During February I have been busy tracking a lot of my activities on a physical and mental level. My previous post was about habits and keeping track so I can find out what could do with a change.
I like to follow up with how that worked for me during February. The idea is to explore a few things in my life. One of them is how to become the type of person who is capable of setting up an online business by the end of 2023. I intend to reflect on that process once per month in a blog post. This is my first reflection.
The first thing I did!
One of the things that I implemented during February was tracking. I had my birthday in January and funnily two of my presents were tracking devices. To be precise, a Fit Bit and a really fancy planner called the Happiness Planner. Both of them are perfect to track a variety of things and that is exactly what I have done.
From a health perspective I tracked my sleep pattern, my heart beat, my water intake, my daily steps and exercise. It is quite cool to see what you can measure with such a thing. Furthermore I noticed something interesting.
While I was tracking my behaviour and my habits, I became more aware and motivated to do the behaviours I had chosen. For example, I decided to do every day 5000 steps as a minimum. Before I set the actual number as a minimum on my Fitbit, I did not achieve 5000 every day. Since I set the 5000, I make sure I walk that extra mile as I want to tick it off the list.
Tracking – does it work?
I love updating spread sheets and marking what has been done. Tracking steps, daily exercise and water intake seems to make me do what I need to do. It definitely helped me with measuring my progress and I did not want ‘to break the chain’. I wanted to show up and add to the chain. On top of it I really enjoyed doing it and was amazed how I managed to fit it all in.
Filling in the Happiness Planner is a similar activity. It asks me to think about intentions, habits and awareness to name a few. It also focusses on self love, gratitude and what to look forward to. I have noticed that I am natural good at tracking factual things such ‘to do’s and what to schedule.
When it asked me to reflect on ‘what I love about myself’ and ‘good things about today’, I have to dig a bit deeper. However, as such questions are asked on a daily base, I can’t do anything else than fill them in or at least have a go at it.
I am reading the well known book Atomic Habits and in there it says, that for a habit to stick, you have to feel successful even if it is in a very small way. I do have a feeling of achievement about last month – a sense of small wins. In reality not much has happened but I know now that I can walk every day 5000 steps. I make an effort to drink between 1-1.5 liters of water and my heart rate is behaving like it should.
Additionally, I have been doing a short meditation every morning after waking up, did the yoga sessions I scheduled and filled in my planner. I did this all before I started to work so getting up in time was crucial. Simply the act of tracking sparked my enthusiasm to continue doing the things I had set out to do.
All this has given me a sense of fulfilment. Above all it forces me to stay honest with myself as tracking acts as evidence of the progress I am making. To be honest, it is almost a bit addictive. And it means I have stuff to write in my planner.
On my list was the write a monthly blogpost about all of this and there you go! Here it is!
Feel free to let me know if you are the type of person that tracks! Even if it is just to see how you actually spend your time. There may be a dark side to the habit of tracking and that is that it becomes more important than the purpose of doing it. I surely keep that in mind!
As a matter of fact, I can and ……..I am proud that I made it.
Curious? Here we go. In April 2022 instead of flying to London I spent unexpectedly a day in hospital on a heart monitor. Consequently I found out that I had a few heart rhythm issues and that I would need an operation. The cardiologist muttered almost mischievously that of course drinking alcohol was not the best thing to do. While saying that he was doing a scan of my heart and did not even look me in the eye.
In France there is a joke that if the doctor asks if you have been drinking and your reply is – ‘No, nothing at all’. He would say: ‘What, not even wine?’
I decided to take the cardiologist’s advice rather seriously. Maybe because deep down I felt that I would love to drink less regularly. In fact I had been thinking about it for some time. I looked up causes of the heart problems I had and there it was – cause number one, alcohol and number two, coffee. Two of my favourites!
The best decision in action
Moving forward 6 months, I am still drinking a few coffees per day. However I have almost removed drinking alcohol from my life and against expectations, it was not hard. To be honest, it almost went by itself.
This made me think as I never before had a real need to stop having a glass of wine. Despite the fact that I felt that I rather would not have the habit. This time the urge to have a drink was gone and I slowly became indifferent about it.
Throughout the summer I explored zero alcohol beers and I discovered they are getting increasingly popular. Furthermore there are some tasty ones out there and I tried a few different brands. When Autumn came and the weather became slightly cooler I did not fancy a cold beer.
Then something interesting happened!
Imagine coming home from work on Friday. You feel like a drink to reward yourself and to finish of the work week. Instead, I felt more and more that that drink was not going to give me that feeling of reward anymore. In fact a cold glass of sparkling water with a slice of lemon had the same effect. It seemed that the association of alcoholic drink and reward had become less strong.
It went even further and even if I poured myself some wine with a meal, I forgot to drink it while I was eating. So why have it then, was the logical conclusion. I am not sure what exactly happened but without me putting any effort into it, I had reduced the association between wine and enjoyment. To be honest I am thrilled that it happened like that.
My best decision made
Now I tend not to drink during the week and have a bit when socialising with friends or going out for a meal. I am happy to sit hours on the tiniest glass of wine and usually end up pouring it into my husband’s glass.
And one more thing – no more bad wine, please! If I have some, I would like a wine I appreciate. For instance there are a few local cafes where they serve rather mediocre cask wine. It definitely is less attractive going there since I made this decision.
Can you relate to this at all? I am sure there are many people out there who wish they could do this as well. Yet it never seems the right moment. In my immediate circle of friends there are at least a handful of people who have made the same decision during the last year.
Have you ever had that feeling of doubt creeping in when you are in the middle of preparing a change? This is how I felt when my husband asked me if I realised it was just going to be the two of us for a while.
To get you up to date, we are in the process of moving to a big estate to become the new caretakers of a property. It was sold earlier this year when we were there doing a house sit. The property we will call our new home is in the Ariège with only a few small villages close by and a few bigger towns approximately 30 km away.
3-5 years of settling in
My husband’s question made me think! I have always loved starting over again, meeting new people and exploring all the new things around me. From experience and I have a fair bit, I know that it takes me 3-5 years to feel settled somewhere. It takes that long to make friends and feel comfortable. One of the things that always strikes me most is to figure out where you can find random things like a needle, pins or nails.
This new destination in Daumazin, Ariège offers nature, gardens and plenty of land but going to a café for a quick drink will be a thing of the past. To be fair, we don’t even know if the few cafes that we found in surrounding villages will be open. French villages can be fairly sleepy during the winter months.
Naturally I am a very social person. I like to be in touch with people, meet and talk to people. Social media is from that perspective a god sent. My experience is that it has helped me to connect with many likeminded people all over the world.
Social Media helped me to reconnect with old childhood friends, even a teenage boy friend and I made many new virtual friends. With some I click so well that I am sure we would be friends in person.
Moments of doubt
I suppose it is fairly normal to have these moments of doubt when change comes closer. It may help to put things in perspective. My usual approach to change is to be openminded, have no expectations and walk into it with energy and guts.
I can remember that this is how I started a new life in Sydney in 1991 and it paid off. I found a job within a week and made ‘friends’ there quite fast. Australians are in general easy going welcoming people and embrace strangers without hesitation. Many of them were once in the same situation after all – being a land of immigrants.
The biggest thrill for me will be the outdoors. Stepping outside and being surrounded by nature is like a medicine for me. To put it in perspective – where I used to live the only thing I see is the house in opposite and the street is not much more than a car width.
There will be opportunities to garden, possibly start a vegetable pad. I like to eat organic and make foods such as pestos, chutneys and jams. How wonderful would it be to go shopping in your own garden?
So, after this little ‘awareness’ moment and writing it down is as always helpful, I put on my gutsy hat and steam forward to this new life with energy and zest!
When doubt creeps in!
If you are going through a change and see these moments of doubt creeping in. If you feel you need a little retune, why not reach out, tap into my experience and let’s evaluate it together.
Every now and then, we can’t help having negative thoughts about a certain situation in our lives or about or ourselves. We are very likely aware that such thoughts are not helpful, but it seems there is nothing we can do to change them. Our thoughts seem stronger than ourselves and keep popping up even when we don’t want them.
It may help to put pen to paper and start writing down our negative frame of mind. Assess it and ask ourselves what the evidence is for such thoughts and if it is based on facts. Could it be that we are misinterpreting the situation? Can we imagine how other people would view this situation? Even more to the point, how would we view this issue if it happened to someone else?
Would we be as negative when it concerns a friend or are we naturally biased towards our own situation? Do we instinctively believe that we are the cause of the problem, that the issue is unchangeable and may ruin our whole life? We may have a pessimistic view and see only the factors we can’t change and control.
The good news is that we do have the power to deal with negative thoughts! We have the ability to change the way we perceive and experience these pesky thought patterns. If we cannot think them away, we can at least take charge and reduce their impact on our wellbeing. Let me share a few tips on how to do that.
How to counteract negative thoughts!
Accept and take ownership of your worries and acknowledge that you are in a negative cycle or mood. Accept them for what they are and let them be.
Consider yourself as your own best friend and ask yourself the following. ‘What would she do in this situation?’ I can guarantee you that you will be less hard on a friend with similar issues than on yourself.
Challenge your negative thoughts and stop seeing them as a threat. Rewrite your story from the viewpoint of a neutral observer and with the encouragement you would give a friend.
Don’t linger on the negative situation how bad it may be, but instead focus on the steps you can take to change and improve the situation. Seek information how to make things better or understand the situation you are in.
Do not blame the cause but focus on what is going to help you as a person. Believe there is a way and implement little things to make it better bit by bit every day.
Practice this consistently, become more resilient and let yourself be transformed!
Easy Done Change
This may sound easier than it is and you may need more guidance on how to apply these tips. Sometimes it helps to discuss it with an objective outsider to get more clarity.
If you feel you need more advice, I suggest you reach out and I would be happy to explore this in more detail with you.
Suddenly whether you are positive about it or not, you find yourself in your fifties or sixties!
They say that ’60 is the new 40′ or ’50 is the new 30′! I don’t know what you make of such claims, but they sound attractive to me. I personally have never made an issue out of ageing and accept it as a natural and positive thing that happens to us in life.
It may be the practical Dutch woman in me, but let’s be honest there is not much you can do about ageing. We all grow older in years and honestly, we should be happy that we get the chance!
It is all in the mind!
You can’t stop time, but you can be in charge of HOW you grow older! After all you are the director of your ageing process and you can tweak your perception of it in any way. If you do happen to have ‘hang-ups’ about it consider WHY. I believe it is all in the mind and in the eye of the beholder.
So put your angst regarding ‘Life after 50’ to a stop, throw your negative thoughts aside and be open-minded for what could be waiting for you. Start believing that you can do anything at any age. Admittedly there are a number of health problems that may be restrictive. Yet one Google search will show you that many people with severe health issues manage to do the most amazing and inspiring things.
Dream or reality?
Making the most out of your later years is a wonderful positive thing we all should aim for. Whether you want to stay where you are, seek more adventure, move abroad, start a business – it is all possible!
You may have to assess your health, your finances and social connections before you start crushing such changes. However, if you dream of becoming a grey nomad, travel or buying a beach hut in Thailand, it is all within reach!
These things may seem like dreams, but they can become reality. It requires belief, patience, guts and courage but they can be a course of action! It ultimately depends on your mindset and your willingness to change and adapt. See it as an adventure and make the most of it! That attitude will eventually dictate whether it becomes a success or a failure.
On a positive note!
If you like to venture into such dreams, my advice is to start with some soul searching. Do this before you throw yourself into adventures that may or may not resonate with you. If you, after some self-scrutiny feel that you have an adventurous streak in you, say YES to it! Because if you don’t, you may regret it at a possibly ‘too late stage’!
Imagine yourself as a 100-year-old looking back at your 50+ year old and saying……If only!
If you still have your doubts, here is how we can assist!
I would be thrilled if you take the effort to leave me a comment or even better share my article!