Five Things I Have a Hard Time Following Through On

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

As a person who constantly overcommits, and then probably underdelivers (mostly to myself, since professionally, I unnecessarily beat myself up about what I’m achieving and who I might be letting down while still usually producing a good final product), I can tell you that I really wish I were better at following through. I set very lofty goals, and then when I fail to meet them completely, I struggle to stay motivated. This is definitely related to my all or nothing personality/outlook, but here we are. Below is an incomplete list of things I have not been able to stick to that, honestly, just hang over my head all the time. 

  1. A regular exercise routine. For a former personal trainer, I sure am lax about my fitness. Don’t get me wrong, on most days I move my body in some way – I do at least 15 pushups and squats almost daily, and I take my son for two walks around the neighborhood a day, weather permitting. But beyond that? It’s pretty hit or miss. I keep starting routines (full body workout, MWF! Two runs per week!), but the second I’m derailed by something like a busy day or a minor illness, it feels like I have to start over.  I’m constantly battling between two selves: the one who has been type A and very regimented all of her life, and the other who wants to live and not lapse back into the unhealthily strict behaviors that plagued her throughout college and a good chunk of her 20s. Would I like to improve my cardiovascular health and feel like I could do 50 jump squats without being out of breath? Sure, but I also really would like to read this book while I have two hours of peace while my son naps, so….
  2. A consistent writing practice. When I left my full-time job, I said I would set up a schedule to write every single day. But… it didn’t work out like that. Sometimes when my son was napping, I needed to get stuff done or run errands that I couldn’t do when he was awake. And sometimes, I just wanted to read and decompress for a bit while I had a break. And almost every day, I needed a minute to switch over from mom mode to writer mode, so I didn’t have the full amount of time I expected to have. I have journaled almost every day for the past year, but while I’ve gotten a few exciting ideas from jotting down my thoughts or daily happenings, sometimes it felt like I was simply going through the motions and not really writing the way I thought I should be. I have been able to write here a little more consistently lately, which I’m proud of, but I’m still working on what an ideal writing practice would look like. 
  3. Good sleep hygiene. I have always been a night owl, but I also really love sleep. Now, with a child and a job and a partner I want to spend time with, sleep has been less of a priority, even though I know getting more of it will improve my life pretty much all around. But I am always trying to squeeze in more hours to my day after we lay our son down to sleep at night, which results in me going to bed much later than I would like. I try to set up goals for myself, like “in bed by 10!” but then I get in bed and stay awake reading for two hours or looking at TikTok until I drop my phone on my face. To be fair, I haven’t tried the more extreme things like putting my phone in another room, but that’s probably where I need to go from here. 
  4. A long-term career. To anyone who has met me in the last couple years, I seem to have a career. I work in health communications and PR, and I’ve steadily moved up the ranks, even as I’ve had a child and gone into freelance mode a couple times. But this is not my first career (or even my second), and I don’t think it will be my last. I’m hoping I can make one move transition smoothly into the next, without having to start over, but I really have no idea what my “career” will look like five, ten, or 20 years from now. Knowing myself and my curious nature, I don’t think I’m ever going to feel like I’m in the one right career for me. But as I write this, maybe I’m OK with lacking follow through here. 
  5. Keeping up with friends. I feel like everyone feels this right now, though, right? We’re all socially (and physically) distanced, so our normal methods of seeing one another, whether it’s a couple times a year or a couple times a month, are not available. I had hoped, though, with the pandemic that I would find time to catch up with friends I had previously felt too busy to reach out to, since we were all suddenly video chatting and calling and texting more. And that happened for a bit in March and April, but then…we all got Zoom fatigue, and as we learned that the pandemic wasn’t going to be over anytime soon, I (along with a lot of people) started to retreat and turn inward. I felt like I had done that so much in my early and mid-20s, thanks to a long bout of depression (more on that another time), that I didn’t want to repeat it. But this pandemic is tough, and putting more pressure on ourselves for certain things isn’t worth it – it still bothers me that I wasn’t able to follow through on this one, though, because I miss people! 

I’m not writing about this because I am asking for solutions (but hey, if you’ve been there and have tips, I’m open), but because I figure, aren’t we all struggling to follow through on one thing or another these days? And as much as I feel like I struggle with following through on certain goals and commitments, I’m proud of the things that I’ve been able to follow through on: a solid relationship with my husband (despite a pandemic, a toddler, and stressful jobs); my dedication to my role as a mother, even though I never felt a super maternal pull growing up, and I sometimes I take a few extra minutes when I run upstairs for “one quick thing”; and for taking the time to remember that I am a whole person, who is always curious and thinking of ways to bring more creativity to my everyday life.  

Where do you struggle with following through? Or are you one of those people who meets all of your goals all of the time? (If so, what is your secret and are you human?)

The body I need right now

Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I looked at my legs while I stretched, and I thought, huh, these are just my legs. And I thought about how 15 years ago, I was embarrassed by my legs, thinking they were too big, too bulky, too athletic, despite being told otherwise, honestly, quite often. I remember one friend being surprised I didn’t like my legs, and saying to me while we were at the beach one summer day, “but you have beautiful legs, why would you not like them?” And I just thought, how is that I can look at my legs and shrug now, when years ago, they made me nervous to take off my shorts at the beach?

I am no longer the athletic, small person I was in college. Not even close. Yet I have more acceptance of my body – both what it looks like and what it can do – and that acceptance seems to build with each passing year. But this year has really brought into sharp relief how okay I am with my body. Sometimes neutral, sometime positive, and rarely and naturally the slightest bit negative. Despite having had a child that has widened my hips and dropped my boobs, I look at my body and mostly just shrug. And on occasion, give her a wink when I’m looking strong or feeling particularly saucy in a favorite dress (probably one I am just trying on in the middle of a pandemic to make myself feel some semblance of normal). 

I sometimes wonder if I am accepting of my body because I’ve settled into a good place with it, an equilibrium of sorts. I work out or don’t, eat well or don’t, and I might go up or down 5 lbs, but that’s it, and with no real conscious effort anymore. And when it does change, I am not really pleased or displeased, one way or another. I am not small, but I am not big, I just am. I don’t use either word pejoratively, just as relative descriptors. And that “am,” that equilibrium, has put me in this medium place where I am bigger than my college-aged, compact yet insecure self, but smaller than I was for the majority of my 20s, than before I had my son. And I think, am I ok with my body because I am closer to my former ideal than I was say, five years ago? Or perhaps it’s because I am closer to the very normal body I had before I started thinking about my body so much? Or because I am actually just good with this body? And today’s answer is this: I am ok with today’s body, because it is the body I need right now.

This is the body I need now. It is strong enough to lift my gigantic toddler and soft enough to be a nice place to snuggle while watching Sesame Street. Athletic enough to run a mile or two when I want or need to, but not so obsessed with working out and fine tuning that I have no energy left for creative or emotional pursuits. It can be pushed, but knows to yell out when it’s in pain and needs a break, because now I actually listen to it when it tells me to slow down.

The body I had in college was not the body I needed then. It consumed my thoughts and allowed only so much time for me to not consider what it looked like. It had to work so very hard to be what it was. Conversely, the body I had in my early and mid 20s, after I went on antidepressants and gained a significant amount of weight, partially due to the medication and partially due to unresolved issues I tamped down with food, was not the body I needed then either. It didn’t know how to tell me what it required to function physically and let me function emotionally (and to be fair, I would not have known how to listen even if it had shouted my name).

But since my late 20s, my body has worked with me and for me, it started talking to me again, telling me who and what it needed to be. Maybe it’s the pandemic (I think we could all stand to sympathize with our bodies a little more right now, and at least try to listen to them in this weird time) and all of the uncertainty in the world, or maybe, for me, it’s just age and being tired of fighting with myself and who I am naturally, in body and in mind. But here it is. A body (and a whole self, really) I am still building a relationship with, but a body that is becoming the one I need, more and more every day.