it’s just a constant mind battle to not go eat. Throughout the writing of this text so far, I’ve had three breakfasts and spent every minute in between them trying to convince myself to go for another round. It’s like 50% of my energy goes to fighting against not getting more food. And the difference from this free world, and back in Stockholm, is really only that in Stockholm I don’t cave into the voice as much. Yet I’m fighting it almost as much. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this also loads my sympathetic nervous system a bunch and hence contribute to my elevated stress levels. Another better-take-care-of-this-issue-fix on the to-do-list that is.
Creating a sustainable new version of yourself after you’ve burned out and starting to realize how many destructive behaviors and mind patterns you have that is contributing to your state, can be quite overwhelming. Yet it’s the first step, awareness, and acceptance – then comes the taking responsibility and changing your behavior. It has really, really been clear to me that it’s my ego screaming for more, and reading Tolle and “a new world” last night really nailed it down. I need to continue focusing on my mediation, awareness and breathing exercises, actively observe my ego and thoughts to enable a distancing from it. The EGO that is. It’s not “me” that wants to eat, it’s destructive behavior, a seek for a dopamine-high and to get rid of the boredom. It’s my ego screaming. But I don’t have to listen. Easier said than done. I’m still early here, but I rather start today than tomorrow. I know in the longterm, my awakening will be worth the struggle.
..I’m back, had to go get my fourth breakfast. The scary thing is that it’s not the first time I’ve accepted my destructive behaviors. JUST LOOK A FEW BLOGPOSTS BACK. The really hard part is to FOR REAL do something about them. Which is, really, really, really, really hard. BUT #1 – It can be done. BUT #2 – be wary of doing this process half-way and stopping at acceptance. and this is EGO related. Because assign yourself a title, like having an eating disorder, also acts as an identity and explanation to your misery. I’m this way because of my disorder. I can’t help it, it’s the disorders fault. It can act as a substitute for responsibility. The blame game, also, the longer you have identified yourself with a specified decease – exhaustion syndrome – the bigger part of your identity and EGO it is. Which also means CERTANTIY. You know how you will act, you know how you will feel, and you also know how to get attention from people. And Certainty in itself is a state we human beings seek – We HATE uncertainty. And now you may understand why this may cause us to stay in this miserable yet somehow comfortable place. Beware. Yes, I’m talking to myself now.
“Alex EGO – it’s alright Alex, go enjoy that fifth round of breakfast. Let your little eating disorder out. It needs to bread, then it can go back to sleep when you’re back in Stockholm. Let it out!”
Also, goddamn, nature is so calming for my mind. It speaks to me. It’s healing. Yet, I’m so anxious to put on an audiobook or some music to stimulate to get a little HIGH. It’s a tough one to fight of, but I’ve got a few silence walks in there at least, and they’re always rewarding, yet hard to keep doing.
The mindfulness exercises and guided meditations have gone well too. Really been focusing on breathing through my nose, and I like my morning guided meditation I’ve done with Dr. Joe Dispenza this week. (This one is my favorite ) Grounds me real good, and also has helped me break my eating patterns a few times. Distancing myself from my emotions and impulsive (EGO) thoughts. For sure going to keep digging into the guided meditations, and read up on health benefits and activations of the parasympathetic nervous system. Getting all geeky and educated in areas is how I am able to penetrate resistance to areas that I’m afraid of or just don’t get excited about.
The whole look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you love you – is weird and feels… Embarrassing. Towards myself. I usually do it almost on a daily basis like an incantation when I shower or when I work out for a few years back. Tony Robbins inspired, and it’s also he who has brought it back as I’m listening to an old program of his “Get the edge”. The idea comes from the Relationships-section, and the premise that you can NEVER love anyone else more or equal to the degree you can love yourself. Meaning that we can never have a fully developed and prosperous relationship unless we first, truly, learn to love ourselves. I’m of the perception a long while back now that I do really love myself deeply, yet I keep hurting myself with all these destructive behaviors, so maybe I’m not. Hence I thought I’d embrace this exercise. But it’s tough, it’s easier with the follow-up of saying something I’m good at, – I often make people smile and laugh – and it feels good. But the I love you…, looking myself in the eyes… Man, it just feels so off. YET, maybe that’s the tell sign of not maybe truly being there yet. I mean, I know I don’t love my body as soon as I gain some flabby-ness. Hence, I’ll continue on with this action for the next week.
Closing off with the Paint/draw two times-reflection. I LOVED TO PAINT AND DRAW when I was a kid. And I know I still do. It’s just that now when I’m in such a constant accomplishment mood, it’s tough to do it unhindered from EGO’s impact. But I really think it’s a good thing to implement as a relaxation/fun thing to do at evening-habit. I don’t want to use the Tv or computer in the evening to get relaxed – it’s just a dopamine stimulus that builds and adds to destructive addiction patterns. At least that’s my current belief. We will see, and the goal of the drawings will continue on over next week. I’ll practice drawing faces, sometimes with the help of youtube guides do develop the skills, and I’ll take a photo of each to track my progress. That makes it a bit of fun to track my progress.
OVERALL it’s been a tremendous week in the sign of relaxation and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. My body really needed some time away from the gym, and I’ve felt more relaxed in a long time. And a GREAT sign to that is the lack of exertional headache that’s been plaguing me daily ever since I started working again 20 months back now. Makes me have to ask myself how much it’s worth living in Stockholm and clamping on to the life I Have there.
Goals for next week:
- 2 min daily breathing/mindfulness
- 10 min daily Echard Tolle Reading
- Daily Love myself-reminders in the mirror + telling myself on thing I’m good at
- One Hot Yoga session
- One Daily Guided Meditation session
- Draw one face
SO, that’s how I do my weekly evaluation for ONE area. But honestly, this is probably the most articulated reflection I’ve done. And the other areas will not get as much, word-pooing. But it’s incredibly healthy and value-adding to progressively work towards specific goals through weekly or daily actions that are adjusted on a weekly basis as a result of this weekly review. And as already mentioned, it doesn’t have to be perfect! Sometimes it’s a real quicky overview in an hour where I briefly check my accomplishments and update the goals for the coming week. That’s the most important to keep alive. Doing it shitty over not doing it at all is better. Sometimes it takes me 30 minutes, sometimes it takes me 5 hours.
One last thing – Pro Tip to make it work – I work with OneNote 2016 to keep all my notes, journals and do this evaluation. Either which way you choose to work with your goals, make sure to look over them daily so that you know what your focus should be. I have a daily (idealistically) 5-minute startup and shutdown routine where I go through the day briefly my prioritization.
TAKE CARE AND HAPPY EVALUATION!