Shut Off Your Mind & Start

The year was 2018 and my dad was officially on home hospice for his progression of ALS. I was working full time, had a freshly turned 2 year old, and I could no longer manage my grief and stress well. I had developed something dubbed “dermatographia” or “skin writing” in this season of my life strictly due to the turmoil I was experiencing. It’s where your skins creates perfect welts when you agitate it. I could scratch “hello” into my arm and 5 minutes later, there would be a perfectly raised greeting. If only I had this super power during my test taking days…

I knew I had to do something to start managing my stress better. On top of counseling, I started working out consistently, which is something I hadn’t done for years (OK, pretty much ever). My mind was at such war with me about working out and how hard it would be to find the time. And for the love of fashion Heather, you don’t even have proper workout clothes! In previous years, I would have let this delayed my start by months, or even altogether. I’d over prepare by spending too much money getting all the “right” clothes and equipment, researching to death my working out options, etc. Does this resonate with you at all?

I didn’t have the luxury of time, though, and my mental health was tanking fast. So, I literally tricked my mind to get over the hump of starting. The approach is similar to when my 4-year-old needs to get a shot…I don’t tell her that’s what’s happening until we are well in route there. Please don’t child psychology me on this…

I knew my parameters for working out had to be 30 minutes maximum, at home, and a guide to follow (i.e., an online course). I somehow stumbled upon a Facebook forum of people’s favorite workout program, and settled on one that looked most suited to me and my parameters. I decided to start the following Monday and then I forced it out of my mind. I shut down all thought of it. I didn’t even mention it to my husband. The following Monday morning after our 20 minutes of coffee and watching the news, I forced my feet downstairs and logged into the program and pushed start. I didn’t even put shoes on, and I was still in my pajamas. I didn’t have any weights except some random 2lb Zumba maraca-type sticks.

It wasn’t the most comfortable workout I’ve done but it got me to start. The next day I actually put on a sports bra and shoes (still pajamas) and I did it again, all pushing any thoughts out of my head – a forced autopilot. It was enough to have staying power, and with the exception of a break after I had my 2nd child, I’ve been working out regularly ever since.

I don’t say this to brag. At all. I actually hate the act of working out but I’ve come to love (and crave) the effects of it in all areas of my life. I always wanted to be a person who works out, but for most my life, never did it. Now I do, and I’m proud.

What does this have to do with you, you ask? No, I’m not trying to convince you to work out. But I do wonder what you’ve been longing to do, maybe even for years, and just haven’t started yet?

"A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today."

There is a quote I think about often. It’s from Karen Lamb and it says, "a year from now you'll wish you had started today."

It’s this quote that I chose for the January monthly spread in the Sprouted Planner. The “theme” of the month is loosely around starting, and how we spend our time. Because it’s a new year, January always seems like a month we want to start things. Also because we are so full of cheese and wine from the holidays, we’re desperate to do something different.

Starting can be stupid hard, though. I’m no psychologist, but I think it’s all fear based. Fear of what we’re giving up, fear of looking dumb or failing. Sometimes, perhaps, it’s the fear of actually succeeding and what would that mean going forward? All this fear manifests in the form of our minds overthinking and fretting over what actions need to happen and stay happening.

Back to the quote. A year is a long time. It also goes really fast. Can you believe we are almost a year into this COVID thing? Can you believe how fast the holidays came and went? A lot will happen in one year, but inevitably and quickly, we will once again be standing in January 2022 wondering where 2021 went.

Speaking of time, one of the reflection questions at the end of this month is going to ask you if you’re happy with how you spent your time in January. How do you think you’ll answer? Will you be happy with how much time you spent connecting with your people? How much time you spent on social media? How much time you spent doing something that brings you joy? I’d like you to ponder this in the next week or so. We are 1.5 weeks away from being 1/12th done with this year. Have you spent your time doing things that matter to you?

Are you happy with how you spent your time this month?

Maybe its time to shut your mind down, and imperfectly start. Let the start be sloppy and embarrassing. You have time to tweak along the way. You’ll surely stumble in the journey but that’s life, man. It’s the keeping going that matters.

Just like the Minnesotan goodbye, I have one last final thought that may lead into 5 (we can’t help ourselves). When I’m talking about starting, I’m not talking about your goals or resolutions, necessarily. I’m talking about the things you’ll be looking back on in a year and will be incredibly glad and grateful to yourself that you started. Small or big…

  • Reading more books

  • Tracking your spending

  • Taking more walks

  • Writing in a journal

  • Reconciling a worthy relationship

  • Setting boundaries with something or someone

  • Eating in a way your body and mind thanks you for

  • Adding in more fun

  • Starting to exercise

  • Decluttering and organizing

  • Starting the first steps towards a business venture

  • Starting to being kinder, gentler, and giving more grace to yourself

  • Starting that project

  • Starting to learn more about wine

  • Starting sobriety

  • Start planning your meals and snacks for the day ahead. Or week ahead.

The list goes on, but is deeply personal to you.

One more thing, how are your contacts? That’s an inside joke...OK, I’ll let you in on it. My dear Grandma Bloomquist, who we lost in November (on election day, no less), was the queen of Minnesota goodbyes. All bow down to her prowness in this area. Years ago, after one particular visit, and 45 minutes of saying goodbye later, I had one foot literally out the door when she called out, “how are your contacts?!” Yes, like the contacts you plaster onto your eyeballs. My mom and I still laugh about this, and use it in our own extended goodbyes.

In all seriousness, I am wrapping this up with one more thought on starting.

You do not have to spend hours to start your thing.

My moto is: small actions done consistently reap benefits. Don’t let this “I don’t have time” nonsense fool you. If it truly matters to you, you will make the time. And it doesn’t take much. Let me provide you with personal proof:

I started Sprouted Planner in 2020 (I could mic drop right there). I had a 4 year old, and 9 month old. I spent nap time/quiet time working on designs, finding a manufacturer, applying for a LLC and Trademark, building a website, working with consultants, starting social media platforms, setting up payments, buying shipping and labeling supplies, countless hours on YouTube and an online Marketing program gaining knowledge, and on and on and on. Eventually, after lockdown, I expanded my working hours a little bit with the help of my amazing mother-in-law, a babysitter sometimes, my husband, and their other grandmas. But still to this day, I do most my work during a 2 hour (if I’m lucky) window.

 This is not to say that I have my stuff together. I could be more effective at these things if I had more time, but I don’t. However, as Winston Churchill says, “perfection is the enemy of progress.”

If there’s something that’s been haunting you (good or bad) for years, it keeps getting pushed year after year, and it’s something that’s important and worthy to you, maybe it’s time to start. Start in your pajamas for 10 minutes. Then another 10 minutes the next day. Even if its just during the weekdays, by the end of the year, you will have spent 2,600 hours doing the thing.

One year from now in January 2022, instead of wishing you started, you’ll be glad you did.