I Was in a Funk, and This Is What I Did About It.
Amidst the pandemic blues, I decided to perform a self-audit using the techniques I learned from my academic studies and personal research on well-being. This post defines the 4 step process I used in an effort to empower you to change the trajectory of your day-to-day life.
If you’re feeling super uninspired, lethargic, discontent, phone-obsessed, or lost, I get it. I am literally crawling out of the same rut as we speak.
I found myself sitting in bed at 3:00pm with my nightie still on having only eaten applesauce all day. I sat trying to blog but often got distracted by Pinterest and TikTok. I had only drunk half a cup of water since the morning, and I felt too tired to get up and shower.
This was my wakeup moment.
It’s wild how you just find yourself in this position. You don’t even realize you’re falling into the trap until you have blurred vision from screen exposure or can’t muster the courage to get off the couch.
When this realization happens, a choice follows: Do I do something about it?
The easy choice is to just go back on your phone and find ways to distract yourself, but the question will come back again and again until you finally decide to say yes.
When I hit the wakeup moment, I knew I wasn’t loving myself nor giving myself the proper foundation to practice what I preach.
It was time for a self-check-in.
To be fair, it’s not like I just felt this way for no reason. I’m an extrovert being forced to become a recluse while handling prolonged health issues. It’s not the best combination for success, but everything can be made better.
Maybe it’s the business student in me, but I essentially decided to conduct an audit of my life. I dissected what I was doing wrong, what I was doing right, and so on.
As I report back to you now, it really has been helping.
If you’re feeling a similar way, I want to share my self-check-in process with you. By making the time to do this, you are already showing yourself you’re ready for a fresh start.
Don’t lose the momentum – we’ll jump right in.
1. EVALUATE WHERE YOU ARE
Imagine you have never seen Disney/Pixar’s Up before. (If you really haven’t, just play along.)
Now imagine starting the movie halfway through with a grouchy old man travelling in a flying house with an overly joyful boy scout.
I think it’s fair that you would have a lot of questions. *Frankly, I wish I didn't know because I found this movie utterly depressing, but the metaphor concludes...*
You need the beginning of the story, the motivation and given circumstances, to fully understand and appreciate the narrative.
Comparatively, when faced with something challenging, you have to start from the beginning, or the knowns. If the beginning is an unknown and the future is certainly an unknown, how can you derive a productive solution?
That’s the nerdy way of saying you need to know where you are today so that you can accurately chart the path for tomorrow. Otherwise, it’s a shot in the dark and the analysis is pretty much bogus.
So, I first worked with my knowns. When evaluating my complacent state, I asked myself 2 questions:
What isn’t working?
What is working?
I created some lengthy lists out of these 2 simple questions, and as you can imagine, the first was much longer than the second.
Once completed, I circled the things that held the most weight or baggage. Ultimately, it was lack of social connection that wasn’t working for me. For what was working, it was this: the AOAT blog.
After reflecting on the lists, I summarized what I saw into 2 sentences:
I am craving connection.
I need a new environment.
Since I was able to define the most prevalent issues, I knew what needed to be addressed first as I moved forward. This enabled me to focus my thoughts.
Now I ask you, what do you need?
Create 2 lists. List #1 should consist of things that are not working in your life right now (consider things that are frustrating, tiring, or unmet desires). List #2 should consist of things that are working right now.
Circle what is most prevalent and summarize the central issue.
2. UNDERSTAND WHAT REALLY MATTERS
Before you address how you will move forward with your "audit," it’s important to understand what you actually want, or should want.
Over the past month, I have been reading A LOT about well-being. It’s a topic I have found especially relevant in my college years, and, frankly, I think it’s something everyone should inquire about.
Making time for this can seem hard, especially if you don’t know where to start, so here are some awesome resources on increasing your well-being across all different platforms:
(All are linked.)
The Science of Well-Being Course by Laurie Santos
@HeyAmberRae's Instagram Feed
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
TED Radio Hour Podcast, specifically this episode called “How To Be Better”
Rachel Hollis’ “5 to Thrive” Campaign
To give you a taste of how insightful this can be, here are the 5 things that Cognitive Scientist Laurie Santos describes to be the things that all humans should want but often don’t.
Time Affluence - allotting time for things you care about
Mind Control - suppressing the mind’s natural tendencies to want things that make us unhappy
Healthy Practices - staying active and hydrated
What I’m Getting At:
This (2) Understand What Really Matters step is me showing you how I informed the next step, (3) Establish Habits. I’m not suggesting that you need to read a book to perform your self-check-in, but I think becoming more knowledgeable about well-being will help you long-term. And, like I said, it makes the next part make more sense.
Get curious about well-being. Find resources that educate you on how you can achieve a happier state of life, including things like a podcast episode on wellness, a non-corny self-help book, or this blog!
3. ESTABLISH GOOD HABITS
Habits are a very tricky thing.
Research suggests that it is better to replace an old habit rather than trying to quit the habit due to the existence of habit loops and subconscious functions.
If you would like to learn about an incredibly comprehensive analysis of habits, I highly recommend The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. He can explain what I won’t right now for the sake of keeping your attention…if I haven’t already lost it…ANYWAY.
The idea behind this step is that if you can establish positive daily habits, you can have a stronger well-being even on bad days because the habits are the foundation.
So, I made an idealistic list. I wrote down everything I thought would be a positive shift in my daily life. Here’s what it looked like:
Move everyday (begin the Couch to 5k workout routine)
Eat 3 meals a day
Spend 1 hour learning every day (since I have plenty of free time and no excuse not to)
No phone in bed
Continue gratitude journaling
Notice the list is specific and simple. That’s what you’re going for.
I circled the 2 habits that I felt were most important. When I feel like they are firmly established in my daily ritual, I intend to revisit the list and add others in.
There is a very high chance that you will not follow through if you try to take on everything at once. Start small, and incorporate the new habits so that they work with current habits.
For example: if I work out, it’s in the morning, so I told myself that I would have my learning hour during the time my hair dries after showering from the workout. That works.
Write down at least 2 habits you can start to form tomorrow, whether big or small. These should be things that support your well-being and the 8 Dimensions of Wellness (more on that here).
Circle the 1 or 2 habits that seem like they would be the easiest to implement. Work the habit(s) into your daily routine for a few weeks then try to add more.
Here are some of the questions that guided my habit list:
Where should I start?
What will give me energy?
How can I minimize things that will drain my energy?
4. CREATE AN ACTION PLAN
Sometimes I have idea paralysis.
I know there are things I should be doing or want to do, but I don’t know where to start. What happens next? I do the thing that requires the least effort, or I don’t do any of it.
I am a Type-A personality, and, yet, I can fall into these tendencies. How does that work?
Whether you don’t know what to do or you do but don’t know where to start, a plan will make all the difference. This is the last step in the self-check-in.
I decided to list everything in my head; the things I wanted to do, needed to do, often forgot to do, etc. Getting it out of my head and onto a page made things feel so much more manageable.
This isn’t anything groundbreaking; you’ve made a to-do list before. This is just a simple reminder that it makes a difference. If there’s a plan, motivating yourself is a heck of a lot easier.
I recently read in my book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck that action is what leads to motivation, which leads back to action and so on. The idea is that you have to get out of bed if you want to feel like you should get out of bed.
So, don’t wait for your tasks to simply fall into place. Get off your rump, take your action plan, and start doing something.
Create a to-do list with any little task stuffed in the back of your brain. Order the items by priority status and follow through.
Need a bit more prompting? Check out these 20 Self-Care Questions to Ask Yourself Today.
After completing this post, I am now PUMPED to continue my habit formation. Even more, I am so excited to share this with you so you can do the same.
This is the necessary foundation for finding your Ace.
I know that there are a ton of methods on how to achieve a healthier well-being and happier life, so let me know if you have any suggestions or recommendations for me and the community. I love hearing about different wellness books, podcasts, influencers, whatever! Send them my way, friend.
It’s all about having a growth mindset to become a better person, a better friend, and a better Ace.