A lot can happen in 28 days. If there is one thing I’ve learned from last year, is that sitting around and just wishing for change results in exactly zero change. Why is David Bowie the cover star for this post? Because he was the master of change. Turn and face the strange indeed.
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange) Ch-ch-changes Don’t want to be a richer man Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange) Ch-ch-changes Just gonna have to be a different man Time may change me But I can’t trace time – David Bowie, “Changes”
Last year was a borderline ‘bipolar’ year for me, and I’m sure far from being alone on that front. I’d go though days where I was ecstatically happy that I could actually enjoy the British Summer (albeit in my own backyard oasis). Losing the job meant I was free from the acutely toxic workplace I had been stuck in after new ownership took over. Looking back, I was ready to be out of there for some time, but I was afraid of change or where I might end up. Didn’t take much stock in myself to cut it somewhere new. I was with my cats all the time who loved the newly present ‘cat mum’. I was even able to Messenger call friends on a regular basis, and our communication was better than ever. More present, more frequent, and most all for me even more needed. I’ve no idea how I would have coped without those goofy calls with silly filters and all the laughs.
On the flip side, I would have dark days where it was all I could do not to cry, or even get out of bed, but most of the time I did. There were days when the stress level felt like some sticky fly-tape paralysis I couldn’t pull myself free from. Hell, I couldn’t even really walk anywhere as a means of escape at various stages. When travel was fully banned I felt a sense of dread. Like, even if something major happened back home I wouldn’t be able to go. Calls with friends that might start with the most innocuous of questions might send me over the edge and I kept apologising for being so emotional.
Searching for work was soul destroying. Spending hours on carefully worded cover letters only for the majority to be disregarded. I get that the influx of applications meant that they couldn’t personally respond to everyone. But I soon felt that sensation of, “What if nobody is even reading these?, Why am I even bothering? and Is this ever going to get better?”
Gradually, and not without some serious and ongoing encouragement (you know who you are), I took the step last summer to take matters into my own hands. I was terrified, but with nothing better to do than sit around, apply for jobs and stew it was better than doing nothing at all. I perhaps not so randomly decided to take the plunge and do a copywriting course. Not from anywhere fancy, but reputable enough that I would learn some solid basics. If you’re unemployed, better to show that you are learning and trying to improve your skills I thought.
Following that I was spurred on by those very same cheerleaders in my life to start this blog which has been a work in progress. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process and even web design. Changes will do that to you.
Since then I have embarked on a part time job with a great company and am learning to be their digital marketing manager, something I never thought I would do. Turns out it suits me well and can all be done at home. Like writing. And I’m now moonlighting as a copywriter on Fiverr and after finally getting my first paid gig about two weeks ago, I am now on my fourth. Getting that first review seems to have set things off in the right direction so although the pay is not much, it’s all in the name of education and experience to further my change.
When a free online course about “making this year your most incredible” was pointed out to me a few months ago, I decided once again I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. The principles were very simple and straightforward. If you do the work and make yourself accountable you’ll find out how you can achieve little goals. Then bit by bit, before you know it you’re hitting big ones. But you sure as hell can’t watch the four videos, fill in a few little workbooks and then sit back expecting anything to change. There’s that word again.
No, you have to be able to do the things that are hard. Do the things that you don’t REALLY want to do perhaps at that very time of the day, or that day in the week, or even on your ‘downtime’. And there’s no surprise reveal here – if you don’t do those things as and when you should, you don’t get anywhere. You stagnate. Stay in the exact same place. Good luck reaching those goals no matter how grand or how benign. And if you can’t reach your goals, how can you possibly expect to ever achieve your dreams?
I set myself a goal of being healthier and more fit than I have been in years. Sure I horse ride, but that’s only once a week. If I want to age in this vessel which is the only one I’ve got, better look after it. I set up my routine each day and for 28 days now I’ve stuck to it. Like Super-Glue. We all have choices, and our choices say a lot about what we value about ourselves. If you’re missing out in any aspect of your life, only you can do anything about it. Everything in my life is down to decisions I’ve taken for myself, so like it or not, anything great or horrible about it is my fault.
I chose to challenge myself to do 21 straight days using our much maligned water resistance rower. I used to hate looking at it because it’s an expensive piece of equipment and it just lurked behind a door upright in a spare room. I had never used it. Not even one time. If getting healthier was a goal and going anywhere in lockdown was not an option, this was the answer I was looking for. The no-brainer that had been staring me sullenly in the face like a spurned suitor for so long.
I’ve found it exhilarating. I smashed the 21 days, and here I am another week later. 28 days on the trot.
I enjoy days when I sense that I might beat my 5km record, my distance of choice. I get up early now even though I don’t have anywhere to be and no travel hell to accommodate. I find my days far more productive than I ever thought possible. I like working hard and then going into the fresh air while the blood is still pumping and my cheeks are rosy.
Don’t get me wrong, I realise that the exercise epiphany is as old as the hills. But I’m not new to it, I used to workout 6 days a week and would avoid missing a gym session at all costs at various phases in my life. This time it’s all about setting myself up for days of further change and pushing myself to see where I want to be and go for it.
This rowing challenge just fit in neatly as a nice visible piece of goal setting and forcing myself to do it even on days I didn’t think i would follow through. If you put one foot in front of the other, next thing you know you’re in the room where the rower is. Then I’m setting it up. Have my water ready, the music on. At that point, the forward trajectory isn’t going to allow me to go, oh I’m not going to row today. I’ve used it as a lesson for myself that momentum will always trump procrastination.
I’m finalising my copywriting website (a year ago, me having two websites would have sounded ludicrous). I’m starting to feel more confident that my writing efforts will start to pay off ever so slowly but surely. And one of my dreams (here I am putting this out there) is to write a book by age 50.
The intent of this post wasn’t to preach. It’s, more of an inventory of where I was a little over six months ago and what has led me to where I am right now. It all started with a little click of the keyboard button.
I wrote it to say anyone is capable of change. Make some tough or scary decisions and follow through on them, it’s a chain reaction. The only person responsible for stopping you is yourself, and only yourself.
I wonder what will the next 28 days bring?